JUST PLAIN TALK: Florida man strikes once more

Every time I cross the Chattahoochee River and come home, I’m happy to see the Florida state line. Florida’s population continues to boom and it’s a good place, but to steal a line from Woody Guthrie, having the Do-Re-Wed helps.

Though Florida’s 65+ year olds are 30% above the US average, the Sunshine State was the last to die for long-term care services and support, according to a recent AARP study. The study, in collaboration with the Commonwealth Fund and the SCAN Foundation, looked at five broad categories: affordability and access; Choice of setting and provider; Support for family carers; Effective transitions (hospitals to nursing homes and successful layoffs to the community) and quality of life and care.

Out of all 50 states, Florida was in the bottom half in all five categories. Jeff Johnson, AARP Florida state director, blames part of the problem for “the state’s over-reliance on nursing homes.” Nursing homes are not particularly healthy places. A study by the General Accounting Office found that over 80% had infection protection and control deficiencies. It’s no surprise that nursing homes were petri dishes for coronavirus. In addition to health problems, nursing homes in Florida are more expensive than the national average.

Thanks to Alabama, Florida has dodged the lower place in its choice of hire and provider. Florida scores badly because the state does not have adequate home health and personal care aids. Also, it’s difficult to age with limited public transportation.

Florida offers no more than the federal minimum requirements of the Family and Medical Leave Act to assist family carers. Susan Reinhard, director of the AARP Public Policy Institute and head of the latest study, hopes recently passed legislation in Tallahassee that allows nurses more autonomy can help people who need long-term care but live at home. The study warns that Florida will be the last to die for the percentage of nursing home residents with stressful transitions at the end of life. In terms of quality of life and care, Florida has some good news with significant improvements in antipsychotics for nursing home residents. But the state ranked 35 for pressure ulcers in nursing home patients.

Long-term care insurance can reduce costs, but many people struggle to finance their retirement and cannot afford additional costs after they stop working. If you’re like me and want to live in Florida for the rest of your days, you may budget for the higher cost of living as you get older. Reinhard points out that there are things you can do without spending money. Have a residence that is accessible and maintain connections with the community and your friends.

Watch your health. I believe that my father’s reluctance to follow the doctor’s instructions regarding rehab was affecting his quality of life, but so he rolled. She adds, “Do as much prevention as you can.”

Despite the AARP’s scorecard, high quality care is possible in Florida, but higher costs are to be expected, see Woodie Guthrie’s words.

You can’t always get what you want, but Buz Livingston, CFP can help you figure out what you need. For specific recommendations, visit livingstonfinancial.net or visit the office at Redfish Village, 2050 Scenic 30A, M-1 Suite 230

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