Senior Living and Care Options Defined

Adult Care Homes

Adult Care Homes (ACH) (also known as Adult Foster Care, or Adult Family Homes) are located in residential areas throughout many larger metro areas. ACH’s offer a homelike setting typically in a residential neighborhood. An ACH will provide meals, housekeeping, socialization, some care, and laundry. Services vary widely in these facilities and they do not exist in all states. Adult care homes will typically be licensed or regulated for up to 6 individuals. Adult care homes will have a house manager living on-site 24/7. You may not even recognize an Adult Care Home in your neighborhood unless there is signage or advertising. Adult Care homes are sometimes referred to as Board and Care Homes or Group Homes.

Adult Day Centers

 There are two types of adult day centers. Adult daycare and adult day healthcare. Both types of adult daycare centers are non-residential and designed to provide a respite for families and spouses caring for a loved one. These facilities can provide meals, activities, transportation, and hands-on care for those needing assistance with activities of daily living. Adult daycare services have a focus on socialization and cognitive stimulation activities where adult day healthcare facilities will operate under the direct care of a physician and will use a comprehensive assessment of care needs to determine each individuals healthcare plan while using their services. Some assisted living communities also provide adult day care services to the public.

Assisted Living

Assisted Living Communities (ALF) are communities designed to support the various needs of an aging population. Assisted living bridges the gap between living independently and living in a nursing home. You will find a range of individuals with varying care needs in this environment. Assisted living communities to meet the needs of their residents within the privacy of their own private apartment-style homes. Residents are offered a structured setting and services that include housekeeping, laundry, socialization, activities, meals, and transportation. ALF communities also offer many levels of personalized assistance with activities of daily living such as help with incontinence, dietary, grooming, bathing, medication management, and ambulation (walking) assistance. Often, assisted livings communities offer assistance with higher levels of health care needs.

Because of the frequent interactions between staff and residents, each day assisted living may still be an appropriate option for people living with early stages of dementia.

Assisted living communities are typically private pay. Communities that accept government aid for assisted living services will be licensed by the state and can also be referred to as Supportive Living or Residential care facilities (RAC).

Continuing Care Retirement Communities

Continuing Care Retirement Communities, also known as CCRC’s, offer a full spectrum of care within one campus. CCRCs provide different levels of care (independent, assisted living and nursing home) based on individual needs. A resident is able to move throughout the different levels of care within the campus if his or her needs change. Most often as a resident’s needs progress, they will be required to physically move into another building on the same campus.

Home-Health Care

Home Health Care is often prescribed as a part of a care plan following a hospitalization. Home Health includes services from licensed providers and professionals like a Registered Nurse, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech-language Services, Medical Social Work, wound care, IV or nutrition therapy, and Injections. These services can all be provided in an individual’s private home with orders from a physician. Some assisted living and Independent living communities partner with Home Healthcare service providers to help foster their residents’ choices and allow them to age in place for as long as possible. These services are often covered to some extent by Medicare.

In-Home Care 

In-Home Care or Private Caregiving is care that allows a person with care needs to receive services for those needs in the privacy of their own home. In-home care services can range from help with basic household chores to help with social services, personal care. transportation, shopping, and non-skilled medical needs. Often these services are managed and scheduled through an organization that specializes in helping to assess and identify needs and then locates and coordinates the appropriate help to meet those needs. Individuals with more complex health care needs may utilize Home Health Care services in addition to In-home care services simultaneously.

Independent Living 

See Retirement home below

Memory Care

Dementia Care, Memory Care, and Alzheimer’s Care communities are licensed and designed specifically for those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia or cognitive-behavioral conditions. Memory Care communities can take many forms and exist within various types of residential care settings including assisted living and skilled nursing facilities. Memory care communities will most often be locked or secure units. Many long-term care communities set aside specific areas within their facility to support residents with dementia needs. These specialized units offer services, activities, clinical expertise and structure specially designed to accommodate those with a various dementia diagnosis.

Nursing Homes

Nursing Homes are much different today than the facilities of long ago. Even the term “nursing home” is being phased out as these organizations are now being defined by one of three categories; Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF), SubAcute Care and Intermediate Care Facility (ICF). These types of facility care for the very frail residents who are totally dependent on nursing care. Many of these facilities offer several levels of care under the same roof. Nursing homes provide round-the-clock care and long-term medical treatment. Most nursing homes have services and staff to address issues such as nutrition, care planning, recreation, spirituality, and medical care. SNF often also provide a short-term rehabilitation unit for residents needing rehab between hospital and home.

Retirement Home

Retirement homes or “Independent” living communities are a perfect solution for an elderly person who still has the physical and mental capacity to live independently but wants to downsize or enjoy companionship from others his/her age. Retirement homes are most appropriate for those who can manage their health care needs on their own or with assistance from family or private caregivers in an apartment typesetting.

Independent Living does not offer health care services or assistance but may offer a monthly meal plan, housekeeping, social activities, and transportation. Independent living communities offer specific services and amenities that promote an active, healthy senior lifestyle. Independent living is not an option for someone who cannot care for him/herself.

Independent living may still be an appropriate option for people living with early stages of dementia, providing they have not developed unsafe behaviors such as forgetting to turn off the stove or wandering.