Whether your concern is for your spouse or for an elderly parent, when you realize that it is time to research options for long-term care, it can be difficult to know where to start. Often people get to this point after trying to provide care themselves, but the tasks have become overwhelming or physically impossible. It’s probably time to look into long-term care when the person needing care:
- Has wandered off and gotten lost more than once
- Is no longer taking care of personal needs such as eating and bathing
- Needs assistance with going to the toilet
- Has gotten behind with bills
- No longer maintains the home
- Has fallen and been unable to get up
- Can no longer drive or navigate public transportation
- Has to go to multiple appointments each week for medical care, therapy, and other services
- Is feeling lonely and isolated
Indications that you have reached your limit as a caregiver include the following:
- You are no longer able to do physical tasks such as lifting.
- You have your own serious health concerns.
- You are neglecting other relationships and responsibilities to care for your loved one.
- You are feeling anger and frustration towards your loved one.
- You simply can’t meet all of your loved one’s needs.
There is no shame in admitting that you can no longer help your loved one in their own home. The goal at this point is to find the best possible care for them.
Options for Long-Term Care
There are several options for getting your loved one the care they need. Depending on their physical needs, they may progress from one of these options to the next. The three basic options available to seniors include:
- In-home care. Just because you can no longer provide the care your loved one needs, that doesn’t necessarily mean they have to leave their home. You can hire personal caregivers to come in the house to help with meals, bathing, dressing, and to provide companionship. Many communities also offer transportation services for seniors to help them get to appointments. You might also be able to find a daytime program in your area that your loved one can attend while you are at work or to give you a break.
- Assisted living. The next step from in-home care is often assisted living. In these facilities, your loved one lives mostly independently, but food is served in a dining room, and assistance with personal care is provided. Medical care is not provided in assisted living facilities, but transportation to appointments is often part of the service. With an assisted living arrangement, family members have the peace of mind that comes with knowing their loved one is checked on every day.
- Nursing home. Somewhere between assisted living and a hospital is a nursing home. If your loved one is non-mobile or needs full-time medical care, a nursing home may be necessary. These facilities provide 24-hour care, and most medical needs can be met without having to leave the facility for doctor appointments. Quality nursing homes also provide enrichment and social activities for residents.
For most people, the biggest concern about needing any level of assistance is how to pay for it. If your loved one does not have considerable savings or a generous pension, it will not be easy.
How Will Your Loved One Pay for the Care They Need?
While Medicare takes care of most medical needs for seniors, it does not pay for long-term care or nursing homes beyond the first 100 days. Your loved one’s options to pay for this kind of care are to pay out of pocket for as long as their money lasts or to use their long-term care insurance—if they have it. The final option is to apply for Medicaid. Since Medicaid is a need-based program, your loved one will have to meet income eligibility requirements. While Medicaid doesn’t directly cover in-home care or assisted living, programs such as STAR PLUS in Texas and the Living Choices and Independent Choices Programs in Arkansas do provide assistance.
The sooner you start thinking about how your loved one will pay for long-term care if they need it one day, the better off they will be. The Elder Care team at Ross & Shoalmire can help them qualify for Medicaid by setting up a Trust well in advance of needing a nursing home. Call us to learn more about preparing for the cost of long-term care to ensure that you can get your loved one the care they need when they need it while protecting their assets for their heirs.