By Clare Absher RN BSN Last Updated 7/11/2019
The aging of America, together with extended life expectancy, is resulting in an unprecedented demand for long term care services and housing. Although home care or adult day care might be a senior's first choice, it may be that moving to facility-based long term care is the only practical solution. Common reasons for relocating include safety concerns, isolation, deteriorating health, and lack of support. When the quantity of home care reaches 24 hours per day, it may be more affordable to move to a facility. Without family caregivers to oversee or provide care, aging in place becomes less feasible. Meeting a senior's personal needs such as security, comfort, social opportunities, and health care access may necessitate moving to a facility. When researching facility-based long term care, you should consider options that are best suited to meet the needs and preferences of your elderly loved one.
Independent Living Facilities include senior apartments and retirement homes. Independent Living Facilities enable seniors to live among their peers, however, they must be able to care for themselves. Amenities vary from none to offering daily meals, recreational and social activities, transportation, 24 hour security, and housekeeping services. Seniors who reside in independent living communities frequently employ home care aides when additional personal care and support services are needed.
Residential Care Facilities have many alternative names such as "Adult Family Homes", "Personal Care Homes", and "Board and Care Homes" to name a few. These facilities are similar to Assisted Living in the types of services offered, but what makes them different is their capacity. Residential Care Facilities provide a more intimate setting with fewer residents (usually less than 20 beds). Residential Care Facilities serve persons 60 and older who are unable to live alone by providing room, board, housekeeping, supervision, personal care, and assistance with basic activities of living. Home care workers, including CNAs, are sometimes hired to fill in gaps of care when more help is needed than the facility is able to provide.
Assisted Living Facilities are for those who may need some assistance with daily activities but do not require 24 hour supervision and medical care. Assisted Living Facilities have staff to help with personal hygiene, dressing, eating, and walking in addition to housekeeping, laundry, and transportation services. Assisted Living facilities may offer extensive onsite amenities for seniors to participate in social and recreational programs. Some Assisted Living Facilities provide care to Alzheimer's residents, but may be limited to those in the early stages of illness. Home care aides may be hired privately on a temporary basis to provide extra care when seniors are rehabilitating from surgery or have become weaker due to illness. Home care agencies can supplement your care at the place you call "home", wherever that may be.
Skilled Nursing Facilities, more commonly known as Nursing Homes, provide skilled care and assistance 24 hours daily and are for those who have many care requirements and cannot live independently. Nursing Homes provide rehab care on short-term basis and long-term care for those with health care needs that other housing cannot accommodate. Alzheimer's care units may be located within Nursing Homes and are designed to provide a higher level of security and safety.