Thursday, January 9, 2014

Guest Post (Types of Eldercare)

With more seniors remaining independent longer, it doesn’t hurt to know the differences and advantages to each type of eldercare. I’ll keep this post short and only talk about the five main types: independent living or retirement communities, assisted living, in-home care, continuing care retirement communities, and nursing homes. Let’s get started.

Independent Living:

Independent living allows seniors to remain within their own homes if they are still able to perform daily tasks such as cleaning, driving, scheduling appointments, taking medication, and cooking. This is generally for people who do not have any major health risks and do not need extra supervision from either a home-health provider or a licensed nurse. Generally, independent living or retirement communities exist within single apartment complexes, condos, or even free-standing homes situated around a club house or activity center. Sometimes residents choose to purchase a unit within a retirement community simply for the social aspect of becoming friendly with people their own age with activities nearby. Other times, people choose it because they would like to live in a home or apartment that does not require too much maintenance. The major advantages to independent living are living autonomously with a spouse, access to transportation/age-related services, and a rich social network of friends.

Assisted Living:

Generally, assisted living is a wise housing option for seniors who need help with some daily-living tasks. Maybe they need help with medications, cooking, or have lost a spouse and are not capable of living alone in the housing situation described above. Prices fluctuate depending upon the amount of care needed, but with assisted living, staff caregivers are available around the clock.
Some assisted living facilities contain single-living apartments with kitchenettes; others provide simply rooms; while less expensive options sometimes require residents to share rooms similar to dormitory style living. Although less independent than retirement communities, assisted living residences have activities, a vibrant social community, and usually group-dining which makes meeting new people easier. Assisted living is a good choice if your loved one needs more personal care than can be given at home or if they need medical supervision, but not the amount of attention supplied by a nursing home.

In-home Care: 

In-home care refers to a hired caregiver either living with, or working in the patient’s home by the hour, to help with tasks such as household chores, doctor visits, or bathing. Unless certified as a nurse, agency-hired caregivers are not licensed to give medication. There are agencies, however, which hire out licensed practical nurses for a higher fee that can give medication. It’s always a good idea to ask caregivers what their alternative plan is if they become ill or unavailable and whether or not they are bonded or insured in case the patient is injured. Also, if you cannot be in the home while the caregiver is there with your loved one, be sure to have a way to document the completion of the caregiver’s tasks. 

Continuing Care Retirement Communities:

Continuing care retirement communities provide both of the situations described above. Sometimes they even include a nursing home in the same location. If you plan early this can sometimes be the best option because as your loved one ages, they will not need to move from their already-comfortable area to receive more medical attention. A resident purchases a unit and as their needs change, the monthly fee to live in the community increases with the higher levels of care. This option also allows spouses to stay close together even if one requires more attention than the other.

Nursing Homes:

A nursing home is usually the highest level of care someone can receive outside of a hospital. While nursing homes provide assistance with daily care, they are generally chosen as a living option because of the high level of medical care available. A licensed doctor supervises each resident’s care and a nurse or other medical professional is always available on the premises. Also, there are both occupational and physical therapists typically available on site. A nursing home is a good choice if a recent health development has incapacitated a loved one, such as a fall or a stroke, and there is no way they can receive the correct amount of care through home-health or another living facility. Sometimes, however, nursing homes are temporary options right after hospitalization or rehab, and residents return home or to another facility after a short period of time.


Although picking the right living option seems simple, you should always consult your loved one’s doctor and, of course, the seniors themselves. There are many options available to aid in the decision, such as a medical social worker, or even agencies and organizations, which specialize in moving seniors into homes or facilities at no cost to you. Social workers and eldercare agencies can also tell you if you are eligible for federal or state aid, sometimes improving the quality of the facility your loved one will live in by increasing your price range.

Jacob Edward is the manager of Senior Planning. Jacob founded Senior Planning in 2007 and has helped many Arizona seniors and their families navigate the process of long term care planning. Senior Planning provides assistance to seniors and the disabled finding and arranging care services, as well as applying for state and federal benefits. In his spare time, Jacob enjoys dining out and supporting his alma mater Arizona State's Sun Devil sports teams. Jacob lives in Tempe Arizona.

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