Finding Long-Term Care For Your Parent

daughter and senior mom looking at camera smiling

If you’ve started to notice changes in your senior parent, you may be looking for answers. Maybe Dad is having trouble eating and bathing himself. Perhaps Mom has received a new diagnosis or her chronic illness has worsened.

After seeking solutions and discussing your concerns with a physician, you might wonder if long-term care is an option that’s right for your parent.

Here’s what you need to know about long-term care – what it is, who’s a good fit, and how you can find the right community.

What is Long-Term Skilled Nursing Care?

Long-term care communities provide assistance with the activities of daily living (ADLs), which include walking, eating, getting dressed, using the toilet, bathing, and standing up.

Essentially, they provide the support your parent needs when living at home is no longer an option due to difficulties with the ADLs listed above.

Assistance with ADLs isn’t the only thing communities provide, though. They also provide resources and programming to help residents live their best lives socially, emotionally, and mentally.

What’s the Difference Between Assisted Living and Long-Term Care?

Some people get confused by the difference between assisted living and long-term care. How can you tell which one is a good fit for your parent?

Long-term care is for seniors who are no longer able to safely live at home on their own and require some form of 24-hour nursing care. By comparison, assisted living is for seniors who need some help with activities of daily living but don’t need nearly as much daily care.

Still not sure which is a good fit for your parent?  Use this evaluation chart and questionnaire to assess your parent’s ADL ability level. You can also talk to their doctor or discuss their situation with the staff at a long-term care or assisted living community.

How Much Does Long-Term Care Cost?

Because of the level of care and services, the cost of long-term care can be higher than having your parent remain at home. However, the costs are more comparable than most people realize.

For example, Genworth estimates that in 2021, the median monthly cost in the Midwest for a home health aide was around $5,053 -$5,529 and for homemaker services started at $4,957.

In comparison, a semi-private room at a community that offers long-term nursing care was around $7,300 – $9,000 per month, which includes the same services a home health aide and homemaker would.

Additionally, it’s important to keep in mind that living at home would also come with other costs, such as utilities, transportation and mortgage payments — as well as necessary medical supplies. Ultimately, you should base your decision on your parent’s needs and whether or not those will be best met at home or a comprehensive long-term care community.

As discussed above, you should ask your parent’s primary care physician for their advice to help you make your decision.

How to Pay For Long-Term Care

If you and your parent decide that a long-term care community is the best fit for them, there are three main ways to pay for it: Medicaid, private pay or long-term care insurance.

Generally, most commercial insurance types will not cover long-term care services. If your parent does not have long-term care insurance, they’ll need to pay out-of-pocket.

If they can’t cover the costs themselves, they’re likely financially eligible for Medicaid (Medicare doesn’t cover long-term care if that’s the only care your parent needs).

What Happens In Long-Term Care?

Your parent’s needs are unique, and a good long-term care community will address them as such.

Here are some examples of the long-term care services you might find at a community:

  • A plan of care for each resident, centered on personal goals and functional abilities.
  • Support with ADLs to promote independence, mobility and self-care.
  • In-room amenities such as individual room temperature control, TV with cable, private phones and storage space.
  • Gathering spaces for socializing and relaxing.
  • Enclosed courtyards to let residents enjoy park-like surroundings.
  • Full-service salons and barbershops to allow residents to look and feel their best.
  • Scheduled outings and activities to keep your parent engaged and entertained.

Long-Term Care Activities

A big part of what long-term care communities provide is a wide range of activities and programs. A quality long-term care community will provide activities geared toward resident interests to make sure their mental and social needs are being met.

Here are some long-term care activities that residents at Optalis senior living communities enjoyed recently:

  • Local Zoo visit
  • Monthly birthday party
  • Group singalongs
  • Church and rosary services
  • Resident council meetings
  • Art classes

This is just a sampling of the activities your loved one can join in on every day. There are also plenty of community events tailored to residents.

Of course, no one will force your parent to participate in an event or activity that they don’t want to. While socializing is proven to have enormous health benefits for older adults, they still have autonomy and can choose not to participate.

Finding the Right Long-Term Care Community

The best way to evaluate a long-term care community is to visit. Make sure you get a tour of the community and have the staff answer your questions to help you best evaluate it.

Optalis Healthcare offers multiple communities throughout southeastern Michigan and central Ohio, all with personalized offerings to help residents live their best, most fulfilling lives.



Long-Term Care Guide