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Need for Affordable Assisted Living Enormous

Friday, July 11th, 2014

By Rick Banas of assisted living provider BMA Management, Ltd.

Steve Moran - Senior Housing Forom

Over the past couple of weeks, Steve Moran of Senior Housing Forum posted a series of Blogs that focused on affordable assisted living for low-income seniors.

In Part One, Steve laid the groundwork for why affordable assisted living is needed.

In Part Two, he highlighted six trigger points that our company, BMA Management, find to be important when deciding if and where to develop affordable assisted living communities.

BMA is the largest provider of affordable assisted living in Illinois and ranks as the 16th largest provider of assisted living in the country. Thirty-six of our communities operate through the Illinois Supportive Living program, a Medicaid-waiver program that enables us to serve low-income seniors and adults with physical disabilities. On average, two-thirds of the residents in the communities are receiving financial assistance through Medicaid.

Both of Steve’s Blogs are based on a conversation that Steve had during the 2014 Assisted Living Federation of America Conference & Exposition (ALFA) in Phoenix with Rod Burkett, President of BMA Management, and Wayne Smallwood, Executive Director of the Affordable Assisted Living Coalition (AALC).

Here are links to the Blogs:

Part One:
Exploring Low Income Assisted Living
with Rod Burkett and Wayne Smallwood

Part Two:
6 Trigger Points for Developing Affordable Assisted Living
with Rod Burkett and Wayne Smallwood

Looking at both the current population of older adults in our country as well as the coming tsunami of Baby Boomers, the need for affordable assisted living is enormous.

Here are some of the reasons why:

Today’s Older Adult Population

Data indicates that a significant percentage of the older adult population that is of an age where they might likely need assisted living simply cannot afford the cost of living in an assisted living community.

A 2012 MetLife Survey indicates that the monthly average base rate for assisted living as of a couple of years ago was $3,550, which equates to $42,600 a year. In addition to the base rate, many assisted living communities charge extra for any services or assistance that are beyond what is included in the base rate. From my experience, I have seen these extra charges run from as low as $300 a month to as high as $2,000 or more.

As of 2014, an estimated 45% of the households headed by individuals 75+ have annual household incomes of less than $25,000 and more than 60% have incomes of less than $35,000.

Among the 85+ population, nearly 53% of the households have annual household incomes of less than $25,000 and 69% have incomes of less than $35,000.

The Baby Boomers

Pundits estimate that 50% of Baby Boomers will likely not have enough money to last them through retirement. When they reach the age where needing assisted living or nursing home care will be likely, they will not have the financial means to afford it.

With the phasing out of traditional pension benefits, they will need to rely entirely on Social Security benefits for income.

They lack any substantial savings.

They have little or no housing wealth.

They have substantial credit card debt.

Affordable Assisted Living

The Illinois Supportive Living program serves as a wonderful model for making affordable assisted living available for low-income individuals. As Steve notes, the communities we operate are not “stripped-down, minimalist” versions of assisted living communities. They are warm and comfortable environments where love, compassion and dignity are the focus.

The state and federal governments benefit because the cost for an individual who is receiving financial assistance from Medicaid is 45% less in a Supportive Living community than in a nursing home.


All affordable assisted living communities managed by BMA Management, Ltd. 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.

“BMA Management, Ltd. 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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I Have it Made Here

Monday, July 7th, 2014

By Rick Banas of assisted living provider BMA Management, Ltd.

“I’m lucky to live here – not only at Prairie Living, but also in America,” wrote Demetris Berezow in a recent testimonial. Prairie Living at Chautauqua is the affordable assisted living community that BMA Management operates in Carbondale, Illinois.

He went on to say that “during my lifetime, I have lived in many other countries, and America is the best. I was born in Russia and was taken away from my family at an early age by the German soldiers. I then spent three very long years in Germany in a Concentration Camp, with unbearable living conditions and constant abuse. Following my release, I was sponsored by a farmer in Murphysboro and was able to come to America where I worked on a farm.”

Murphysboro is located in southern Illinois not far from Carbondale.

