What Is Long-Term Care and How Do You Find the Right Community?

March 24, 2022  |  By Brandon Schleeter  |  Active Senior Living

What is long-term care?

Long-term care used to mean a “nursing home” but the landscape has changed considerably. Today long-term care is a term that defines the level of care needed for the length of time necessary. This may be when a senior needs more daily care than can be provided at home, they are recovering from a hospital stay, they have a long-term medical issue like Alzheimer’s disease that will require care for months or even years, or some combination of these.

How do you evaluate a long-term care community?

When trying to figure out how to choose the right long-term care community a good place to begin is with a comparison of communities.

Location, location, location

First and foremost, the senior and family should decide the best location to search within. If the senior lives far from family, perhaps it’s time to move them closer. Or maybe they don’t live close by but have a strong network of friends in a long-term care community near them to consider. Whatever the choice, it should be discussed openly and honestly with the senior so they know the family has their best interests and well-being at heart. Once the location is agreed upon, make a list of long-term care facilities in the preferred area and be sure to check availability before adding them to the mix. For pointers about talking with seniors, our blog, “Talking About Moving to A Senior Community” can help.

Levels of care offered

Many long-term care communities are part of a larger senior community that includes independent living, assisted living and memory care as well. For seniors who anticipate recovering and returning to a life that requires less care, this should be factored in. Receiving long-term care in a community with other options onsite means they likely won’t have to move again once they are back on their feet. For other seniors, a higher level of care may be up next or a lateral move from long-term skilled nursing care to memory care should be anticipated. To best assess their current and future needs, talk with their physician and ask for their prognosis going forward, including:

  • Therapies required.

  • Milestones to be reached.

  • Dietary considerations.

  • Disease or condition progression.

  • Recommended post-recovery game plan.

Then contact possible communities on the list to determine if they can provide the levels of care prescribed by the doctor. Cross off any that cannot meet the seniors needs now or in the future. 

Look deeper

Long-term care communities gain great reputations through their good work with residents and their families so it’s always a good idea to ask around to get the opinions of others, especially current residents and the senior’s healthcare providers. Also check online reviews and testimonials on their websites and social media like Facebook for a more personal look at day-to-day life, upcoming events and even menus. Many also offer newsletters and/or blogs on their sites that can shed more light on the community and its lifestyle. Do they celebrate their residents? Do they offer a range of activities for different abilities? Are they forthcoming with information? Do they have a company culture and core values? Taking the time now to learn all you can about each possible choice can make the move easier and happier for everyone.

Take a tour

When the list of possibilities is down to three or four, it’s time to take a tour, either online or schedule one in person if possible. Sign on several family members to attend the tour with the senior (if they are able) and have each person come prepared to ask questions and get answers. Pay attention to things like:

  • Overall cleanliness.

  • How well the site is maintained.

  • How happy residents and staff appear.

  • How staff treat residents.

  • The staff-to-resident ratio for care.

  • Professional staff certifications. 

  • The license to operate the community is in public view.

  • The onsite availability of a doctor.

  • Visiting hours for friends and family.

  • How outside medical appointments are managed.

Needless to say, there are plenty of questions that deserve answers, so for more to consider, the brightfocus.org blog, “Questions to Ask When Looking for a Long-Term Care Facility,” is a great resource. Choosing a long-term care community can be difficult to negotiate, but by getting all the answers upfront, it will become much more manageable.

To learn about the long-term care options Arrow Senior Living has to offer, contact us to schedule a tour or speak with an Arrow Senior Living professional, or visit our website to find a community near you.

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