November is National Long-Term Care Awareness Month. Long-term awareness month is a time to recognize and show support for both seniors who are receiving long-term care and for those who are providing long-term care. This type of care is overwhelming for seniors and their caregivers as they figure out how they are going to pay for care, what role the family members play in providing care and when and who should make the decision that senior loved ones need extra help.
What is Long-Term Care?
Long-term care is a broad category of services for those of any age that requires help because they have a physical or mental disability or chronic illness. The services provided for long-term care may either be paid or unpaid and the types of assistance vary, including activities of daily living, medical care, personal care, and/or a combination of services. Basically, long-term care involves a wide range of services that are customized for the individual needing assistance. Long-term care services are available to help people live as safely and as independently as possible when they are no longer able to perform the tasks and activities on their own. Long-term care is offered by different caregivers and in different places, depending on the individual’s needs.
What Are the Different Types of Long-Term Care?
Many people confuse National Long-Term Care Awareness Month as a time to recognize seniors who currently need medical care and the caregivers who provide these services, but it’s actually meant to help people understand that although you or your loved one may not currently require long-term care, it’s beneficial to understand what is available should the time come. Although most long-term care is provided in the person’s home, services are also available in assisted living communities, nursing homes, and the home of a family member. Some of the most common long-term care services requested include:
- Personal care services-Home health care providers offer a variety of personal care services that don’t require a physician’s order. Personal care services often include help with bathing, shaving, and dressing. These types of personal care services also don’t require Medicare approval.
- Chores and homemaker tasks-For those with disabilities or the elderly often struggle with basic homemaking tasks and chores, such as doing the laundry, preparing meals, and general housekeeping duties, such as dusting and vacuuming. Home care agencies offer caregivers to help with these tasks.
- Transportation services-Whether it’s needing a ride to and from medical appointments, going grocery shopping or for a day outing at the community center, home care agencies can provide transportation services for seniors that are unable to drive themselves.
- Companion services-Seniors or those with a disability often find themselves spending a great deal of time alone. Unfortunately, these lengthy times of being alone may lead to physical and emotional problems, such as depression. Home care agencies generally staff companions that will come to the person’s place of residence and simply spend time with them. During their time together, the seniors and their companion often play board games, watch television together, and work in the garden, or simply just chat. Companion services are an ideal way to avoid isolation for those who otherwise would be spending time alone.
It’s almost impossible to know for sure if you or your loved ones will ever need long-term care, maybe you will never need these types of services. However, should an unexpected illness, accident or physical condition, such as dementia occur, the best time to think about and do your research for long-term care is before it’s needed. Planning for potentially needing long-term care will give you the time you’ll need to learn more about the services available in your area, the costs and what to expect.