“I had many wonderful experiences during my time in America.” He even had the opportunity to teach Russian at Southern Illinois University.

“I do not want to pretend that I know everything, but people here in America do not understand that they have it made. For this they should be thankful.”

Following his retirement, Demetris was looking for someplace to live and came to look at Prairie Living. “My first impression was ‘Oh no, this place is only for the rich.”

He found out that you do not have to be rich to live at Prairie Living. The community serves older adults of all incomes, including individuals on Medicaid.

“I am so glad that I listened to the staff that encouraged me to stay and give it a chance,” he said. “Everyone is so nice and helpful. I enjoy meeting new people and telling them what a great place this is. I love living here. This is my home.”

Prairie Living - Demetris Berezow - Testimonial

As we celebrated Independence Day here in the US of A with parades, barbecues and fireworks lighting up the night sky, I wanted to share Demetris’ testimony with you.

Prairie Living is one of the more than 140 affordable assisted living communities located throughout the State of Illinois that operate through a wonderful program call Supportive Living.

The program is enabling thousands of seniors and adults with physical disabilities to live independently. It provides an attractive and affordable alternative to a nursing home or to struggling alone at home for individuals who need some help to maintain their independence.

The emphasis of the program is on personal choice, dignity, privacy and individuality.

BMA Management is the largest provider of Supportive Living in Illinois. We operate 36 Supportive Living communities in northern, central and southern Illinois, including in the City of Chicago, surrounding suburbs and in the Metro East area of St. Louis.

The Supportive Living communities we operate combine residential apartment-style housing with personal assistance, help with medications, and a variety of convenience and support services such as three meals every day, housekeeping and laundry.

Residents live in private apartments that they can furnish and decorate to their tastes. The apartments feature a kitchenette, spacious bathroom with shower and grab bars, and emergency alert system.

Certified nursing assistants, working under the direction of a licensed nurse, are on-duty in the community 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Residents also benefit from all of the opportunities that are available to socialize with friends and neighbors and to participate in activities and special programs no matter what the weather.

Our focus is on providing residents with the love, compassion and dignity they deserve as well as the help and assistance they need. Our emphasis is on helping each resident to achieve and maintain as much independence as possible for as long as possible.

Thirty-five of our Supportive Living communities serve adults 65 years of age and older. One of the communities, Heritage Woods of South Elgin, also features White Oaks, a specialized affordable Memory Care apartment-living program for older adults with Alzheimer’s or related dementia. Our Deer Path community in Huntley, Illinois, serves adults 22 to 64 years of age with physical disabilities.

Among the beauties of the program is that residents and their families are not the only ones who benefit. It costs our federal and state governments considerably less to care for someone in a Supportive Living community than it does in a nursing home.

It is a program that Illinois certainly has gotten right.


All affordable assisted living communities managed by BMA Management, Ltd. 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.

“BMA Management, Ltd. 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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Talking about Death Much Earlier in Life

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

By Rick Banas of assisted living provider BMA Management, Ltd.

Knocking on Heaven’s Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death

We need to start talking about death much earlier in life, Katy Butler noted during a presentation that I was invited to attend last week at the Loyola University School of Law.

Katy is an award-winning journalist and author of “Knocking on Heaven’s Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death.

The event was hosted by the Chicago End-of-Life Care Coalition (CECC) and attended by well over a hundred individuals, including doctors, nurses, social workers, hospice and palliative care workers and elder law attorneys.

I thank Dan Kuhn of Rainbow Hospice and Palliative Care for e-mailing me the invite.

Katy’s book is, in part, a touching memoir about the death of her parents; in part, an investigative report into our medical system and into our attitudes and expectations about life and death; and in part, a visionary guide designed to inspire the difficult conversations she feels we need to have when we are not in a panic, not facing significant loss and can think straight.

We have an epidemic of unnecessary suffering at the end of life and live in a culture that does not want to talk about death at all, she noted during her presentation. We do not want to say good-bye to the people and things we love.

Three-quarters of Americans want to die at home, but only a quarter do. Twenty percent die in an Intensive Care unit at a hospital. Executing a health care power-of-attorney document and Do Not Resuscitate Orders is not enough.

