Long-term care planning at Providence


In this article:

  • Long-term care planning can begin at any age, but adults over 40 should begin thinking about their plans and health goals as they age.

  • Adults should think about their advance care directives to ease the burden on loved ones when it comes to future health care decisions.

  • Providence offers local Advantage health centers to support older adults with long-term care planning and other health needs.

Understanding your long-term care options can feel complicated. Our community of caregivers has your back and will partner with you to develop an individual care plan for you. From primary care providers and specialists to social workers, health advocates, pharmacists, nurse care managers and more, you or your loved one can receive state-of-the-art care from an award-winning health system in a way that is dignified and aligned with your health care goals.

“Long-term care planning is important because a crisis is never planned,” says Victoria L. Leigh, DO, Internal Medicine, Providence Advantage Tustin. “It’s important to understand health care goals and think about preferences for the future. It’s a good idea to think and discuss with your family and loved ones who will be making your decisions if you’re unable to make these decisions for yourself in the future.”

Maintaining health care plans and coverage, including long-term care and a tailored Medicare plan, means you can stay connected to your doctors and specialists. It also means avoiding any disruption to your care. We’ll walk you through the process of long-term care planning, including identifying what should be in your plan and working with your specialists.

Navigating healthy aging

Keeping up with medical recommendations can get challenging as you or your loved one age. Navigating healthy aging means maintaining your best health while minimizing the time and effort put into finding a care plan.

That also means understanding what is covered under your Medicare Advantage or other care plans. Medicare plans do not cover long-term care unless medical care is needed at the same time. If you or a loved one are planning a stay in a long-term care facility, including a nursing home, you will need to consider additional coverage options.

“Our team of social workers and nurse care managers can provide assistance and education for patients with critical conditions to understand their plan and care options, but patients will have needed to purchase long-term care insurance or pay out of pocket for long-term care services,” says Perla Bernal, Health Advocate at Providence Advantage Tustin.

If you have questions about long-term care planning, we have a full team to support you with these major life decisions.

Advance health directives

When we think about long-term care planning, one of the most important documents you can complete is your advance health directive. This document is your voice and shares in writing the type of medical care, or health care decisions, you want to have made if you are no longer able to speak for yourself. Advance health directives give important guidance to your loved ones who may have to make medical decisions for you in the future. 

“If you’re unable to speak for yourself, advance health directives make your friends and family more comfortable since they are aware of your wishes and can treat you how you’d like to be treated,” says Dr. Leigh.

Providence recommends two forms for patients:

1.     Advance directive form: Can be filled out at any time, regardless of patient age; this form will need to be updated periodically as conditions change.

2.     Physician’s Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) form: Completed with your physician if you have a serious, life-threatening illness or terminal condition.

Make sure your hospital, physicians and health advocates have copies of these forms on file.

Advance directives and health care planning should start whenever you are comfortable,” says Dr. Leigh. She recommends patients start having conversations around advanced care planning by age 40.

How Providence supports long-term care planning

“Our team of social workers and care managers can also support you with long-term care placements based on financial needs and support patients with complex social and behavioral health needs,” says Bernal.

“As long as you’re in our family and established in our clinic, our multidisciplinary team of health advocates, social workers and clinical staff are here to guide you through building and documenting your advance care plan,” says Dr. Leigh.

Providence pharmacists are also an important part of the long-term care planning team. “As we age, we can be on multiple medications and have lots of questions about interactions and why you’re on them,” says Dr. Leigh. “It’s very important to have a pharmacist to assist with medication review and a custom medication list to know when you should be taking medications and why.”

If you want to discuss advance directives, Providence patient advocates can work through your preferences and answer any questions. These health advocates can support your transition of care in any setting.

Find your local Advantage health center

Providence caregivers are committed to giving Medicare patients more time with their care team, help coordinating care and support from a staff who understands the needs of older adults. Learn about your local teams, services and care close to you.


Contributing Caregivers

Victoria L. Leigh, DO, Internal Medicine, Providence Advantage Tustin

           Perla Bernal, Health Advocate at Providence Advantage Tustin 

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This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.

About the Author

The Providence Health Team brings together caregivers from diverse backgrounds to bring you clinically-sound, data-driven advice to help you live your happiest and healthiest selves.

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