Deciding to introduce a loved one into a long-term care home is one of the most difficult decisions a family can make. While most families would love to be able to care for a loved one in their own home, the reality is that many seniors require professional assistance that only a long-term care home can provide.
When it is time to make that choice, there are many things that families should understand. There are all types of long-term care homes throughout the United States. It is the family's responsibility to find the one that best suits their senior's needs.
Types of Long-Term Care Homes
There are several different types of long-term care homes targeted to seniors with varying medical and personal needs:
- Independent Living – Also known as “Retirement Communities” or “55+ Communities,” independent living is for active adults who are near or have reached retirement age. Independent living is for seniors who require little to no medical care and want to enjoy their retirement with as few restrictions as possible.
- Assisted Living – This type of long-term care home offers a residence for seniors who need help in managing certain basic activities of daily living such as cooking meals, bathing or dressing themselves, doing laundry or taking medications.
- Memory Care – Sometimes referred to as Alzheimer’s or Dementia care, memory care is often provided to seniors who struggle with memory problems in addition to assisted living services.
- Skilled Nursing – Skilled nursing facilities or nursing homes take care of seniors who require intensive medical care due to multiple chronic illnesses or disabilities.
- Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) – Continuing care or “life care” communities are multi-service facilities that provide independent living, assisted living, memory and skilled nursing care in one location.
Location, Location, Location
The first factor that impacts which long-term care home should be chosen is often its proximity to the rest of the family. When possible, a home should be selected that is close to trusted family and friends. Moving from a comfortable home into a new and strange facility is a difficult adjustment for seniors. Having family and friends nearby to visit often determines whether this new transition will be successful. Luckily, the senior housing market has aggressively responded to the rising demand and provides many choices of communities.
While being close to a beloved senior is always an optimal solution, sometimes a senior is better off in an environment that promotes good health. A responsible family should always spend some time investigating which areas of the country offer the best living situation. There can be a profound difference between a long-term care home in Minnesota and a similar home in Arizona. The question that a family must always strive to answer is, "What situation will provide the best life experience?" Sometimes, the best choice is not nearby.
Access to Medical Care
Another reality that must be confronted is that seniors often require medical assistance in their daily lives. This is perhaps the most important consideration when choosing a long-term care home. Cities with a large urban population often boast the best medical facilities so this should always be a consideration when choosing a new home. While the cost of living is often higher in larger, growing communities, this fact is often balanced by the expert medical care that is available.
Big City vs. Small Town
Aside from offering better medical care, larger cities are typically able to offer better attractions, transportation and services than smaller communities. Seniors already struggle with isolation and loneliness. Being able to occasionally leave the home to visit a museum or sports event is often the deciding factor between boredom and fulfillment. Larger cities will also tend to have better transportation options for seniors, including public buses and trains as well as door-to-door vans and taxis.
Long-Term Care Home Costs
Unfortunately, cost is also a significant factor in the choice of a long-term care home. While government aid is often available, it rarely covers the entire cost of placing a loved into a home. Families should research many homes to decide which ones offer the best balance between cost and services.
Written by senior housing staff writer.