Even with the wide variety of quality elder-care facilities available, no child relishes the idea of putting his parent in a “home."

So when it is time to decide whether to move your parent into a long-term care facility, the process can be difficult. As our parents age and live longer, however, many of us will be faced with this reality. To determine if a long-term care facility is right for you and your loved one, here are some questions to ask yourself:

1. What are your parent’s needs? Take stock of what your parent can and cannot still do. If your parent does not have serious medical problems and only needs help with basic daily activities and errands, an in-home health aide may be enough. If your parent needs round-the-clock supervision and/or health support, a long-term care facility will probably work better.

2. What are your parent’s desires? Find out where your parent wants to live. Older people often like to maintain as much independence as possible. If your parent wishes to have in-home care, do so for as long as physically and financially feasible. Independent living and assisted living facilities offer more autonomy than nursing homes for those who have only minor medical issues.

3. Are the finances in place? Long-term care facilities don’t come cheap. Before you can even begin to consider these facilities, you have to know where the money is coming from and how much there is. Talk to your parents about the state of their finances. Find out if there is long-term care insurance that can be used. Find out if any government programs, such as Medicare or Medicaid, will provide assistance. If you plan on contributing to these costs, determine how much your budget can afford.

4. What is the outlook for the future? Consider how your parent’s health is likely to progress. If your parent has a degenerative disorder like Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease, you can predict that your parent will ultimately need skilled nursing care. Consider a continuing-care retirement community, or CCRC, where your parent can be transferred from assisted-living to nursing home care when needed.  

If you need help determining if and when your parent needs long-term care, consult with a professional geriatric care manager. Care managers are nurses or social workers trained to work the elderly. They can help assess your parent and help you create a workable care plan.

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