Long Term Care Facilities - What to Look For

About Long Term Care Facilities

As your loved one or parent grows older, there may come a day when you can no longer care for them adequately.

While the spirit is willing, the body is often weaker than necessary to take care of an aging parent. Safety is one of the most important concerns for any caregiver and if you can't lift your parent in or out of a bathtub, or help them get dressed, or if they're too heavy for you to help them from a chair into a bed or vice versa, someone may end up getting hurt.

In other situations, a parent is no longer able to take care of their home properly. With no place else to go, a long term care facility is often their only option. However, the nursing homes of today are not similar to the nursing homes of a generation or two ago. Today, long-term care facilities provide around-the-clock care for individuals requiring anything from minimal help with daily living activities to full-time or round-the-clock care in an Alzheimer's unit.

Assessing Long Term Care Facilities

A long term care facility very specifically describes its function. A long-term care facility is generally described as one in which time of stay may extend a year or two or more. Many seniors live in care facilities for more than five years, a home away from home where social activities, religious services, friends and community events provide seniors with a full range of quality living opportunities and lifestyles.

When looking into a care facility for your loved one, first determine their needs. A long-term care facility generally provides the following services:

  • Three meals plus snacks every day
  • Round-the-clock care and help with dressing, grooming, personal hygiene and bathing. Such services are offered by nurse's aides.
  • Daily services and activities that include crafts, music, physical activity, indoor and outdoor entertainment and activities when applicable.
  • Multi-denominational religious services.
  • Round-the-clock nursing care and supervision which includes pain management, medication, and wound care services
  • Regular visits by the senior's preferred health care provider or doctor.

When assessing a care facility, seniors, their caregivers and other family members should arrange to visit the location at different times of the day during the week. For example, arrange a formal meeting with the facilities' administration department for a formal tour of the facility.

long term care for elderly

It doesn't hurt to visit during mealtime, in the middle of the afternoon, in the evening before bedtime and on weekends and holidays in order to check the level of services, and the ratio of nurse's aides to residents.

Ask about the types of activities offered in the facility. Activity departments should offer more than coloring or bingo. A well rounded activity department will offer classes and courses in basket making, oil painting, water painting, yarn crafts, and crafts geared toward men such as making fishing lures or casino type games like poker and blackjack, just to name a few.

Individuals interested in long term care should look into private rooms and determine whether personal belongings and furnishings may be brought to the facility to make the resident's room appear homier. Today, the trend in nursing care and long term care facilities is culture change. This means that more than ever before, choices are given to residents regarding their daily schedules. Such choices include what time they get up and go to bed, what days their baths or showers are scheduled, when they may engage in physical therapy, and the types of activities and religious services they would like to have offered.

While today's culture change trends provides more of a challenge to nursing staff and nurse's aides, care facilities are patient-centered care facilities that meet and address the needs of the residents before the needs of the staff in the facility.


First assess the needs, wishes and desires of the parent in regard to their physical, emotional and mental health and wellness, and then search for the nursing home or care facility that can best meet the needs for each parent.

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