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Assisted Living • Life Celebrated • Independence Respected

Cost of Living Home vs. Assisted Living

 

Most people assume that staying at home is more cost effective but in reality, it can become more expensive as you begin paying for home health services, assistive devices and home modifications.

 

Figures from SoFi show that the cost of living in Wyoming with all expenses included would come to $47,832 per year or $3,986 per month. This is a general estimate of the entire state of Wyoming and does not include the additional cost of living in some places.

The cost of homemaker and/or home health services is estimated to be upwards of $6,000 per month in 2024 in Wyoming as reported by Genworth. This would be in addition to all the other expenses associated with keeping a home. Those can include: cost of the property (if any), property taxes and insurance, food, transportation, utilities (electric, gas, internet, etc.), maintenance, housekeeping, general supplies and possible renovations for additional safety features.

For those using low income housing or unable to afford additional services, Many level 1 assisted living communities accept the LT-101 waiver that will pay for the majority of your stay. The remainder will be dependent upon your personal income and how much you can afford. Most long term care insurance will cover the charges of assisted living but you will need to check with your insurance provider.

 

In conclusion, assisted living is affordable to anyone in need.

Resources:

https://www.sofi.com/cost-of-living-in-wyoming/

https://www.genworth.com/aging-and-you/finances/cost-of-care.html

Driving Miss Daisy: Out into the wilderness

After getting cabin fever, who doesn’t want to bust out and go for a ride somewhere? As Activities Aide at Warm Valley Lodge, the assisted living facility in Dubois, Marcy Leseberg brings residents out at every chance she gets. Besides the scheduled twice-weekly “scenic rides” on the calendar of events, Leseberg loves to offer her friends at the Lodge a spur-of-the-moment drive into the backcountry and beyond. It’s a much better option than just looking at the mountains through the windows.

Meet Our Activities Director Marcy
Marcy and Warm Valley Lodge friends about to leave for a short excursion in the WVL golf cart. 

As a born-and-bred resident of the Upper Wind River Valley, she knows exactly where to go.

“East Fork is a rough road,” she said recently, musing about her next drive. “It’s beautiful, but I don’t know how the roads are, after all this rain. Maybe we’ll just go to the Crowheart Store and get an ice cream bar.”

Leseberg says she began these trips during the pandemic.

“This started in April 2020, when I was in housekeeping,” Leseberg says. “We were locked down. We needed something to do, so I just got in the car and started driving. We couldn’t stop or go in anywhere. We just drove around.”

 

          

Born in Crowheart, Leseberg knows the back roads and has the personal history to provide narration to match the itinerary, after a childhood of Saturday night visits to neighbors when her Dad would fiddle or play the guitar. During the recent pandemic, always with a few residents in tow, “we went to Morton Lake, Ocean Lake, we toured the big town of Pavilion,” she says. “We drove by the farm I was raised on. I took them past the church where my sister and I got locked in the outhouse during a church meeting. Stuff like that you don’t forget, and the residents love those kinds of stories.”

On a memorable eight-hour drive during the worst of those long months, she drove one resident and her oxygen equipment to Fort Washakie, Arapahoe, and all the way to Red Canyon beyond Lander. “We ate Kentucky Fried Chicken in the car, because we weren’t allowed to go out anywhere,” she recalls.

Leseberg hasn’t hosted a four-hour or seven-hour excursion since COVID-19 has waned, because now her passengers can do things like travel up to Union Pass and eat at the Crooked Creek Restaurant or go dancing to Packin’ the Mail during Music at the Museum in town. At last, they can get out of the vehicle and interact with people.

Watching the Native American Eagle Spirit Dancers was a highlight, one resident said. She loved the music, the dancing, and the performers themselves. “I’m from Oklahoma, and I’ve been to a lot of dances with the Five Tribes,” she recalls, “and I’m just fascinated with Native Americans, so I just walked up and talked to them.”

“After three years of doing this, it’s great to see people get out and socialize,” Leseberg says. “Everyone in the town knows their names. It makes them feel like they belong.”

Horizons are even wider now, after a region-wide appeal generated funds to buy “Miss Daisy” – Warm Valley Lodge’s new van. It can transport up to eight residents, along with their necessary equipment. The old SUV could only accommodate three passengers and a driver. Leaving the SUV free for local errands and doctor visits, the van allows the road-trip crew a much longer range. Next on the list is the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, the Wind River Wild Horse Sanctuary and picnics in the mountains next summer.
Leseberg says the van’s increased capacity encourages more lively conversations during the trips. One of the regular passengers brought up different advantages.
“The van is higher,” that passenger said. “You can see more animals, more countryside. And I love waving at people I know when we drive by”.

 Marcy and Warm Valley Lodge friends about to leave for a short excursion in the WVL golf cart. 

As a born-and-bred resident of the Upper Wind River Valley, she knows exactly where to go.

“East Fork is a rough road,” she said recently, musing about her next drive. “It’s beautiful, but I don’t know how the roads are, after all this rain. Maybe we’ll just go to the Crowheart Store and get an ice cream bar.”

Leseberg says she began these trips during the pandemic.

