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Tangled Web: Sorting Out Long Term Care Information Options

Carol Cronin, Informed Patient Institute

What do caregivers and older adults find when they search online for information about long-term care options? An analysis of long-term care websites uncovers the range of business models and content on the Internet.

Because gains in US life expectancy have led to rapid growth in the oldest segment of the population (those over age 90), more and more people are facing decisions about long-term care. As they do in other parts of their lives, many people are turning to the Internet to learn about their options.

A sample of 51 US websites geared toward consumers looking for local long-term care options shows the kinds of information that users can find online. These websites are run by for-profits, nonprofits, and government agencies and cover assisted living facilities, nursing homes, and in-home care providers. Most sites include options from across the US, while some are state-specific.

The long-term care websites reviewed for this report generally fall into one of three categories:

  1. Searchable databases are designed for consumers, caregivers, and family members to review information about long-term care facilities.
  2. Senior housing referral sites connect users to an advisor who reviews caregivers' long-term care needs and refers them to appropriate housing options that would meet those needs. These sites often also include a searchable database.
  3. Third-party sites are set up by companies that primarily support the work of intermediaries, such as hospital discharge planners, employers, or consumer or membership groups like AARP, to provide information to consumers and families.

The full report is available as a Document Download.

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