Few people look forward to a time when they have to leave their home and live in a long term care facility, not even an assisted living facility. There are some seniors who will, unfortunately, have no other safe alternatives.
It is estimated that more than two thirds of people over 65 years will need some type of long term care, whether in-home care or another facility, at some point in their lives. It may be that keeping up the house and yard are no longer desirable or possible; health considerations may require more attention from a professional or round the clock professional care is the only option for health and wellness.
Some seniors, once they have moved to a facility, are very happy there. They meet new people, have new activities to keep them occupied, don’t have to worry about meal preparation and are no longer lonely. They may not have wanted to be there but end up not only benefiting but feeling better about the move.
Children who have to face the reality of placing a parent in a long term care facility may find it’s one of the hardest things they have to do and takes them through an emotional wringer. How we prepare our seniors – and ourselves – for the move can make all the difference. The best time to get ready for the possibility is before our senior loved one needs it. There are things both can do ahead of time to be prepared.
Long Term Care Options
There are a variety of long term care settings to consider, with the best fit based on the needs of your senior loved one.
- Retirement Communities – seniors here are able to live on their own but seek more help with tasks such as house work, home maintenance and congregate dining (no more cooking!). Many of these communities have a variety of social activities for seniors, including transportation. These communities do not typically provide any special personal or medical care such as medication management;
- Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC) – these centers provide several different levels of care within one campus, such as independent apartments, assisted living and skilled nursing care / long term care. A senior can move from one level to the next while remaining in the same location with familiar faces. They usually have amenities such as group dining, theaters, activities and fitness activities. Each level of care naturally incurs a higher cost of care and there are often a multitude of options to select;
- Assisted Living Facilities (ALF) – the services available in these facilities vary greatly from one to the next so be sure to check out a few to compare. They offer congregate meals ranging from all three to one main meal a day so your senior may need to be able to do some meal preparation on their own. Laundry, housekeeping and personal care are all offered. If your senior needs help with grooming, bathing, or medication management, these are provided. A personal plan of care will be formulated for your senior based on their needs. Note that each facility may charge a fee for each added service. Staff members are on site 24 hours a day but since this area is not regulated, as a long term care facility is, you need to be aware of how things are going with your senior and if all his or her needs are being met for safety; and,
- Long Term Care Facilities (nursing home) – this facility provides around the clock nursing care. They can provide rehabilitation or restorative nursing services to keep your senior functioning at his or her highest level. They provide meals according to doctor’s orders, medication administration, all personal care needed, activities to keep them engaged and the doctor will visit them there periodically. You can get information to compare facilities which are regulated by the federal government online at medicare.gov.
When evaluating care choices, be sure to consider both current and potential future needs to minimize the likelihood of having to disrupt your senior loved one’s life with another move later.
NEXT TIME: Preparations for making the big move.