Chances are, when you think of skilled nursing and long term care, an unpleasant image comes to mind - one of sterile, white hallways, inattentive staff and people who are very sick.
The truth is, a lot has changed over the years. Long term care is not a hospital, but a place where all residents can spend their days with meaning and purpose, and where they get the help they need to do so.
Do you still believe these four myths about long term care?
Myth #1: Long term care is for people who are bedridden or infirm
Some residents in long term care need extra help moving around, or they may have less energy. However, there are a myriad of reasons why someone may be living in long-term care - from needing help with medication or disabilities, to being unable to bathe alone, to simply not getting the care and attention they need at home.
Skilled nursing residents may need an extra helping hand, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t people with unique needs, wants, personalities and stories to tell. These residents live there to have the best quality of life - and in many cases, if they can’t return home, they do return to health.
Myth #2: Long term care residents have no independence
Movies and TV shows often depict residents at the same boring daily bingo game, or sitting at a table with nothing to do.
In reality, the long term care residents of today can choose their own schedules, whether that’s picking from a full schedule of activities, socializing with other residents or spending quiet time alone. When residents live with purpose, they live a better-quality life.
In addition, residents now have access to health-conscious, quality foods that cater to a variety of tastes and dietary needs. Residents can typically choose the time they eat and what dishes they would like - a far cry from rigid dining schedules.
Myth #3: All long term care locations are institutional and impersonal
Comfortable gathering spaces, homey decor, easy-to-navigate halls and pleasant outdoor areas are now not only commonplace for long term care, but important for helping residents live their best life.
In addition, many long term care locations now offer private- and semi-private rooms for residents, depending on their preferences and roommate availability. This provides options for someone who prefers living alone, or for someone who’s always looking to be social.
Finally, if you visit a long term care location and notice inattentive staff, look elsewhere. Your loved one needs - and deserves - care and support from staff members who are compassionate and engaged. Never settle for long term care that provides subpar assistance to your loved one.
Myth #4: We could never afford long term care
While the costs of long term care can add up, depending on where you live and what services you need, it can be doable.
If your parent is a veteran or surviving spouse of a veteran, they may qualify for aid from the Veterans Administration.
Long-term or private health insurance can help cover the costs - although these must usually be in place before there’s a need.
Medicaid may help pay for part of your loved one’s long term care costs.
Don’t be shy about costs - if you have questions about a particular location, talk to the staff to clear up any confusion. You’ll also want to make sure what you’d pay for is what your loved one needs.
Finding the right long term care for your parent
At Maine Veterans’ Homes, treating every resident with the respect and dignity they deserve is our top priority. We aim to make long-term care a place where residents come to thrive, regardless of their condition. And families also benefit from our skilled, knowledgeable assistance and the care their loved ones receive.
Learn more about life at Maine Veterans’ Homes and what we can offer you.