You don’t have to give away your inheritance to live in a nursing home. Neither do you need to worry that you’ll be giving up all of your rights.
There are plenty of myths out there about long-term care facilities. Here’s what you need to know.
Myth #1: Nursing home residents are sick.
A nursing home is not a hospital where patients go when they are sick. A nursing home is a home where residents live when they need assistance with the tasks involved in daily living. There are reasons that they cannot safely live by themselves. They may be at a risk for falling, or they may need help with bathing and dressing. They may welcome the chance not to have to cook or clean anymore, and look forward to the social interactions that may be lacking when they lived by themselves.
Myth #2: Residents stay in bed all day.
Nursing homes maintain a busy schedule of activities. There are meals in a communal dining room and days filled with group activities. Though this has been adapted for the pandemic, nursing homes will be returning to this social model of care. In the meantime, homes have adjusted by bringing meals and activities to residents safely.
Myth #3: Nursing homes smell bad.
Nursing homes have gotten a reputation for smelling less than fresh, due to scents related to incontinence and disinfectants. A clean nursing home, however, will not smell bad. It will smell clean. Beware of heavy perfumes that mask odors. A bad smell could be a sign that residents are not receiving proper care.
Myth #4: Residents may never leave.
Nursing home residents may leave for a day trip or an extended visit as long as they have medical clearance to do so. At SGLC, some of our residents enjoy going out to lunch with family members on a regular basis. Others leave for birthday celebrations or special occasions.
Myth #5: A nursing home will take your assets, including home and inheritance.
The admissions officer at a nursing home will not ask you to sell your home, empty your bank account or dissolve your assets. Rather, they will work with you to determine how to best cover the cost of your care given your individual situation.
At Seashore Gardens Living Center (SGLC), our residents depend on a variety of sources to cover the costs of living. This includes their own private funds, long-term care insurance and government assistance. Some are able to use Medicaid to fully cover nursing home expenses. To do so, however, you have to meet strict financial guidelines. Medicare supplemental insurance may cover a portion of a nursing home stay up to 100 days. Medicare itself does not cover long-term care. There are other programs that can help offset costs. For example, war-time veterans and their spouses may be eligible for the Aid and Attendance Benefit, which can be used toward the cost of a nursing home or Assisted Living.
It is always best to seek advice from an elder law attorney in the state where the resident will reside when it comes to assets. The tax laws for gifting and Medicaid differ from state to state. You need to understand the Medicaid laws for spending down assets so you do not get a penalty.
Myth #6: Husbands and wives may not share a room.
Not only are married couples allowed to share a room, but they are guaranteed that right under New Jersey law. The Patient Bill of Rights ensures that nursing home residents are cared for in a manner that enhances their quality of life.
Myth #7: Nursing home food is terrible.
Nursing homes strive to feed nutritious and delicious food to their residents. It’s not always easy to satisfy everyone. At SGLC, we have a classically trained chef, Jill Laboy, who prepares high quality Kosher meals and snacks for residents, staff and visitors. If a resident doesn’t like what’s on the menu, Jill offers other choices. Residents also enjoy special meals for holidays and treats for birthday celebrations.
Myth #8: Residents are sedated.
Under the Patient Bill of Rights, residents must be told what medications they are being given. They also have the right to refuse treatment. Families may participate in the care plan to help determine which treatments promote greatest quality of life for their loved ones.
Myth #9: Residents cannot make their own decisions.
Nursing home residents have rights and protections under the law. This includes the ability to make their own decisions. No one wants to give up control over their own health, and the resident is an active participant in his/her care.
Myth #10: All nursing homes are the same.
While nursing homes in general offer similar services, you will find that each facility has its own distinct environment and approach. It’s important to take the time to visit a long-term care facility to find the best fit for you and your loved ones.
The Simon & Sylvia Zisman Seashore Gardens Living Center (SGLC) is a nonprofit home for the aged, guided by Jewish tradition, law, and charity, dedicated to enriching the quality of life for its residents. The 125,000 square foot senior Living Center features a continuum of services which include assisted living, short- and long-term nursing care, Alzheimer’s care, respite care and full rehabilitation services all under one roof.