Choosing long-term care is an important decision. Planning for long-term care requires you to think about possible future health care needs.
In This Article:
Introduction To Long-Term Care (LTC)
Things To Consider When Choosing Long-Term Care
It is important to look at all of your long-term cachoices. You will have more control over decisions and be able to stay independent. It is important to think about long-term care before you may need care or before a crisis occurs. Even if you plan ahead, making long-term care decisions can be hard.
Long-term care is made up of many different services and may include help with activities of daily living like dressing, bathing, eating, and using the bathroom, as well as help with care most people do themselves like taking medications. Long-term care can take place at home, in senior centers, at community centers, in special retirement or assisted living facilities, or in nursing homes. Someone with a long-term physical illness, a disability, or a memory or thought problem (such as Alzheimer's disease) often needs long-term care.
In addition, it is very important to talk with your family about the kind of long-term care services you think you might need someday, how much they would cost, and how you would pay for them. The best time to talk about long-term care is before you need services.
Here are important things to consider when choosing long-term care:
Assess Your Care Needs
Research Financing and Care Choices
Find What Is Right For You
Visit Your Available Options
Step 1: Assess Your Care Needs
There are many different kinds of long-term care. Long-term care can take place at home, in senior centers, at community centers, in assisted living or special retirement communities, as well as in nursing homes. Long-term care service is not only nursing home care.
The chart below lists some of the many kinds of custodial care people often need, like help with activities of daily living or care most people do themselves. Think about whether you or your aging relative, need these services now, or if you may need them in the future. Check off the services you think you may need.
You may need help with only one or two types of activities of daily living, like help with eating or bathing. Or, you may need help with many activities of daily living or help with care needs, like diabetes monitoring or help with oxygen if you have breathing problems. Also, your needs may change over time. It is important to make a list of the kinds of services you need and revise this list as your needs change.
Will I need help with the following activities of daily living?
___ Using the bathroom, including caring for a catheter or colostomy bag if needed.
___ Moving into or out of a bed, chair, or wheelchair.
___ Preparing meals
___ Housework and laundry
___ Getting to appointments
___ Paying bills and other money matters
___ Home maintenance and repairs
___ Using the telephone
___ Others: ________________________
Will I need help with the following care?
___ Remembering to take medicines
___ Diabetes monitoring
___ Using eye drops
___ Getting oxygen
___ Taking care of colostomy or bladder catheters
___ Others: _______________________
Step 2: Research Financing and Care Choices
There are many types of long-term care and living choices for older people. Long-term care is not only nursing home care.
Here are some ways to learn what long-term care choices are available in your area:
- Talk to your doctor or someone in your doctor's office. Ask him or her what long-term care choices and services are available to help meet your needs, now and in the future.
- Talk to your financial advisor about the costs of your current and future long-term care needs. Ask him or her what long-term care financing options are available to help you pay for your long-term care needs.
- Look at the Home Health Compare and Nursing Home Compare databases to locate information about agencies and facilities that are in your area.
- Use your completed checklist with the quality information on Nursing Home Compare to help you compare the nursing homes you are interested in.
- Visit or call your local social service agency or hospital. Ask to speak to a social worker or care manager who can help you with locating and coordinating different kinds of long-term care choices and services.
- Call your Area Agency on Aging or the Eldercare Locator. Area Agencies on Aging are local level organizations that coordinate a comprehensive range of services to promote the independence and dignity of older adults. Older adults and their caregivers can contact their local Area Agency on Aging to receive help in accessing services in their community that include in-home supportive services, nutrition services, transportation, elder rights and protection assistance, and caregiver support services.
- In some areas, especially rural areas, there may be only one or two kinds of long-term care choices. Most areas, however, have more options.
- Talk with your family and others you trust about your personal and health care needs. Ask them to help you learn about long-term care choices and services where you live or where you want to retire.
Step 3: Find What Is Right For You
Quality care means doing the right thing, at the right time, in the right way for the right person and producing the best possible results. The Medicare program regulates and enforces rules to ensure that nursing homes, home health agencies, and hospitals comply with federal standards for patient health and safety and quality of care. However, the quality of long-term care programs, services, and facilities may vary.
Here are some ways to learn about how long-term care programs and services in your area rate in quality:
- Ask friends and other people you know who use different kinds of long-term care services if they are happy with the services they get.
- Call your State or local Long-Term Care Ombudsman. Ombudsmen visit nursing homes and other long-term care facilities regularly to visit residents and take care of complaints. Your local area Ombudsman can also give you information on the most recent State inspection survey for long-term care facilities in your area
- Look at the Nursing Home Compare and Home Health Compare. You can also find out if a Continuing Care Retirement Community is accredited from the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities website.
- Call your State Health Department. Ask if you can get information on the quality of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities and services in your area. You can get the telephone number of your State health department by looking in the blue pages of your local telephone book.
Step 4: Visit Your Available Options
Before you make a final decision about long-term care, call and ask for information about the program or facility. Visit the places you are interested in. These places can be assisted living communities, services in senior centers, housing programs, nursing homes, and other programs. Make an appointment to talk to the program coordinator or care supervisor before you visit.
Here are some tips to help you get ready:
- Talk with your doctor or other health care provider and with your family about what long-term care services you need now or may need in the future.
- Go over any information you have already received.
- Write down any questions you still have about how the facility or program will meet your needs.
When you visit, look around carefully. Ask questions about anything you don't understand. Talk to staff, residents, and family members if you can. Ask them if they are satisfied with the facility or program and its services.
After your visit, ask yourself the following questions:
___ Did they listen to me and make me feel comfortable?
___ Did I get to ask all my questions?
___ Did they give me answers I understood?
___ Are the program staffs respectful and helpful?
___ Does the facility or program meet my needs?
___ Does the facility offer activity programs that I enjoy?
___ Is the facility/setting clean and pleasant?
What are the facility/program fees? ___________ Can I afford them?
To help in your long-term care decision, read Long Term Care Planning. This article contains important tips that may help you choose the type of long-term care that will meet your needs.
Other Related LTC Articles:
- Types of Senior Care Homes
- Choosing The Right Senior Care Facility
- Senior Care Facility Checklist
- Major Factors That Influence Senior Care Housing Fees
- Caregiving Payment Options
- Transitioning From Assisted Living To Nursing Home
When Issues with Long Term Care Facility Occur
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