Residents of assisted living facilities often enjoy their surroundings and appreciate the programs and lifestyle available to them. Family members feel confident that their loved ones are receiving the help they need. It can be difficult in this situation to think that this setting may no longer be the safe option that it seems. Sometimes, it is not always obvious when memory problems, physical conditions, or other issues require more care than an assisted living facility can provide.

Even when assisted living remains a viable option, it is still helpful to consider what to do if an illness or accident suddenly forces the issue. It is important to understand when it is time to move from assisted living into a nursing facility and the changes that will be involved. Government benefits through programs such as Medicaid and Medicare may be available, and an elder law attorney can help you find the right options to protect your resources.

Different Facilities in Iowa

The Iowa Department on Aging describes six different types of long-term care facilities:

  • Assisted living programs provide residential services in a homelike environment and may offer assistance with instrumental activities of daily living
  • Assisted living programs for individuals with dementia offer specialized care for individuals with dementia rated between Stages 4 and 7 on the Global Deterioration Scale
  • Elder group homes are small facilities that provide room and board for older adults
  • Licensed-only nursing facilities are nursing facilities that are licensed by the state but not federally certified
  • Residential care facilities provide residential services and daily living assistance to individuals who cannot care for themselves but who do not require regular nursing services
  • Nursing facilities and skilled nursing facilities provide healthcare services including rehabilitation for individuals who require nursing services other than mental health services

The term “nursing home” is not specifically defined in most official definitions. Some nursing homes fit the description of a nursing facility while others would be more appropriately categorized as residential care facilities. It is important to choose a facility that provides the right level of care and to understand how your resources will be used to pay for that care.

Medicare Only Covers Short-Term Stays in Skilled Nursing Facilities

While all adults over the age of 65 can receive services through Medicare, this program is not intended to cover long-term care needs. Medicare will cover “nursing home” stays, but only when those homes provide skilled nursing services required after a hospital stay. Moreover, Medicare will only cover care in this type of facility for about three months.

Iowa Medicaid Can Cover the Cost of Care in a Nursing Facility

Nursing facilities, as defined by the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services, “provide 24-hour care for individuals who need nursing or skilled nursing care.” When an older individual can prove that they are medically and financially eligible, Iowa Medicaid will provide benefits to pay for this type of care.

That means that there is potentially a silver lining for an individual who needs more care than an assisted living facility can provide. A nursing home may offer less privacy and freedom than an assisted living facility, but with help from Medicaid, the cost of care could be much less draining.

An elder law attorney can help develop a plan to qualify for Medicaid without depleting all assets on care costs.

Get Help with Long-Term Care from Huizenga Law Firm

At Huizenga Law Firm, P.C., we are dedicated to helping families protect their resources so they can be ready to meet future needs. We work with older individuals and their families to establish eligibility for benefit programs such as Medicaid while conserving assets.

The earlier you begin planning, the more options you have available. Schedule a strategy session with us now so you can be prepared for whatever the future may bring.