[0:23] Tell us about CareMATRIX
[0:59] Different levels of care
[4:00] Assisted living vs. caring for a loved one at home
[5:23] The right time to start memory care
[7:55] Physically moving between care facilities
[9:07] How does the CareMATRIX process start and work?
[12:55] Can you bring your own things into an assisted living facility?
[14:09] How long does the search for care facility take?
[15:01] What do you need to bring to the first meeting with Teresa
[17:40] 3 ways to pay for assisted living and memory care
[22:39] How to contact Teresa
Interview key points
BB: Teresa, why don’t you give me a little introduction about your business, and a little background about yourself?
TJ: CareMATRIX helps people navigate the whole search process for independent, assisted living and memory care. It’s very overwhelming, and people don’t know where to start, and we take them by the hand, serve as their advocate and walk them through that entire process.
BB: Talk a little bit about the different housing options or different levels of care, whether it’s independent, assisted, or memory care.
TJ: The first one that people usually start out at is an independent care. Really, the name says it all. It’s an independent living. It’s an apartment and usually, you’re taking care of your meals; some do offer meals. They do offer light housekeeping occasionally, but you’re responsible for your own laundry. They have activities. It’s ideal for somebody who wants to get rid of their home and the stress of owning a home, especially in winter, having to worry about snow blowing and taking care of the yard, the maintenance of the house. They really just want to go in and enjoy life. Basically, independent living is an apartment with some amenities wrapped around it; and residents are free to leave whenever they want.
Independent living is a great segue into assisted living. When people think of assisted living, they think of a nursing home, but really, assisted living is an apartment as well. You can come and go as you wish in an assisted living facility. What’s great about assisted living is you can have various levels of care, so as your needs progress, the levels of care progress as well. Meals are always included in assisted living, as well as laundry and housekeeping.
Then the third level of care is memory care. These communities are smaller. Sometimes they’re attached to assisted or independent living facilities to create a continuum of care, but sometimes they stand alone. Memory care facilities are for people with cognitive issues. Their staff is trained in dealing with people with dementia because dementia is not always just a loss of short-term memory. Staff really do a great job of taking care of people with cognitive issues.
BB: I often hear that people try to take care of their loved ones at home, but it is a massive amount of work. I think talking to someone like you and seeing these places would help people make better decisions about care options.
TJ: We as caregivers have so much guilt because we think, “Oh, we’re putting our mom in a home.” What happens most of the time when people go into assisted living is they blossom: They’re getting three square meals a day; They’re not eating frozen meals; They’re getting their meds on time, and they’re getting socialization. As we age we forget how much socialization plays a part in our wellbeing. Staying at home can be isolating, and when we are isolated, depression kicks in, and it’s a vicious cycle. When people go into assisted living they get those three, the meals, the meds, and the socialization, and they just blossom. Now, would they rather be at home? Most of us want to stay at home, but being in an assisted living place helps the quality of life immensely.
With memory care, again, people try to keep their family member at home as long as possible; however, there’s this magic line in the sand. You really want to make sure that you’re moving people into memory care while they’re still cognitive enough to understand what’s going on. There’s a time frame when they can say, “Yes, I know I am moving. I’m in a new place,” and that’s really healthy because it really helps them transition. But if you get past that line where they don’t know what’s happening, it’s very scary for them. You can still move them, don’t get me wrong, it’s just harder.
BB: As someone moves along these levels of care, they have to physically move to another place, for example, from an independent living facility, which is not set up to be a long-term care, to an assisted or memory care facility. Is this correct?
TJ: Yes, it is, but there are exceptions, but you’re right on, Brad. Mostly, if you’re going into an independent living, you will eventually move into assisted living or memory care. A lot of people forego the independent living and start out at assisted living. There are assisted living places where you can stay if you have some cognition issues. I think the value we bring our clients is that we know the placed where can you only move once.
BB: What’s your process and how to get going on that?
TJ: Usually, it’s either somebody’s calling me directly or a social worker is calling me. I’d say 80% of the time I’m dealing with adult children. Regardless, the first thing we’re going to do is we’re going talk about your mom, or your dad, or your loved one and their needs. The process is really understanding what their needs are, where they’re right now, and also understanding who they are as a person. They’re not just their needs; they’re also a person. I have a database of all of the communities out there. I know their price points as well as what services they offer and what services they don’t offer. I narrow it down to two or three options through the family. Then I set up the tours and I go with them on the tours.
This is important because people don’t even know what to ask on the tours. They get excited about ice cream machines and player pianos, and that’s great, but really what it boils down to is care. We’re asking questions around the care that they’re going to get. My job is not to influence. My job is to create options as well as provide facts so the family then can make the appropriate decision for their loved one. I describe myself is I’m real estate agent for independent, assisted living, and memory care.
Once the decision is made, we handhold them through a move in, and we do follow-up checks afterwards. Because sometimes that transition is bumpy, and if we can help along that way we will surely do that. There are also things that when you’re coming out rehab, they usually ask that you continue your physical therapy through a home health agency, so we will recommend home health, home care, elder care lawyers, you name it.
