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Gardant Leads National Summit on Affordable Assisted Living

July 2nd, 2015

By Rick Banas of Gardant Management Solutions

Less than two weeks ago, nearly 40 movers, shakers and thought-leaders involved in senior and assisted living gathered together at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Rosemont, Illinois, for a landmark summit on affordable assisted living.

As far as we can tell, this is the first time that so many key individuals from across the country were gathered together in one room for one day to talk about this issue, Rod Burkett, CEO and President of Gardant Management Solutions, told me as he reflected on his impressions of the summit.

Rod and Gardant spearheaded the summit, which was designed to create a national conversation about models for assisted living for seniors who cannot afford many of the assisted living options that currently are available in the United States.

Participants included the –

CEO of the Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA)

CEO of the American Senior Housing Association (ASHA)

CEO of the National Investment Center (NIC)

Board Chair of the Center for Excellence in Assisted Living (CEAL)

Executive Director of the National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL)

Executive Director of the Affordable Assisted Living Coalition (AALC)

Also participating in the summit were representatives from the National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities (NASUAD) and the National Governor’s Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) as well as developers, operators and representatives of financing sources and managed care organizations.

What sparked the idea for the summit was a combination of our experience here in Illinois and what we see going on nationally and in other states, Rod explained.

Nationally, we are facing the greying of America, with a tsunami of Baby Boomers aging into their retirement years. The focus is on delivering quality health care in the lowest cost and least restrictive setting possible.

Assisted living can offer a wonderful residential alternative to a nursing home and can be much less expensive than nursing home care, says Rod. Assisted living also can be less expensive than home health care. Yet, there is no comprehensive national plan for assisted living.

At the state level, we are fortunate in the State of Illinois to have the Supportive Living program.

Wayne Smallwood, who is the Executive Director of the Affordable Assisted Living Coalition (AALC), spoke about the program during this presentation at the summit on Medicaid Options for Assisted Living. Wayne served as Co-Chair for the summit.

Supportive Living communities combine apartment-style housing with personal assistance and support services such as three-daily meals, housekeeping and laundry. We are able to provide older adults who need some help to maintain their independence with the love, compassion and dignity they deserve in addition to the help and assistance they need, Rod says.

Summit participants commented that the Supportive Living program is a “perfect model” for affordable assisted living.

The program has grown so that there are now more than 140 communities located in more than 70 counties throughout the Illinois. Together, these communities house nearly 11,000 apartments.

Unfortunately, while most other states have a Medicaid option for assisted living, there inevitably are obstacles that are very difficult or impossible to overcome. Reimbursement rates are way too low; there are not enough Medicaid waiver slots available; and the processes for the community to be approved to serve Medicaid residents and for seniors to be approved for Medicaid and assigned a Medicaid-waiver slot take way too long.

“We had great discussion about the accessibility and affordability issues of assisted living for low and moderate income seniors and about what needs to be done next,” Rod says.

The participants talked about this being an “issue whose time has come” and how it will be “one of the biggest issues that our country will face in the next 10 to 20 years.”

The ideas include defining what affordable assisted living is for the low income and the middle income market and what the key characteristics of successful affordable assisted living models are; becoming part of healthcare reform; identifying payment sources beyond Medicaid and Medicare; and showing how affordable assisted living can slow down the spend down of assets by older adults.

A much stronger political advocacy and educational effort also is needed.

“We recognize this was step one, Rod said. “As the first step of converting our discussion to action, the Summit Steering Committee during the coming weeks will be establishing work groups to move forward on the steps we need to take.”


All affordable assisted living communities managed by Gardant Management Solutions are certified and surveyed by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. All assisted living communities are licensed and surveyed by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

“Gardant Management Solutions is the leading provider of assisted living in Illinois and one of the 20 largest providers of assisted living in the United States.”

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment and let us know.

