Living with a Chronic Disease
Long-Term Care Options
When you wake up in pain every morning, can’t handle daily living tasks, or have difficulty with cognitive functions, you need help. Often, that help comes in the form of loving friends and family who want to lend a hand. However, the reality is that you must also plan for long-term care needs that can’t be handled by your loved ones.
Planning for Long-Term Care
Barriers to Self-Care
Chronic illnesses present specific barriers to long-term self-care. The Lippincott Nursing Center categorizes these as psychological, physical, cognitive, economic, and social and cultural. Regardless of the reason care is required, the decision to choose at-home or residential/nursing care is deeply personal and requires planning and preparation.
Care at Home
Home is the most comfortable place for the vast majority of people with chronic illnesses. And with a little help, it can be a safe haven for recovery or just to enjoy life on your own terms. HomeAdvisor explains there are numerous forms of at-home services. These include:
● Home health aides. A home health aide is an individual who helps with daily tasks such as hygiene and bathing. They may also assist with cooking, laundry, and grocery shopping. Home health aides are not licensed for offer medical services.
● Adult day care. These facilities are designed to cater to older adults or those with physical and cognitive disabilities. They offer supervision and assist with dispensing medications and hygiene as needed.
● Skilled nursing. For individuals with health needs beyond the capabilities of themselves, friends, and family, a licensed nurse can provide more in-depth and involved medical services. This may include administering injected medications and assisting with physical therapy activities.
If home health care is no longer feasible, an assisted living or skilled nursing care facility is an option. While typically associated with seniors, these housing programs may also be available to adults, teens, and children with severe disabilities.
● Assisted living. An assisted living campus is one where individuals and couples (typically seniors) live in their own apartment, home, or condominium. They have access to a central campus area that provides recreational activities. Assisted living often includes housekeeping, meals, and help taking medication.
● Skilled nursing. A skilled nursing care facility is different from assisted living in that people who live here are not able to care for themselves without direct medical intervention. Those who reside in a skilled nursing care facility may have the option of living in a private room or sharing accommodations with another patient in order to receive a discounted fee and enjoying constant companionship.
Paying for Long-Term Care
One of the main concerns of receiving paid care is the question of financing it. Elmcroft Senior Living estimates that long-term nursing care averages between $225 and $253 per day. À la carte home services may be less expensive with an at-home caregiver charging an average of between $10 and $35 per hour. Medicare does not cover the cost of assisted living or skilled nursing care for the long-term. Paying for these accommodations and services often falls to private health insurance, Medicaid, individual savings, or SSI disability.
Lifestyle Factors That Affect the Need for Care
Those living with a chronic disease may have no choice other than to receive care the vast majority of their lives. Others, however, may find that small lifestyle changes reduce reliance on others. People who smoke are more likely to need intense medical supervision later in life than those that don’t. Exercise can also help preserve independence by keeping muscles strong and improving balance, which will lower the possibility of sustaining a falling injury. Excessive drinking, drug use, and engaging in risk-taking behaviors can also increase the chances that you or a loved one will need medical care. Minor home modifications, such as added lighting and a wheelchair ramp, may also extend your ability to remain independent.
For more information on making the decision to enter or put a loved one into nursing care, visit the AARP online.
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