How to Choose the Right Long-Term Care for Your Loved One

While the decision to place a loved one in long-term care can be very difficult, choosing the perfect place for them can be even more so.  Here, the elder care advocate, Douglas Lauenstein provides insight into how to choose the perfect long-term care facility for your family.

What are Your Loved Ones Needs and Wants?

Every situation is different, and not all long-term care options work for every individual. There are several levels of long-term care, including assisted living, skilled nursing and memory care services, and as such, your family has many options to consider when making the best decision for your loved one.

Assisted living is for those who only need mild assistance, perhaps with preparing meals or bathing, while skilled nursing provides care for those with complicated health concerns or behavioral issues that require more nuanced assistance. Memory care services are important for those suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia, helping to improve behavioral and cognitive outcomes, and are available at many long-term care facilities.

It is just as important to consider what your loved one wants, as what their health may require. Do they, for example, strongly value their independence? In this situation, a facility that allows them greater autonomy would be ideal. Perhaps they are more social, or more reserved; perhaps they enjoy the countryside over the city, or vice versa. It is important to locate a nursing home or assisted living facility close to where probable visitors live.  In most cases the visitors will be the spouse and children.  Frequent visitation is important to the wellbeing of your loved one. Facilities are more likely to provide good care if they know family members are frequent visitors.   Take these desires into consideration before starting your search.

How Will Long-Term Care Be Paid For?

There are a few options for financing long-term care, including long-term care insurance, Medicaid and private pay. Long-term care insurance is a good choice but it must be purchased before long term care is needed.  Medicaid is typically only available to individuals who first spend down their resources to be financially qualified. Unfortunately, Medicare and health insurance may only pay for short term rehabilitation. They do not cover long-term care, so in the end, having a well-cultivated portfolio of assets will be the safest way to fund long-term care.  Contact an elder care attorney to plan for paying for either assisted living or a nursing home before you signing any contract with the facility.

What Should You Look for in a Long-Term Facility Tour?

While internet searches and phone calls are valuable in the search for a long-term care facility, an in-person tour will be the best way to determine whether a facility will work effectively for your loved one. Upon initial entry, take note of the way staff interact with visitors. Do they seem friendly and engaging, or cold and distant? If they interact with visitors poorly, it is likely they interact with residents in a similar manner. Do they have information readily available, or require the assistance of a supervisor to answer questions? Observe the security protocol in place as well: facilities should require visitors to sign in, and have the safety of their residents topmost in their minds.

Ask to visit common areas and other living areas, and take stock of the hygiene standards. Are offensive smells, dirty surfaces or soiled bedding a common sight? Visit the dining hall, and even have a meal: are meals nutritious, well-portioned, and allow for personal dietary accommodations?

Most importantly, trust your own instincts. If a facility seems “off” to you, it likely is. There is no need to settle on the first facility you visit, so be sure to ask questions about pricing, accommodations, activities, and endorsements from the families of other residents before choosing a location.

With a dedicated professional by your side, planning for long-term care never should be an overwhelming prospect. Attorney Douglas Lauenstein is committed to helping those in our community create a strong plan of action to fund and choose long-term care. For more information, we welcome you to contact our office today.

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