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Choosing Long-Term Care

Types of Long-Term Care continued...

Continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) provide a full range of services and care based on what each resident needs over time. Care usually is provided in one of three main stages: independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing.

Nursing homes offer care to people who cannot be cared for at home or in the community. They provide skilled nursing care, rehabilitation services, meals, activities, help with daily living, and supervision. Many nursing homes also offer temporary or periodic care. This can be instead of hospital care, after hospital care, or to give family or friend caregivers some time off ("respite care").

Another type of long-term care takes place in home-like settings called Intermediate Care Facilities for the Mentally Retarded. They provide a wide variety of services to mentally retarded and developmentally disabled people from youth to old age. Services include treatment to help residents become as independent as possible, as well as health care services.

You can learn about long-term care options in your area by contacting:

  • The Eldercare Locator (1-800-677-1116, weekdays, 9.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m., EST). This service can refer you to your Area Agency on Aging.
  • Area Agencies on Aging provide information on a wide variety of community-based services. Examples are meals, home care, adult day care, transportation, housing, home repair, and legal services.
  • Your State or local Long-Term Care Ombudsman (call the Eldercare Locator for the number). Ombudsmen visit nursing homes and other long-term care facilities to check on and resolve complaints, protect residents' rights, and give emotional support to lonely older people. A call to your area Ombudsman can give you information on: the most recent State survey (inspection) report of the facility; the number of outstanding complaints; the number and nature of complaints lodged in the last year; and the results of recent complaint investigations.
  • "Nursing Home Compare" http://www.medicare.gov/nhcompare/home.asp -- a Web site created by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which runs Medicare and Medicaid. This site helps you locate nursing homes in your area. It also has inspection records for nursing homes that receive Medicare or Medicaid funds.
  • Hospital discharge planners
  • Social workers (some can be "case managers" or "care managers," who can help you coordinate long-term care services)
  • Doctors and other health care professionals
  • Local nursing facilities
  • Volunteer groups that work with older people
  • Clergy or religious groups
  • Family and friends

There are three important questions to ask yourself when deciding about long-term care for yourself or a loved one:

1. What kind of services do I need?

2. How will I pay for these services?

3. How can I choose the best quality services?

What Kind of Services Do I Need?

Think of long-term care as a menu of services. A person may need only one or a few kinds of services. Or, several kinds may be needed over the course of a person's older years.

WebMD Public Information from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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