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Multiple Sclerosis and Nursing Home Care

What Is Long-Term Care?

Long-term care refers to a comprehensive range of medical, personal, and social services coordinated to meet the physical, social, and emotional needs of people who are chronically ill or disabled. A nursing home facility may be the best choice for people who require 24-hour medical care and supervision.

What Type of Care Do Nursing Homes Provide?

There are two types of care provided by nursing homes:

  1. Basic care: services required to maintain a resident's activity of daily living. Includes personal care, mobility, supervision, and safety.
  2. Skilled care: care that requires the services of a registered nurse for treatments and procedures on a regular basis. Skilled care also includes services provided by specially trained professionals, such as physical, occupational, and respiratory therapists.

What Services Do Nursing Homes Offer?

The services nursing homes offer vary from facility to facility. Services often include:

  • Room and board
  • Monitoring of medication
  • Personal care (including dressing, bathing, and toileting assistance)
  • 24-hour emergency care
  • Social and recreational activities

How Can I Find the Right Nursing Home?

Finding the right nursing home takes time. It is important to begin the search for a suitable nursing home well in advance of seeking admission to the facility. There may be waiting periods for available accommodations, especially if you are using government funding such as Medicaid. Also, planning ahead can make the transition of moving into a nursing home much easier.

Talk with your family and caregivers about what services you will need. Take time to consider what services are important to you before calling different nursing homes.

Think about these questions:

  • What daily activities do I need help with (bathing, dressing, toileting, eating)?
  • How often do I need help?

Before scheduling a visit to the nursing homes you are interested in, ask about vacancies, admission requirements, level of care provided, and participation in government-funded health insurance options.

How Can I Pay for a Nursing Home?

As you and your family evaluate your long-term care needs, it's important to consider financing options. Payment for nursing home care can be made through Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance, and personal funds. When evaluating nursing homes, it's important to ask the administrative staff what payment options they accept. Here's a brief summary of some of the financing options.

  • Medicare. This is a federal health insurance program providing health care benefits to all Americans age 65 and over. Insurance protection intended to cover major hospital care is provided without regard to income, but only restricted benefits are allowed for nursing home care. In addition, Medicare only pays for skilled care in a nursing facility that has a Medicare license.
  • Medicaid. This is a joint federal/state health insurance program providing medical care benefits to low-income Americans who meet certain requirements. Nursing home care is covered through Medicaid, but eligibility requirements and covered services vary widely from state to state.
  • Private long-term care insurance. This is a health insurance option that, if purchased, supplements Medicare coverage. Private long-term care insurance policies vary greatly. Each policy has its own eligibility requirements, restrictions, costs, and benefits.

WebMD Medical Reference

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