In her grandparents’ generation, there was living and there was dying. Now there is a gray zone that can last for days, for months, for years.

Katy’s father “lived” in the gray zone for years, following the crippling stroke he suffered at the age of 79.

Katy is the oldest of three children and the only daughter. She lived in California, thousands of miles and three time zones away from her parents’ home in Connecticut.

Katy Butler with Parents Jeffrey and Valerie

As so often happens, the burden of caregiving fell on Katy’s mother and on Katy, the middle-aged daughter. After spending a decade reporting on health and human behavior, Katy found herself becoming her parent’s parent. But she was not the dutiful daughter from a few generations ago who moved in to take care of her parents.

In her presentation, Katy chronicled what happened after her Dad underwent what is a relatively simple medical procedure, the installation of a pacemaker, in the aftermath of his stroke.

What I found to be so valuable are her insights into the factors that tend to make a pathway to a natural death so difficult:

Patients who approve medical procedures rather than face the prospect of mortality.

Proud parents with stoic, self-reliant attitudes.

Wives who feel that because the husband took care of the family for 50 years, now it is their turn.

Family members who are in denial or who are unwilling to accept or face the death of a loved one.

The insistence by families that doctors do everything possible to prolong life, including “Hail Mary” surgeries.

The threat and fear of litigation.

Our piecemeal approach to medicine, and the focus on fixing one particular organ or problem.

Physicians who are trained to save life at all costs, and a health care system that views death as a failure.

A health care payment system that reimburses doctors at a much higher level for using advanced medical technology than for doctors appropriately doing less, inappropriately doing more or for taking the time to have a conversation with the patient and family so they can make a truly informed decision.

Parents who grew up believing what doctors told them.

Decisions that have to be made during a crisis by exhausted and overwhelmed family members.

Katy talked about learning what it meant when a hospital discharge planner informed the family that her Dad had to be transferred to a neurological rehabilitation center “at once.” She and her mother were in a panicked rush, looking for the closest place that had an available bed.

She also spoke about her feelings of grief, fear and confusion. Her thoughts would muddle from the desire for her Dad to be fixed to the hope that he would die. In the book, she admits that at one point in time during the ordeal she felt that while it might have been better for Mom if Dad had died from his initial stroke, “it wouldn’t have been better for me.”

She challenged those of us attending her presentation with some tough questions:

How do you want to die? What is a Good Death for you?

Where is the line between saving a life and prolonging suffering and death?

What would I as the daughter do if Mom died first before Dad?

Can a daughter express her love for her father by doing all she can to let him die?

Her goal is not to push the pendulum from over treatment to under treatment. During the Second World War, doctors were not sure if Katy’s father would make it through the night after he was injured by a German shell in the hills outside Siena, Italy. They saved his life by amputating his left arm and using a miraculous new drug to fight off the infections that were coursing through his bloodstream.

Her vision is appropriate patient-centered care that recognizes that there comes a time when the focus should be on “caring” rather than “curing.” The priorities should be on postponing disability and living independently for as long as possible, relieving suffering, supporting the patient and family, and planning a pathway to a natural death.

As Katy asked us, what is one change that you would like to see made to help ensure that this happens?


All affordable assisted living communities managed by BMA Management, Ltd. 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.

“BMA Management, Ltd. 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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Seniors: Take the Summer Heat Seriously

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

By Rick Banas of assisted living provider BMA Management, Ltd.

 Keep Calm and Stay Cool

Yesterday morning I woke up to hazy sunshine. The temperature overnight at O’Hare International Airport had set a record high after climbing into the mid-90s during the day. At least the humidity was not overbearing.

With summer officially set to start on Saturday morning, I wanted 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 104º, which happened in 1934; for July is 112º in 1954; and for August is 108º, 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 of Danville affordable assisted living, the temperature topped 100º on 15 days in July.

In Decatur, home of our Eagle Ridge of Decatur 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.

