What is Long-Term Care?
Aging Matters

As adults age, they're prone to developing one or more chronic illnesses. The most common are heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and arthritis. Evidence shows that elders with chronic conditions have more physician visits, hospital admissions and use more medications. CDC reports 117 million people have one or more chronic health conditions, and one of four have two or more.

When a person lives with a chronic illness or disability, they need support for and help with medical needs, meals, personal care, and other daily activities over an extended period. Long-term care delivers support at home, in the community like adult day care, meal programs or senior centers, or in a residential care facility like a nursing home or an assisted living community.

Types of Long-term Care

Home Care

Home care is in your home and provided by family members, friends, volunteers, or paid professionals. It helps you with daily living needs and nursing care if needed. A short-term, nursing care is called home health care, and it's paid by Medicare depending on the circumstances. Hospice home care is for the terminally ill. Most home care is paid out-of-pocket.

Community Support Services

Community support services are adult day care, meal programs, senior centers, transportation, and other. They help adults who receive care from family members. This type offers health, social, and support services in a protective setting during the day. It gives the family a break. Most community support services are paid out-of-pocket or by Medicaid, if the individual qualifies financially.

Assisted Living

Assisted Living delivers 24-hour administration, assistance, meals, and health care services in a residence. Provisions consist of help with eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, taking medicine, transportation, laundry, and housekeeping. It includes social and recreational activities. Assisted living services are paid with personal funds or long-term care insurance.

Nursing Homes

Nursing homes provide skilled care to people who cannot live at home any longer. The services include rehabilitation and medical help, meals, activities, daily living assistance, with supervision. People can stay in a nursing home short-term after hospital care. The services are paid by personal funds or long-term care insurance.

Where to go to learn more about long-term care in your local area:

Visit the Eldercare Locator or call at 1-800-677-1116.

Reach the local Area Agency on Aging for help with meals, home care, adult day care, transportation, housing, home repair, and legal services. Call (202) 401-4634, 1-800-677-1116 or visit their website.

The State or local Long-Term Care Ombudsman is a state employee who visits residential care facilities and inspects and resolves complaints, protects residents' rights, and gives emotional support to lonely older people. To find your local Ombudsman call 1-800-677-1116 or visit their website.

When reviewing skilled nursing homes, visit the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid website, Nursing Home Compare. It helps you locate facilities in your local area and supplies inspection records for nursing homes that receive Medicare or Medicaid funding.

Talk with Local Elder Care Professionals

If you need immediate assistance for a family member, friend, or yourself, contact one of the senior care advisors below. They can help you make the best decisions and find the best solution for you and a loved one. The professionals will respect your values, preferences, and resources.

  • Social workers and discharge planners at the local hospital
  • Geriatric Care Managers - http://www.aginglifecare.org/
  • Your doctors and other local health care professionals
  • Nursing home administrators in your area or town
  • Clergy or religious groups
  • Trusted family members, friends, and neighbors

Thank you for reading Aging Matters. Read the column next week to learn how to pay for long-term care services. Stay safe and healthy.

Carol Marak, Aging Advocate, and Editor of SeniorCare.com and creator of the Aging Matters weekly column: Her background is family caregiving. Carol's mother lived with chronic illnesses, and her father lived with Alzheimer's disease. As a family, they faced many elder care obstacles. She offers anyone an open invitation to dialog with her at Carol@SeniorCare.com.

Part of the Aging Matters Weekly Syndicated Column

Aging Matters is a weekly column tackling everyday challenges that our growing elderly population and their loved ones face. It is also published in a variety of syndication partners including newspapers all over the country.

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