Nursing Home Help

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Kinds of Care

A nursing home is not the only option for long-term care, nor is it always the best place for you or your loved one. From Meals-on-Wheels to skilled nursing, a variety of long-term care options exist for people in different situations. Selecting the best option depends on many factors: whether or not you have someone who can assist you in your home, how much personal and medical care you need, where you live, what community services are available, and what financial resources you have access to.

Some of the more common long-term care options in addition to nursing home care include senior services, homecare, live-in help, senior housing with services, subsidized senior housing, and assisted living (or residential care).

Senior Services: Senior centers offer meal programs for seniors who are able to come to a meal site. For those who canít come to the center site, many communities offer a Meals-on-Wheels program. In many communities, transportation is available for older adults who can no longer drive. This basic service is crucial in helping people remain in their own homes. Some communities have private case management, or care coordination, available through private companies or community service agencies. Case managers find local services, coordinate medical care, and obtain financial assistance. Area Agencies on Aging, established by the Federal Older Americans Act, coordinate funding for senior services and centers. They provide information about local services that help older adults remain healthy and independent in their own homes as long as possible.

Homecare: After a hospitalization for illness or injury, many people hire a licensed homecare agency to help the individual recuperate at home. Usually, Medicare will pay for some homecare services. A nurse or physical therapist may come to the house to help manage the illness or to assist the individual in regaining his or her mobility or strength. A nursing assistant may come to help with bathing and personal care. Homecare services may also assist with housekeeping, shopping, and other household chores.

Live-In Help: Some homecare agencies specialize in finding workers to live with older adults and provide basic housekeeping, meal preparation, and assistance with personal care. These workers are available around the clock and are paid by-the-day out of personal funds.

Subsidized Senior Housing: Federal and state programs subsidize housing for older and disabled adults with low and moderate incomes. Residents generally live independently in an apartment within a senior housing complex. Some offer assistance with shopping, laundry, or other tasks. Individuals may hire a home health agency to help with healthcare or personal care needs; government funds usually do not cover the cost of these services. As an individualís care needs increase, nursing home placement becomes a viable alternative to the high cost of extensive in-home services.

Assisted Living or Residential Care: Assisted living is a rapidly growing option for older adults who need some assistance with personal care, such as bathing, meals, laundry, medications, and housekeeping. In assisted living, residents generally live in private apartments while sharing meals and activities with the other residents. Assisted living facilities are similar to nursing homes, except they provide less care and have fewer workers on staff. If you or your loved one will require round-the-clock nursing care or rehabilitation therapy, you may be able to use a home health agency to supplement the care you receive from the facility, but you will likely have to pay for homecare services yourself. In this case, a nursing home may be a more suitable, less costly option.

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Updated Monday, October 21, 2013