No Gold Star for Florida’s Aging Services
For many years, Florida has welcomed aging Americans with open arms. But a recent AARP report indicates the state gets no gold star in terms of aging services provided. In fact, the report ranks Florida 46 among states in terms of accessibility and quality of services for aging and disabled Americans.
Read on to learn more about the report, the new scorecard used to measure services, and what you need to know to protect yourself and your loved ones.
Florida Ranks 46 in Aging Services
There is, perhaps, no better time to advocate for improvement of aging services than now. By 2026, a flood of baby boomers are set to turn 80, which will undoubtedly cause an influx in Americans needing long-term care services. With Florida being a haven for retirement and aging, it is no surprise that the poor ranking is causing alarm.
The ranking was made via a study conducted by the AARP Foundation, The Scan Foundation, and The Commonwealth Fund. The study looked at 25 different indicators across five categories, such as:
- Affordability and access
- Choice of Setting
- Quality of Care
- Support for family caregivers
- Transitions – Effectiveness of transitions from home to nursing home; Effectiveness of hospital-related transitions
Among these factors, Florida ranked among the bottom quartile in four of those categories, including affordability and access, choice of setting and provider, quality of care and life, and support for family caregivers. Currently ranking in the top five positions are Alaska, Minnesota, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. At the very bottom of the list are Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee.
In recent years, the scorecard used to measure aging services has changed in methodology, therefore, it is difficult to compare rankings from years ago. Nevertheless, the recent AARP ranking has dropped Florida to 46 from 43 just three years ago – a drop significant enough to send red flags across the state. Part of the reason the drop to 46 is so significant is because estimates suggest it would take around 36 years for Florida’s aging services performance to catch up to mid-ranking states, and another 50 years to reach the top-ranking states.
Where Florida is Making Progress
The news for Florida isn’t all bad, but there is much work to be done to protect aging Americans in the state. For example, Florida has made progress in reducing the use of antipsychotic medications in nursing homes for “off-label” purposes. Since 2014, antipsychotic medication use has declined from 22 percent to 17.5 percent across the state. Florida also has ranked favorably in the category of transitions, with the state ranking better than many in terms of transitions to and from nursing home or hospital environments, ranked at 21 in the nation.
Unfortunately, advocates warn that continuing progress is not without risk. Threats of a depleting Medicaid and Medicare funding system could be detrimental to aging Americans across the country. To improve Florida’s performance to meet that of higher-performing states, an additional $1.8 billion would be required for community and home-based services. If improved, however, an additional 366,000 people would have access to Medicaid-funded help, and 69,000 disabled residents classified as low or moderate income would have Medicaid coverage.
What to Consider when Selecting a Nursing Home
It is impossible to gauge the quality of a nursing home just by reading a review or website information. It is important when considering nursing homes to really take a look beyond the superficial before signing any documents. Visit more than once, talk to residents and employees, and find out what you can from local advocacy groups for the aging.
When visiting nursing homes, think about what you want for your loved one. Of course, you want what’s best for them, but what kind of services does your loved one need? Think about things like transportation, meals, activities, therapy, Alzheimer’s or dementia care, etc. If the facility doesn’t have what your loved one needs – consider moving on.
You should also consider any warning signs, or “red flags”, when visiting homes personally. Be mindful of the following:
- Sights: What are people inside the facility doing? Do residents look bored, uncared for, or injured? Is the facility clean and free from hazards?
- Smells: Does the facility smell clean? Do you detect an odor of feces or urine in common areas or hallways? If visiting at mealtime (advised), what does the food smell like?
- Sounds: Is there music playing? Are employees loud or obnoxious? Do you hear residents moaning or crying? Is the facility too quiet?
- Employees: Speak with employees about the services offered at the facility. Find out what sort of involvement they have in the care process. Ask to speak to different levels of employee, such as administrators, nurses, activity coordinators, etc.
- Management: Find out who owns the property. Is it owned and managed by the same person or company? Check Medicare scores for any owners or managers identified.
If at any time in the consideration process you feel uncomfortable or see warning signs, speak up. Don’t settle for a nursing home that is subpar because you aren’t sure how to find something better.
Get Help Protecting Your Elderly Loved One
Protecting your elderly loved one goes far beyond their physical residency. Appropriate aging services include a comprehensive plan to protect your loved one’s health, quality of life, finances, and overall wellbeing and happiness.
To learn more about your elderly loved one’s legal rights, contact Brown, Christie & Green to speak with one of our professional nursing home abuse attorneys. We can help you make sure that your loved one is being properly cared for, and that his or her legal rights are being upheld. Fill out our online form to get started and get answers to your questions.