Article 22-Estate Planning Series: What is Long Term Care?

Written by Wright Law on . Posted in Estate Planning, Long Term Care

In recent weeks, I have written about the importance of preparing for “long term care” needs.  Before going further, I need to address what that term means. 

Long term care is not about hospitalization. In fact, it is not really even about medical care.  It is about the inability to provide for one’s basic personal needs, often called “activities of daily living”, because of on-going health challenges.  Examples of “activities of daily living” include bathing, dressing, and eating. 

Long term care can be divided into four categories, based primarily on the level of assistance needed.    

First, is “home based” care, which allows for services to be provided in the comfort of the recipient’s own home.  For those who are trying to take care of a spouse at home, these services can even include personal care services that will allow the healthy spouse a chance to rest or take care of his/her own personal needs for a few hours a week.  

Home based services are often the least expensive.  However, home based care can also be among the most expensive should the recipient choose to receive, in-home, extensive services typically provided in a skilled nursing facility.

Second, is an independent living facility.  Although residents technically do not need assistance with “activities of daily living,” these facilities provide seniors significant conveniences and assistance.  In addition to providing assistance with maintenance/repairs, or even dining, these facilities often provide activities specifically of interest to seniors. 

Third, for those who are unable to live independently, there are assisted living facilities.  These facilities provide residential housing but also provide personalized support services for seniors who need assistance with activities of daily living.  An example is assisted living for individuals living with dementia.

Finally, there are facilities which provide skilled nursing services.  These facilities assist individuals needing 24 hour assistance, but without hospitalization.  They also provide significant assistance for activities of daily living.  As the name provides, this type of facility offers “skilled” medical assistance and services.

Statistically, a significant majority of seniors will need one or more of these services.  In upcoming columns, I will be discussing how you can effectively prepare should that need arise for you or your loved one.

© 2015 Steven J Wright  

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