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Long-Term Care

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Choosing Well: Long-Term Care Facilities
By Hilary Gibson, Staff Writer

(Page 1 of 2)

One of the hardest things a caregiver will ever have to do is to know when itís time for their loved one to go into a long-term care facility. Often, caregivers will go long past the point of when they should have incorporated help from the outside. Sometimes, itís their own fear of failing as a caregiver and the fear of letting someone down that stands between themselves, their loved ones, and an improved quality of life for both.

Identifying some of the following may help make the decision process a little easier, and define certain things a little more clearly for you.

A long-term care facility may be needed if:

  • Your relativeís condition keeps getting worse and is becoming too much for you to handle on your own
  • No matter how hard you try to give care to your loved one, itís just not enough
  • You feel as if you are the only one around who is having to care for someone who is ill or elderly
  • Youíre not receiving any type of respite, and it doesnít look like anything can be arranged for you to get much-needed time away or rest
  • Relationships with other family members are breaking down because of the time you must dedicate to caring for one person
  • Your caregiving responsibilities are beginning to greatly interfere with your work and personal life
  • You have feelings of guilt when it comes to taking care of yourself
  • Your coping skills are beginning to include self-destructive behavior, such as eating too much or too little, increased drug use or alcohol use, or losing emotional control too often
  • You rarely experience any moments of happiness, but have too many real moments of exhaustion, anger, and resentment
  • You hold your feelings in, never allowing them to be shared with a friend or with a professional

As a caregiver, you may very well have experienced many, if not all of these things from time-to-time, or you may now be starting to experience these things constantly. In order to conquer your fears of placing a loved one into a long-term care facility, you need to understand more about some of the facilities nearest to you.

As a caregiver, you may wonder how to go about finding whatís available to your loved one in and around the area in which they live, and how to decide upon what type of facility will be best for them.

A few people you may want to ask are:

  • Your family physician
  • Hospital discharge planners
  • Social workers
  • Home healthcare nurses
  • Friends and/or neighbors who have been through similar experiences
  • Your religious leader
  • Geriatric screening programs through a local hospital or community center
  • And finally, government agencies, such as the Federal Area Agencies on Aging, or local social services or family services groups

If there is a professional familiar with your loved oneís condition, ask them about what kind of facility would be best in matching and meeting particular needs. These people may be able to help you base a decision upon specific medical considerations and information, such as conditions like Alzheimerís or Parkinsonís, mental health and awareness of the person, and their physical and mobility factors.

When deciding on a few places to check out, first call them and ask if there is a waiting list for the facility, what the cost might be, and what types of insurance or supplements, if any, are accepted. The answers you receive from these phone calls should help you narrow down your list of possible places.

When youíve selected a few places, make sure you ask even more questions to help you better assess the quality of each facility. Also, listen to your ďgutĒ feelings when you begin each tour, and it may be helpful to bring along a friend or other family member in order to get some other forms of input regarding each facility.

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