There often comes a point in the care of an elderly loved one where living at home is no longer a safe or appropriate option for them. When this is the case, it’s time to explore long-term care facilities. Choosing the right LTC (long-term care) facility for your loved one is a big decision and many caregivers often don’t know where to start. Among the common questions we get, two of the most common questions are
What type of facility is appropriate for my loved one and where can I find one? and
What level of care can we afford?
First, you’ll need to decide what type of long-term care facility is appropriate for your loved one. This includes choosing from Residential Care Facilities, Assisted Living Facilities, Skilled Nursing Facilities, Continuing Care Retirement Communities, among others. Each of these facilities is geared towards assisting the elderly who are within a certain spectrum of required care. For a brief overview, the following types of common LTC facilities include:
A residential care facility provides supervision, grooming care, meals, socialization, among other things, but it does not provide skilled nursing care.
An assisted living facility is for those who retain some independence but need daily help with their medication management, housekeeping tasks, and personal care. These facilities often have nurses on-site or on-call for your loved ones.
A skilled nursing facility or a “nursing home” provides 24/7 around the clock nursing services for those who require it. A nursing home is typically for those who need help with most or all of their self-care needs.
A Continuing Care Retirement Community, also called “Life Care,” provides independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing facilities in a single location. This allows your loved one to stay at the same community, even if their health begins to deteriorate.
Once you’ve chosen the appropriate type of long-term care facility, you need to choose the right one for your loved one. To do this, you should research the facilities available to you by talking with family, friends, and health care professionals about the facilities in your area. If your loved one has a specific type of chronic or progressive health condition, you should search for a facility that offers specialized care to meet their specific needs.
Medicare actually provides a “nursing home compare” feature that has detailed information about every Medicare and Medicaid certified nursing home in the country. After you’ve selected a few options, you should prepare questions and schedule visits and tours with those facilities that seem like they could be a good fit. You should look at the living environment, meal times and the food, the kindness and competency of the staff, policies and safety features, and how the residents seem to like living at the facility.
As a caregiver, your role doesn’t end when your loved one moves into an LTC facility. While you may no longer be taking care of the hands-on tasks associated with care, your loved one will still need you to be their advocate. This job often entails paying bills, scheduling appointments, and ensuring appropriate follow-up care for your loved one. Help be the voice that your loved one needs. With an attentive caregiver and an LTC that is a good fit, you can make sure that your loved one is receiving the best possible care that they need.
Of course, even when you find the right place, there is still the question of affordability. The stark reality is that long-term care facilities are often very expensive. Most often, these facilities are paid for out of pocket. For private financing, common ways to pay for the care includes long-term care insurance, personal savings, reverse mortgages, annuities, and other options. For government programs, if you qualify, Medicaid may pay for some types of long-term care. There are also various other government programs available, if you qualify, that may help for some or most of the expenses of long-term facility care.
We hope this overview was helpful, and if you or someone you love needs assistance with Elder Care law issues, call 856-281-3131. We’re here to help ease your stress and give you a plan that meets the needs of you and your loved one.