By: Judah Gutwein, Regency Nursing & Post-acute Rehabilitation Centers
The Role of Becoming a "Parent to Your Parent," - Part 2
I published my first article on this subject, as Part 1 of a 4-Part series. This article was written for our valued Wellness.com readers and you can find it right over here.
This is article # 2 on the subject.
The family is meeting to discuss Mom. She’s fallen twice in the last two months and seems a little disoriented and mildly confused lately. And she seems to be losing weight too. She’s definitely not taking care of herself – or her home – as she used to. The discussion becomes heated. Snippets of conversation can be heard: “nursing home, retirement residence, respite, hospice...” You think to yourself, “I’ve heard many of these terms but I don’t know what they all mean. I don’t know what kind of care is right for Mom. And I certainly don’t know where to begin.”
The scenario above is replayed every day in a thousand different forms in homes throughout the country. This article is dedicated to all those family members who want to educate themselves about the options of care that exist for their loved ones. But it’s only a beginning – a guide to a process of research that will result in your finding an environment that enriches and enhances the life of your loved one.
Changing Times Changing Needs
It’s important to understand what is meant by long-term care. It’s a phrase which is often applied synonymously with its most recognizable component – nursing home care. Long-term care, however, has developed and evolved, adjusting in accordance with changing times, and shooting forth new outgrowths in response to many different needs – the health of the elderly person, their physical and mental capabilities, their desire for social interaction and their family’s ability to take care of them. (It’s important to add here that while long-term care is most commonly associated with care for the elderly, there are certain illnesses and conditions which require long-term care regardless of age.)
Long-Term Care, What Does It Mean?
Definitions of long-term care abound. Here are a few from today’s leading experts…
- AARP states that long-term care is a “set of health care, personal care and social services delivered over a sustained period of time…”
- The American Health Care Association states that long-term care “includes sub-acute, rehabilitative, medical, skilled nursing and supportive social services for people who need ongoing health care assistance with normal activities of daily living.”
- And, according to the Health Care Financial Administration, the goal of long-term care is “to maintain the patient’s maximum functional independence.”
The Long-Term Care Continuum
Long-term care is a range of services that addresses the health, personal care and social needs of individuals who lack some capacity for self care. There are many services that comprise what has become known as the “Long-Term Care Continuum.”
Long Term Care Continuum Services Include:
Senior Centers: Social activities, dances & bus tours.
Chore services: Volunteers assist with household chores, grocery shopping, gardening and vacuuming.
Home Visitors: Programs such as “Meals-on-Wheels,” home companionship & story telling.
Adult Day Care: Daytime activities, lunches, therapy and games.
Retirement Adult Communities: For the independent elderly, offering individual units, building security and social activities.
Continuing Care Retirement Communities or Continuing Care Centers: Designed to meet residents’ changing needs, offering services ranging from retirement housing and assisted living through skilled care.
Assisted Living Centers: Offer medical attention, as well as assistance with eating, bathing and other activities of daily living. Often free standing: not part of congregate living.
Home Health Care: In-home services by nurses, physical therapists, dietitians, etc.
Rehabilitative Programs: Provide extensive physical, occupational and speech therapy.
Respite Care: Provides temporary relief for the primary caregiver.
Nursing Facilities: Provide intensive nursing care around the clock at about half of what it would cost to provide care at home.
Hospice Care: For the terminally ill patient needing supervised skilled nursing care.
While the brief descriptions above provide basic explanations about those services, it is important to understand a little more about the most common levels of care – nursing homes, assisted living facilities, sub-acute and post-acute care centers and home health care providers.
Nursing Home Care– In researching a nursing home for your loved one, you want to find a facility that offers a way of life that goes beyond quality caring. In addition to traditional nursing care, most facilities offer a host of different services which include: rehab therapy, dementia care, hospice care, respiratory therapy, X-rays, physician services, psychiatric and social services. Remember – first impressions are very important and often the physical surroundings set the stage for the range of services they embrace.
Assisted Living– Assisted living provides relatively independent seniors with supervision, assistance and limited health care services in a home-like environment. Assisted living services typically include: comfortable accommodations, meals in communal dining areas, 24-hour security, social and religious services, personal care including medication assistance or administration, housekeeping and laundry services, and a range of services that promote and enhance the quality of life.
Sub-acute Care– Sub-acute and post-acute care provides a comprehensive program of care for a person who has had an “acute event” resulting from an injury or illness, has a determinable course of treatment, and does not require intensive diagnostic or invasive procedures. General accreditation standards exist, and sub-acute care units are staffed by registered nurses.
Home Health Care– Home health care – the largest component of the long-term care industry – is burgeoning. It is comprised of many different elements such as certified and registered home health agencies, hospice care services, medical equipment companies, homemaker services and Meals-on-Wheels. More and more older adults wish to remain in their own homes. While technology advances and reimbursement changes might impact this positively, caring for an elderly loved one often takes a huge toll on the family.