What are long term care services?

One of the questions I often hear is – what are long term care services? The easy answer is the help individuals receive with eating, dressing, bathing, toileting, transferring, and incontinence when they are unable to perform these day to day life activities independently. This type of help is often called custodial care and it is expected to be required for a prolonged period (90 days or more).

These services are not connected to recovering from an acute situation where they are improving following an accident or sickness.

Where are long term care services received?

+ In their home is the most common location, by far, and it’s where people want to be. When a person first needs assistance it is usually non medical such as from a Homemaker, sometimes called a Companion. Homemaker’s help around the house, prepare meals, etc. perhaps every couple days. Another kind of non medical assistance would be provided by a Home Health Aide who provides the person substantial assistance with two or more ADLs. The next level is medical related help, which could be provided periodically or around the clock. These individual have more training. The highest level of home based help is to have an RN provide more complex assistance. These services support what is often call the desire for people to – age in place.

+ Adult Day services are growing in popularity. The individual goes, during the day, to a center and receives health and therapeutic services. Individuals in these programs benefit from interacting with others in a group environment. This is a good option to give the regular care giver some rest or time to go to work. Some Adult Day service providers have transportation to take individuals to and from their home.

+ Assisted living is an excellent choice when a person needs more extensive help and can no longer live independently. They have a private room, receive meals in a common area, and have access to a range of services. One big value to the individual in Assisted Living is socializing, which improves quality of life and makes them quite popular. Safety is also an important advantage to family members in this transition since they know help is there if a person falls or has a sudden illness.

+ When more complex medical services are needed, such as around the clock nursing, they can be provided in a nursing home.

Note: Long Term Care services are not just used by people in their later years. Over 40 percent of those now using these services are between 18 and 64!