“This started in April 2020, when I was in housekeeping,” Leseberg says. “We were locked down. We needed something to do, so I just got in the car and started driving. We couldn’t stop or go in anywhere. We just drove around.”

 

 

 

           

Born in Crowheart, Leseberg knows the back roads and has the personal history to provide narration to match the itinerary, after a childhood of Saturday night visits to neighbors when her Dad would fiddle or play the guitar. During the recent pandemic, always with a few residents in tow, “we went to Morton Lake, Ocean Lake, we toured the big town of Pavilion,” she says. “We drove by the farm I was raised on. I took them past the church where my sister and I got locked in the outhouse during a church meeting. Stuff like that you don’t forget, and the residents love those kinds of stories.” 

On a memorable eight-hour drive during the worst of those long months, she drove one resident and her oxygen equipment to Fort Washakie, Arapahoe, and all the way to Red Canyon beyond Lander. “We ate Kentucky Fried Chicken in the car, because we weren’t allowed to go out anywhere,” she recalls. 

Leseberg hasn’t hosted a four-hour or seven-hour excursion since COVID-19 has waned, because now her passengers can do things like travel up to Union Pass and eat at the Crooked Creek Restaurant or go dancing to Packin’ the Mail during Music at the Museum in town. At last, they can get out of the vehicle and interact with people. 

Watching the Native American Eagle Spirit Dancers was a highlight, one resident said. She loved the music, the dancing, and the performers themselves. “I’m from Oklahoma, and I’ve been to a lot of dances with the Five Tribes,” she recalls, “and I’m just fascinated with Native Americans, so I just walked up and talked to them.”

“After three years of doing this, it’s great to see people get out and socialize,” Leseberg says. “Everyone in the town knows their names. It makes them feel like they belong.”

Horizons are even wider now, after a region-wide appeal generated funds to buy “Miss Daisy” – Warm Valley Lodge’s new van. It can transport up to eight residents, along with their necessary equipment. The old SUV could only accommodate three passengers and a driver. Leaving the SUV free for local errands and doctor visits, the van allows the road-trip crew a much longer range. Next on the list is the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, the Wind River Wild Horse Sanctuary and picnics in the mountains next summer.
Leseberg says the van’s increased capacity encourages more lively conversations during the trips. One of the regular passengers brought up different advantages.
“The van is higher,” that passenger said. “You can see more animals, more countryside. And I love waving at people I know when we drive by”.

Restoring a ‘basic human right’, through food

They were probably the wittiest couple in town back then, and they loved giving dinner parties. She usually planned them around a theme, like Mexican or Asian, with place settings to match. Gregarious and wry, she was a terrific hostess.

But then she needed surgery, and afterwards it all got to be too much to take on.

These days the couple eats out sometimes. But mostly they enjoy the dinner entrees and side dishes of their choice, prepared by a chef who had a lifetime of experience in Jackson, and delivered directly to their dining table.

“Oh, no. Now I will have to think again,” joked the husband, when he heard that as residents of Warm Valley Lodge, the assisted living residence in Dubois, he and his wife would begin making their own choices from regularly changing menus.

But later he remarked: “We’re not eating out as much as we used to. It really makes a difference.”

One of the founding principles of assisted living is to encourage autonomy and independence among people as they age. The basic idea is to provide a real home where residents can follow a normal life, while escaping the most burdensome obligations of household activities as they grow older, including cooking, which may be a considerable sacrifice in its own way.

“The ability to make decisions intentionally and independently is a basic human right, yet people living in residential aged care facilities often give up a certain amount of their right to choose what to eat or drink,” wrote the authors of a study published three years ago in the “Journal of Clinical Nursing,” adding that “the loss of autonomy to make food choices is of particular concern, as a lack of choice decreases motivation to eat, placing residents at risk of malnutrition and reducing their quality of life.”

Several recent studies have found that when diners at residences for the elderly are given meal choices, they tend to eat sensibly and tend not to lose weight (which is a major contributor to frailty). Yet anyone who moves into a “residential care facility” may still face daily fare that is “three slabs of whatever – one green, one orange and then one maybe looks like mashed potato or something with gravy” (as one RN described it).

The report in the nursing journal stated that staff in two Australian facilities were more concerned about the nutritional status of meals than about how they were prepared. “They don’t know how to cook anything,” said one 73-year-old resident. “They walk around with the tops like chefs…but they’re just glorified cooks.”

Allen Sphatt probably didn’t know about any of this research when he answered the ad from Warm Valley Lodge for a new head cook. What he did know was that he had grown very tired of driving back and forth over one mountain pass or another. After losing his lease in Driggs and being priced out of Jackson, he had settled in Dubois. So he answered the ad.

What he also knew was that the customary way of doing things was going to be “ridiculously boring.”

As former head of the commissary at Fine Dining Group, which owns breweries and restaurants in Jackson including the Bistro and Bin 22, Sphatt absolutely deserves to wear the chef’s hat. Before that, he was dinner sous chef at Snow King and executive chef at Spring Creek Ranch.

Warm Valley Lodge had been using a menu service to determine the daily meals. “They outline the meal every day,” he explained. “You pull the menu from the computer, make it, serve it, you’re done.”

