Florida insurance regulators recently revealed that two insurers have filed requests for sizable rate hikes – ranging from 20 percent up to 114 percent – in premiums for patients receiving long-term care. One of those, Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, has asked for a rate hike that would boost its average premium from $1,600 to $2,600 annually. Another, Unum Life Insurance Company of America, would increase its average premium from $580 to $860. Collectively, these insurers have about 70,000 insureds across the state, most in South Florida.
With growing concerns for the cost of insurance coverage of long-term care, thinking about long-term placement can be overwhelming. If your loved one is no longer able to live safely on their own, trusting their care to a complete stranger can be tough. Yes, expenses are a priority, but you also need to know their needs are being met and they will be protected.
This is going to be an area of growing concern as the U.S. population 65 and over is going to grow exponentially by 2050 – from 43 million in 2012 to 84 million in 2050. Comprehensive reviews on elder abuse indicate approximately 10 percent of the elderly are victims of some form of abuse – physical, verbal, sexual, financial exploitation or neglect. The good news is these incidents are being reported with greater frequency – but it is still largely under-reported. Because many victims are unable to speak out for themselves, it requires family members to be vigilant.
And although rising costs for long-term care are a substantial concern, it’s also important to consider quality. As the AARP states: “Ever person in a nursing home needs an advocate.”
Mistakes occur regularly, but they are not inevitable. They are often the result of inadequate care, lack of staffing, inadequate training or poor supervision. Although nursing homes that are more prone to these mistakes won’t have bright flashing signs announcing it, there may well be some red flags that could announce bigger problems bubbling beneath the surface.
Some things to consider:
- How does the food look? How does it taste? As we age, we lose a great deal of sensory sensitivity. But for many, food is still one of life’s great pleasures. Yes, meals need to meet dietary restrictions, but you should question whether it’s palatable. This is important especially when a person may not have much interest in eating.
- Take a listen. You may hear moaning or yelling for “help.” That’s not necessarily indicative of poor care – dementia patients are often confused and become unsettled. What you really want to listen for is how the staff treats their patients. They should be treating patients with respect and dignity, addressing them by their names and being responsive and caring in their interactions.
- Does the staff seem overworked? Ask around. Do the nursing assistants end up working a lot of double shifts and overtime? That could be a sign of a staffing issue that’s likely to impact the quality of patient care. Nursing home neglect and abuse is going to be more common in a place where staffers just don’t have the capacity to fully attend to critical needs.
- How do the residents spend their time? If residents are simply tucked away in their rooms, isolated or parked in front of the television for hours on end, that could be a sign of trouble.
Other things to look for: Unexplained bruises, the presence of bed sores, how well personal hygiene is attended and how the staff handles a nursing home fall.
If your loved one has suffered nursing home abuse, contact the Hollander Law Firm at (888) 751-7770 for a free and confidential consultation. There is no fee unless we win.
Choosing the Right Nursing Home, March 19, 2012, By Cynthia Ramnarace, AARP
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