Long Term Care For Seniors An Overview

If you or a loved one are in need of long-term care (“LTC”), the process can be overwhelming. You’ll need to learn how to find care, how to fund the care you’ve chosen, and how to decide what type of care is right for you and your family. Whether you’re doing research for your own care, or for the long-term care of an aging loved one, careful consideration and thorough research is necessary. Here are some of your options:

  • At-home care: For many years, at-home care was the preferred option for elder care. In some countries and communities, families still opt to care for aging or ill family members at home. While long-term at-home care is often the most convenient and comfortable option for the elderly patient, it can cause high levels of stress for the caregiver, who must both provide care for the elderly patient and juggle her own personal and professional life. If you choose at-home care, professionals—such as home health aides, respite agencies and skilled nursing staff—can be a great help, even on a part-time basis.
  • Assisted living: Assisted living facilities provide a moderate level of care and everyday assistance to seniors who are still somewhat independent. In this case, seniors live in homes or apartments often paid for through private insurance or assisted living insurance. Professional staff is available to offer help with daily living and routines when necessary. Staff don’t, however, intrude on the seniors’ lives, and they don’t offer round-the-clock medical care. Some facilities offer three meals a day, while others ask members to prepare their own meals. Many assisted living facilities offer recreational activities, social organizations and clubs, encouraging seniors to stay socially and physically active.
  • Nursing home care: Nursing homes are designed for seniors who need 24-hour care—those who have a medical condition that requires tight management, who have developed Alzheimer’s, or who can no longer physically take care of their own needs. These facilities provide three meals a day, along with assistance with the activities of daily living, such as bathing, eating and laundry.

How to Find Long-Term Care

If your loved one is severely ill, you may be offered care recommendations during their discharge from a hospital or after a home evaluation with a social worker. If this is the case, work with your caseworker to determine the long-term care services that you feel will work the best for both your family and your budget.

If your loved one is aging, but not severely ill, spend some time discussing his preferences with him. He may have surprising preferences and ideas about his care and how he’d like to live.

How to Fund Long-Term Care

Medicaid, Medicare and private insurance plans all may help with some of the costs of long-term care. The rest will need to be covered by assisted living insurance, other private insurance or private funds acquired through cash reserves, life insurance policies, home mortgages or other means.


University of Rochester Medical Center. Long-term care: Types of long-term care facilities. Retrieved October 21, 2010, from http://www.strong.rochester.edu/services/seniors/caring/typesoflongtermcare.cfm

University of Washington (2007). UNDERSTAND — Long-term care. Retrieved October 21, 2010, from http://www.washington.edu/admin/hr/benefits/insure/fac-staff-lib/optional/ltc-resources.html