The Need for Long Term Care

What is Available for Help?

When the need for long term care becomes necessary one of the most asked questions is, “What is available for help?” For most Americans, eldercare becomes a frustrating do-it-yourself process.

In much the same way that a three legged stool needs all three legs to be useful, the care planning approach needs at least three key entities in order to be successful.

  • Yourself or Caregiver
  • Community and Government Long Term Care Programs
  • Long Term Care Professionals

Yourself or Caregiver

Long term care refers to a broad range of supportive medical, personal, and social services needed by people who are unable to meet their basic living needs for an extended period of time. This need for care may be caused by an accident, illness, or frailty. Such conditions may require help with the ability to move about, dress, bathe, eat, use a toilet, medicate, and avoid incontinence. Also care may be needed to help the disabled person with household cleaning, preparing meals, shopping, paying bills, visiting the doctor, answering the phone, and taking medications.

The need for long term care may only last for a few weeks or months or it may go on for years. It all depends on the underlying reasons for needing care.

Temporary Long Term Care (need for care only weeks or months)

  • Rehabilitation from a hospital stay
  • Recovery from illness
  • Recovery from injury
  • Recovery from surgery
  • Terminal medical condition

Ongoing Long Term Care (need for care many months or years)

  • Chronic medical conditions
  • Chronic severe pain
  • Permanent disabilities
  • Dementia
  • Ongoing need for help with activities of daily living
  • Need for supervision

Long term care services may be provided in any of the following settings:

  • In the home of the recipient
  • In the home of a family member or friend of the recipient
  • At an adult day services location
  • In an assisted living facility or board-and-care home
  • In a hospice facility

Community and Government Long Term Care Programs

There are many private, religious and government organizations across the country that provide supportive services for older people. Many of these services center around helping people stay in their homes and avoid having to live in a care center or nursing home.

Community services may provide socialization or service opportunities which might include:

  • Meals served at home or in community centers
  • Transportation and shopping for people who can not drive
  • Home repairs, yard work, telephone support, caregiver support

Private support groups in the community include the Red Cross, United Way, or religious denominations. These groups often supply services for free to people with limited income and assets. They may, however, charge people for services who have adequate income.

Eldercare Locator

National service that links older adults and their caregivers to community-based aging resources. 800-677-1116

Government services through the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging

There are 655 area agencies on aging in every state and territory of the United States. State aging units, under direction from the Administration on Aging, oversee and coordinate the activities of area agencies on aging in their states. Services are numerous but concentrate primarily on helping elderly people remain independent in the community, delaying the possibility that they will need help in a facility. Area agencies also support caregivers and coordinate Medicaid programs for home care and assisted living.

Senior Centers

National institute of senior centers

Long Term Care Professionals

Elder Attorney

Elder Law Attorneys specialize in legal issues affecting the elderly. They are expert in Medicare and Medicaid programs and qualifications.

Estate Planning

An Estate Planner may be an attorney or an expert in financial, tax and estate planning.

Financial and Insurance Services

Financial specialists that work with the elderly understand long term care insurance and financial planning. They are expert on Medicare Plans, Insurances and investments for retirement planning.

Funeral Pre-Planning

Experts in Funeral pre-planning help seniors make all necessary future arrangements for payment and services.

Geriatric Care Specialist

Geriatric Care Mangers or professional Care Managers are experts in evaluating and recommending the type of care needed.

Geriatric Medical Care

Geriatricians and other practitioners serving the elderly populations are knowledgeable in helping seniors and their families with health and mental issues.

In-Home Care

Home care services come in two parts, Medical and non-Medical. Medical home care may be prescribed by a doctor and paid for in part by Medicare. They usually provide trained medical services. Non-medical home care provides numerous types of daily care included bathing, meals, household chores and are usually private or insurance paid.

Relocation, downsizing, organizing

Senior Relocation Specialists offer services to help seniors find new living arrangements and sell their existing homes. Another growing service for the elderly is helping to downsize and organize their personal effects as well as packing and moving.

Reverse Mortgage

A Reverse Mortgage allows seniors to use the equity in their homes to pay off debt, repair the home or even pay for in-home care.

Veterans Benefits for Long Term Care

Elderly veterans who served during a time of war may be eligible for a benefit to help pay for long term care. Specialists that work with Veterans can educate them on this benefit.

It’s best to talk about long term care early. If you wait, an injury or illness may lead to hasty decisions you may regret later. Planning early affords you the time to evaluate options with your loved ones.


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