What is Long-Term Care?
Someone with a prolonged physical illness, a disability, or a cognitive impairment (such as Alzheimer’s disease) often needs long-term care. Many different services help people with chronic conditions overcome limitations that keep them from being independent. Long-term care is different from traditional medical care. Long-term care helps one live as he or she is now; it may not help to improve or correct medical problems. Long-term care services may include help with activities of daily living, home health care, respite care, hospice care, adult day care, care in a nursing home, and care in an assisted living facility. Long-term care may also include care management services, which will evaluate your needs and coordinate and monitor the delivery of long-term care services.
Someone with a physical illness or disability often needs hands-on or stand-by assistance with activities of daily living. People with cognitive impairments usually need supervision, protection, or verbal reminders to do everyday activities. The way long-term care services are provided is changing. Skilled care and personal care are still the terms used most often to describe long-term care and the type or level of care you may need. People usually need skilled care for medical conditions that require care by medical personnel such as registered nurses or professional therapists. This care is usually needed 24 hours a day, a physician must order it, and the care must follow a plan. Individuals usually get skilled care in a nursing home but may also receive it in other places. For example, you might get skilled care in your home with help from visiting nurses or therapists.
Examples of skilled care include physical therapy, caring for a wound, or supervising the administration of intravenous medication. Personal care (sometimes call custodial care) helps one with activities of daily living (ADL’s). These activities include bathing, eating, dressing, toileting, continence, and transferring. Personal care is less involved than skilled care, and it may be given in many settings.