Will You Need to Live in a Nursing Home?

Not to make too fine a point about this, but I don’t want that to be my fate. But it very well might be.

I’ve talked about the three phases of retirement: the GO-GO years, the SLO-GO years and the NO-GO years. My mother had Alzheimer’s and lived in a nursing home for the last several years of her life. Only she didn’t realize it.

A recent article in Money Magazine described how roughly 10% of the roughly 15,500 nursing homes across the cournty were downgraded. This was because their payroll records reflected no registered nurses on hand for four-days or more. At that point they say it becomes a systemic problem.

Not having enough qualified nursing staff has a direct effect on quality of care. It’s particularly anemic on weekends. Nevertheless, despite the downgrade from this perspective, 30% of the 1638 demoted nursing homes still retained an average or better overall score.

What does this mean for you and I?

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing is projecting the current shortage of Registered Nurses (RNs) is going to intensify of the coming few decades as Baby Boomers age and the need for health care grows. This despite the RN workforce being expected to grow by 15% in the coming decade.

If you have lots of money, you may be able to hire someone to come to your home daily to make sure you have proper care. Or you might not.

If you develop a fatal malady while still in your SLO-GO years, it might not matter since you’ll miss the NO-GO years.

On a related note, immigration reform might make a big difference. If you haven’t noticed because you’ve not spent time in a hospital recently, for a lot of caregivers, English is not their native language. This doesn’t in any way impugn their skill sets as RNs, just that they saw America as a place to bring their skills or intelligence and get well paid for it.

In the pre-op phase of my recent knee replacement, I met with a woman whose tag described her as a Physicians Aide. It turns out she was actually an MD in her former country.  She told me she just had to pass all her board certified exams once again. In the meantime, she had to earn a living.

I’ve tried not to depend to heavily on good luck to sustain myself and my family as the years roll by. But in this case, I may be wrong.

Tony Kendzior \ July 1, 2019

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