The Guide to Planning for Long-Term Assisted Living Care
How to choose the right care for your parent
Whether it’s a sudden health event or an ongoing illness, there are plenty of reasons your loved one might need long-term care. And there are a variety of services that can give your family member the care and medical attention he or she needs. But with so many options, it’s hard to know which is best for your loved one’s specific situation.
This guide will help you understand your options and make a decision that’s best for both you and your family member.
Understanding Long-Term Care Options
One option is in-home care. At-home services can provide custodial care, skilled care or a mix of both. Home health care services send a licensed nurse or health aide to your loved one’s home to provide medical services. Some home care services only provide assistance with personal care and daily activities, but not medical assistance or care.
Another option is an assisted living community. Ideally, these communities offer independence when you want it with help when you need it. They provide around-the-clock care and support from a team of nurses, care providers and other supportive staff. Residents also enjoy social programming, healthy meals and more.
Unlike assisted living, skilled nursing care must be physician—ordered—and sometimes it offers more care and less independence than someone requires. One unique approach, enhanced assisted living, is designed for those who may need a bit more help than traditional assisted living but may not qualify for skilled nursing. “We’re that in-between step,” says Tracy Colburn, Vice President of Operations for Cadence Senior Living regarding Kirkwood Orange, a Cadence assisted living and memory care community in Orange, California.
“In enhanced assisted living, you’re not paying for services you don’t need, you have more autonomy—residents have private apartments and receive person-centered support in a homelike setting that doesn’t have a clinical feel,” Colburn says.
Members of these communities have few cognitive problems but high physical needs. They may receive help managing medications, transferring in and out of a wheelchair, and assistance Parkinson’s disease, stroke recovery or post-surgical needs, says Colburn.
The availability of staff and the ability to handle higher-acuity needs is a big draw for some families, and so is finding a community that feels like home.
When is In-Home Care Not Enough?
Long-term, in-home care can be cost-prohibitive. It also only offers some of the services available in a community. An assisted living community might be the right fit if a loved one:
- Would benefit from opportunities to socialize
- Feels unsafe or anxious when home alone
- Needs accessible care 24 hours a day
Every day, there are a variety of activities specifically designed for a wide range of abilities and interests.
Assisted living communities offer an array of services and amenities that aren’t always available to people in their homes.
Continuity of Care
One of the most important benefits is the quality of staff, which can vary from community to community. “The quality of care provided by the nurses and other clinical team members at Kirkwood Orange is superior to what I’ve seen elsewhere,” says Alvin Chang, medical director at Kirkwood Orange.
Staff members are in the community on a daily basis, giving them the opportunity to get to know residents personally. And longevity of the staff allows them to care for each resident as an individual. “Some staff members have been here since we opened. Because of that, they can anticipate residents’ needs and are extremely good at resident-centered care,” says Colburn. This is often an advantage over in-home services, where caregivers can rotate frequently.
In a community setting, it’s easy for residents to socialize with others regardless of their health or mobility. Every day, there are a variety of activities specifically designed for a wide range of abilities and interests. Kirkwood Orange, for example, has a full-time activity director as well as an extensive program that includes physical, religious, musical and cognitive activities. Assisted living residents are encouraged to attend activities and events as much as they are able.
For more information on assisted living services or Kirkwood Orange, contact Stephanie Radu, Executive Director (714) 282-1409 or [email protected].