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Long-Term Care

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Planning for Long-Term Care

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Finding the Right Place
To find the residential program that's best for you: 

  • Ask Questions. Find out about specific facilities in your area. Doctors, friends and relatives, local hospital discharge planners and social workers, and religious organizations can help. Your state's Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman has information about specific nursing homes and can let you know whether there have been problems at a particular home. Other types of residential arrangements, like "board and care" homes, do not follow the same Federal, state, or local licensing requirements or regulations as nursing homes. Talk to people in your community or local social service agencies to find out which facilities seem to be well run. 
  • Call. Contact the places that interest you. Ask basic questions about vacancies, number of residents, costs and method of payment, and participation in Medicare and Medicaid. Also think about what's important to you, such as transportation, meals, housekeeping, activities, special units for Alzheimer's disease, or medication policies. 
  • Visit. When you find a place that seems right, go talk to the staff, residents, and, if possible, family members of residents. Set up an appointment, but also go unannounced and at different times of the day. See if the staff treats residents with respect and tries to meet the needs of each person. Check if the building is clean and safe. Are residents restrained in any way? Are social activities and exercise programs offered--and enjoyed? Do residents have personal privacy? Is the facility secure for people and their belongings? Eat a meal there to see if you like the food. 
  • Understand. Once you have made a choice, be sure you understand the facility's contract and financial agreement. It's a good idea to have a lawyer look them over before you sign.

A Smooth Transition
Moving from home to a long-term care facility or nursing home is a big change. It affects the whole family. Some facilities or community groups have a social worker who can help you prepare for the change. Allow some time to adjust after the move has taken place.

Regular visits by family and friends are important. They can be reassuring and comforting. Visits are necessary, too, for keeping an eye on the care that is being given.

 

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