Discover the 7 Essential Criteria for Choosing the Best Long-Term Care Facility for Your Loved One

Selecting the ideal long-term care facility for a loved one is a crucial decision that requires careful consideration of various factors. From the quality of care and staff expertise to cleanliness and the range of activities offered, meeting these criteria will contribute to the well-being of your loved one.

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Discover the 7 Essential Criteria for Choosing the Best Long-Term Care Facility for Your Loved One
8 Min Read October 25th, 2023

Are your loved ones getting older? They are -- and so are you. At some point, many of us will need help with our everyday living activities or even supervision due to memory loss. Often, that care starts at home with either family caregivers or professional caregivers coming to a person's home. However, often, a person needs more as aging and chronic health require more care, or a person feels they no longer want to be alone at home.

You might be now, or in the near future, looking for long-term care services for a loved one like a parent. According to a recent study, over 800,000 people in the United States and Canada look for an assisted living facility for a loved one every month. This number is expected to grow in the coming years as the population of older adults continues to increase.

Some people will need more care than what an assisted living facility and the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC), over 1 million people in the United States and Canada look for a nursing home or memory care facility for a loved one every month.

The study also found that the most common reasons for seeking assisted living are:

  • Needing help with activities of daily living (ADLs), such as bathing, dressing, and eating
  • Concerns about safety and security
  • A desire for social interaction and activities
  • A need for respite care

The average median base cost of assisted living in the United States, according to the LTC NEWS Cost of Care Calculator, is $4,261 per month but can vary depending on the location and level of care provided. In Canada, the average base cost of assisted living is $3,500 per month. Surcharges, based on an individual's care needs, add to that monthly cost.

If you are in the process of choosing a long-term care facility for your senior loved one, you may wonder where to turn for help. Moving them to a residential community is a challenging decision to make. Many adult children feel guilty about outsourcing their care responsibilities to others. However, when the home can no longer provide a safe environment and their care needs increase, relocating to a community where they can receive adequate attention is the best decision and offers access to quality care and a better quality of life. 

You'll have to consider these seven factors when helping your senior parent decide which facility to choose.

1. Health Situation

Does your loved one have comorbidities affecting their day-to-day life? Chronic and co-existing health conditions are common among older people, making it challenging for the staff to personalize care. According to research, 78.7% of American adults aged 60 and older have two or more ailments. 

Consider your loved one's unique health situation when choosing a long-term care home. If they have diabetes with a high risk for heart disease, a retirement housing offering diabetes care management and skilled services will be reasonable.

2. Level of Health Care Needs

Can they carry out activities of daily living without supervision? Do they need assistance with personal care tasks? 

The health care economy accounts for 19.7% of the national gross domestic product, proving how convoluted the industry network is to navigate for someone without any medical background. One tip is to talk to your doctor or senior advisor to gauge the amount of care your loved one needs. You can also get referrals to outstanding communities in your location and receive customized health advice.

Long-term care facilities offer a myriad of senior living options, and your goal is to find an environment that matches their level of self-sufficiency. Independent living may be more suitable than an assisted home if they're capable of routine tasks but require minor assistance with medication management.

3. Offered Care Services

Older adults' needs are ever-changing and increasing. If they're on a treatment program, their health may improve or decline depending on the outcome. When choosing a long-term care facility, look for companies offering a broad range of services that can adapt to these fluctuating care demands. 

Some communities employ a health care team that can provide both skilled and non-medical services to accommodate the dynamic needs of their residents. 

4. Preferences

Helping a senior relative choose a long-term care facility is tough — and sometimes — it's a lengthy decision due to multiple considerations. They could be staying in the community for the next couple of years, so take into account their preferences when picking their next home. 

According to the American Health Care Association, the median length of stay of older people in a senior living unit is 22 months. 

However, according to the latest data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the average length of time someone who requires long-term care will need the care is:

  • 3.7 years for women
  • 2.2 years for men

However, it is important to note that these are just averages. The actual length of time someone needs long-term care can vary depending on several factors, including their age, health condition, and level of care needs.

For example, people with dementia or other cognitive impairments may need long-term care for many years, while people who are recovering from surgery or injury may only need long-term care for a few months.

With this duration, it's reasonable to incorporate their preferences in the decision. Perhaps they want it near family members so they can visit. They may like a private space instead of a shared suite or need particular amenities to continue their hobbies. Engage them in the decision-making to make the transition easier and less stressful and avoid future relocations that may impact their health. 

5. Activities Offered

Another crucial factor when choosing a long-term care home is the activities offered by the staff. Does your senior dad love to exercise or socialize with others? Many facilities have proprietary events intended for older adults with particular needs. 

Examples are memory care, diabetes-related, and active lifestyle programs. Check facility brochures and monthly calendar of events to find out if they organize social gatherings that interest your loved one. 

6. Available Services and Amenities

Other companies leverage a facility that's a destination on its own, particularly those luxurious ones. If budget is not a concern, you can search for senior living accommodations in the heart of major cities with upgraded amenities and services. 

Some communities have an onsite spa and hair salon, restaurant with professional chefs, theater, fitness center, putting greens, croquet courts, and swimming pool that feature a lavish retirement lifestyle. 

Living apartments are furnished with high-end kitchen appliances. Plus, they offer extra services, like grocery shopping, housekeeping, transportation, and in-community medical checkups. It can feel like your loved one is on vacation every day. But you'll also find abundant options if you need standard amenities and services.

