03- May2017
Posted By: Tony Fischer

Five Long Term Care Options That Aren’t The Nursing Home

Many people think of long-term care as the nursing home.  However, the fact is there are many levels to the senior healthcare continuum, several of which are considered long-term care.  As people age and make their way through the senior healthcare continuum it is inevitable that they will use a service classified as long term care.

That probably changes your view of long term care. So let me give you a simple definition to determine whether a service is or isn’t a long term care service.

Simply put, any health problem that can’t be “fixed” with a doctor’s visit, hospital, or rehab stay is considered long term care.  This includes chronic illnesses or conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Arthritis, and COPD, decreased mobility or memory care.  What more is that insurance coverage for these conditions are short term, once the patient is stabilized insurance coverage often stops.  For this reason almost all of long term care services are paid for out-of-pocket.

A common question asked by seniors is about insurance coverage of long term care services.  The majority of the time our Senior Care Sherpas have to tell them services aren’t covered under Medicare or traditional health insurance.

READ RELATED: How to pay for long term care

The post referenced above explains some different payment options for long term care services, so we won’t go into those here. Instead, now that we know how long term care is defined, let’s look at five options that don’t include going to the nursing home.

Private Duty Home Care

This service features non-medical personal who are hired to come into the home and help the senior with day-to-day tasks.  Healthcare professionals call these tasks “Activities of Daily Living” and they include things like bathing, grooming, housekeeping, laundry, and meal preparation.  Private Duty Home Care companies can also provide companion services for patients suffering from a Dementia based diagnosis.

Home Chore Services

Need work done outside the house? Home Chore services can help.  Many communities offer these services through Area Agencies on Aging or community groups funded by private and government grants. Home Chore service workers will mow lawns, remove snow, clean gutters, clean-up debris and anything else an elderly home owner may need to maintain their property.

Transition Services

With the passing of the Affordable Care Act, many traditional services have evolved to include services for seniors who are at risk for returning to the hospital. Consequently, one of these evolutions is the transitions care manager.  They are nurses who visit the senior’s home and set-up services to help them maintain their independence.  Insurance companies sometimes offer these services as well.  They are often limited in scope but can provide the insight and resources a senior needs to remain at home.

SeniorCareSherpa.com also offers transition services that include a senior care plan.  CLICK HERE for more information.

Independent Senior Living

These are communities of seniors who can live independently with minimal services.  These communities often feature services such as outdoor maintenance and housekeeping.  They also work in conjunction with home care companies to provide additional services as needed.

Assisted Living

With more service offerings than Independent Living, Assisted Living offers services that can almost mirror that of a nursing home.  Assisted Living communities offer a variety of services that enable the seniors to age in place without leaving the community. A senior care get 24-hour care in an assisted living environment if they have the resources and medical conditions warrant.

Senior Care Planning

Want more information? Our Senior Care Sherpas can help guide you through the process of understanding services and identifying needs.  Use the form below and we will be happy to guide you through the list of long term care options.

02- May2017

Chasing a Diagnosis

I sat in my driveway, hanging on to every word Jason spoke while the rain beat down on the roof of my car.  He had called 10 minutes earlier to get advice on a recent diagnosis of dementia his father had received.

“We just don’t know where to go from here.” his voice cracking as he choked up over the words.

As we talked he shared with me the symptoms he had noticed over the past 6 months and the increasing care his mother had needed to provide.”

She is exhausted”, he continued,  “…I am pulling double shifts and spending the weekends over there to relieve her, but we are at our wits end.  He just shuffles around, gets lost, sits in the bathroom for hours at a time during the middle of the night.  What could possibly be wrong with him?”

I asked what type of doctor his father had seen and if there were future appointments or tests scheduled to identify his dad’s sudden onset of symptoms.

“They just said it was dementia, maybe Parkinson’s, but no, there are no future plans to find out more. Why? Should there be?”

I stopped in my tracks and assured that Jason had my full attention, “It is not only important, it is critical that your dad gets followed up with a specialist.  I suggest a neruorogist and whatever testing they feel is necessary to get the proper diagnosis.  Your dad’s quality of life and treatment options depend on it.”

With that, Jason scheduled more appointments. We stayed in touch as more testing was conducted.

One afternoon, a few weeks after our initial call, he texted me with an update.  His dad’s symptoms had worsened and required first responders to rush him to the emergency room.  While his dad was in the radiology lab in the E.R.  for an MRI, the doctors told the family they were pretty sure it was just “plague build up” and “…nothing that could be diagnosed until postmortem.”

Two hours later Jason texted again. A 6 cm brain tumor had been identified on the left side of the brain, potentially inoperative.  Chemo and radiation were options, but most likely his father had less than 6 months left to live.

Our conversation quickly turned to the importance of quality of life, precious time his dad had left to share in connection and love.  We talked hospice and palliative care.  Jason took on the job of ensuring his father was comfortable and out of pain.

It was wonderful to see social media pictures of his dad, cared for by round the clock nursing and surrounded by family, smiles, laughter and hugging.

6 weeks after our initial call, the day it rained so hard I stayed in the driveway to finish our conversation, Jason’s dad died.  Jason reported that he was comfortable in his own home, surrounded by those who loved him and grateful that the past weeks were spent in celebration of a life well lived and not chasing a diagnosis.

Also Read: Five Reasons To Get A Diagnosis Beyond Dementia