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Multiple Sclerosis and Nursing Home Care

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What Is Long-Term Care?

If you have multiple sclerosis, you know your condition can change a lot over the years. You may reach a point when you need a lot of extra help to take care of yourself and everyday tasks.

Depending on your situation, you might be able to get help from loved ones, hire a part-time caregiver, or move into an assisted living facility. But if you need round-the-clock care, a nursing home may be a good choice.

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Nursing homes usually give two types of care:

  1. Basic care includes help with everyday tasks like bathing, eating, and getting around.
  2. Skilled care includes help from trained health professionals, like a registered nurse, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and respiratory therapists.

What Services Do Nursing Homes Offer?

That varies from place to place. They often include:

  • Room and board
  • Help with medication
  • Personal care (including dressing, bathing, and using the toilet)
  • 24-hour emergency care
  • Social and recreational activities

How Can I Find the Right Nursing Home?

It takes time to research them and find one you like. So start your search for one long before you’ll need to move to a facility. You may have to get on a waiting list, especially if you’re using government funding such as Medicaid. Also, if you plan ahead, you can make the transition of moving much easier.

Talk with your family and caregivers about the services you’ll need. Think about the ones that are important to you before you start calling different nursing homes.

Ask yourself:

  • What daily activities do I need help with?
  • How often do I need help?

Before you schedule a visit to the nursing homes that interest you, ask about vacancies, admission requirements, the level of care they offer, and if they accept government-funded health insurance options.

How Can I Pay for a Nursing Home?

As you and your family think about your long-term care needs, finances will be a big part of the conversation. There are four main choices: Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance, and personal funds. Not all facilities accept each form of payment, so it’s important to ask the staff which options they take when you’re researching nursing homes.

It’s important to know how they’re different, too:

  • Medicare. This is a federal health insurance program that offers health care benefits to all Americans 65 and over. It offers insurance protection to cover major hospital care, but it allows only some benefits for nursing home care. Also, the program only pays for skilled care in a nursing facility that has a Medicare license.
  • Medicaid. This is a joint federal/state health insurance program that provides medical care benefits to low-income Americans who qualify. The program covers nursing home care, but eligibility and covered services vary a lot from state to state.
  • Private long-term care insurance. You can purchase this health insurance option to supplement Medicare coverage. Private long-term care insurance policies vary greatly. Each has its own rules for eligibility, restrictions, costs, and benefits.
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