Soon after being hired as Dietary Manager, Sphatt suggested a different approach to Margaret Chantry, the administrator of the Lodge, and she let him change the system. Himself a Certified Food Manager, he still relies on the menu service and the contracted registered dietician to determine portion control and dietary needs. But he uses his own recipes.

If an entrée is meatloaf, for example, he starts with the menu-service basics and adds seasonings like Worcestershire sauce and thyme, knowing from experience that they enhance the flavor of the beef. His new clientele gets to choose main meal and breakfast options from menus that change every two weeks.

“Al introduces many new menu items that most of us have never experienced, things that he would make in the past or learned from his family,” remarked Chantry. “Based on comments from our monthly resident council meetings, the residents unanimously favor this new system. Also, the staff enjoys the food just as much as the residents, and we choose it over our own.”

Preparing a new menu at Warm Valley Lodge requires two days of intense work: putting the main items into the freezer, making the sauces ahead and replacing what is ordered. Afterward, everything is ready to grab and cooked to order—just like in a restaurant.

Studies show that kitchen staff at some residences for the aging resist the idea of departing from the institutional menus, because it would require too much extra planning and time. But “it plays into my hands,” Sphatt said.

“That’s my experience—not institutional cooking, restaurant cooking,” he said. “I’ve been doing this for 40 years. It’s not hard. It’s easy.” And it gives the diners something to think about.

Payment Sources

Transitioning to an assisted living community can help maintain independence for a longer period than those who wait. One can build a foundation and become familiar with their environment while remaining safe, healthy, and independent.

Warm Valley Lodge accepts private funds, long-term care insurance, and the Medicaid LT101 Waiver funds. Low-income individuals may be able to utilize Medicaid to help cover the cost of services at assisted living. Applying for Medicaid can begin by contacting your county public health office. Medicaid rooms are currently available at Warm Valley Lodge!

 

Fremont County Offices:

Riverton: 307-856-6979

Lander: 307-332-1073

 

More information can be found on the Wyoming Department of Health’s website: https://health.wyo.gov/healthcarefin/hcbs/level-of-care-assessment/

Still not sure how to start? This checklist may be helpful. https://www.ahcancal.org/Assisted-Living/Consumer-Resources/Documents/ChecklistforConsumers.pdf 

Understanding Levels of Care Facilities in Wyoming

 

Level I Assisted Living

– Provides limited nursing care, personal care, and boarding home care but no Habilitative Care.

– Assisted Living Prices +

– ALF Core Services

– Does not require a secured unit. 

 

 

Level II Assisted Living

– Provides limited nursing care, personal care, and boarding home care but not Habilitative Care.

– Memory Care and/or Nursing Home Prices +

– ALF Core Services

– Requires a secured unit with special staffing and staff education in dementia.

– Additional activities, services, and slightly higher level of core services.

 

 

Skilled Nursing / Nursing Home

– Provides extensive 24-hour nursing care

– Nursing Home Prices +

– May be used as a transitional point from hospital to a lower level of care.

– Provides total care for all activities of daily living around the clock.

 

Assisted Living Core Services 

Assistance with transportation, assistance with obtaining medical, dental, and optometric care, and social services; assistance in adjusting to group living activities; provision of appropriate recreational activities in and out of the facility.

Partial assistance with personal care; limited assistance with dressing; minor sterile dressing changes; Stage I skin care; infrequent assistance with mobility; cuing guidance with activities of daily living for visually impaired persons, or the intermittently confused and/or agitated residents requiring occasional reminders of time, place, and person.

Limited care to residents who can independently manage catheter or ostomy care and incontinence; and 24 hour monitoring of each resident.

 

For more information about levels of care, please visit:

https://health.wyo.gov/aging/hls/facility-types/ 

 

Memory Support at Assisted Living

Many assume that a loved one needs to be placed in a memory care facility when they have been diagnosed with or show signs of dementia. This is not always the case. Warm Valley Lodge offers support to those with memory loss in a safe environment with staff available 24/7. Although memory care facilities are specially designed for those with dementia, assisted living can be utilized until the memory impairment is significant enough to require continuous and more extensive supervision and/or support. Change can be very difficult, so introducing a new living setting sooner is best. This gives an individual an opportunity to adjust to the new people routines and surroundings.

Our RN’s are highly experienced in many areas of care and have the opportunity to learn specific details about each resident and are always attentive to changes. Care plans are customized to best support residents in remaining independent and safe. Memory care facilities have staff that are specially trained in dementia with an RN on floor eight hours per day. It also offers additional safety features such as locked units, while we don’t have locked units, Warm Valley Lodge has an updated camera system and alarm doors that can be utilized if someone is having momentary difficulty and needs extra monitoring or support.

Assisted living and Memory Care facilities offer many of the same services that can be helpful for those living with memory loss. Warm Valley Lodge offers a wide range of activities, both scheduled and spontaneous that cater to every resident. One on one activities can be utilized for those who prefer smaller groups and for those who need extra support during difficult periods. These activities give residents opportunities for socialization, to show their individuality and their creativity.