          

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Posted in Assisted Living Event

Proposed Illinois Budget Cut Measure Likely To Be Costly

June 25th, 2015

By Rick Banas of assisted living provider Gardant Management Solutions

Budget Cuts

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner is poised to make a costly mistake as he looks at how to balance the state’s budget.

His administration is looking at making it more difficult for seniors and adults with physical disabilities to qualify to live in one of the state’s more than 140 Supportive Living communities by increasing the Determination of Need score from 29 to 37.

The communities, which are located in more than 70 counties in northern, central and southern Illinois, operate through a program that was created during a previous budget crisis. The program has saved the state money since the first community opened in 1999. The cost for an individual on Medicaid living in a Supportive Living community is 48% less than the cost of nursing home care.

Any decision to increase the DON score, either as part of the budget or by Executive Action, will be devastating.

The most immediate consequence will be that 4,000 residents of Supportive Living communities will be forced out of their apartments by the State. They will be homeless.

These are seniors and adults with physical disabilities who moved into the communities because they need some help to maintain their independence. These are low-income and very-low income individuals who have less than $2,000 in assets.

The longer term impact will likely result in the state losing any savings it thinks it can generate and end up costing the state many more dollars than it currently is spending.

For Supportive Living communities, losing 4,000 residents will mean a loss in occupancy of 25% to 40%. Most of the communities would be unable to survive the impact of the significantly lower occupancy, especially when also combined with the proposed cut in reimbursement rates. They would not be able to meet their mortgage principal, their mortgage interest, their mortgage insurance and their replacement reserve obligations.

This would result in . . .

Another more than 6,500 seniors and adults being forced to move out of the Supportive Living community where they currently live. Nearly 4,000 of these individuals would be eligible to move into a nursing home on Medicaid, which would cost the state 48% more than if they lived in a Supportive Living community. If less than 1,600 of the 4,000 were to move into a nursing home, the State would lose all of the potential savings it thinks it can generate from the increase in the Determination of Need score. If all 4,000 were to move into a nursing home, the cost to the state would more than double.

More than 5,000 individuals would lose their jobs, collecting unemployment benefits rather than paying income taxes.

Financing sources, including the Illinois Housing Development Authority and Illinois mortgage companies and banks, having to foreclose on mortgages, many of which range from $10 million to $20 million.

Local taxing bodies would lose the property taxes paid be Supportive Living communities.

I understand the crucial need to balance the budget and that options are limited.

I also hope that the decisions that are made will actually result in generating savings.


All affordable assisted living communities managed by Gardant Management Solutions are certified and surveyed by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. All assisted living communities are licensed and surveyed by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

“Gardant Management Solutions is the leading provider of assisted living in Illinois and one of the 20 largest providers of assisted living in the United States.”

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment and let us know.

          

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Posted in Gardant, Tips

Seniors: Take the Summer Heat Seriously

June 21st, 2015

By Jo Ellen Bleavins of Gardant Management Solutions

Keep Calm and Stay Cool

With summer officially beginning as we celebrate Father’s Day today, I want to remind you that high temperatures, especially when combined with high humidity levels, should be of concern to all of us, particularly older adults.

Whether you live in northern, central or southern Illinois, temperatures can reach dangerous levels during the lazy, hazy days of summer.

In Springfield, our State Capitol, the highest temperatures documented by the National Weather Service for June is 104, which happened in 1934; for July is 112 in 1954; and for August is 108, which occurred in 1934.

In 1936, the temperature in Moline, home of our Heritage Woods of Moline affordable assisted living community, and in Urbana, home of our Prairie Winds affordable assisted living community, topped 100 on 13 days in July.

In Charleston, home of our Heritage Woods of Charleston affordable assisted living community, and in Danville, home of Bowman Estates affordable assisted living, the temperature topped 100 degrees on 15 days in July.

In Decatur, home of our Eagle Ridge affordable assisted living community, the temperature in July of 1936 climbed above 100 degrees on 17 days.

This was the summer of “The Dust Bowl” that hit the Plains, Upper Midwest and Great Lakes regions of our country. Nationally, 5,000 people died from the summer heat.

