Long-term care is the common phrase used to describe on-going assistance with activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, eating, or walking. This type of assistance is also commonly referred to as assisted living. The need for long-term care can be indefinite, often lasting years.
Long-term care may include skilled nursing care, which is typically provided in a nursing facility and involves 24-hour healthcare provided, or supervised, by a Registered Nurse (RN). Those requiring skilled nursing care almost always also require assistance with activities of daily living. However, skilled nursing care, by itself, is often short-term in nature, typically following a serious medical occurrence, such as a stroke, fall, or surgery. Generally referred to as “rehab care,” the goal of skilled nursing care in this case is to help restore one’s health to the point where they are again able to live independently or with assisted living only. Yet, there are times when someone requires skilled nursing care for months or even years.
The vast majority of long-term care in the United States is provided in one’s home by an unpaid family caregiver. While gratifying to some, this type of care often carries a heavy emotional, physical, and financial burden to the caregiver.
Alternatively, some families choose to arrange for paid caregiver services. An assisted living facility is the typical alternative for those who require a higher level of assisted living than that which can adequately or safely be provided in a home setting.
Those who like to plan ahead and are not as comfortable with the uncertainties of managing in-home care may choose to move to a setting such as a continuing care retirement community (CCRC also known as a life plan community). CCRCs cater to those who live independently today, but they are equipped to provide the appropriate levels of assisted living or skilled nursing care that may be needed by a senior in the future.
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