As people age, they often find it difficult to complete daily tasks such as shopping, traveling to doctor’s appointments, and managing medications. Due to debilitating diseases or severe injuries, senior citizens may need help treating their ailments and dealing with the complications of daily life. To aid in the tasks that have become challenging due to a medical or health condition, many older individuals require long-term healthcare.
When to Seek Long-Term Healthcare
According to the U.S. Administration on Aging, 69 percent of Americans age 65 or older will need some form of long-term care for at least a period of three years. Many senior citizens require long-term healthcare services after being diagnosed with a severe long-term illness, such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease. Others may require long-term support after suffering a serious injury, such as a broken hip or injuries from an auto accident. Finally, ailments such as arthritis that typically come with advanced age can make daily routines so difficult that senior citizens may require regular help.
Although long-term healthcare is usually required by older adults, younger individuals may also require similar services. Children and adults living with severe mental or physical disabilities may need daily help with regular activities. Additionally, spouses of wounded veterans may seek long-term care to provide additional support. Younger individuals suffering long-term injuries and illnesses may also require long-term healthcare to help with daily routines.
Obtaining Long-Term Healthcare
Most typical health insurance plans do not necessarily provide for long-term healthcare requirements. As a result, many individuals finding that they need long-term care may struggle in determining the level of care required and in finding the funds to pay for long-term care’s costs.
Some people prepare for the likely event of needing long-term healthcare by purchasing long-term care insurance. Programs like Medicare usually only pay for long-term healthcare costs after the patient has paid as much as possible, sometimes by selling property assets to pay for services such as a long stay in an assisted living facility. Long-term care insurance covers these expenses without requiring an individual to dip into savings or sell off assets.
Rather than hiring someone or paying for a stay in a residential facility, some families save money by taking care of their own. Depending on an individual’s long-term care needs, a family member may be able to manage medications, assist with chores, and provide any additional support that a person needs.
Types of Long-Term Healthcare
Generally, there are four types of long-term healthcare: in-home services, residential facilities, adult day care, and rehabilitation facilities.
In-home services are usually provided for individuals whose homes few or no modifications to accommodate the individual’s physical or mental condition. A family member may be able to provide in-home services, or individuals may hire a nurse or licensed in-home care provider. Some individuals require in-home services around the clock, while others may only require in-home support during the day for help with daily chores.
Residential facilities offer several different arrangements catering to the specific needs of the individual. Facilities such as assisted living homes help individuals with daily activities in a home-like environment, while skilled nursing facilities provide specialized support for individual health conditions.
Adult daycare facilities provide social and educational activities to senior citizens during the day. Many older individuals add adult daycare to their long-term care plans to improve their quality of life and to take some of the pressure off in-home caregivers.
Rehabilitation facilities provide long-term care with the goal of helping a senior regain some of the function or ability lost through a debilitating illness or injury. Some residential facilities may refer residents to rehabilitation facilities after suffering an injury or illness in an assisted living situation.
Talk to an Elder Law attorney if you aren't sure where to start or have questions about legal issues.