As we age, the realities of proper medical care and quality of
life become paramount. However, the many options available to senior
citizens can be confusing and even misleading.
The first things to consider are the needs of the person
considering a long-term care decision. Seniors in good physical and
mental health will usually opt to stay in their homes or join an
independent living community, which offers a "neighborhood" of
seniors and activities geared towards that age group. Assistance
with minor tasks such as laundry and shopping are also often
Assisted living is a form of non-medical senior housing for folks
who need help with only a small number of tasks, such as cooking and
laundry. Some residents take advantage of reminders to take their
medications and meals. However, most assisted living residents still
live independently within the assisted living complex. In most
cases, assisted living residents pay a regular monthly rent and
additional fees for the services they use.
Other options available include board and care homes, which are
group living arrangements that are designed to meet the needs of
people who cannot live independently, but do not require long term
care services. Continuing care retirement communities (CCRC's) are
housing communities that provide different levels of care based on
the needs of their residents -- from independent living apartments
to skilled nursing in an affiliated nursing home. Residents move
from one setting to another based on their needs, but continue to
remain a part of the CCRC's community.
However, when a senior's health and well being require 24-hour
nursing care and professional supervision, the long-term care center
(also known as "nursing home") is the best option.
A long-term care center provides room, meals, recreational
activities, help with daily living, and protective supervision to
residents. Generally, long-term care center residents have physical
or mental impairments which keep them from living independently.
Nursing homes are certified to provide different levels of care,
from intermediate to skilled nursing (services which can only be
administered by a trained professional).
Long-term care differs from acute care, which is offered in most
hospitals. Acute care is intended to help the patient get better,
stabilized, and ready to move to a long-term care center. The long-
term center helps people with chronic, degenerative illnesses or
disabilities who require continued medical support over a long
period of time.
Many families understandably wish to keep their loved one home
and provide care for that person themselves. However, they should be
prepared for the exhausting realities of caring for chronically or
mentally ill loved ones.
Your doctor or social worker can advise you of the most realistic
and appropriate setting for you or your loved one.
Paying for independent living, assisted living or long-term care
can be daunting. Independent living and CCRCs often require a large
payment prior to admission, then charge monthly fees above that
cost. This is financially out of reach for many seniors. …