Long Term Care Options Explained

The aging of America together with extended life expectancy is resulting in an unprecedented demand for long term care services and housing. Numerous possibilities are available for our aging population that fall between hiring part time Home Care services to needing 24 hour care in a Nursing Home. When researching long term care, you should consider options that are best suited to meet the needs and personal preferences of your elderly loved one.

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Home Care

Home Care is the most popular and preferred choice of seniors for long term care and therefore should be considered a first option when possible. For obvious reasons, staying at home and living in one’s familiar surroundings is very comforting to seniors. Elderly persons often profess fears of being uprooted to a strange facility or the dreaded “nursing home”. Other seniors express worries of becoming dependent and a burden on their children as they grow older. Accommodating your loved one’s wishes to age with dignity in the comforts of their home can be very rewarding. Hiring home care aides, whether privately or through an agency, can give your loved one the assistance they need to live independently. If you make the selfless decision to become a family caregiver, then home care aides can either supplement your care or provide short-term relief.

Long term home care is likely to be more affordable than relocating to assisted living or a residential care facility. The cost of 40 hours per week for a home caregiver is comparable to one week in assisted living, not to mention the physical and emotional benefits of one-on-one care. Creative scheduling of home care services in combination with help from family members can make aging in place a cost effective and realistic solution for long term care.

Adult Day Care

Adult Day Care should not be overlooked as a very practical long-term care solution and also more affordable than other long term care options. Adult Day Care provides social activities, recreational activities, meals, and sometimes transportation services. Adult day care allows elderly loved ones the comforts of living at home or with family but affords these busy families much needed respite. The centers are open during working hours and either stand alone or located in senior centers, nursing homes, churches or schools. The children of seniors rely on adult day care to supervise the care of their parents during work days.

Some Adult Day Care centers are subsidized by Medicaid or local resources that make them even more affordable for seniors and their families. Other centers charge higher daily rates when they provide greater levels of health care such as that needed by stroke victims or advanced Alzheimer’s patients. Adult Day Care is often combined with Home Care to better and more effectively manage long term care. For example integrating Home Care services on three days a week with two days of Adult Day Care can result in substantial savings.

Senior Housing

Although home care or adult day care might be a senior's first choice, it may be that moving to a care facility is often the only practical solution. A senior that can no longer live alone safely in their own home or with family, and may be forced to relocate. Often when 24 hour home care services are required it may no longer be affordable to stay at home. Lack of family caregiver support to oversee or be willing to fill in the gaps of care can also make home care unfeasible. Meeting a senior's personal needs such as safety, comfort, security, social opportunities, and health care may necessitate relocating to a care facility.

Independent Living

Independent Living includes senior apartments and retirement communities. Independent Senior Communities enable seniors to live among their peers however they must be able to care for themselves. Amenities vary from none to offering daily meals, recreational and social activities, transportation, 24 hour security and housekeeping services. Seniors who reside in independent living communities frequently employ home care aides when additional personal care and support services are needed.

Residential Care Facilities

Residential Care Facilities are similar to Assisted Living in the services they offer but in a more intimate setting with limited capacity (6 to 15 beds). Residential Care Facilities serve persons 60 and older who are unable to live alone by providing room, board, housekeeping, supervision, personal care and assistance with basic activities of living. Home care workers including CNAs are sometimes hired to fill gaps in care when more help is needed than the facility is able to provide.

Assisted Living

Assisted Living is for those who may need some assistance with daily activities but do not require 24 hour supervision and medical care. Assisted Living facilities have staff to help with personal hygiene, dressing, eating, and walking in addition to housekeeping, laundry, and transportation services. Assisted Living facilities may offer extensive onsite amenities for seniors to participate in social and recreational programs. Some Assisted Living facilities provide care to Alzheimer's residents, but may be limited to those in the early stages of illness. Home care aides may be hired privately on a temporary basis to provide extra care when seniors are rehabilitating from surgery or have become weaker due to illness. Home care agencies can supplement your care at the place you call "home", wherever that may be.

Nursing Homes

Nursing Homes provide skilled care and assistance 24 hour daily and are for those who have many care requirements and cannot live independently. Nursing Homes provide rehab care on short-term basis and long-term care for those with health care needs that other housing cannot accommodate. Alzheimer's care units may be located within Nursing Homes and are designed to provide a higher level of security and safety.

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