What Is Long-Term Care?

Someone with a long physical illness, a disability, or a cognitive impairment (such as Alzheimer’s disease) often needs long-term care. Many different long-term care services can help people with these conditions. Long-term care is different from medical care, because it generally helps you to live as you are instead of improving or correcting medical problems. Long-term care services may include help with activities of daily living (ADL-activities of daily living are bathing, continence, dressing, eating, toileting, transferring), home health care, respite care, hospice care, or adult day care. Care may be given in a nursing home, an assisted living facility, a hospice facility, a day care facility, or in your own home. Long-term care also may include care management services, which evaluate your needs and coordinate and monitor your long-term care services.

Someone with a physical illness or disability often needs hands-on assistance or stand- by assistance with activities of daily living. People with cognitive impairments often need supervision, protection, or verbal reminders to do everyday activities. Medical personnel such as registered nurses or professional therapists provide skilled care for medical conditions. This care usually is needed 24 hours a day, is ordered by a physician, and follows a plan. Individuals usually get skilled care in a nursing home but also may get it in other places. For example, you might get skilled care in your home with help from visiting nurses or therapists. Skilled care includes services such as physical therapy, wound care, or a professional who gives you medicine through an IV.

Personal care (sometimes called custodial care) helps a person with activities of daily living (ADLs). These activities include bathing, eating, dressing, toileting, continence, and transferring. Personal care is less involved than skilled care and may be given in many settings.

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