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A Caregiver’s Guide to Planning for Long-Term Care

Planning for long-term care can bring unexpected challenges — unless you’ve planned ahead. As a caregiver, being well-prepared helps ensure your loved one’s comfort, safety and well-being. At Wichita Presbyterian Manor, we know the selfless sacrifice you make each day as a caregiver, and we’re here to help with the next step in your loved one’s journey and support you along the way.

Talk With Your Loved One

The first step in planning the transition to long-term care is initiating an open, honest conversation with your loved one. Encourage other family members to join this conversation for additional support, but only if you feel it would benefit the discussion.

Ensure you approach this discussion with empathy, patience and a willingness to listen to your loved one. You must try to understand their perspective and hesitancy in moving to a long-term care community. They may resist the move due to fear of losing their independence, so be prepared to offer reassurance and focus on how long-term care planning can give them more control over their future.

Stimulate their interest in long-term care by encouraging them to talk about their ideal community. Create a list of your loved one’s preferences, including any tangible items they’d like to bring to their new home. These items may include small personal mementos or favorite pieces of furniture, which may lead to an additional conversation about downsizing.

As you begin researching nearby communities, use your loved one’s list to ensure you consider every detail and make informed choices together.

Speak With Professional Advisors in Your Area

Another essential aspect of the planning process is seeking guidance from professional advisors. Their expertise helps you make more informed decisions and provides a tailored approach to your loved one’s unique situation. Ensure you create a comprehensive, well-rounded plan by speaking with:

  • Financial advisors: Consult with a financial advisor to cover the economic aspects. They can assess your loved one’s financial situation and provide insights into the cost implications of long-term care communities, helping you explore insurance options, retirement savings and any possible government assistance programs.
  • Elder law attorneys: Connect with an elder law attorney to navigate legal considerations. They ensure your loved one’s legal affairs are in order through estate planning, advance directives, powers of attorney and Medicaid eligibility and planning.
  • Realtors: If your loved one owns their own home, a realtor can help you explore selling the property to help fund their long-term care. They understand the local housing market and can guide you on selling or renting the home.

Building a network of trusted advisors in your area helps provide the guidance you and your loved one need to make optimal choices and help mitigate any future economic strain or legal difficulties.

Gather Necessary Paperwork

Most long-term care communities require certain paperwork when your loved one moves in, so it’s vital to have all necessary documents organized and readily available. Collect detailed information on assets, stocks, bonds, military paperwork, insurance policies and any other relevant legal documents your elder law attorney advises you to retrieve. Create a comprehensive folder with these and other items, such as identification documents, medical records and legal paperwork. Having all these documents prepared in advance and easily accessible streamlines the application process, reducing stress for you and your loved one.

Schedule an Appointment With Their Doctor

Some communities require that your loved one be seen by their physician within 30 days of moving in. With this in mind, scheduling an appointment ahead of time can be beneficial in the planning process by ensuring compliance with the community’s requirements and further contributing to a smoother transition.

When scheduling the appointment, ensure their doctor knows it’s in anticipation of the long-term care community requiring a medical examination. During the appointment, discuss your loved one's existing health conditions and future health care needs. Cover medication management, obtaining a detailed list of current prescriptions and dosages to provide comprehensive health-related information to the community.

Begin Researching and Visiting Communities

While you want the decision to be a collaboration with your loved one, you may want to begin researching and visiting communities yourself, especially if there are numerous options in your area. Once you’ve toured all the communities you think would meet your loved one’s needs, narrow your choices to two or three and revisit them together. 

As you weigh your options, consider the community’s proximity to family and friends. Maintaining these connections is crucial to your loved one’s emotional well-being. Explore each community’s services and amenities, typical activities, dining options, safety features, care options and spiritual support. Engage with staff and residents to gain valuable insights into each community’s culture and quality of care. Your goal is to get a feel for its overall atmosphere. 

After you’ve narrowed the choices, prepare for a thorough exploration with your loved one. Talk with the sales team at each community about scheduling a tour during a time when there’s an activity going on that your loved one enjoys, fostering a sense of connection. During the visit, help your loved one visualize their life after moving there. 

Once you’ve made all the scheduled visits with your loved one, it’s time to decide which long-term care community best aligns with their needs and preferences. Ensure the community chosen can meet your loved one’s specific care needs and discuss the pros and cons of each, from the layout of the living spaces to the availability of recreational activities and social engagement.

Before making a final decision, revisit your financial considerations based on discussions you’ve had with a financial advisor to ensure a clear plan for covering the cost. Make sure you understand the community’s contract terms, including fees, covered services and any potential additional costs. 

Find the Ideal Community for Your Loved One

The decision to move to a long-term care community isn’t an easy one. The transition can be emotionally challenging for you, your loved one and your family. However, with the right planning and support, it can also be a loving and responsible choice to ensure your loved one receives the care and attention they deserve.

At Wichita Presbyterian Manor, we're committed to assisting caregivers in this comprehensive journey and ensuring the transition to long-term care is as smooth and tailored as possible. The Willows long-term care neighborhood at Wichita Presbyterian Manor provides a calm, enriching environment where your loved one receives quality senior services. We provide the care they need to get the most out of every day. Contact us at 316-942-7456 to schedule a tour for you and your loved one to better visualize life in our vibrant community.

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