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An older loved one is having difficulty managing in the family home.  Decisions about finding support for your loved one, either through services which would allow the individual to remain at home or a move to another setting; are often fraught with emotion.  This emotion stems from the uncertainties of aging, fears about the loss of independence, society’s general discomfort with mortality, and concerns about the costs of care.   Thoughts about the possible sale of the family home may also contribute to heightened emotions during this time.

Many of the older adults we interact with have a common goal of wanting to remain in their own homes for as long as possible.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has published statistics which underscore potential challenges to this goal.  Of people turning age 65 right now, 70% of them will require some type of long-term care services and supports during the remainder of their lives.  Although one-third of people will never need these supports, 20% of those who do will need them for longer than five years.  On average, women require 3.7 years of supportive services while men will require 2.2 years.

Most of the care required by older adults is currently provided in the home and community setting, and 80% of this care is performed by unpaid family caregivers.   The ability of family caregivers to provide needed assistance is dependent upon many factors, such as geography; the types of caregiving tasks which are required; the frequency of these tasks; and each potential caregiver’s personal, professional, and financial situation.

Questions which may arise include:

  • Will the family caregiver need to stop working or decrease hours in order to meet the older adult’s needs?
  • Should the older adult move in with the caregiver’s family, or the caregiver (and maybe family) move in with the older adult?
  • Can a family member be paid to provide care?
  • How can the family home be preserved for another family member or protected from the costs of long-term care?
  • What professional services are available to support an older adult in the community and how much do they cost?
  • Is there planning which can be done before care needs develop to address some of these questions?

Creative solutions may be needed in order to maximize the effectiveness and benefits of care provided by family and/or paid services for care recipients as well as their caregivers.  Help may be needed to sort out the technicalities and appropriateness of various solutions such as a trust, life estate deed, or transfer of home ownership.  For additional information, see other articles in the blog section of our website, or call our office at 717-697-3223.

Karen Kaslow, RN, BSN

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Long Term Care Guide