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Organize Your Research about Long Term Care

Copyright © 2014 AARP. All rights reserved.

When looking for options for long-term care, the three major routes are the Internet, phone, and personal visits. Often, you will be searching multiple sites, making numerous phone calls, and visiting various facilities. How can you keep all the information straight?

Here are some tips to help you find and keep the information in an easily accessed way.

  • Web searches:

    • Digital filing: If you are technically adept (or have a techie in your family), you can set up a system of folders on your computer to store information in different categories. Or you can bookmark sites that you visit frequently.

    • Paper filing: If you're a paper person, set up a notebook or filing system that becomes your information bank. Print out pages from sites you want to save information from. It can be incredibly frustrating to try to find something you know you have read somewhere but can't find it again. Be sure to include the web address on the page printouts for future reference.

      When conducting web searches, use different search words to help guide you to multiple sites. And always check that the sponsor of the website is reputable and reliable. Verify the information with an authoritative source. Note whether the article or web page is dated to make sure the information is current.

      Web addresses may disappear into cyberspace. If you encounter this problem, try searching for the organization by its name. Unless the organization has disappeared along with its website, you can usually find the new web address.

  • Phone calls:

    • Plan questions in advance: If you call an organization for information, make sure you have specific written questions. Write down the answer to each question as you get it.

    • Keep a log: After each phone call, mark the date, time, and person you spoke with, as well as contact information and any notes from the phone conversation. Keep these hardcopies in your research files in case you need to contact a person again or want to follow-up.

      You may have to go through a number of phone referrals to find the person best able to answer your questions. Be persistent.

  • Personal visits:

    • Bring questions: When you visit a facility, bring along a written list of questions. Fill in the questions during your visit and keep the list in your research file. This way you can compare and contrast different facilities at a glance.

    • Prepare documents: On your search for long-term care, you will visit different types of facilities. Each place requires certain types of documentation, so plan ahead, make copies of everything you need, and file the papers with the other information you gather about each facility. Make sure you bring all the relevant documents to the meeting.

With these preliminary tips, you can begin your search. From there, begin to look up information about federal programs; regulations about long-term care services such as assisted-living facilities, nursing homes, and home care agencies; and community-based services.

Finally, you’ll be ready to begin making visits to facilities.

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