Long Term Care

Understanding Long-Term Nursing Home Care: Essentials and Insights

Many senior adults reach the point where they can no longer live on their own. While some can live comfortable lives with family or friends, some may require additional assistance that their loved ones can’t consistently provide. In this case, their best option is to explore long-term nursing home care options. 

While there are various options, those with specialized needs may need to seek long-term nursing home care. At Mulberry Health, we strive to provide our patients with the care and attention they need for a better quality of life.

Although many use terms such as “retirement communities” or “nursing homes” interchangeably, several key differences determine how much assistance or specialized care you or your elderly loved one will receive. Here’s our guide to help you explore your options for long-term care

Are you thinking about long-term care for yourself or a loved one and require guidance? Contact Mulberry Health today to discuss your options with our experts.

What Is Long-Term Care? 

Long-term care refers to services that meet the various needs of individuals that limit their ability to perform everyday activities. This care is generally needed for an extended period, sometimes for the rest of a person’s life. 

Although many patients seeking long-term care are seniors, they can also include people with chronic conditions, disabilities, and other lifelong conditions. Through long-term care, patients can improve their current quality of life, maintain a dignified living situation, and get support as needed. 

What Are the Benefits of Long-Term Care?

Long-term care provides several benefits for individuals who require ongoing support, which can include:

  • Assistance with Activities of Daily Living (ADL): Patients receive assistance with everyday activities, including bathing, dressing, toileting, eating, and mobility. This enables them to maintain a good quality of life.
  • Medical Care and Monitoring: Long-term skilled nursing care facilities assist with medication management, wound care, and other medical services. These are important for managing chronic conditions, preventing complications, and improving health outcomes.
  • Safety and Supervision: For individuals with cognitive impairments, disabilities, or medical conditions that require supervision, long-term care facilities provide a safe and secure environment with round-the-clock monitoring to ensure their well-being.
  • Socialization and Engagement: Facilities often offer social activities, recreational programs, and opportunities for socialization. This reduces residents’ feelings of isolation and loneliness and promotes mental and emotional well-being.
  • Specialized Care for Complex Needs: Qualified professionals cater to individuals with specialized needs, such as memory care for those with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, rehabilitation services for individuals recovering from injuries or surgeries, and hospice care for terminally ill patients.

Paying for Long-Term Care

There are various ways people can pay for long-term care:

  • Private Payments: Patients or their families can shoulder the costs out-of-pocket. This can be from a family member’s income, their savings, a retirement fund, investments, or proceeds from the sale of their home.
  • Private Financing Options: Patients may have insurance, life insurance policies, trusts, and other financial instruments that cover the cost of long-term care.
  • Federal and State Government Programs: Patients may be covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and other healthcare benefits for veterans and other programs. 

What Are the Different Long-Term Care Options?

Long-term care options vary and are tailored to meet the diverse needs of individuals who require ongoing support. Some options include:

  • Skilled Nursing Facilities: Also known as nursing homes, these provide 24-hour medical long-term skilled nursing care and assistance with ADL. This offers the best care for individuals with complex medical needs or disabilities that require ongoing supervision and support.
  • Continuing Care Retirement Communities: Also known as life care communities, these offer a range of long-term care options all in one campus. This includes independent living communities, assisted living, and skilled nursing care. Members can be transferred to whichever facility meets their level of needs. 
  • Assisted Living Facilities: Assisted living facilities are for patients who prefer a private living environment and can still mostly manage independent living. These facilities assist with ADLs, medication management, and other supportive services.
  • Home Health Care: Home health care services are provided in the patient’s home. Assistance covers ADLs, medication management, senior therapy, and other medical services tailored to the individual’s needs.
  • Hospice Care: Hospice care is specialized care for individuals who are terminally ill. These focus less on treating their condition and more on pain and symptom management and emotional support for the patient and their family members. 

Who Needs Long-Term Care?

