In thinking about long-term care it is important to consider where you will live as you age and how your place of residence can best support your needs should you become unable to fully care for yourself. The following questions will be answered in this section:
- What steps can I take to stay in my home?
- What are my options for living in an aging-oriented facility?
Staying In Your Home
Most people prefer to stay in their own home for as long as possible. When planning to receive long-term care in your home there are many things to consider including:
- The condition of your home
- Whether it can be modified, if necessary, to accommodate a wheelchair or other devices/equipment
- The availability of long-term care services in your area, such as adult day care or nearby medical facilities
- How “aging-friendly” your community is—does it offer public transportation, home delivered meals and other needed services?
- Tax and legal issues
It’s wise to think now about how your current residence and community will support your needs as you age and require long-term care services.
In-home and community services can help you live at home longer. The following are some of the services and supports that may be available in your area:
- Convenient and affordable public transportation
- Someone to drive you on errands and to appointments
- Help with housing and yard chores
- Help with personal care
- Home Delivered Meals
- Senior Center where you can socialize and exercise
- Adult Day Care centers
GOOD TO KNOW
Contact your Area Agency on Aging to see what services are available in your community. Visit the Eldercare Locator or call 1-800-677-1116.
Typical Home Modifications
Modifications can make your home or apartment safer and allow you to stay there longer. An important component to staying at home is avoiding falls. One of the goals of home modification is to increase your chances of avoiding a fall, especially in the bathroom. Typical changes needed as you age include:
- Entryway ramps to accommodate wheelchairs or walkers
- Bathroom safety grip bars and walk-in or roll-in showers
- Medical alert system
- Lever style door and sink handles
- Improved lighting and night lighting
- Wider doorways for wheelchair access
- Stairway chair lifts
- Bathroom and bedroom on the first floor of a multi-story home to accommodate someone unable to climb stairs
- A separate apartment for a relative or renter in exchange for assistance when you need it
Do you qualify for financial help?
There may be state and local programs that provide low-interest loans or grants to help you pay for home modifications or home repairs. If you are age 60 or older, check with your local Area Agency on Aging to see whether you qualify for home modification and repair funds from Title III of the Older Americans Act.
Modifying your rented residence
You may need to talk with your landlord about the types of modifications you can make and whether you, or your landlord, will be responsible for the costs. Landlords are required to allow you to make reasonable modifications to accommodate your needs. If you have questions, consult your local Area Agency on Aging for more information.
Assistive devices are tools, products, or equipment that can help you perform daily tasks and activities independently in your home and community. Some of the simplest assistive devices are kitchen and self-care tools such as a reacher (a tool that helps you get objects that are out of your reach).
Other devices are designed to help you communicate, such as:
- Voice amplification tools
- Voice recognition tools
- Cueing and memory aids
- Software such as word prediction programs
Tools that help you move or walk are called mobility assistive devices and include walkers, wheelchairs, and scooters.
Living in a Facility
Housing with Services
If it becomes necessary, several types of housing come with support services. Primarily, these are:
- Public Housing for low-to-moderate income elderly and persons with disabilities. Typically assistance with services is provided by a staff person called a Service Coordinator
- Assisted Living or “board and care” homes are group living settings that offer housing in addition to assistance with personal care and other services, such as meals. Generally, they do not provide medical care
- Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) provide a range of housing options, including independent living units, assisted living and nursing homes, all on the same campus. Nursing facilities, or nursing homes, are the most service-intensive housing option, providing skilled nursing services and therapies as needed.
When comparing these options, weigh how much they cost, what you can afford, and the range and quality of the services provided. Also compare the type of insurance or public programs that may help pay for these services, their eligibility requirements, and how close you will be to family and friends.