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In Brief: Navigating the Long-Term Care Maze: New Approaches to Information and Assistance in Three States

This In-Brief summarizes the findings and implications of the AARP Public Policy Institute Issue Paper, Navigating the Long-Term Care Maze: New Approaches to Information and Assistance in Three States by Susan C. Reinhard and Marisa A. Scala of the Institute for the Future of Aging Services.

Older persons and their families who seek long-term care (LTC) services face a confusing array of public and private services and providers. Difficulty in navigating these networks without assistance often means that people cannot find quality services, spend too much money on the wrong services, or end up in a nursing home when their needs might have been met with community services.

Indiana, New Jersey, and Wisconsin offer examples of the development of comprehensive Information and Assistance (I & A) programs that try to make long-term care services and providers more accessible to consumers. All three states:

  • Provide a single point of entry system through counties or area agencies on aging for persons eligible for publicly funded long-term care services that identifies their needs, provides care planning, and assists them in applying for services.
  • Provide information on long-term care services and providers for persons whose higher incomes disqualify them for publicly funded programs. They help these consumers assess their needs, and learn about community resources, as well as offer them several services on a fee-for-service or sliding-fee scale.
  • Develop a comprehensive I & A system for consumers requires a clearly stated plan, persistent leadership, adequate funding, and significant promotional efforts.
  • Try to establish statewide uniformity and consistency of information for consumers. In the absence of formal evaluations of their I & A programs, however, the states do not know yet how effective the programs are in helping consumers to get the information and assistance they need.
  • Use a wide array of outreach techniques to inform the public about their information programs, including promoting their programs on the Internet.


  1. AARP Public Policy Institute Issue Paper #2001-12 (July 2001).

Prepared by Barbara Coleman, AARP Public Policy Institute
July 2001
©2001 AARP
May be copied only for noncommercial purposes and with attribution; permission required for all other purposes.
Public Policy Institute, AARP, 601 E Street, NW, Washington, DC 20049

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