"It is easier to build a strong child than to repair a broken man." - Frederick Douglass

Planning for Future Elder Care Needs

elder care

Planning for elder care services is the kindest thing a person could do for their youngsters or potential caregivers. It may seem daunting to make decisions about the type of care desired when no longer able to live alone without assistance.

Sites ranging from organizations, such as SeniorCare and AARP, to government agencies, like the CDC and Medicare, all have tools to aid in the process. There are checklists, questions to ask, resources for assistance in planning, and explanations.

Knowing frequently used terminology will simplify the task, as well as understanding levels of elder care available.

  • Aging in Place: “Living in the residence of their choice, for as long as they are able, as they age. This includes being able to have any services or other support they might need over time as their needs change, according to Age In Place Networks.”
  • Home Health Aid: A certified person who takes care of seniors in their home. Typically, they help with personal care, cooking, and housekeeping.
  • Long-Term Care Insurance: A plan purchased by an insurer, the benefits cover home health care. Separate from Medicare, which includes minimal home care expenses.
  • Home Health Agency: Private businesses that hire nurses, CNAs, and home health aids.
  • Ombudsman:  An advocate who serves to protect the civil and human rights of elderly and disabled residents living in long-term care facilities. Ombudsmen are volunteers trained and certified by the state.
  • Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF): also known as a nursing home.
  • Adult Foster Home: A private home licensed by the state offering personal care for seniors who do not need acute care. Typically, adult foster homes have space for six residents.

SNF vs. Assisted Living Elder Care Services

Medicare considers skilled nursing facilities to be temporary. SNFs offers medical care, typically done by nurses under the direction of physicians. Meals and housekeeping are included. Typical nursing homes have medical, long-term, and rehabilitation services.

Assisted living centers offer a community living experience with varying levels of elder care services. Most offer limited medical, such as blood pressure and weight monitoring, daily diabetic care, medication management, and specialized dietary needs.

Residents live in their apartments or rooms depending on the type of community. There are organized activities and communal dining rooms.

There are elder care communities that combine both assisted living and skilled nursing. In these properties, there are areas or buildings designed for specific levels of care. The first is independent living with support services in place when needed. Next would be semi-independent living with limited medical facilities. Last is the acute care unit, which is fundamentally skilled nursing.

When moving into a skilled nursing facility becomes a necessity, it is important to research before making a decision. (List of resources below.) Even though they are licensed by the state and regularly inspected, they still vary in the services provided and the quality of care.

Family Assets reports the distribution of ratings for SNFs on a 1-to-5-star system. Based on user reviews:

  • One-quarter (25.7 percent) of facilities rate only 1-star.
  • 4.7 percent scored 2-stars.
  • 6 percent earned 3-stars.
  • 12.2 percent scored 4-stars.
  • Slightly over half (51.3 percent) hold the highest ranking of 5-stars.

When looking for the best elder care facility, consider the following factors: determine what type of services are needed; understand facilities are either for or not-for-profit entities; review state and federal government ratings; consult state and local ombudsmen perspectives; word-of-mouth referrals; and trusting one’s gut instinct.

Planning for future elder care can be designed based on personal preferences. Knowing what to expect and deciding the course of action desired is a good start. Next, write down the plan and share it with whoever will be making the decisions so they can carry out the desired course of action.

Written by Cathy Milne-Ware


AARP: How to Research a Nursing Home
FamilyAssets: Senior Care Resources
National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care: About Ombudsman Program
Medicare.gov: Compare nursing home quality
Assisted Living Facilities: General Facts and Statistics | Assisted Living Industry Facts and Statistics
Assisted Living Facilities: Choosing an Assisted Living Facility | What should I look for when considering assisted living?
CDC: National Survey of Residential Care Facilities
American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance: The Ability To Remain In Your Own Home Is One Of The Greatest Benefits Of Owning Long-Term Care Insurance
Paying for Senior Care: Senior Care Costs / Aging Care Calculator
Age In Place Network: What is Aging in Place?

Featured and Top Image Courtesy of sima dimitric’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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