Long-Term Care Options for Elderly People & Legal Considerations
Depending on the needs of an elderly person and the resources available to them, they may want to consider various forms of long-term care. Someone who is struggling with a serious mental or physical condition or who lacks the ability to care for themselves may require care in a nursing home, also known as a long-term care facility. If an elderly person does not have a serious impairment, by contrast, they may be able to continue living in their home while receiving occasional assistance with the activities of daily living. Between these alternatives lies the option of an assisted living facility, which permits some independence while providing a limited degree of monitoring and assistance.
Long-Term Care Facilities
These types of facilities are divided further into skilled nursing facilities, intermediate care facilities, and custodial care facilities. Moreover, an individual facility may offer multiple levels of care. A skilled nursing facility usually makes sense for someone who is recovering from an illness or injury that required hospitalization. They provide nursing services around the clock, and stays generally last only a few weeks. Sometimes a hospital will provide a skilled nursing facility as one of its departments.
An intermediate care facility balances medical treatment with personal assistance. This may be a good option for someone who needs a longer stay following an illness or injury but is not struggling with an acute condition. Meanwhile, custodial care facilities provide some monitoring, but their main goal is promoting the overall wellbeing of a resident by planning activities and offering general assistance with daily life. Long-term stays most often occur in these facilities.
Long-Term Care Tiers
Some elderly people or their family members consider purchasing long-term care insurance to cover these costs. Generally, this is not a good idea unless you have substantial assets in addition to your home and a steady income during your retirement. You should carefully review the terms of any policy that you are considering to make sure that it covers situations in which you would need it.
Assisted Living Facilities
Assisted living facilities can vary greatly in terms of the accommodations that they provide. The resident will rent their own space in the facility, but this may consist of a one-bedroom apartment, a studio, or a single room. Sometimes residents will share rooms. The living space may be furnished, or the resident may need to provide their own furniture or supplement the existing furniture with their own.
Assisted living facilities offer many useful services, such as housekeeping, meals, transportation, and social activities. However, these services and any assistance with activities of daily living are provided according to a schedule. Residents who are accustomed to independence may struggle to adjust to rules and policies. Assisted living costs much less than a long-term care facility in most cases, but it costs much more than home care.
The First Step
Home care may be the first step of an elderly person’s care plan before moving to an assisted living or long-term care facility.
Elderly people who are able to stay reasonably independent may be able to continue living in their home. This may work if they are not struggling with an incapacitating condition and need only limited assistance. Home care can be especially effective if family members live in the area and can fill any gaps in the services provided by a caregiver. Often, home care consists of a combination of services from several providers, including housekeeping, food preparation, transportation, and medication monitoring. A caregiver will not be able to provide sophisticated services, however, and family members may not want to undertake the responsibility of monitoring their loved one’s condition. An elderly person may grow lonely if they spend most of their days at home on their own.
Home care may turn out to be only a temporary solution. When an elderly person’s condition worsens, they may need more professional, systematic care. Thus, even if you are able to arrange home care initially, you should prepare emotionally and financially for a transition to a nursing home or assisted living facility if it proves necessary.