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How to Search for Services and Support

When it is clear that Elder Care is needed the first question to consider is, where will it be provided? Where to Plant Pop!

Be forewarned. This stuff is heavily marketed on the "Internet Marketing Machine". You need to find unbiased information sites and be able to wade through the jargon.

So let's discuss the "where" details first ...

Sorting out Places and Types of Care is confusing. There are 10 types, each with different levels of service, expectations and costs. There is often a progression over time, from Home Care through steps of more help and more expensive care. The costs escalate from $10 thousand to $100 thousand a year. And sadly, in many expensive formal settings, the staff and aides are minimally trained and lightly supervised.

The number 1 finding on State inspection reports is… lack of trained personnel. Infection control is also an ongoing concern, causing expensive hospital visits.

Marketing companies are always inventing new names for these facilities, so beware that the actual C.A.R.E. may not be what you expect.

75% of Facilities are privately owned for profit.

Some things to consider before you start.

Avoid the "Rabbit Hole" effect. You search the internet and get sucked down, chasing every sales lead presented to you. You will end up bewildered, exhausted and confused. Worse, you give up and will settle for the next person who is nice to you telling you what you want to hear.

Many web sites appear to be independent sources of help but, in reality are just listing referrals that charge the providers to be listed and then get payed to Plant Pop.

Are the good ones listed or just the ones that pay for the listing? They then get a commission if you choose one.

An absolutely terrific non biased, non sale web site is www.payingforseniorcare.com. It has custom drop down menus to fit whatever your question or situation may be. Very comprehensive maze buster.

Set up a file early, yes, a paper file, to track your quest and diary your thoughts and impressions.

Again, the area of Long Term and Elder Care both private and governmental, is not very well regulated, underfunded, understaffed, and undertrained.

You need to consult Federal and State ratings and reviews available on the internet, for any services or providers that you are considering before you engage them.(There are links below). You should go beyond Nice Lobby and Fish Tank impressions. Even talk to relatives of current residents.

Types and Places for LTC Eldercare

Informal In Home Personal Care

Many folks start here. House and bath modifications may be needed. Family may take shifts and professional visits may need frequent scheduling. Faith based and community based services can be helpful. After 6 months, other options are often considered due to strain on family caregivers and or progression of need.

Communal Day Care

Provides a place to go for lunch and friends while giving a break to the caregiver or if they go to a job.

Purchased - In Home Care at Home

Family tries to arrange skilled care to visit in 2 or 3 shifts a day. This looks like "aging in place". Hired homemakers, companions and caregivers too. Costs become prohibitive. Nightmare to manage.

Independent Living

Become a tenant in a senior focused location with some services, lots of amenities, and fun. Younger.

Small Informal "Care" Home in a Neighborhood

A small house that has few beds (3 to 5 or more) to provide limited care. Usually approved by the state and less expensive. Limited capability. Can be great or terrible.

Assisted Living

A facility that feels less institutional than a Nursing Home with activities, meals, services that vary greatly between facilities even though inspected by State and Feds. Private or double apartments, limited nurse and doctor services and memory care. ER trips are common. Usually private pay. Continuous communication problems between family and staff. Moves for cause to other facilities happen due to behavior or lack of service.

Memory Care Facility

Lock down facility. Some say "Memory Rehab" but that’s impossible. Residents may be controlled by drugs, though less so lately. Pleasant calming surroundings.

Usually do not keep residents beyond the 4th of 7 stages of Alzheimer's. Then they go to a Nursing Home.

Nursing Home, Skilled

A facility regulated and inspected by Feds and States. They feel like and are run as institutions. There is a formal complaint system of Ombudsman run by the States.

The level of nursing and medical care varies between locations and times. Staff and directors come and go. Visiting doctors can be frustrated dealing with lesser trained aides. Some take MedicAID.

Graduated Care Community or CCC

A large facility that offers to move residents through different levels of care within the same campus. Minimizes anxiety of moves as elder and family are familiar with staff at each inter facility move. Very expensive with a large $$$ buy in up front. Long waiting lists are common.

Public Hospice and Private Palliative Care

Public service actually covered by Medicare for 6 months end of life. Private ones are also available and more personal and private pay. They are about comfort and pain free dignity.

Review and use the checklist I’ve provided here to guide any discussions with providers.

Federal Sources and Agencies

Start with the Federal, State and Local agencies. They are largely staffed by hard working folks who are not selling anything. After you have narrowed your search and BEFORE you visit a facility check the Quality reports available on most State websites. For the example resource for Texas click here and for Iowa click here

Medicare.gov Nursing Home Comparison - A national comparison site for local Nursing Homes, Assisted Living not included. Results often differ from State Inspection reports.

Longtermcare.gov by US Dept of Health and Human Services, is a comprehensive site, great resource finder. Labels it’s info from companies. Others do not.

National Association of Area Agencies on Aging - Find your State Area Agency on Aging (AAA) program with local offices serving all counties in every state. It’s a Federal program that also runs Aging and Disability Resource Centers.

AAA provides Free phone help on Medicare and Medicaid benefits, coordination of care, and Caregiver services. They also manage the State Ombudsman programs that mitigates in nursing home care problem disputes.

Search for Aging Services and Support

Each State has a department that acts as management and liaison with Federal programs and helps seniors and disabled folks.

For Information and Help look up your State by one of these names. Aging.... Department, Division, Agency, Unit, Board, Administration, Office, Bureau, Council or Commission that handles Matters of Aging and Disabilities. For example, the AZ Dept. of Economic Security, The WV Bureau of Senior Services or MN Board on Aging.

Beware of Marketing interruptions presented to you by private companies while you search.

County and City Resources

Most have some services and supports available. Many are based on income and ability to pay. Lots of programs and services from Senior Centers that have low cost lunches, Health and Activity offerings. There are income and other qualifications to consider, however.

New Technology also can help

The next few years will see an explosion of tech helps and devices.

Advances in care have been slow and we need to try to affect change in all care arenas through advocacy.

Disclaimer: The content on this site is presented without warranty, express or implied. It represents the author's best efforts and understanding of the latest facts on this subject. All opinions expressed on this site are those of the author, Lou Annacone, and may contain inadvertent errors or omissions. Readers are advised to seek independent authority where relevant.