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Long-Term Care

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The Four Primary Kinds of Care Providers

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Although residents may receive periodic nursing care in the facility as needed, this care is not provided on a continual basis. For instance, the staff may administer medications (take it from the container and give it to the resident) but most residents are expected to take their medications with assistance that is limited to reminders and/or set-up in special dispensers. The staff is really there to help residents who need some assistance during the day but not continuously. In fact, many facilities won't accept a resident who is bedbound most of the time or cannot move about on their own without a continual risk of falling.

Special accommodations can be important in choosing a care giving environment. Some facilities feature special units designed to care for residents with dementia, such as Alzheimer's disease, throughout declining stages of disability. Some facilities have separate sections for residents who have higher levels of disability. But other facilities feel that it is best to keep all residents socializing together this can be an important factor in choosing the facility best for your loved one.

For the more independent resident, you may want a unit with a small kitchen, or one that allows pets. You are typically expected to bring your own furniture, and almost all facilities have a dining room that serves meals three times a day. 

Cost: The median monthly room and board rate for a one-bedroom residence in a traditional assisted living facility is $3,300, or $39,600 per year*. The annual cost of an assisted living residence is primarily driven by the size of the unit (one bedroom vs. studio or shared) and the level of assistance that is needed on a daily basis.

Nursing Homes

There are generally two types of care available in a nursing home: short-term rehabilitative care and long-term care for chronic conditions. Patients receiving rehabilitative care, most often due to an acute illness or surgery, may continue staying at the facility as a long-term care patient if they do not recover the ability to live in their previous environment. Usually the long-term care units are in a separate area of the facility and the patient will have to change rooms.

In addition to rehabilitative therapies, most nursing homes are staffed to provide for daily medical needs and to accommodate patients who are bedbound or who require significant assistance with some or all activities of daily living. If a patient experiences an acute illness or trauma the nursing home will contact local emergency services for treatment or hospitalization. 

While medications can be administered at all levels of assistance, most nursing homes require that prescriptions and refills be filled by the nursing home staff, usually from a pharmacy of the nursing home's choosing. Nursing homes can usually accommodate patients with mild to severe dementia but if a resident displays combative behavior, they may be discharged to another facility with a special unit for these patients.

Nursing homes, in addition to providing medical assistance and personal care, will often support social and community activities. Staff and recreational assistants are usually available to help those with physical or mental disabilities participate.


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