Long-Term Care Facilities: What They Are, Who Pays for It, and What To Expect

What Is a Long-Term Care Facility?

A long-term care facility is a location in which both medical and personal care can be provided to those who cannot do so for themselves any longer. Some examples of long term care facilities in include nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, and full- to partial independent living facilities. According to the CDC, “Over 4 million Americans are admitted to or reside in nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities each year and nearly one million persons reside in assisted living facilities” (1. CDC 2017).

Who Pays for Long Term Care?

According to an analysis from the Subcommittee on Health from the Committee on Ways and Means, approximately 43% of nursing home and residential care facility care costs are incurred by Medicaid, 14% by Medicare, and the rest is broken down by VA, out-of-pocket, private insurance, and other means (2. See chart below. Day “Guide to Long Term Care Planning About Long Term Care”).

Those figures do not include, however, the vast amount and value of informal, unpaid care by family and friends.

Family Expectations of Long Term Care Residents

The level of care and services provided will vary widely based on the type of facility that your loved one goes into. Usually, it is elders who are being admitted to these facilities, and unfortunately, it will probably be their final home. As such, it’s important to ensure that their care is being customized to best suit their wants and needs, and their comfort – not only physically, but emotionally. Speak with the physician, nurses, caregiving staff, and anyone who will be involved in the care of your loved one, and ensure that any care moving forward is documented and provided in such a way to best meet your loved one’s individual, unique needs.

Family expectations of long term care residents should be communicated during initial intake, and frequently throughout their stay. Keep in mind that these expectations should change along with the health and independence level of the senior in care. A senior will decline in health no matter where they are living, whether that be slow or fast, and their care should reflect that.  Risks could include falling, bedsores, and weight loss – so family expectations of long term care residents should reflect that these risks will probably occur.

Families shouldn’t feel guilty entrusting their loved one to a professional, long-term facility. With involvement in the elder’s life and high levels of communication with staff, a long-term facility will probably be the best place for your loved one – and could relieve stress had by everyone.

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