Real Life Perspectives

Another Chapter in Caregiving: Choosing a Long-Term Care Facility

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Are you facing the daunting task of selecting an assisted living or skilled nursing facility for your mom or dad? If you aren’t there yet, chances are it is on your horizon. It is a difficult and emotional journey, but the good news is that you don’t have to go it alone.

Seeing parents age — and often diminish in their ability to care for themselves — can be hard to accept. After all, these are the people who have been there for you when you were frightened by your first day of school and crushed by the collapse of your first romance. It’s not easy when the roles reverse and they now need your help.

Making sure you are able to find the right answer to their care needs is a big responsibility. Every family’s journey is different, but here are a few key factors you should keep in mind to help the process go as smoothly as possible.

This is often a “one-off” — making the learning curve steep

Most people only go through this process once. Even with modern-day blended families, chances are you will only experience having to choose a senior housing or long-term care facility for one parent. This means your rookie experience is most likely your only chance to hit a home run.

That’s why being able to seek guidance from an expert can mean the difference between living a nightmare or a dream for your mom or dad (and you!) ARAG legal insurance offers caregiving support that includes eldercare advocates who can help you assess your parent’s needs and offer plans that will meet those needs.

And even if you do go through the process more than once, having support the first time — and every time — helps ensure you will find the best care option for each of your loved ones.

If you can, plan ahead

Having “the talk” with your parents about planning for long-term care isn’t an easy conversation — and one we often put off. Between facing the reality of your parents aging and fearing that the talk won’t go well, it’s easy to put it on the shelf for another day.

Until that day arrives and you are all caught off guard.

Knowing what your parents want and being prepared to make it reality can be a much better experience when the need for care arises. ARAG legal insurance helps create wills, powers of attorney, living wills and more. Along with their professional expertise, they provide a credible, objective voice in helping your family prepare for the future.

Going through the experience with a solid plan in place is still challenging, but going through it in crisis mode can add layers of stress and worry that make it even more overwhelming.

It may be hard to have “the talk” — but it will be much harder if you don’t.

Looks can indeed be deceiving

The growth in senior housing and long-term care facilities is substantial—and that is not only because there is a boom in the population that needs this care but also because there is money to be made. And that means that not every facility has offering the best care possible as its highest priority. It is an unfortunate reality, but keeping this in mind will help you look beyond the sales pitch.

When you are considering a facility, they will typically want to meet with you and schedule a tour. This can be a great introduction, but make sure there is more exploration and exposure than just seeing what they want you to see. Ask residents how they are enjoying themselves. If it’s a skilled nursing facility, ask the staff what their average response time is to a call — and then ask some residents, too. Do the answers vary drastically? Then it’s time to do some more investigating to find out where the truth lies.

With so many new facilities popping up, chances are you will see fresh paint and nice artwork. The empty community room may look lovely — but what is it like when an actual activity is happening? The more you can see “real” life in a place you are considering, the better able you will be to trust that they will deliver on what they say they will.

Along with asking others you know who have gone through this process for their input, ARAG’s eldercare advocates can offer care referrals to help you wade through the sea of options available.

Know who will pay for what

As with anything that deals with insurance, things can get complicated. Depending on the facility, type of care needed, insurance plans providing coverage and government regulations, making sure you know how much is covered and who will be providing it as time goes on can be tricky.

Policies often have limits — and what happens when those are reached? How much will Medicare cover? What if the laws change? All of these questions need answers in order for you to make a fully informed decision, and reading all of the fine print can be challenging. ARAG’s eldercare advocates can offer you guidance and help you understand the financial implications of the various choices available so that you know what to expect as your parent’s care needs continue.

Let your experience be your guide — and motivation

After participating in the journey of helping your parents prepare for life’s later seasons, you now have some knowledge of what you should do to prepare for your own journey.

Planning ahead and taking on the responsibility of choosing your future care is a great gift to your children. If planning for your own benefit isn’t enough motivation, then do it for theirs.

Having gone through the process yourself…you know how grateful they will be.

Guest post by Lisa Ancona-Roach, The Juggle Struggle

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