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What is Long Term Care and How to Know if You Need It

With November being National Long-Term Care Awareness Month, we thought it fitting to explore what long-term care is and what are the signs you may need it. While no one can predict the future and know exactly what health issues we will face, it’s important to plan ahead and be ready for any challenges thrown our way. Long-term care can be expensive, so saving now to help pay the bills later for in-home care in San Mateo and elsewhere is a smart investment.

Long-Term Care: Defined

Long-term care, comprised of many services that meet a person’s health or personal care needs, can take place either during a short or a long period of time, points out the National Institute on Aging. These services are meant for individuals to live as independently and safely as possible when they can no longer sufficiently perform activities of daily living (ADLs). One can receive long-term care in a variety of settings, depending on needs. It usually starts out being offered in the home by family members and close friends. They are usually unpaid for their services. Later on, it can be provided in a facility such as a nursing home, assisted living facility, or adult day care center.

The most common type of long-term care will address issues of personal care, such as:

  • Dressing
  • Toileting
  • Navigating the home or facility (moving from a chair to a bed and vice versa, and using the stairs)
  • Bathing
  • Grooming
  • Eating
  • Community services (meals, transportation, and adult day care…some are free, some come at a reduced cost)

An individual’s ability to care for themselves while still living in their home may be questioned when they can’t perform basic activities without help, or when they start to fall frequently. They may need long-term care after being diagnosed with a serious, ongoing health condition or disability, or after experiencing a sudden health crisis, such as a heart attack or stroke. Most likely, though, the need for long-term care comes on quite slowly while developing gradually over time as they get older or their condition gets worse.

Top Signs You Need Long-Term Care

No one wants to think about getting sick and not being able to care for themselves, but it can and does happen. It’s tough to think about getting old when you’re young. However, one AARP report says that even amongst those who took steps to plan ahead for long-term care at a younger age, 78 percent say now that they wished they had started planning sooner.

Unfortunately, it takes a major life event for most people to plan for long-term care. Here are the top signs you should be having the conversation with your aging loved one about planning for the near future. Does your loved one…

  1. Require advanced or constant medical attention? If your parent, spouse, or other family member needs 24/7 medical care or advanced medical attention, this is a major sign that the next steps should be taken. This need for 24/7 care can result from injury, surgery, debilitating conditions, general declining health, forgetfulness about taking medication, and confusion or memory issues.
  2. Neglect their personal care? A decline in personal care or hygiene is another major sign. When you start to notice that your loved one has not been bathing every day, using the bathroom properly, or even regularly brushing their hair or teeth, their level of personal care is on a serious decline. You may also notice a cluttered or dirty home, with dishes piling up in the sink and laundry piling up in the bin. You may also see that your loved one isn’t eating right, and is only grabbing convenience foods high in empty calories — a sign of improper nutrition.
  3. Suffer from mobility issues? You may notice that your loved one falls frequently, is finding it difficult to walk up and down stairs, or can no longer get up easily from a sitting position. These are often the last signs to be noticed, especially if you don’t see the person every day. However, perhaps you’re picking up on subtle signs like increased missed doctor appointments due to a fear of getting lost or feeling uncomfortable driving themselves, newspapers left outside, or dropped items throughout the home that are not picked up.

Notice any of these? It’s time to have that conversation about long-term care possibilities. While not a fun conversation, it’s a necessary one for their health and safety.

Contact Pathways Home Health and Hospice

Is declining health an issue for yourself or a loved one? In your discussions about long-term care with your family, we would like to be a part of the conversation because we can help. To learn more, please get in touch with us today at 888-978-1306 to explore our in-home care services in San Mateo and elsewhere.