7. Cost of Care

Finally, you must know how to fund senior services when choosing a long-term care home. Often, unless someone has little or no income and assets or has a Long-Term Care Insurance policy, the cost of long-term care will be the responsibility of the care recipient and their family.

Medicare fully pays for the first 20 days of skilled nursing facility stay and a portion that requires a co-payment from day 21 to 100. Most people will have a Medicare supplement that pays the deductible for days 21 through 100 as long as the care recipient requires skilled care. However, most people will need custodial care, help with daily living activities, or supervision due to cognitive loss, and that is not covered by health insurance, Medicare, and supplements. 

Another option is Long-Term Care Insurance, which usually covers all levels and types of long-term care, including in-home services, adult day care, assisted living, memory care, and nursing home care. Keep in mind that an individual cannot purchase an LTC policy when they need care; policies are often purchased when someone is in their 40s through 60s and is in good health as part of retirement planning. 

Often, no thought about long-term care was given when a loved one was planning their retirement. The result is family members become concerned about paying for care and the financial burden, as many can only sustain it short-term. But if you research financing options, you might find various public and private organizations to help you if you qualify. 

Choose a Living Environment Where Your Loved One Can Thrive

Consider your loved one's level of care demands, preferences, and health circumstances when choosing a long-term care home. With these seven things to keep in mind, you can help find a thriving home for your senior parent where they can live their golden years joyfully.

LTC NEWS offers help for you and your family in several ways. The LTC NEWS Caregiver Directory is an outstanding resource where you can find the most comprehensive directory of all types of long-term care services no matter where your loved one lives - Long-Term Care Services Directory | Find Care Near You.


Care Directory

Comprehensive caregiving & care facility listings in your area

If your loved one has a Long-Term Care Insurance policy, that will open the door to many quality care options, as one of the first questions most home health agencies and long-term care facilities will ask you is if the care recipient has an LTC policy.

Don't delay using the benefits from an LTC policy; trying to save them for later is not a good strategy since access to quality care improves a person's quality of life right away.

LTC NEWS has combined efforts with Amada Senior Care, a leading in-home health care agency with locations throughout the country, to help you process a claim from any LTC Insurance policy.

There is no cost or obligation for this service - Filing a Long-Term Care Insurance Claim. If they don't have an LTC policy, Amada can still help develop a plan of care and provide you with many affordable in-home care options. Learn more now - Find Quality In-Home Care.

These four LTC NEWS guides will assist you in trying to find appropriate long-term health care services for a loved one:

Quality Care – Something We All Deserve

Quality care is something your loved one deserves. However, how about you? Have you prepared for your aging and the consequences of long-term care? Making a plan now will keep you in control and reduce the burden on your children in the decades ahead. 

Find a qualified and independent LTC Insurance specialist to help you navigate the many options before you retire. 

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About the Author

Beth Rush writes about various health and wellness topics, helping readers learn how to make healthy lifestyle choices and better enjoy their lives.

LTC News Contributor Beth Rush

Beth Rush

Contributor since August 9th, 2023

Editor's Note

When you find yourself in your 40s or 50s, planning for the future becomes increasingly important, and long-term care should be a crucial part of that plan. You may be in good health now, enjoying the prime of your life, juggling work, family, and a myriad of other responsibilities. However, as you age, the reality is that your health and abilities could change, and you need to be prepared for that possibility.

Gift of Choice

Long-term care planning is essentially preparing for the potential need for assistance with daily activities such as bathing, dressing, and eating, which may become necessary due to aging, illness, or disability. By planning ahead, you’re giving yourself the gift of choice. 

Instead of being rushed into decisions during a crisis, you’ll have the time to explore different long-term care options and choose what works best for you. This not only ensures that you receive the quality of care you deserve but also helps reduce the emotional and financial stress on your family.

Including Long-Term Care Insurance in your retirement plan is a wise decision that can safeguard your savings and assets. Without it, the cost of care can quickly deplete your hard-earned resources, leaving little for your family and possibly affecting their financial stability. Long-Term Care Insurance helps to protect your legacy, ensuring that the wealth you’ve accumulated over your lifetime goes to your loved ones or the causes you care about rather than being spent on your care.

Moreover, having a long-term care plan in place allows you to maintain your independence and lifestyle for as long as possible. You can have peace of mind knowing that if the time comes when you need assistance, you have a plan in place to receive care in the setting of your choice, whether that's at home, in an assisted living facility, or in a nursing home.

Planning for long-term care in your 40s or 50s is a proactive step towards securing a smoother aging journey for yourself. Although, if you enjoy good health, you can find affordable options in your 60s and even into your 70s, although the longer you wait, the more expensive a policy will be. An LTC policy provides you with control over your future care, protects your assets, ensures your family’s well-being, and allows you to live your golden years with dignity and peace of mind. Don’t wait until it’s too late; start exploring your long-term care options today.

Find a Professional to Help You Shop

There are many licensed insurance agencies and financial advisors that could help you find LTC Insurance. However, most of them are not skilled in this area and understand underwriting, policy design, and the federal and state regulations that help provide you with consumer protections and tax benefits.

Seek an experienced independent Long-Term Care Insurance specialist who represents the top-rated insurance companies that offer long-term care solutions. A specialist is trained to provide you with accurate quotes from all the top insurance companies along with their professional policy design recommendations so you can find the best coverage at the lowest cost without overinsuring or spending too much money. 

Remember, premiums for LTC Insurance and underwriting standards vary dramatically between insurance companies.

Find a qualified LTC Insurance specialist here - Work With an LTC Insurance Specialist.

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