BB: Does moving into an independent living facility mean you’re moving your stuff, your furniture? Are you actually bringing your things with you?
TJ: You’re going to bring it with you because these facilities are basically apartments.
BB: In my mind having my own things would help me transition to a new place. I think people are surprised that they are able to do that.
TJ: It is nice because you have your own comfortable chair, your own mattress you’re sleeping on. Those are all comforting things to us, and the communities out there really strive to make it your home. If you want to paint or put pictures on the walls, whatever you need to do to make it your home, you can.
BB: How long does the normal process take from start to finish, that is, from when the clients contact you to moving in, assuming someone’s not in a huge rush?
TJ: Great question. We can actually help somebody that needs to be placed that day. On average it usually takes a week. Sometimes it goes into two weeks. If somebody is at home and they’re starting to look, that process takes a little longer because you have the luxury of time. It’s not a, “Oh, my goodness, mom is in rehab, and she is graduating rehab and can’t go home…” If you’re at home, it’s more of, “You know what? I think it’s time to start looking,” so that process can take up to three months.
BB: It’s like looking for a house.
TJ: It is. You can look every two to three weeks at one or two communities.
BB: What do people need to bring to that first meeting and who needs to be present?
TJ: You really don’t need to bring anything. If you have long-term care insurance, it’s nice to have this paperwork with you so we know how much you’re getting per day, whether there is a cap on it, the elimination period, etc. If you don’t have it, just come, be yourself, and I’m going to ask the questions. To answer your questions regarding who needs to be at the first meeting, I always leave it up to them. Sometimes parents aren’t ready to have that discussion yet, but it needs to start happening, so we’ll do it on the side. But at some point, we need to include them. We never, ever say, “It’s not your choice.”
Sometimes, it’s not appropriate for parents to be in the conversation, for example, if they have cognitive issues, like dementia. It will just upset them. I love to meet mom, dad, or whomever, but if it’s not appropriate because it will upset them then I don’t. In this case, I’ll just gather all the necessary information from the adult children.
No need to worry about this at the first meeting, but when they move into assisted living or memory care, they’re going to need Power of Attorney paperwork for medical and financial decisions, a will, all that. If you don’t have this paperwork, you need to call Brad. It’s amazing how many people don’t.
BB: Unfortunately, I see that often. So, you will go meet people; they don’t necessarily have to come to you?
TJ: Correct. In fact, I always go meet them. Sometimes we’re meeting at hospitals and rehabs, homes. Sometimes we meet at the coffee shop. It’s really on your terms, not mine.
Can we talk about financials real quick, since this is a good time to mention it? I’m going to talk about assisted living and memory care here, not the other types of communities. There’re usually three ways to pay for assisted living and memory care. First, you’ve exhausted your funds, you’re on Medicaid, you get a Medicaid waiver, and you go into Medicaid waiver upon admission to assisted living. The second way is you pay privately, and the third way is a blended approach. That is, assisted living facilities will have a requirement of private pay and that average is around two years. When you’re done paying that private pay and when you’ve exhausted your funds you can get on Medicaid waiver.
Now, there’s a couple caveats around that. The State of Nebraska has to approve you to be on Medicaid waiver. Usually, assisted living places only have a very small percentage of allotted apartments for residents on Medicaid waiver, so you are likely to wait for your turn. Even though you’ve paid privately for two years, you may end up paying for three or four years.
We really add value by looking at financials because we only want you to move once. We want to make sure that we are getting you that Medicaid waiver, and we know those communities where we can get it. It’s important even if you have funds and can pay privately because I always wonder, “Why would you want to? Go talk to Brad. Make sure you’re protecting assets.”
Hopefully, you’re protecting assets before you even get to this point, but to me, people who work hard for their money shouldn’t give it all to assisted living. You’re going to have to pay privately. Yes, some of that money is going to assisted living, but it’s great if you can protect at least some of your assets.
BB: Do you work with veterans? Is that an area that you seek out or you just know a lot about it because of personal circumstances?
TJ: My husband’s a disabled vet, so I’m a big proponent for veterans. There is a benefit out there through VA called Aid and Attendance, which helps pay for assisted living and memory care. If you know a veteran out there who served during wartime have them give me a call because we need to get them the right assistance. I get leads from the VA, and I always, always love working with veterans. It’s really my heart. I wasn’t in there, but I’m just so thankful for people who protect our country, and if I can do just a little bit for them, that’s the least I can do.
BB: How do people contact you or what’s the easiest way to get in touch with you?
TJ: The best way to get ahold of me is to call me at 402-885-5693. If I don’t answer the phone, I will call you back, even in the evening. I do take phone calls evening and weekends because people do work. I also have an e-mail address, and that is firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find me on the web, and that’s CareMATRIX.net.
Thank you for reading and listening. We hope you enjoyed this interview. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to us:
To contact Teresa Jordan, call 402-885-5693 or email email@example.com.
Visit the websites Teresa mentioned in the interview: CareMATRIX.net
To contact Brad Boyum, call 402-991-5410 or click here