Understanding Long Term Care


Many people do not know about or understand all the long term care options that are available. The following are brief descriptions of the major types of long term care, the kinds of service you may need, the ways of paying for long term care and how to find the best services and facilities:

Home care can be given in your own home by family members, friends, volunteers, and/or paid professionals. This type of care can range from help with shopping to nursing care. Another type of care that can be given at home is hospice care for terminally ill people.

Community services are support services that can include adult day care, meal programs, senior centers, transportation, and other services. These programs can help people who are cared for at home by their families. For example, adult day care services provide a variety of health, social, and related support services in a protective setting during the day. This can help adults with impairments (such as Alzheimer's disease) continue to live in the community. And it can give family or friend caregivers a needed "break."

Supportive housing programs offer low-cost housing to older people with low to moderate incomes. The Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and State or local governments often develop such housing programs. A number of these facilities offer help with meals and tasks such as housekeeping, shopping, and laundry. Residents generally live in their own apartments.

Assisted living provides 24-hour supervision, assistance, meals, and health care services in a home-like setting. Services include help with eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, taking medicine, transportation, laundry, and housekeeping. Social and recreational activities also are provided.

Continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) provide a full range of services and care based on what each resident's needs over time. Care usually is provided in one of three main stages: independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing.

Nursing homes offer care to people who cannot be cared for at home or in the community. They provide skilled nursing care, rehabilitation services, meals, activities, help with daily living, and supervision. Many nursing homes also offer temporary or periodic care. This can be instead of hospital care, after hospital care, or to give family or friend caregivers some time off ("respite care").

Intermediate Care Facilities for the Mentally Retarded: This is another type of long term care for the mentally retarded that takes place in home-like settings. They provide a wide variety of services to mentally retarded and developmentally disabled people from youth to old age. Services include treatment to help residents become as independent as possible, as well as health care services.

Learn More: You can learn about long term care options in your area by contacting:

What Kind of Services Do I Need?

The first question to ask yourself when trying to decide what type of services are needed for you or for your loved ones is "what kind of services do I need?". To help find out what kind of services you or a loved one need, check the items below that apply. Keep in mind that these needs may change over time.

Help With Daily Activities

[_] Shopping

[_] Preparing meals

[_] Eating

[_] Laundry and other housework

[_] Home maintenance

[_] Paying bills and other money matters

[_] Bathing

[_] Dressing

[_] Grooming

[_] Going to the bathroom

[_] Remembering to take medicines

[_] Walking

[_] Other _______________________

[_] Other _______________________

Health Care Needs (as recommended by a doctor or other health care provider)

[_] Physical therapy

[_] Speech therapy

[_] Occupational therapy

[_] Rehabilitation

[_] Medical nutritional therapy

[_] Oxygen

[_] Care for pressure ulcers or other wounds

[_] Alzheimer's disease care

[_] Health monitoring (for diabetes, for example)

[_] Pain management

[_] Nursing care services

[_] Other medical services provided by a doctor or other clinician

[_] Other _______________________

How Will I Pay for these Services?

The second question to ask yourself is "How will I pay for these Services?" Long-term care can be very expensive. In general, health plans and programs do not routinely cover long term care at home or in nursing homes. Here is some general information about long term care coverage:

Other Resources to Find Help. Your State Health Insurance Program (SHIP) can give you general information about Medicare, Medicaid, managed care plans, and the types of health insurance that can supplement Medicare, including Medigap and long term care insurance. Counselors also can help you with questions about your medical bills, insurance claims, and related matters. These services are free. To find the phone number of the SHIP office in your State, call the Medicare Hotline at 1-800-633-4227. Or, look at the consumer Web site for Medicare services, www.medicare.gov.

How Can I Choose the Best Quality Services and Facilities?

The third question to ask yourself is "How do I find and choose the Best Quality Services and Facilities?" Here are some tips for choosing the kinds of long term care people most often use: home care (including home health care) and nursing homes.

Home Care

Nursing Home Care
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