As medicine, technology, and methods of treatment evolve, people are living longer. While most aging individuals prefer to be cared for in the familiar surroundings of their own homes, that is not always possible. In most cases, a variety of care alternatives will be needed over the remaining years of an individual’s life. This article summarizes the most common alternatives available.
Home Care Services: These are health and personal care services provided in an individual’s own home with the assistance of a home care agency. Services can include medical and non-medical care, and can be provided on an hourly, daily, or monthly basis. These services are generally provided as an alternative to hospital or other institutional level care.
Senior Apartments: These are independent, age-restricted apartment communities. Some of these apartment communities have on-site meals, housekeeping services, meeting rooms, libraries, laundry, barber/beauty shops, fitness centers, etc., most or all of which are provided at a separate cost. A variety of federal and state programs are available to help pay for this type of housing, but generally only available to individuals with low to moderate income levels.
Independent Living: These are communities designed for individual services in an apartment like setting with 24-hour on-site supervision. Services usually include meals, housekeeping, and laundry. Social activities are also provided. These communities only accept private payments.
Adult Day Services: These are community based group programs that address the needs of impaired seniors and provide relief and assistance to caregivers. If assistance with personal care and activities of daily living are needed, and if the elderly individual would benefit from increased social opportunities, this type of program is attractive.
Alzheimer’s Facilities: Within the context of Assisted Living communities, there is an increasing trend toward specialized communities that provide care and housing for individuals with this disease. The care provided in these communities is designed to diminish the confusion and anxiety that an individual with this disease usually suffers from.
Nursing Centers: These are state regulated and licensed facilities that provide room and board, personal care, protection supervision, and medical care. Three levels of care are available: (1) basic care, which is required to maintain an individual’s activities of daily living; (2) skilled care, which requires the services of a registered nurse; and (3) sub-acute care, which consists of services designed to provide care for an individual who had suffered from an acute injury or illness.
Continuing Care Communities: These are simply communities that provide a continuum of care services – from private units to Assisted Living to skilled nursing care – all in one location.
Hospice: This is specialized care designed to provide support and compassion for individuals in the final phase of a terminal illness. Such care is available in an individual’s home, a hospice facility, or a nursing home.