Factors to Consider When Looking into Long-Term Care

By Bernard A. Krooks

Recently, public health care options have focused a great deal of attention on end-of-life issues and the need for long-term care. If a loved one is no longer able to care for himself, it is imperative that family members carefully evaluate all options and ensure all affairs are in order before he enters a long-term care facility.

Although nursing homes can provide long-term care for individuals, they are not the only options for receiving specialized care, and individuals may wish to consider alternatives. For example, some assisted living facilities are equipped to deal with Alzheimer’s disease and other end-of-life issues. Also, some home health agencies can provide support for a loved one who prefers to continue living in the family residence. Another alternative is selecting a home caregiver who can provide around-the-clock care. The costs associated with some of these options can be covered by Medicare. It is important for individuals and loved ones to consider both the costs of these options and which will offer the best care, based upon individual needs.

If entering a nursing home is necessary, an individual must consider health care costs, estate conflicts, and advanced living directives. Before entering a nursing home, it will be necessary for an individual to discuss end-of-life options and obtain legal authorizations to handle personal and financial affairs should he become incompetent. Establishing a durable power of attorney is an essential step in this decision-making process and allows for important financial decisions to be made after a person loses the capacity to make these decisions for himself. Individuals should speak to an experienced legal professional to ensure all details of long-term care are covered before entering a nursing home.

Evaluating a nursing home before entering it will ensure that individuals receive proper long-term care. A thorough evaluation of a nursing home will include: making unexpected daily visits to see how the facility is managed, asking to see the kitchen and the manner in which water and food are provided to residents, and asking to see the facility’s most recent state investigation report. Also, it is important for individuals to inquire about allegations of abuse and to ask to speak to a resident. Asking about fees, daily care, and types of payment accepted for living costs is also an essential part of the evaluation process. Some nursing homes will accept Medicare as a form of payment to cover some or all living costs. In order to receive quality long-term care and to protect their assets, individuals should consider speaking to an experienced elder law attorney.