Planning Long Term Care

Planning for the long-term care of a loved one—whether it’s an aging parent on grandparent—isn’t easy. You need to consider cost, convenience and your family member’s comfort, as well as a timeline and a schedule that works for the whole family.

Step #1: Get Paperwork and Finances in Order

As you begin planning long-term care for your loved one, have your paperwork in order. If her cognitive abilities have been impaired, a medical Power of Attorney will need to complete the necessary paperwork in order to obtain long-term care. You’ll also need a legal Power of Attorney to manage your loved one’s finances.

Once you’re thoroughly aware of your relative’s financial and medical situation, begin the process of Medicare and Medicaid planning. Laws vary from state to state, so check with a local legal adviser to determine which resources are available to you and how to access them.

Step #2: Evaluate Coverage and Cost of Care

Next, evaluate both the type of coverage your loved one needs and the amount of funding he has available. Depending on his individual situation, Medicare or Medicaid may pick up part of the bill. However, you’ll likely need to rely on private funding sources, as well, such as private long-term care insurance, loans or a reverse mortgage.

Step #3: Evaluate the Level of Care You Need

As you plan for the care of your aging parents, determine which level of care is necessary. Are your parents relatively independent, only needing someone to check in on them once or twice a day to make sure that they eat and take their medication regularly? Or do they need a round-the-clock nursing facility with skilled care to manage their daily activities, such as bathing, dressing and eating?

The expense, as well as the amount that Medicaid and Medicare will cover, varies dramatically from one type of care to another.

Some long-term care facilities offer increasing levels of assistance as their patients age. This option allows seniors to move into apartments with minimal day-to-day assistance that increases as necessary as they need more help on a daily basis.

Step #4: Interview Various Facilities

Next, visit a few facilities in your area. Call and arrange tours, so that you and your loved one can visit and take a look around. As you visit, keep an eye out for anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. Do the residents appear to be well taken care of and happy? Are staff members happy to answer your questions, or do they seem bothered or inconvenienced by your visit?

Step #5: Choose a Facility

Once you’ve gathered all of this information, sit down with your family members and discuss your options. Choose a facility that meets your budget constraints, offers the services that your loved one needs, and seems like a good fit for the needs of your family.


Seniors, Inc. (1999). Will you or your parents need long-term care? Retrieved October 22, 2010, from

Texas A&M University Systems. (2006). Long-term care facility selection requires careful consideration. Retrieved October 22, 2010, from