by Lois Etienne on March 7, 2012

in Alzheimer's and Dementia,Caregiver Support,Senior Health and Safety

After a stroke debilitated Mary’s father last spring, she had just two days to find him a long-term care center. Her father already had mild dementia and needed a place that could help address his physical and mental needs.

“I really didn’t know what options were available,” Mary said. “All I knew was that I needed to find a place for him to live.”

Mary’s situation is the norm. Many of the decisions about long-term care happen during moments of crisis. Commonly, families end up scrambling to find a placement 24 to 48 hours after a loved one has become incapacitated. While most people will have to make long-term care decisions in their lifetime, either for themselves or a loved one, few know what options are available or what the distinctions are between those choices.

Reading up on long-term care options, knowing what to consider and planning ahead can help families avoid many of the pitfalls of finding a placement.

• Nursing homes, assisted living centers/boarding homes, adult family homes and in-home care are counted as long-term care providers. Adult family homes and assisted living centers can offer specialties, such as memory care.

• Independent-living retirement centers are not considered long-term care because tenants are by definition able to care for themselves.

• Hospice also falls outside of long-term care because hospice is intended as a place for patients who are expected to live no more than six months. However, some long-term care facilities offer hospice as part of their services.

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