In Water Valley and elsewhere in the U.S., people will be observing Long Term Care Planning Month throughout the month of October. The idea behind this observance is to expose caretakers and patients to the actual facts and figures regarding long-term care. It can be a shock to the system when learning about such costs, so it’s better to learn about them all early, so there will be time to plan for how to handle long-term care. Senior home care professionals can participate in this month-long observation with important information about the cost of professional in-home care. In this article, we’ll be considering some of the most important points to have in mind when planning for long-term health care.
Planning for long-term care
It has been said that the very best time to think about long-term care is well before you expect to actually need it. The sooner you get started with long-term planning, the better off you’ll be, because that will position you to be prepared for the time when it actually comes. According to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), the three most important things to consider in the area of long-term planning are:
- Finances – It’s a good idea to start budgeting right away for long-term care, and it’s just as important to begin researching what kind of assistance and support are offered by state and federal programs.
- Health – Considering a senior’s current state of health is an important factor in determining the form that long-term care will take. It’s always a great idea to encourage your senior loved one to exercise regularly and maintain a healthy diet, so as to discourage the onset of any kind of crippling disease in the future.
- Housing – The condition of the home, as well as the patient’s overall health, must be taken into consideration when evaluating the best housing arrangement to be made. Sometimes it will be possible to modify a household to accommodate an invalid senior, while other cases dictate that the senior may have to live under constant observation at an assisted living facility.
Options for long-term care
The point of long-term health care is to provide a senior with whatever assistance they may need in order to perform daily activities such as eating, dressing, bathing, navigating around the home, and sometimes just providing companionship. The services provided to a senior patient will depend on just which option is selected for long-term care. In any case, planning for long-term care should include some serious consideration about where the senior will reside and exactly what level of assistance they may need.
- Home health care – in this situation, a senior would live at home and some level of assistance would be provided by a skilled medical professional such as a nurse. Sometimes the nurse would live at the same residence, and in other cases, he/she would simply visit at pre-determined intervals to provide medical services. This might include physical rehabilitation, medication assistance, prescribing various exercises, or helping the patient manage their diet.
- Non-medical home care – the senior patient would remain at home in this scenario as well. At pre-determined times such as daily, every other day, weekly, or some other arrangement, a trained caregiver would visit to assist with dressing, grooming, meal preparation, housekeeping, and transporting the senior to doctor appointments or grocery store trips.
- Nursing home – when a senior is placed in a nursing home, it’s because they require constant observation and a great deal of help with daily activities. This is most often the case when a senior has some underlying health issue that requires continual monitoring and medical assistance. Sometimes patients with dementia are best suited for nursing homes so that they can be watched constantly and not be a danger to themselves or others.
- Assisted living – most assisted living facilities will provide all the basic services needed by an elderly patient, and they also offer an attractive, residential setting for patients. All a patient’s needs can be met at these kinds of facilities, including transportation services, selection of health care providers, and any support services offered within the community.
While there’s no question that the vast majority of seniors would prefer to age in place in the home they’ve lived in for years, sometimes adequate care can simply not be provided at home. In many households, both parents are working so there’s no one left at home to keep an eye on a senior loved one. When a senior requires more attention than can be given by relatives, it may be necessary to consider nursing homes or assisted living facilities.
Paying for long-term care
No matter which option is chosen for long-term care, it’s going to cost you and it’s probably even going to be fairly expensive. Part of long-term planning will consist of determining which services a senior will need from the Medicaid and/or Medicare programs. You should consider purchasing long-term care insurance since this will help cover the cost of in-home care and make it more affordable. Long-term care insurance covers a great many services that a senior living at home might need and want. It’s a good idea to begin researching what kind of services are available through community and state and federal programs that might help defray the cost of long-term health care.