Long-term care may be necessary for various individuals, including: 

  • Senior Adults: Some older adults may experience a decline in physical health and cognitive function. This limits their mobility and ability to perform everyday tasks independently.
  • Patients with Chronic Illnesses: Individuals with chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, cancer, or physical disabilities may require skilled nursing care to manage their conditions or assistance with personal care and daily living.
  • Cognitive Impairment: Conditions such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, or other causes of cognitive decline can affect memory, judgment, and decision-making abilities, requiring specialized care and supervision.
  • Terminal Illness: Individuals with terminal illnesses or life-limiting conditions may require hospice care to manage symptoms, provide comfort, and support end-of-life care.
  • Patients Recovering From Surgery or Injuries: After surgery, traumatic injury, or hospitalization, individuals may require long-term care to regain strength, mobility, and independence. After recovering, they are discharged and can return to their regular lifestyle.

Additionally, patients needing long-term care can include those living with family members who might be unable to provide around-the-clock care. 

Some signs that it’s time for a family to consider long-term care for their elderly loved one include:

  • Safety Concerns: If the senior’s living environment poses safety risks due to hazards such as clutter or inability to navigate stairs or other less accessible spaces, it may be time to consider safer living arrangements.
  • Decline in Physical Health: If the senior requires around-the-clock medical care, rehabilitation services, or assistance with ADL, a family may not be equipped to provide adequate care at home.
  • Increased Caregiver Stress and Burnout: Family caregivers may experience high stress, exhaustion, or burnout levels from providing round-the-clock care. On top of this, they may also need help balancing their careers and personal obligations. This can negatively impact the entire household’s physical and mental health. 
  • Social Isolation and Loneliness: Seniors with limited mobility may feel isolated or lack social interaction with people outside the household. They may experience loneliness, depression, and a decline in overall well-being. Long-term care facilities offer opportunities for socialization, engagement, and activities.
  • Unmanageable Behavioral Changes: Seniors with behavioral issues such as aggression, wandering, or refusal to cooperate with caregivers may require specialized care and supervision in a setting equipped to manage challenging behaviors.

How To Talk to a Senior Family Member About Long-Term Nursing Home Care

Deciding to move to a long-term care facility is an emotionally challenging decision for everyone. However, it’s important to remember that this decision benefits everyone, particularly those who need specialized care. Ideally, this should be a conversation between the senior adult and their family members acting as their primary caregivers. 

Here are some tips to approach this discussion with empathy, respect, and understanding:

  • Express Your Concerns with Empathy: Start the conversation by expressing your love and concern for the senior’s well-being. Use empathetic language to convey that you understand the challenges they may be facing and that you want to explore options to ensure they receive the best possible care.
  • Listen Actively: Allow your loved one to express their thoughts, feelings, and concerns about the topic. Listen actively without interrupting, and validate their emotions by acknowledging their perspective.
  • Provide Information: Share factual information about nursing home care, including the types of services and support available, the benefits of living in a nursing home, and how it can address their specific needs and preferences.
  • Address Their Fears and Misconceptions: Acknowledge any fears or misconceptions the senior may have about nursing home care, such as loss of independence, loneliness, or concerns about the quality of care. Offer reassurance and examples of how nursing homes can provide a supportive and enriching environment.
  • Involve Them in the Decision-Making Process: Empower the senior to participate actively in the decision-making process. Encourage them to ask questions, voice their preferences, and express concerns. Offer support and guidance in exploring different options and making an informed decision.
  • Involve Other Family Members and Professionals: Consider involving other family members, healthcare professionals, or a mediator in the discussion to provide additional support and guidance.

Give Your Loved One the Gift of Good Living at Mulberry Health

Understanding long-term nursing home care is crucial for families navigating the complex landscape of elder care. By delving into the essentials and insights provided, you’ve gained valuable knowledge about long-term care. 

It’s important to remember that every situation is unique, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution for long-term care for older adults. Exploring options, communicating openly with loved ones, and seeking guidance from healthcare professionals can help families make informed decisions that prioritize their senior family members’ well-being and quality of life.

Mulberry Health provides compassionate care for you or your loved ones who need specialized assistance to maintain a comfortable quality of life. Contact us today for more information. 


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