It can be tempting to jump to conclusions when you are looking to provide care. Before you decide on support for an elder relative, a comprehensive understanding of the relative’s financial, mental and physical condition is necessary to choose the right level of care for the situation. Remember that many hospitals and nursing homes offer free counseling services to help you assess next steps for your loved one. You can also privately hire a financial counselor to help with this process.
Factors to Consider
- Safety – Is your relative able to prepare food on a daily basis? If he or she falls ill or feels unwell, is there easy access to medical help? Is it easy to move around the house safely without help? Is leaving the individual alone putting his or her safety at risk?
- Physical health – Is your loved one terminally ill? Is his or her health affecting day-to-day life? The best resource to assess well-being is a medical professional.
- Financial situation – Does the individual have savings, either retirement funds or investments, that can be put toward care? Does he or she have pre-existing insurance that can cover part or all of the services needed?
- Living situation – Are you living with your relative, planning to have them move in or considering moving them into an assisted living facility? Consider both your relative’s needs and your own needs before changing living arrangements. If you decide to become your loved one’s caregiver, make sure you’re financially prepared — for everyone’s wellbeing.
Choosing Care and Payment Options
Long-term care, a range of services that meet personal care needs, can be one or a combination of three different degrees of personal assistance:
- Skilled Care – Round-the-clock care from a registered nurse under the close supervision of a physician.
- Intermediate Care – Occasional nursing and rehabilitative care under the supervision of medical personnel.
- Custodial Care – Basic care covering nonmedical day-to-day needs.
There are three main ways to finance elder care: government insurance (Medicare/Medicaid), long-term care insurance and personal funds. Learn more about funding care.
Deciding on what options best suit the individual can be an emotionally tiring process and is often complicated by factors out of your control. Remember that the best way to approach making this call is to form a clear understanding of the person’s needs and the care each option provides. It may also require checking his or her legal documents if the individual is unable to make decisions.