Options for Long-Term Care

Many seniors do not plan for the likelihood of long-term care. Yet, nearly two-thirds of seniors will need care in their lifetime. It is important to collect as much information as necessary to assist in decisions regarding long-term care that will not only affect the elderly, but their families, as well. Planning in advance, before one’s health declines, will save families from high levels of stress down the line. Below is information necessary to help makes these essential decisions.

What Options are Available?

The levels of care available to the elderly are varied, ranging from adult day care to nursing homes depending on the level of assistance that is needed. This post will discuss adult day care and home care.

Adult day care services include medical, health & social services for individuals with cognitive and/or functional impairments, such as dementia-related disease, Parkinson’s disease or other natural brain syndromes. These programs are regulated by the Pennsylvania Department of Aging. The median cost of adult day care in Pennsylvania is roughly $55/day, which amounts to nearly $1200/month. Some public benefit programs help to pay for adult day care, such as, the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), Medicaid and Veterans’ benefits.

Home care is the next level of care available to seniors. This type of services includes someone from an outside service, such as a home health aide to assist a senior in his or her own home. These caregivers are normally hired through an agency or private hire. The median cost of home care in Pennsylvania is roughly $46,000, with an average rate of $20/ hour. This is slightly above the national average. States regulate and license their own home care agencies. However, agencies that are Medicaid certified follow federal guidelines.

The next level of care to consider is Assisted Living. These facilities monitor residents to ensure their health, safety and well-being. Assisted Living facilities provide services ranging from assistance with every day activities, such as bathing and dressing, managing medication, social activities, transportation and meals. The average cost of assisted living in Pennsylvania is $3,175 per month.

For those who require more assistance day to day, a nursing home may be the best option. They provide a secure environment with services that include: room and board, personal care, nursing care, and social activities. Those who qualify for nursing home care typically need assistance with several every day activities, such as bathing, dressing, eating, moving around and incontinence. Residents may also have limitations due to Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia. The average cost of nursing home care in Pennsylvania is $7885 per month for a semi-private room and $8700 per month for a private room. Some nursing homes accept residents who qualify for Medicaid, which would help pay for some of the cost.

Thing to Consider

One of the many challenges is selecting the appropriate level of care. Your local Area on Aging  office may be able to assist you in this decision.When choosing a facility, here are a few aspects to consider:

  1. Be sure to clearly understand the services offered by the facility. Any service that is not covered in the agreement will be an additional charge.
  2. Have a clear understanding of who is obligated to pay. Children of the resident(s) can be liable.
  3. It is important to know the level of training required for the staff. For example, are they trained to handle patients with dementia?
  4. Personal preferences should also be considered. For example, does the senior feel comfortable with the staff and other residents? Is the facility too far from family?
  5. When visiting a facility prepare a list of questions to ask other residents and staff. The answers to these questions can help in choosing between facilities.

There are many steps and things to consider when planning for long-term care. Legal planning can aid in overcoming the stress and confusion that can arise. An elder law attorney is equipped to aid in taking a thorough look into the senior’s circumstances and will be able to assess the best course of action for the senior and his or her family.