Choosing the Right Long-Term Care Community for Your Loved One

Choosing the Right Long-Term Care Community for Your Loved One

Each year many elderly people are admitted to the hospital; most commonly for circulatory disorders and respiratory illnesses.   When hospitalization occurs, the patient, in many cases are unable to return home upon discharge from the hospital. Some may require a short-term rehab stay for physical therapy or others may need long-term placement. When faced with this challenge, many people lack an understanding of finding a senior care community for their loved one. Recently a good friend was faced with assisting her cousin in locating a rehab facility while she was in the hospital. She said to me “they gave me a book”. What she meant was the hospital staff gave her a book listing nursing, assisted and rehab facilities in the area. After opening the book, she didn’t know which way to turn as she didn’t understand what these communities offered regarding care and treatment. This is common for so many people supporting their loved ones in the hospital. People are rushed to find a community for their family member only to discover, in the long run, their choice could not meet their loved one’s care needs.

Understanding the terminology used in the assisted living and long -term care community is the first step in determining viable care options:


Skilled nursing care is medical treatment provided by licensed professionals such as registered nurses, physical, occupational and speech therapists. Skilled services can include short-term rehabilitation from an injury or sickness. Skilled nursing services include wound care, IV therapy, physical therapy, and monitoring vital signs, just to name a few. Skilled nursing services must be ordered by a doctor to be covered under Medicare and Medicaid.


Nursing Home care provides care for persons who don’t need to be in the hospital but can not be cared for in their home. Nurses and nursing assistants are available 24-7 offering medical assistance under the direction of physician’s and nurse practitioners. Nursing home care is for persons requiring medical care that is not provided in assisted living communities.


While persons residing in personal care enjoy their independence, they receive supportive services of laundry, housekeeping, meals and medication administration by licensed staff. Medical and therapy services are under the supervision of licensed physicians. Persons in personal care receive some assistance with adl’s (activities of daily living).


Assisted Living Communities offer supportive services like assistance with dressing and bathing. Generally, the assisted living communities offer apartments with emergency call lights. Residents in assisted living communities receive housekeeping, meals, help with dressing and bathing and transportation.


Life Care communities offer all levels of care including independent living, personal care and nursing home care. Life care communities also known as continuing care retirement communities are for persons who prefer to live in one location rather than having to move to another community down the road.


Hospice provides end of life care to patients with a chronic illness. In addition to comfort care, Hospice provides support services for their families. Hospice care can be provided in the home, hospital or in a separate hospice facility.

When looking at long term care, determine your loved ones needs before considering a community. You want to make sure the facility can care for your family member. Talk to friends, neighbors and coworkers to find out about places they may have heard were good or experienced first-hand. Visit the communities and visit again to determine if they are a good fit for your loved one. Is the facility clean? Are staff available? Are residents engaged? What is the staff-to-resident ratio? Ask questions of the staff and talk to residents, if possible.

Searching for the right care facility for your family member can be time-consuming and exasperating. Make this an opportunity to be an advocate on his or her behalf by locating the best match for your loved one’s quality of life, self-confidence and comfort.

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