What is Long-Term Care?

Elder Man and Woman Drinking Lemonade

Long-term care refers to any program that offers assistance accomplishing every day activities. These activities, known as activities of daily living or “ADLs,” can become increasingly difficult to those who have suffered from traumatic injuries, chronic illness, or, in some cases, those who have reached an advanced age. Due to these situations, simple tasks like eating, bathing, dressing, and even getting out of bed can become extremely difficult without assistance. Long-term care, in its different forms, is intended to alleviate that difficulty and help those suffering regain some of their former quality of life.

Along with helping complete ADLs, long-term care services sometimes go even further by assisting with Instrumental Activities of Daily Living. These include some of the more advanced day-to-day tasks in life, such as housework, preparing meals, caring for pets, managing finances, shopping for necessities, and other choirs.

Who Needs Long-Term Care?

It’s a common myth that long-term care is a service reserved for just the elderly. The truth, however, is that as much as 41% of all long-term care patients are under the age of 65. While adults of advanced age often benefit from long-term care programs, so do younger people who may have encountered traumatic circumstances. People injured in auto or sporting accidents, those who’ve had a stroke or major illness, and people suffering from mental illness are all examples of a typical long-term care patient.

Types of Long-Term Care

Long-term care comes in a variety of forms. As it’s something of an umbrella term, “long-term care” is used to describe a number of different options that are sometimes tailored to different individuals. Because the average long-term care patient comes from a variety of backgrounds, the service is offered in different ways through different avenues. Some examples include:

Assisted Living Facilities: In most cases, assisted living facilities are designed to help their residents with ADLs while still offering a level of independence. Most residents who choose to live in assisted living communities have full cognitive skills but are often in need of assistance with some of the more physical tasks that come with everyday life. In most cases, the residents have their own private living quarters (often a studio or one-bedroom apartment) that can be easily accessed by caregivers when assistance is needed.

Skilled Nursing Facilities: Commonly known as “nursing homes,” skilled nursing facilities are an option for those who are in need of assistance with ADLs as well as the support of medical professionals. Most skilled nursing communities are staffed by not only caregivers, but also licensed nurses and physicians. In many cases, these facilities will also have rehabilitation specialists on hand as well, such as physical and occupational therapists. Unlike assisted living options, residents of skilled nursing communities tend to have less independence.

Home Care: Though assisted living and skilled nursing communities are fairly comprehensive options, home care—that is, when the patient has a caregiver come to their home to assist them—is a popular option. In some cases, hiring a home care professional for assistance can be a little more cost effective than staying at an established facility. It also brings the added bonus of letting the patient live and recover in a familiar, comfortable setting.

While it’s difficult going through life with any kind of hindrance, long-term care can offer those who need assistance the help they need in a comfortable, safe setting.

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