Long-term care: Early planning pays off
It's best to talk about long term care early — before the need for medical or personal care is imminent. Here's help understanding, choosing and financing long term care.By Mayo Clinic Staff
Long-term care is a term used to describe home and community-based services for adults who need help taking care of themselves.
If you're considering long-term care options for yourself, a parent or another loved one, start the research and discussions early. If you wait, an injury or illness might force your hand — leading to a hasty decision that might not be best in the long run.
Here's help getting familiar with long-term care options.
Understanding types of long-term care
Understanding the various levels of long-term care can help you choose the type that's most appropriate for you or your loved one. For example:
- Home care. Personal or home health aides can help with bathing, dressing and other personal needs at home, as well as housekeeping, meals and shopping. Home health nurses provide basic medical care at home, such as helping with medications.
- Day program. Day programs for adults offer social interaction, meals and activities — often including exercise, games, field trips, art and music — for adults who don't need round-the-clock care. Some programs provide transportation to and from the care center as well as certain medical services, such as help taking medications or checking blood pressure.
- Senior housing. Many communities offer rental apartments intended for older adults. Some senior housing facilities offer meals, transportation, housekeeping and activities.
- Assisted living. These facilities offer staff members to help with activities such as taking medication, bathing and dressing — as well as meals, transportation, housekeeping and social activities. Some assisted living facilities have on-site beauty shops and other amenities.
- Continuing-care retirement community. These communities offer several levels of care in one setting — such as senior housing for those who are healthy, assisted living for those who need help with daily activities, and round-the-clock nursing care for those who are no longer independent. Residents can move among the various levels of care depending on their needs.
- Nursing home. Nursing homes offer 24-hour nursing care for those recovering from illness or injury and serve as long-term residences for people who are unable to care for themselves. Nursing homes also offer end-of-life care. Services typically include help eating, dressing, bathing and toileting, as well as wound care and rehabilitative therapy.