There may come a time when you or a loved one needs additional care due to changes in health, mobility or cognitive decline. How do you know what kind of care is best and whether the caregiver or facility is reputable?
There are different types of care – some available in your own home and some provided in a personal care home, assisted living community, nursing home or other facility:
- In-Home Care - Services can include companion supervision, light housekeeping, meal preparation, running errands, transportation to appointments, assistance with “Activities of Daily Living” (i.e. dressing, bathing, eating, using the restroom, getting in or out of a bed, chair or wheelchair), skilled nursing and physical and occupational therapy.
- Independent Living Communities are for healthy seniors who do not need assistance with Activities of Daily Living. Residents live independently in their own apartments. These communities typically offer group meals, transportation, housekeeping/laundry service, and social and cultural activities. Independent Living Communities may be a good option for someone who is healthy but does not want the burden of maintaining a home, cooking all their meals and doing housework. Residents may choose to keep their cars or rely solely on the transportation provided by the community.
- Assisted Living Communities and Personal Care Homes are good options for people who are no longer able to live on their own but don’t require the level of nursing care provided in a nursing home. These communities offer care in a residential setting and provide assistance with Activities of Daily Living, medication monitoring, meals and housekeeping. Staff is available 24 hours a day, with certain communities offering licensed nursing services. These communities typically offer activities for the residents, with some also providing transportation to doctor’s appointments and group shopping outings. NOTE: Legitimate Personal Care Homes are a great option for you to consider. However, there are entities that take advantage of consumers by operating unlicensed Personal Care Homes. Always verify that the community you choose is licensed.
- Nursing Homes - Around-the-clock skilled nursing care for people who require a high level of nursing care and assistance. Nursing homes also provide short-term rehabilitative stays for those recovering from an injury, illness or surgery.
How do I know which option is best for my situation?
There are a number of resources that can help you decide what type of care best suits your needs, including:
- Your local Area Agency on Aging
Finding a reputable caregiver or facility
Contact the resources below to help you choose a reputable caregiver, nursing home, assisted living community or personal care home:
- www.gamap2care.info is a mapping tool developed by the Department of Community Health, Division of Healthcare Facility Regulation to help you locate licensed health care facilities, nursing homes, personal care homes, assisted living communities, home health services and community living arrangements throughout Georgia. You may also use this tool to view inspection reports on a facility, if available.
- The “Home Health Compare” section of Medicare.gov offers a checklist for choosing in-home care and lets you compare the patient care ratings of providers.
- The “Nursing Home Compare” section of the Medicare.gov website offers detailed information and ratings on every Medicare and Medicaid-certified nursing home in the country. It also offers a comprehensive guide to choosing a nursing home.
Is the facility licensed?
The Division of Healthcare Facility Regulation inspects, monitors and licenses assisted living facilities, nursing homes, hospitals and personal care homes to ensure that they adequately provide for the health, safety and well-being of the residents. To verify that a care home or facility is licensed, contact the Division of Healthcare Facility Regulation by visiting www.dch.ga.gov or by calling 404-657-5700.
Additional Tips for Choosing a Long-Term Care Facility
- Do research and request information from several facilities beforehand so that you can narrow it down to two or three places for in-person visits.
- Compare services, accommodations, prices, payment types accepted (e.g. private pay only vs. Medicaid), activities offered and the ratio of caregivers to residents.
- When you visit a facility, be sure to notice if it is clean and odor-free, whether the residents appear to be well-cared for, and if there appear to be adequate staff for the number of residents.
Paying for Long-Term Care
The cost of long-term care can be daunting. In Georgia, the median cost for assisted living is approximately $3,500 per month, with nursing home care costing upwards of $6,722/month for a semi-private room. (Source: Genworth Cost of Care Survey, conducted by CareScout®, August 2020).
Here are some options to consider when deciding how to pay for long-term care:
- Medicare - Medicare pays for skilled services or rehabilitative care, but only under certain circumstances and for a limited period of time. Medicare will not pay for non-skilled assistance with Activities of Daily Living, which make up the majority of required long-term care services.
- Medicaid - If you qualify for Medicaid based on your income and resources, and meet the Georgia Medicaid long-term care eligibility requirements, you can use it to pay for many long-term care services.
- Veterans Administration - If the person needing care is a veteran, he or she may be eligible for long-term care benefits from the V.A. Visit va.gov/geriatrics or veterans.georgia.gov for further information.
- Long-Term Care Insurance - Long-term care insurance is designed to cover long-term care services in a variety of settings. Most policies require medical underwriting, so if your health is poor or you are already receiving long-term care services, you may not qualify for long-term care insurance. For more information, visit longtermcare.gov.
- Life Insurance - If you have a life insurance policy that contains an accelerated death benefit clause, you may be able to use it tax-free if you require extended long-term care.
- Additional private payment options - In addition to the above options, some people pay for long-term care by using cash savings or other assets, selling their house, or getting a reverse mortgage.