Advice: If you have concerns about your care needs, speak to your doctor. *iStock photo
Advice: If you have concerns about your care needs, speak to your doctor. *iStock photo

For seniors and their families the decision to move into long-term care is often the most difficult and traumatic they ever have to make.

Few people willingly relinquish their independence yet there may come a time when their needs can no longer be met at home and placement becomes the only option.

The process usually involves some financial and needs assessment, after which efforts are made to match the individual to the institution most suited to meet their care requirements.


There may be delays. There are about 600 places available in facilities, ranging from independent living units through residential care homes to skilled nursing facilities, and many have lengthy waiting-lists, particularly those few units offering specialized dementia care which are few in number.

The cost of care varies widely, averaging about $5,000 a month for residential care all the way up to $1,3000 a month for a place in the extended care unit of the hospital.

How much the individual contributes depends on their financial resources.

As our population ages, the need for long-term care, whether in institutions or at home is bound to increase.

As a responsible society we need to be planning for this now.

You can begin the planning process by ensuring that you remain in good physical, mental and financial health. 

Good eating habits, exercise and rest go a long way in reducing the potential negative impact that the ageing process can have on you.

You should also consider including your family in the planning discussions.

Families can often be unprepared to respond to a sudden illness or drastic change in a medical or health condition.

Family members can be included in discussions such as creating a healthcare directive or living will, helping to determine  the type of long-term care that you may want, along with your  ability to finance that care and end of life planning.

These can be difficult subject matters, but they don’t have to be if they take place before the need for long-term care occurs.

If you are an older adult and have concerns about your long-term care needs never hesitate to speak to your own doctor.

He or she can be a valuable resource in your planning process.

Dr David Harries is the geriatrician at the Continuing Care Unit of the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital. He is a member of Age Concern’s campaign for Successful Ageing. To learn more about the campaign contact Age Concern at 238-7525 or visit the website