Senior man putting on roller skates

This year, the Weather Channel is predicting warmer than normal temperatures for the North Central part of the U.S., which includes Northern Illinois. Warmer than normal temperatures also are predicted for parts of Florida, the Southeast and the West. The Pacific Northwest and northern California could see temperatures much above average.

Older adults are much more prone to the effects of heat and dehydration for reasons including their body does not adjust well to sudden changes in temperature; they may have a chronic medical condition that changes their normal body response to heat; and they may be taking prescription medications that impair their body’s ability to regulate its temperature or inhibit perspiration.

Young children and individuals who are sick or overweight also are among those most at risk.

Tips for coping with the summer heat and sun include the following:

Drink plenty of water, regardless of activity, even if you are not thirsty. (Be sure to check with your doctor if your doctor has limited the amount of fluid you drink or if you are taking water pills.)

Avoid heavy meals and alcohol. Limit the amount of caffeinated beverages such as tea and coffee that you drink.

Keep the sunscreen handy and use it. As you age, your skin becomes more sensitive to the sun. Choose a sunscreen that offers a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. It should be a broadband UV spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB light. Be sure to apply generously.

Shield your skin and eyes from the harmful rays of the sun. Wear protective clothing such as light weight and light color fabrics, hats and sunglasses.

Take cool baths or showers. Sponge baths, ice bags and wet towels also can be helpful.

Install air conditioning or large fans to keep air moving. Check air conditioning ducts for proper insulation. Weather-strip your doors and window sills to keep cool air inside.

Cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun with drapes, shades or awnings. Install temporary window reflectors such as aluminum foiled-covered cardboard to reflect heat back outside.

Visit air-conditioned restaurants and malls.

For assistance in locating buildings that serve as Cooling Centers during heat emergencies, you can go to the Keep Cool Illinois website, or you can contact the Senior HelpLine at 800-252-8966 or your local Area Agency on Aging.

To cool off during heat emergencies, we also invite you to visit a Gardant community; to find one near you, click the map below.

Gardant Community Map

One of the included amenities that takes on so much added importance at our communities when heat warnings and advisories are in effect is air conditioning. The cost of utilities such as air conditioning is included in the monthly fee.

In addition, in our assisted living and memory care communities, certified nursing assistants are on-duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They work under the direction of a licensed nurse. Conducting a daily welfare check on each resident is just one of their responsibilities.

An emergency alert system comes standard with each of our assisted living apartments, and three-restaurant-style meals are also among the included services. Snacks and beverages are available whenever the dining room is not open.

During the summer when the temperatures are high, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages us to visit at risk older adults at least twice a day and to be sure to watch for signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

The symptoms of heat exhaustion can include heavy sweating, rapid breathing and a pulse that is fast and weak. To help overcome heat exhaustion, drink cool non-alcoholic beverages; rest; take a cool shower, bath or sponge bath; seek an air-conditioned environment; and wear light-weight clothing.

Heat stroke is a life-threatening illness in which a person’s body temperature can rise above 106 degrees in minutes. Symptoms can include red, hot and dry skin (no sweating); a rapid, strong pulse; throbbing headaches; dizziness; nausea; confusion; and unconsciousness.

If you suspect that someone might be experiencing heat stroke, call for medical attention as soon as possible. Until medical help arrives, get the person to a shady area and cool the victim using whatever methods you can such as a cool tub of water, a cool shower, cool water from a garden hose or a cool sponge bath.

For more information on heat and older adults and tips on what you can do the protect yourself and others, here are a couple of websites you might want to visit:

Centers for Disease Control & Protection

National Institutes for Health


All affordable assisted living communities managed by Gardant Management Solutions are certified and surveyed by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. All assisted living communities are licensed and surveyed by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

“Gardant Management Solutions is the leading provider of assisted living in Illinois and one of the 20 largest providers of assisted living in the United States.”

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment and let us know.

