Long term care events can be sudden with little or no warning. In cases of dementia or Alzheimer’s, families may experience warning signs, but these events can still be challenging to manage.

If you or someone you know is faced with helping a loved one through a long term care event, keep these tips in mind.

Get the Family Together

Gather immediate family members to discuss the needs of your loved one and create a plan (if a plan isn’t in place). While not every family may get along or agree, it’s important to talk about the best interests of your loved one and how each person can help.

Identify Your Loved One’s Specific Care Needs

Do they need help bathing, getting dressed, or eating? Are they unsafe living alone due to a cognitive impairment? Before searching for care options, identify each of the daily activities they need help with, so you can clearly communicate their needs to caregivers and facilities.

Decide How You’ll Pay for It

If the individual has Long Term Care Insurance, call the insurance company with the policy number to start the claims process. The company may need to speak with the individual or their power of attorney. If your family member doesn’t have insurance, care can be paid for with income, savings, or state funded programs such as Medicaid (if eligible).

For individuals who spend down their savings to $2,000, they may qualify for Medicaid. Keep in mind, many states have strict asset recovery programs which make the estate pay back the money spent on care after the covered individual passes away.

Research Your Options

Ask friends, coworkers, or neighbors if they have recommendations for home care, assisted living, memory care, etc. Schedule interviews and visit local facilities to decide if they’re the right fit.

Make Frequent In-Person Visits or Hire a Professional

Visit your loved one often to make sure they’re receiving proper care. Look for signs of elder abuse and report suspicious activities to the authorities right away. If you cannot visit regularly, hire an independent geriatric manager to check on your loved one.

Take Time for Self-Care

Dealing with a family member’s long term care event can be emotionally and physically taxing. Don’t forget to take time for yourself and manage your own health. Eat healthy, go for a walk, call a friend, and get adequate sleep. Don’t let your own health suffer while you try to help others.

Have a Plan in Place Before a Long Term Care Event Strikes

For some, this tip may be too late for a family member. But it may not be too late for you. Create your own long term care plan and write down your wishes for how and where you want to receive care. Identify how you’ll pay for it–whether with Long Term Care Insurance (LTCI) or by personal income and savings–and share your plan with close family members.

Learn more about LTCI and if you’re eligible for coverage by speaking with an LTC Specialist as part of your long term care planning.