How to Plan for Long-Term Care
Many older people are independent. But later in life, you or someone you love may
need help with daily activities, like shopping, cooking, and bathing. A variety of
services and facilities can provide help that lets people stay active and connected
with family, friends, and neighbors.
The key to successful long-term care is planning. To get started:
Talk with your healthcare provider or family and friends if you're having trouble
with everyday activities, like walking, managing finances, or driving.
Learn about the types of services and care in your community by talking to healthcare
providers, social workers, family, and friends. The Area Agency on Aging and local
and state offices of aging and social services can give you lists of home healthcare
providers, adult daycare centers, meal programs, companion services, and transportation
Learn how much long-term care would cost. Find out how much of the costs Medicare
or your insurance plan will pay. You may want to look into long-term care insurance
or other plans that can help pay the costs. The Area Agency on Aging and local and
state offices of aging and social services may have information to help.
Needing more care
At some point, support from family, friends, and local meal and transportation programs
may not be enough. If you need more help with everyday activities, you may need to
move to a place where care is available 24-hours a day. These are two types of residential-care
Assisted-living communities. These offer different levels of care that often include meals, recreation, security,
and help with bathing, dressing, and housekeeping. Residents often have their own
rooms or apartments as part of a larger community. These could also include continuing
care retirement communities. They have several different levels of care that residents
can move through.
Nursing homes or skilled-nursing facilities. These give round-the-clock service and supervision, medical care, and rehabilitation
for residents who are mostly frail, very ill, or have dementia.
Finding the right place
To find long-term care for yourself or someone else:
Ask questions. Your state's office of the long-term care ombudsman can give information
about specific nursing homes.
Call around. Contact places that interest you. Ask questions about vacancies, number
of residents, costs, and payment methods. You should also ask about services that
may be important to you, like special units for people with Alzheimer's disease. Talk
with others who may have had similar experiences in searching for places.
Visit the facilities. When you find a place that seems right, go and talk with the
staff, residents, and residents' family members. Check out the facility for cleanliness
and safety. Watch the way the staff treats residents.
For more information, visit the National Institute on Aging, the Eldercare Locator, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).