          

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Posted in Gardant, Tips

Baby Boomers and the Fountain of Youth

June 12th, 2015

The Boomer Generation

By Rick Banas of Gardant Management Solutions

A speaker at an educational workshop that I attended on June 10 noted that one of the things Baby Boomers are seeking is the Fountain of Youth.

The speaker was Nancy Losben, who is Chief Quality Officer for Omnicare, Inc. She was speaking on the “Future of Assisted Living – Where Are We Headed.”

Given the information that I have heard at conferences and have read on-line in recent months, I can understand why Boomers would desire a magical way to restore their youth. Baby Boomers are expected to live longer, but be less healthy than previous generations.

At the 2015 Boomer Business Summit, Terry Clark of the UnitedHealth Group noted that two-thirds of seniors have at least two chronic health conditions. The chronic conditions include diabetes, obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol and arthritis.

Earlier in the day, Lisa McCraken of Ziegler pointed out that addiction and mental health issues, including anxiety and depression, are more prominent in the Boomer population.

Among individuals 55 to 64 years of age, an increase in moderate to severe psychological distress was reported in virtually every income group, said a story by Dave Johnson on the coming Baby Boomer health crisis was posted last month on the Time Inc. Network. The story is based on data from the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Only among individuals in the highest income category was no increase reported. (Report)

The story goes on to say the Baby Boomers are taking more pills than ever before. Being a Boomer, my thoughts turned to the Rolling Stones hit “Mother’s Little Helper. The song was released nearly 50 years ago in 1966. The lyrics talk about “what a drag it is getting old,” how mothers turn to a “little yellow pill” to help get them through the day, and how they beg the doctor for more.

All signs indicate that the acuity level of residents moving into senior living and assisted living communities will increase as Baby Boomers will be coming to us with greater physical and mental health care needs.

One of the challenges will likely be the ability of a significant percentage of Baby Boomers to afford living in a senior or assisted living community.

Socioeconomic data from Nielsen indicates that as of 2014 the household income for more than 60% of the 75+ population in the United States is less than $35,000.

CBS Money Watch posted a story in August of last year that noted that a Shocking Number of Americans Have NO Retirement Savings.

Two months later, in October of 2014, a story posted on the CNN Money website reported that seniors in 49 states were struggling to afford retirement.

According to a study of residents in senior living and assisted living communities by the Center of Retirement Research at Boston College, more than 25% had a net worth of less than $50,000 and 40% had a net worth of less than $100,000.

Residents expressed satisfaction with the cost and services; they thought they were getting value for their dollar.

Between 55% and 70% of the residents expressed concern about their ability to afford the monthly fees in the months ahead. For as many as 30%, the concern was considerable.

Only 16% of the residents in assisted living reportedly had long-term care insurance.

For a variety of reasons such as joblessness and their own family obligations, children may not be able to provide financial assistance, Nancy Losben said.

Baby Boomers may want larger apartments, more dining choices and more amenities.

Financially, however, a senior who earns the U.S. Census indicated mean income of $2,240 a month ($26,880 a year) and has less than $50,000 a year in assets would on average be able to afford living in an assisted living community for less than 13 months in the Midwest; no more than eight months in the Northeast; less than 19 months in the South; and less than 14 months on the West Coast.

According to the Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA), the average length of stay is 22 months.

It is a situation the needs to be addressed.

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All affordable assisted living communities managed by Gardant Management Solutions are certified and surveyed by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. All assisted living communities are licensed and surveyed by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

“Gardant Management Solutions is the leading provider of assisted living in Illinois and one of the 20 largest providers of assisted living in the United States.”

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment and let us know.

          

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Posted in Gardant, Supportive Living, Tips

Top Teams Crowned in Wii Bowling and Brain Games Finals

June 4th, 2015

By Amber Springer of Gardant Management Solutions

AALC 2015 - Finals Results - Banner

Competition was fierce.

The top trivia and Wii Bowling teams gathered at the Abraham Lincoln Hotel and Conference Center in Springfield this week for statewide tournaments hosted by the Affordable Assisted Living Coalition (AALC).

