Ask These 10 Questions

Most people don’t give much thought to long-term care services – until they need them. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 70 percent of people aged 65 today will need long-term care services at some point in their remaining years, and 20 percent of people will need long-term care services for longer than five years.

If you find yourself in need of a long-term care facility for a loved one, ask these 10 questions.

  1. Does it provide the right level of care? There are different types of facilities, such as nursing homes, assisted living communities and continuing care retirement living communities. Make sure the facilities you’re looking at provide the level of care you need.
  2. Is a higher level of care available? Even if you don’t need a higher level of care right now, you might in the future. See what options are available and find out how health emergencies and complications are handled.
  3. If you have any special needs, will they be met? Some facilities have programs designed for certain issues, such as memory care for people with dementia. Make sure your specific needs will be met.
  4. How is the staff? The staff makes a huge difference is the day-to-day experience of the residents, so don’t overlook this factor. You want to find a facility with a staff that is friendly and experienced, and not overworked. Also see whether there’s a nurse available at all times.
  5. What activities are offered? The right activities can make the stay much more enjoyable, while also contributing to good physical and mental health. Look for a wide range of activities that provide exercise and mental stimulation.
  6. Is transportation provided? See what transportation, if any, is provided, and what it’s available for.
  7. How is the food? Nobody wants to eat horrible food day after day. Check the food, and make sure it’s palatable, and that there’s a decent variety in what’s served.
  8. Will you have a private room? Some facilities have shared rooms, and private rooms may cost more. However, there can be benefits to sharing a room, in terms of both safety and social activity.
  9. Can you bring a pet? Having to part with a beloved pet can make the experience of moving into a long-term care facility especially difficult. On the other hand, having a pet can provide many benefits in terms of mental and physical health. If your loved one has a pet, see whether the animal will be welcome at the long-term care facility.
  10. What’s the environment like? This can be subjective, but it’s still important. You’d want to get a sense of the neighborhood before moving in – the same goes here. Is the place nicely decorated with good views and a welcoming atmosphere? Or does it feel more like a cross between a hospital and a prison? Go on a tour to get a good sense of the place, and check reviews as well.

Wondering how to pay for long-term care? This article outlines three options.