Assisted Living and Hospice - What Exactly Is the Difference?

Senior care refers to the fulfillment of senior citizens' special needs and desires, specifically those that relate to dignity and independence. This broad category encompasses such services as home care, adult day care, long term care, elder care, assisted living, custodial care, and hospice care. While each senior citizen has different needs, there are many common aspects of senior care that all seniors can be grateful for. One such aspect is that these individuals receive care that is consistent and ongoing.

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One aspect of senior care is consistent and ongoing medical treatment. In fact, many seniors opt to remain in their own homes until they can meet with their doctors and receive a range of medical treatments. Senior citizens can also be at risk for conditions that require them to stay in a medical facility, like Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease, or similar conditions. When this happens, the elderly are left in the care of others who do not have the necessary skills or knowledge to provide for the needs of their fellow senior citizens. In these instances, Medicare or Medicaid can step in to provide for the senior's needs.

Another facet of senior care is constant companionship. Many seniors fall into the trap of buying long-term care insurance, only to leave their elderly loved ones alone, sometimes for years. This can be dangerous, especially when the person who lives alone becomes isolated and depressed. It can even lead to suicide. To prevent this situation, senior care facilities employ trained caregivers who are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to spend time with their loved ones.

Another facet of senior care involves providing consistent assistance. Many seniors need help getting up from the bed or chair. Some simply require help getting dressed. Senior citizens may also have issues getting around the house. These individuals could benefit from assistance with daily household tasks, like shopping and errands. Because most senior living communities are staffed with highly trained and caring aides, they can provide much-needed support and assistance to their residents.

The last facet of senior care is maintaining independence. Many seniors begin to lose their ability to take care of themselves at this point, due to age and disease. Some may find that they are no longer able to cook, shop or bathe on their own. They may feel unable to get dressed or perform the simple tasks of caring for themselves that most people take for granted. A number of long-term care insurance programs will assist with maintaining basic independent living skills, like using the bathroom or dressing themselves.

These care options provide seniors with the opportunity to continue living an independent life, instead of remaining in a long-term care facility. The social interaction and socializing that they once had is missing in their daily lives, due to illness and senior living communities. Independent living can be a wonderful experience, but it is important for seniors to understand that it will not always be possible. With the help of a quality senior housing community, they can retain their independence and enjoy the extra time that they once received.

Long-term illnesses and conditions may result in a determination that a patient is too ill for hospice care. Deciding if your loved one is a candidate for hospice can be a difficult decision. There are several questions to ask a doctor before making a referral. Among the questions to ask are whether your loved one would benefit from home health care as opposed to a stay in a nursing home, the level of benefit and cost associated with hospice, as well as whether the condition the patient is suffering from requires a more elaborate recovery plan. If you are uncertain as to whether or not your loved one would benefit from hospice, the attending doctor should be able to answer those questions for you.

While it may not be possible to converse with a person who has passed away, the attending physician should be able to determine whether or not a person who is in a rehabilitation center is fit for daily living activities. A rehabilitation center can house someone for up to a year or longer before they are eligible for assisted living facility privileges. During that time, a rehabilitation center will evaluate a person's physical, emotional, mental, and social well being. Once the person has been determined fit for daily living, they will be assigned a care team, consisting of doctors, nurses, therapists, and other specialists. This team will assist the person with eating, bathing, dressing, and managing their personal hygiene.