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Do You Need Long-Term Care? How To Evaluate Your Options

October is Long-Term Care Planning Month, so if you’re trying to be proactive in planning for the future, this is a good time to do so. You never know when you will face the need for hospice care in San Mateo. Health care in our later years can be very expensive, not just for us but for our family caregivers as well. It’s important to be prepared. Seniors and their caregivers are encouraged to create a plan now that will help meet the high costs of long-term care, many of which are not covered by most private health insurance plans or Medicare.

About Long-Term Care

Long-term care involves many services that meet a person’s personal or health care needs over a long period of time, helping those people live as independently, comfortably, and safely as possible when it becomes impossible to perform everyday activities on their own, says the National Institutes of Health. Most long-term care is provided in the home setting by family members or friends who are unpaid. Other times, it can be provided at a facility such as a nursing home or at an adult daycare center.

The most common type of long-term care involves personal care, which is basically helping with everyday activities (known as ADLs, or activities of daily living). These include dressing, bathing, grooming, toileting, eating, and transferring from a bed to a chair and vice versa. This can also include community services such as adult day care, transportation, and meal delivery. You may need long-term care if you have an ongoing, serious disability, disease, or condition. Sometimes the need for care comes on very quickly, such as after suffering a stroke or heart attack. But in most cases, there is a gradual onset of symptoms as people age and their health and mobility deteriorate.

The different types of long-term care can include:

  • Home health care
  • Homemaker and personal care services
  • Companion services

Many people don’t think to plan for long-term care till it’s too late. After all, we never know for sure when or if we will ever need it. But injuries, diseases, conditions, and emergency events can be sprung on us suddenly and we don’t want to have to think about how we will pay for it all — we just want to concentrate on feeling better. That’s why the time to think about long-term care planning is now when you are relatively healthy and sound of mind. Those who have recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia should start planning for long-term care at the time of diagnosis.

Progression of Care Commitment

There are usually a few stages of care that you would need when faced with a life-altering diagnosis or the pending need for extra care.

Intermittent Care

This involves the occasional attention of an informal caregiver (unpaid family member or friend) but you may also have a medical condition that periodically requires the need for a visit by a medical professional or formal caregiver.

Part-Time Care

An informal caregiver can provide this service to you, provided no extensive medical conditions are present that require frequent attention. Either a spouse who is already living with you can provide this or another family member who lives close by can stop in for a few hours a day to provide care. It can also involve the hiring of a formal caregiver to visit the home for a few hours every day or as needed.

Full-Time Care

Informal caregivers who live with you can provide full-time care. But this isn’t always possible if you’re living alone. Family caregivers, such as adult children, could technically move in with you and be responsible for full-time care but this often times leads to caregiver burnout and stress. And it’s not always possible due to the family caregiver having their own job and family to tend to. This may prompt the need to hire formal caregivers to be available round the clock, either in the home or at a facility.

The progression of care can go both ways. An immediate injury or event such as a stroke would necessitate immediate full or part-time care, while the slow progression of old age, the onset of dementia, or progressive medical condition may start out requiring intermittent care and then progress to full-time care in the end.

Make Your Wishes Known

It’s important to ensure your long-term care needs are known by family members now while you can still make clear decisions. According to the CDC, most people say they prefer to die at home but only half of adults over 60 have an advanced directive in place which expresses their wishes for end-of-life care.

Contact Pathways Home Health and Hospice

To learn more about long-term care planning or to find out details about our hospice program in San Mateo and elsewhere, don’t hesitate to contact us at 888-978-1306.