Right now, if you’re considering long-term care for a loved one, there are two things you have in abundance. One of those things you know all about. The other one may come as a surprise.
Here’s the one you know: stress. If you’re like most people going through this difficult transition time, you certainly have your fair share of stress, tension and anxiety. In this article and others we hope to help you navigate your way through these turbulent waters. But there’s one other thing you have in abundance, and chances are you didn’t even realize it: choices.
Families in need of long-term care solutions have more choices than at any other time in the past. Now, to be fair, the more you learn about your loved one’s needs, the more likely you are to eliminate certain choices in favor of others that are more appropriate to your situation. Nonetheless, it should come as a great comfort to you that you have a fair number of options at your disposal. Here’s a brief overview of the major options before you, both within the Fundamental network and elsewhere.
Often erroneously used as a generic catchall phrase for any type of long-term care, is the term Nursing Home. While there are many different types of such facilities, a nursing home provides a very specific level of comprehensive care. Indeed, over the years, the level of care provided at many nursing homes has elevated significantly.
Nursing homes traditionally provide geriatric care, however some now specialize in serving younger, at risk populations such as those suffering from developmental disabilities, debilitating illnesses, or those requiring drug and alcohol rehabilitation. If you’re considering nursing homes, one of the first questions you should ask is what type of care or resident population they specialize in.
An Independent Living facility generally offers minimal health care services as needed, but assumes that the individual is able to care for him or herself. The primary advantage of this type of living arrangement is that it provides a self-contained community where seniors can readily meet and mingle with their peers. Indeed the opportunities for social contact in this type of facility are by far its greatest health benefits.
Assisted Living is a bit of a cross between a Nursing Home and an Independent Living facility. Specifically, Assisted Living offers apartment-like living quarters, but also provides assistance as needed to a population of mostly functional seniors. The type of assistance offered includes help with meals, medication and housekeeping, plus the peace of mind that someone is there to check in on you to make sure everything is okay.
Intermediate Care facilities are for men and women with chronic conditions that prevent them from living independently, but not to the degree that they need ongoing care. Rather, Intermediate Care facilities offer 24-hour, medically directed nursing support and supervision.
Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC) / Life Care Communities (LCC)
Unlike Assisted Living, the Continuing-Care Retirement Community or Life Care Community requires a lifetime commitment. In fact, the individual interested in this arrangement signs a contract for life with the facility. The arrangement is that the individual or couple agrees to spend the remainder of their years with the facility, and, in turn, the facility agrees to care for them, whatever their future health requirements may be. This means that the facility has the wherewithal to provide services and resources commensurate with the health needs of its residents. These services may be on par with those of an assisted living facility or nursing home, but the level of care achievable differs at differing facilities so be sure to scrutinize your choices before making this level of commitment.
Hospice is mostly, but not always, limited to caring for patients who are at or nearing the end of life. The central philosophy of hospice is to help people live out their final days free of pain and with their dignity preserved, and to offer their families the support they need to see this through. Consequently, Hospice care is generally palliative in nature. That is to say, the intent is to soothe the patient and make life easier in whatever way possible. The type of care provided is designed to reduce or manage pain and discomfort, rather than work towards a cure. In addition to pain management, Hospice also offers emotional and spiritual support for the patient and his or her family members. Depending on the situation, Hospice care may be provided in the patient’s home, in a free-standing Hospice Center, or on the premises of a hospital, nursing home or other long-term care facility.
Adult Day Care
Adult Day Care is designed to provide care for functionally and/or cognitively impaired adults during normal business hours. Adult Day Care is generally administered through an individual plan of care so that the needs of the individual are properly met. Adult Day Care provides much-needed structure, plus a wide range of health, social and supportive services in a safe, protective and nurturing setting.
Home Health Care
Home Health Care is, as the name suggests, health services provided in the home of disabled, chronically or terminally ill persons, as well as those recuperating from serious illness or injury. Home Health Care provides medical, nursing, social, and/or therapeutic treatment, as well as assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs). Home Health Care is often chosen by patients who need ongoing care that family and friends alone cannot provide because of the peace of mind that remaining at home provides.