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Whether planning for the future of an aging parent, or gathering information to make an informed long-term care decision today, it’s important to consider the benefits of home-based care and the various forms it can take. Put simply, long-term care is any number of services intended to meet a person’s significant health needs for a period of time. For aging adults, these services often focus on activities of daily living. This means these services can help them live safely and independently when they can no longer fully take care of themselves.

Much of the long-term care aging parents need today is often provided by unpaid family members and friends. This can be both rewarding and challenging for the senior’s loved ones. Although family is often the first choice, this type of care can also be provided at nursing homes, adult day care centers, and other places.

While the genuine health needs of an elder parent should always come first, home-based care does a lot to help elder loved ones. Aging adults often prefer to stay in their homes, and studies show that, if properly cared for, living at home can lead to better emotional and overall health outcomes.

The most common type of long-term care addresses personal needs that have become too burdensome for elder parents to do safely on their own. This includes activities of daily living such as bathing, getting dressed, grooming, using the bathroom, taking medications, and preparing meals. The loss of functional independence could be due to a disability, dementia, a stroke or just advanced age.

Family members can assist with these basic needs, but it can be time consuming and stressful. Paid caregivers are another potential solution. Depending on the situation, home-based health care professionals, such as nurses, health aides, and therapists are also excellent resources to consider. These services can often be scheduled through local healthcare agencies or through the parent’s doctor.

Homemaker services, companion services, and transportation services are also useful to include as you and your loved ones discuss a long-term care plan. These can be secured through home health agencies, oftentimes without a doctor’s recommendation. Homemaker services offer help with meal preparation and household chores. Companion services, by contrast, offer home visits, often from caring volunteers, who make regular, friendly visits to elderly persons.

Transportation services provide help getting to and from doctors’ appointments, grocery stores, and other places. Public transit agencies sometimes offer these services for free. They can also be arranged through local senior centers and community agencies.

As you think about the future, it’s never too late to start planning for long-term care needs. These are just a few of the services that can benefit you or an aging parent. The key is to speak with an elder law attorney as soon as possible. Together you can develop a plan to find good care in your community and find a way to pay for it. Do not wait to ask us your questions.