It was amazing to see the dedication and hard work among residents from our supportive living communities. Long after the first day of competition ended, trivia teams huddled in the hallways, quizzing each other on questions they might see in the finals. The bowlers were glued to television screens, trying to beat their best scores for a chance to take home the biggest trophies and earn bragging rights until next year.

These men and women – all over the age of 65 – defy aging stereotypes. They are active. They are sharp. And I’d be willing to bet they’d give anyone – young or old – a run for their money in Jeopardy or Wii Bowling.

It was inspiring to hear stories from residents at the annual tournament. They’d mastered a new hobby and traveling to the state’s capital to challenge others was a way for them to continue pushing themselves both mentally and physically. The experience was something they hadn’t imagined possible a few years ago, and it was just one more reason they said their decisions to move into assisted living communities had been life-changing.

6th Annual Wii Bowling Tournament

Close to 100 teams entered the Wii Bowling tournament this year, making it the biggest pool of competitors so far. Eighteen teams from Gardant communities advanced to the 32-team playoffs, including the three that rolled their way into the Final Four. Nine Gardant residents were honored for perfect 300 scores during the regular season.

AALC 2015 - Wii Bowling Winner - Banner

The Bowling Brooks from Heritage Woods of Bolingbrook finished first, further cementing their place as one of the top bowling teams in the state. Their first place trophy will be added to a mantel that already includes hardware from second, third and four place victories from previous competitions. The 2015 bowlers were Ann Duncan, Dorothy Green, Vonnie Heagy, Michael Malina, Jeanne Pridmore and Joan Schmitz. Vonnie, the highest scoring bowler of the week with a 279 and 268, received special recognition during Thursday’s awards ceremony. The team score topped 900 in both the semi-finals and finals, setting what organizers believed was a record for the most points tallied by a single team in tournament history.

The Pin Heads from Prairie Living at Chautauqua, our affordable assisted living community in Carbondale, weren’t far behind in the competition. The team, which included Carol Biegler, Delores Ebersohl, Donna Webb-Major and Arlene Louis, came in second place.

The Heritage Woodsmen also added another trophy to their case. This year, they finished third, closing out a difficult season that left them down a man when their fourth member, Harry Waggle, passed away. The group, Burleigh Hocking, John Honn and Bill Pankey, dedicated the rest of the year to playing in his honor. Heritage Woods of Charleston has finished in first and third place in the past.

2015 Brain Games

This was the first year for the Brain Games competition, which combined trivia and Jeopardy for a fun twist on the popular television game show. Players tested their knowledge by placing bets on their answers; the teams that earned the most points advanced to the finals.

The Heritage Woods Foxes from Heritage Woods of Batavia finished in first place. Jim Gent and Mary Jane Hillier represented the community. Their third member, Jerry Wall, was unable to travel to the tournament, but was excited to learn the team’s hard work throughout the season had paid off. Bonnie Western served as an alternate on the team.

Prairie Living at Chautauqua a was represented on the Brain Games side, taking home second place honors in that tournament as well. Team members were Madeline Brossart, Ann Dehorn, Virgil Kuhnert, Will Majors and Trish Weihl.

Both teams competed in the statewide AALC trivia tournament last year, but this is the first time they took trophies home.

AALC 2015 - Brain Games Winners - Banner

Other Gardant communities that advanced to the Brain Games contest in Springfield were Cambridge House of Swansea, Eagle Ridge of Decatur, Heritage Woods of Manteno and Heritage Woods of Plainfield.

For more images from the tournaments, click here.


All affordable assisted living communities managed by Gardant Management Solutions are certified and surveyed by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. All assisted living communities are licensed and surveyed by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

“Gardant Management Solutions is the leading provider of assisted living in Illinois
and one of the 20 largest providers of assisted living in the United States.”

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment and let us know.

          

Tags: , , , , , , ,
Posted in Gardant, Supportive Living
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