Long Term Care Planning With Senior Loved Ones – Part 1: Options

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.


7 thoughts on “Long Term Care Planning With Senior Loved Ones – Part 1: Options”

  1. You have omitted the long-term care option of adult day care services. There are significant advantages to placing an older adult in adult day, financial, social, cognitive, physical, medical, and more. Adult day has been proven to extend living at home by 2-5 years, thus maintaining the family unit, extending the quality of living and saving substantial amounts of money.

    • Hi Molly, thank you for your comment.
      We totally agree that senior adult day care with congregate meals and engaging activities is a great option for families who wish to assist their seniors to age in place. It is an option that will keep your older adult active physically and mentally and especially safe when you are not available. Part 1 of our story is exploring those transition options when your senior can’t or chooses not to remain in their own home for whatever reason. We hope you will tune in to Part 2.

    • Thanks Susan for that link for anyone who wishes to learn more and help make decisions when a transition is needed. We appreciate your contribution and hope you check in for Part 2!

  2. Great article! Your explanation of these different types of care gives me a better understanding of the types of care I need to look at and a starting point for comparing what I want to do. This was very thorough and very clearly explained. I have also seen as Molly mentioned in her comment the adult day care services and how great those can be. They seem to be perfect when everyone just needs a break or during stressful times, such as me being my mothers care taker. Thank you for your article its helped me clarify things and know what direction I need to start looking in.

  3. Recently my mom broke her ankle and after the hospital she was placed in a rehab center. We were all so impressed (my parents included) with the facility, the quality of care and the people caring for her that it really helped to remove some of the fear of the possibility of moving either of my parents to the same facility for longer term care.
    Even though I run a service that provides care to seniors in their homes I know that there may come a time when they could need more than in-home care can provide and this short term experience has really helped to remove some of the fear about “where will they go?”.

    • Thank you for relating that story. Sorry to hear that your mom got hurt but at least something good came of it.

      Your open-mindedness about care options is refreshing. Your concern for the needs of those under your care, even if those needs go beyond the care your service provides, undoubtedly is reflected in the quality of care you provide.


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