Is long-term care the right choice for your loved one?

| Dena Boheim | January 31, 2013 | 0 Comments

elderly hands photoThe senior living industry can be confusing. What’s the difference between long-term care and assisted living? Does my loved one need memory care?

With skilled medical professionals and treatment services on site, long-term skilled nursing offers the highest level of care available outside of a hospital. Individuals who choose this option can lead fulfilling, relatively independent lives.

When a senior’s functional capacity for daily living is diminished by chronic health issues, long-term illness or a prolonged recovery, a system of professional care in a residential setting is called for.

Usually, long-term skilled nursing includes:

  • 24-hour residential setting. n Registered nurses, certified nursing assistants, licensed practical nurse, physicians and specialists.
  • Coordination with physicians and pharmacy.
  • Rehabilitation therapy.
  • Dietary services addressing resident needs and preferences.
  • Three nutritious daily meals, plus snacks.
  • Social and recreational activities.
  • Family counsel meetings that integrate the family into each resident’s plan for care.

In addition to medical services, you’ll find a staff and a setting focused on helping each resident with the tasks of daily living, which include bathing and personal hygiene, dressing, mobility and transportation, meals and medication management.

When is long-term care necessary?

When health needs imperil safety and the tasks of day-to-day living can no longer be effectively managed, skilled nursing is often the best choice. You’ll find that three kinds of people seek long-term skilled nursing:

First, some need long-term skilled nursing because their primary caregiver — perhaps a family member or a friend — is no longer able to provide the care.

If no one else is available to step in as caregiver, and if the individual’s needs are such that self-care is neither practical nor safe, long-term skilled nursing can be the ideal choice.

Some needs develop gradually

Second, many choose long-term skilled nursing after a prolonged illness or as the effects of aging increase the individual’s dependency.

The need probably develops gradually, paralleling the slow realization of how much change has occurred. So it’s not unusual for family and friends to discuss the need for care and share the decision.

Ultimately, it’s a matter of recognizing how capably the individual can care for himself or herself, and how safely he or she can manage the tasks of daily living. When the risks appear high, choosing long-term skilled nursing can be a relief to everyone involved.

Third, some have quick and urgent needs for care. A stroke, heart attack or accident can immediately change life circumstances, and a long-term skilled nursing program will offer the best way to ensure maximum care.

Boheim is director of marketing at Benedictine Health System. This month’s Catholic Senior Services article is provided as a service of Benedictine Health System, an affiliate of CSS. Visit or call the Catholic Senior Services Help Line at (877) 420-6461. For more information about Benedictine Health System, go to, or email info@bhs

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Category: From Age to Age