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The Different Types of Senior and Elder Care Living, Explained

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From Nursing Homes to In-Home Care: Know All Your Options

If you are getting ready to move an elderly loved one into some sort of assisted care or senior care community, you may have questions—many questions. The world of senior care can be somewhat confusing to the uninitiated. For starters, there are several different types of communities and many different levels of care.

In this article, we present a general guide to the various types of senior living situations and the levels of care commonly available at each.

Independent Living Communities

Independent senior living communities bring together individual seniors and couples who are capable of looking after and providing for themselves on a continuous basis. They are placed together in a community where they can find others in their age range who may also share their own interests. Independent senior living communities can be a great first step between fully independent living, and something like assisted living or a nursing home.

Assisted Living

Assisted living situations and facilities run the gamut, in terms of size and function. They can be as small as a single home with a few elderly residents and available care, or as large as multi-building complexes, complete with on-site medical or nursing facilities, recreation centers, and many other amenities (see “Continuous Care,” below).

Nursing Homes for Seniors

Nursing homes combine many of the amenities of assisted living with full-time, round the clock available, professional medical care. Nursing homes can accommodate most, if not all, patients for long-term care, whether elderly or not, and regardless of medical condition.

Because of this, nursing homes are often a good fit for seniors with serious medical conditions. Not all nursing homes accept residents with dementia, however, some do specialize in caring for seniors with Alzheimer’s and other similar conditions.

In-Home Health Care for Seniors

Hiring an in-home health care worker to either spend part or all of the day with your elderly loved one can be a great option for those who can afford it. If your elderly loved one would prefer to remain in their own home as they age, regardless of how much medical attention they may need, it can be arranged. In-home ongoing healthcare can be the most expensive route, but for some seniors, it can also be the best option.

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Temporary and Day Care Options

For seniors who only need care during part of the day, a senior care day center may be a good option. Providing outpatient care as well as social activities for gathered seniors, these temporary care facilities can help to bridge the gap if family care is already available during the evenings and on weekends.

Continuous Care and Other Hybrid Communities

There are senior living centers that offer many or all of the options listed above. Many of these centers offer outpatient day medical care, independent living facilities, assisted living facilities, and full-time nursing home facilities, as well. For those who are looking for a long-term solution for an aging or elderly loved one, one of these ongoing transitional care facilities may be the best option.

Palliative Care and Hospice

Palliative care is a field of medicine that is focused on providing relief for those suffering from long-term serious illnesses. If your aging loved one is suffering from an untreatable, terminal condition, then a palliative care specialist can help with pain management and a variety of other issues until the time when they transition into hospice care.

Hospice care is typically for patients who are in the last stages of their lives. Hospice strives to provide comfort and care during what can be a very painful and emotionally challenging period at the end of someone’s life. Hospice centers provide such care in a dedicated facility, and hospice care is also generally available at most of the facility types discussed above.

Understanding the World of Senior Living

Though it may seem complex and challenging to understand how to fit your specific elderly loved one’s current situation to one of the available options, researching the best of what’s available and understanding the terms as they relate to each type of care is a smart and necessary first step. With any luck, this guide will begin to provide some clarity about what is available and the benefits of each type of elder care and senior living situation.

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