During a presentation on Tuesday at our Cambridge House of O’Fallon affordable assisted living community in the Metro East area of St. Louis, a representative of the Cedar Ridge Health & Rehabilitation talked about Seniors and the Summer Heat.

Older adults are much more prone to the effects of heat and dehydration for the following reasons:

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.

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 at www2.illinois.gov/KEEPCOOL. Older adults also can contact their local Area Agency on Aging or the Senior HelpLine at 800-252-8966.

To cool off during heat emergencies, we also invite you to visit a BMA Management community near you. The map below shows the locations of our assisted living, senior living and memory care communities.

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. 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 CDC 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 106º 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 & Prevention

www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/elderlyheat.asp

National Institutes for Health

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/heatillness.html


All affordable assisted living communities managed by BMA Management, Ltd. 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.

“BMA Management, Ltd. 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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Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

By Rick Banas of assisted living provider BMA Management, Ltd.

Your phone rings shortly after 2 p.m. on a Tuesday afternoon. It is someone saying he is from your bank. There is a problem with your account. All you need to do to get the problem fixed is provide information about your account, your date of birth and your social security number so he can verify that what your bank has is correct.

Larry Burton - Thrivent Financial - Blog Image

Your bank will not call you asking for personal information, Larry Burton cautioned us during programs on Identity Theft that he conducted last week at our Heritage Woods affordable assisted living communities in Manteno and Watseka, Illinois. Neither will the federal government.

Larry is a financial associate with Thrivent Financial.

Callers posing as representatives of the government or legitimate businesses such as banks and credit card companies and saying that personal information needs to be updated is one common method of Identity Theft. They use the information to open credit cards and take out loans in your name, clean out your bank account, file false tax returns and obtain government benefits.

Identify theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States, Larry noted. It can and does happen, and it can take weeks or months before it is discovered.

Seniors often are victims. As Loretta LaBrec, Director of Marketing at Heritage Woods of Watseka, so aptly pointed out, “unfortunately we are a generation that trusts everybody. We didn’t lock the doors to our house and our cars.”

What surprised me is that Identity Theft is more prevalent off-line than online and half of all Identity Theft is committed by someone you know – a friend, relative, neighbor, co-worker.

Here some tips recommended by Larry to reduce your risk of becoming a victim of Identity Theft:

Do not give out any personal information such as account numbers, credit card numbers, or your Social Security or Medicare numbers to anyone who calls you. If someone calls asking for personal information, hang up.

Do not open e-mail attachments from individuals you do not know.

Use strong passwords – a combination of lowercase and capitalized letters, numbers and symbols. They should be at least eight characters long.

Have virus protection installed on your computers and smartphone and update it regularly.

Do not carry around your Social Security card or your Medicare card.

Install a mailbox that locks.

Use a shredder to shred information you do not need anymore. Keep information you need in a locked box.

Beware of any goods or services that are being sold over the Internet for too good to be true prices.

Review the detail of all your credit card statements to verify that all of the charges are appropriate.

Report any suspected fraudulent activity immediately to the financial institutions you use, to your credit card companies, and to your local police department. If you are a resident of one of the senior living, assisted living or memory care homes or apartments that BMA manages, also report any suspicious activity to the Administrator or another department head. If the problem is large and extends to multiple accounts, you can also contact the Federal Trade Commission by calling 877-ID-THEFT (877-438-4388) or go online to www.consumer.gov/idtheft.

Keep copies of everything pertaining to your situation and keep a record of all your interactions.

Review your credit reports at least once a year. You can obtain free copies of your credit report from the following three credit reporting agencies:

Equifax | 888-766-0008 | www.equifax.com

Experian | 888-397-3742 | www.experian.com

TransUnion | 800-680-7289 | www.transunion.com

Since each of these companies offer a free credit report annually, the best approach would be to obtain a report from a different company once every four months.


All affordable assisted living communities managed by BMA Management, Ltd. 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.

“BMA Management, Ltd. 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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BMA Management, Ltd.
535 East North Street, Suite E
Bradley, Illinois 60915

Phone: 877-882-1495

Email: info@bma-mgmt.com



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