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What Is Considered Long Term Care?

Long term care, as compared to short term care, refers to services that help meet the patient's health and personal needs over an extended period. These needs, such as bathing, getting dressed, taking care of hygiene, eating, taking medication, and moving around, are called the activities of daily living. Ideally, long term care helps people remain safe and independent for as long as possible, even if they can't handle everything on their own.

What Are the Characteristics of Long Term Care?

Home-based long term care is the most common type and strives to keep your loved one healthy and supported for as long as possible without removing them from familiar surroundings. The most common providers are family members, friends, and neighbors, who usually are not paid. However, as age or illnesses progress, the patient may need professional care from nurses, therapists, and sitters.

When your loved one needs professional care, discuss the situation with his or her physician. The doctor can order home health services as treatment if there is a specific diagnosis, and they may be covered by Medicare if the patient is eligible. If the long term care plan involves transportation to and from medical appointments, shopping, and other errands, check with local assisted living facilities and other homes for the elderly. They sometimes offer this type of help and many public transportation entities provide it as well, especially for the disabled.

Who Usually Needs Long Term Care?

For most people, long term care isn't something they think about until they're facing a serious health condition or age-related disabilities in themselves or a parent or other loved one. The need may appear suddenly, but it often grows over time with age or as an illness progresses. Here are some things to consider when you're planning for the long term care of a parent or someone else you love.

  • As people get older, they are more likely to need long term care. It's best to have a plan in place so that you aren't making decisions in crisis mode.

  • Women are more likely than men to need long term care because they usually live longer.

  • Without a spouse in the home, single people are more likely than married couples to need long term care from a paid provider.

  • An unhealthy lifestyle, such as poor nutrition and a lack of exercise, contribute to the need for long term care. Encourage your family to make positive changes when they are younger and healthy.

  • A person's health history and genetic predispositions affect the likelihood that he or she will need long term care. A thorough plan for long term care may include a review of the person's medical history with their physician and a review of their parents' health history if available.

Where Can I Learn More About Long Term Care?

As with any emergency planning, you want to develop a long term care plan long before you need it. This process allows your loved one to participate in the preparation so that he or she doesn't feel powerless. Here are some questions that can help you lead the discussion.

  • What do you want to happen if you cannot take care of your own medical and health needs?

  • Are lifestyle changes in order that would help you stay independent longer?

  • Does the layout of your current home allow you to stay there if you cannot go up or downstairs? Are modifications available to help with this?

Contact Marshall Manor Nursing & Rehab Center for further guidance on developing a long term care plan for yourself or someone you love. We are a short term care rehab center in Guntersville offering skilled nursing, rehabilitation, therapy, and assisted and independent living.


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