By 2035, there will be 78 million Americans over the age of 65. That means that 1 in 5 people will be of retirement age.
Our aging population poses unique challenges to the health care system. As people get older, they require more care than hospitals alone can provide. That’s where long and short term care come into play.
If you have an aging loved one, you may be wondering what your care options are. Whether you’re doing your research in advance or you’re looking for more immediate help, you need to determine the kind of care you’re loved one needs.
Keep reading to find out more about long and short term health care and what’s best suited to your situation.
What Is Short Term Care?
Short term care is exactly as its name implies. It’s short term assistance that involves a range of services. It can be used to help a loved one get back on their feet after a procedure or to allow a loved one to live independently for as long as possible.
Short term care might include some days in a residential facility and some days at home. It might consist of staying at a facility for a short time period. It can also involve having a home carer come to the house for short periods to care for your loved one, help them perform tasks, or give you some time to yourself.
We’ve broken down short term care into the three main types: in-facility care, at-home care, and respite care. Read more about each below.
Short Term Care in a Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF)
In-facility short term care is typically provided by a nursing home or a care home. You might choose short term care through a residential-type facility for a number of reasons.
They can give your loved one a brief introduction to what it’s like to live in a residential care home. It may also be an option following an illness, injury, or surgery, wherein managing at home independently would be too difficult. It can also be arranged as an alternative to hospital admission when a person doesn’t need hospital treatment but can’t take care of themselves alone.
While staying at a facility and receiving short term care, patients receive the same level of services as residents of the facility. They have access to all of the same social and entertainment programs as well as meals. In most cases, a nurse will be assigned to evaluate each patient and develop a personalized plan according to their needs.
Respite care is a form of short term care. It’s mainly used for the benefit of the primary caregiver. It’s a care option that allows them the time they need for themselves – whether it be a few days break, a holiday, or just an afternoon to get things done.
To take the best possible care of your loved one, you need to take care of yourself. When it’s time to do so, a residential care home or a short term care in-home carer can provide relief. Some of the ways it taks form is:
- Companion sitting services
- Replacement care
- Supported short breaks
- Day centers with supervised, daytime activities
- Short term residential stays
In some cases, respite care may be allocated by social services. Check your benefits and state allowances for respite care to see if you’re covered.
Short Term Home Care
You may also opt for a short term care arrangement wherein a carer comes to your loved ones home. This is an option for anywhere from a few days to a couple of months. This temporary solution allows your loved one to remain in their home and live independently while ensuring they’re receiving the assistance they need.
Depending on why the care is needed, you may be assigned 1 or more professional carers. These can include a custodial caregiver or a skilled caregiver.
A custodial caregiver provides unskilled assistance with daily and household tasks. This might include bathing, dressing, laundry, meal preparation, as well as mobility. These carers will ensure that your loved one is taking their medications as prescribed and that they’re taken care of in terms of dietary and hygiene needs.
But you might also require a skilled carer to assist with dressing wounds, dispensing some types of medication, providing therapies, and monitoring vital signs. This is a good option for individuals recovering from severe illness, surgery, or debilitating trauma like a stroke.
What Is Long Term Care?
Long term care is an option when your loved one is suffering from a chronic or progressive medical condition. These are instances in which the care needs are most likely to increase over time as the patient becomes incapable of functioning independently. These include patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease, a stroke, or Alzheimer’s disease.
Long Term Care in a Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF)
This form of care involves 24/7 support my medical professionals and trained care professionals inside a residential facility such as a nursing home or a care home. When a physical and/or mental condition severely restricts their ability to function you should opt for in-facility long term care.
You’re loved one will receive medical, personal, and therapeutic care services tailored to their need. Beyond medical care, they also receive help with hygiene, eating, mobility, and socialization.
By definition, long term care patients will spend months and years at their facility. Good residential facilities will take measures to make the residence feel like a community and a home away from home. They’ll organize activities and have support services such as salons, financial management, and local transportation.
Long Term Home Care
Despite the amount of time and hard work you’re willing to put into caring for your loved one, the hard truth is that some conditions progress past a point where you can help. Without training and a good deal of experience providing care to a chronically ill person, the tasks will eventually become too much.
If you’re not ready to send your loved one to a residential facility or you prefer to keep them at home indefinitely, long term home care is an option. You can hire a skilled caregiver to provide in-home support until the person’s needs reach a point where a facility is the only option. When they require 24/7 hour supervision and higher levels of care, you’ll need to seriously consider moving them into a care home.
What’s the Difference Between Long and Short Term Care?
With all that said, the main difference between long and short term care is the length of stay.
Short term care is best for a temporary stay. When you need to travel out of town or need a break from caregiving, short term care at a residential facility is a good choice. And if you’re loved one is recovering from an illness, injury, or surgery – or just need a little extra help around the house – short term home care might be what you need.
But in the case that your loved one has a chronic or progressive condition wherein their care needs are likely to increase, it’s time to look into long term care. An in-home long term caregiver can provide a level of care beyond what you might be able to do. When their needs go beyond what can be provided in a home environment, they can be moved to a residential facility with 24/7 medical and professional care.
Looking for Short or Long Term Care
When it comes time to look for short or long term care for your loved one, it’s important to do your research.
First, assess the needs of your loved one and determine what level of care they need: short or long term, in-facility or in-home. Once you find a potential care solution, come prepared with questions and gather as much information as you can. This includes cost, services, level of medical care, etc.
You may also seek referrals from friends, other family members, and physicians. If you’re looking for an in-home care provider, be sure to ask if they provide an in-home consultation and whether you can be involved in the interview process.
In terms of costs, care may be available through social services. Social services define a number of eligible needs and provide care packages through local service providers. You may seek a community care assessment through your local council’s social service department.
When you’re loved one requires long term care; it’s important to call right away to reserve a spot. Care facilities often operate on waiting lists and the sooner you contact them, the better your chances of securing a room.
Does Your Loved One Need Care?
Whether you’re loved one is recovering from an illness, requires assistance performing everyday tasks, or you need a break from your caregiving duties, there are care options available. When the need for care is temporary, short term care is the best option. But when a loved one is suffering from a chronic or progressive condition, long term care may be your only alternative.
If you’re looking for care option for a loved one, we can help. Contact us today for more information.