Eldercare: Which Type is Right?

Navigating the many options of eldercare that are available in the United States can be difficult, but in this guide, the many options available will be discussed. The various types of eldercare fall into two basic camps: family-provided care or professional-provided care. Which type of elder-care chosen depends on the needs, wants, and capabilities of the aging patient and the needs, wants, and capabilities of the family member who may be opting to take care of them.

Family-provided care. Family-provided care is when either an aging parent or loved one moves in with the person who will be taking care of them or vice-versa. Either way, family-provided care is often supplemented with professional-provided care in the form of housekeepers, homemakers, or health aides. A housekeeper is someone who comes in and does mostly the chores around the house like cleaning, laundry, cleaning dishes, and everyday upkeep. A homemaker takes housekeeping a step further by also running errands and cooking daily meals. A health aide is someone who is paid to hygiene care, dispensing medications, and reporting back to the patient’s primary care provider the condition of their health. All three of these roles can be hired through an agency, but the first two can also just be paid family members or friends of the family. Family-provided care offers many advantages such as the joy of getting to spend more time with loved ones, as well as it tends to be the most cost-saving option. However, it can also be more emotionally costly, making it more important than a person researches all the options available before accepting such a responsibility.

Assisted Living. Assisted living facilities go by many names like a residential living, board and care, and community-based living. These facilities typically offer comprehensive and wraparound services, such as Bethany Homes. There are many advantages to assisted living facilities as residents receive their own unit or apartment, but there are also people on the grounds to help with daily activities. This way, residents maintain their independence, but in a safe environment where they can still access the services they may need including specialized care for those with dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Independent Living. Independent living facilities are really built around maintaining a vibrant social environment in which to age. Residents maintain their own apartment or unit on the grounds but typically participate with other residents in the same circumstances in daily activities. Unlike an assisted living facility, independent living facilities typically do not offer skilled medical professionals or services, though they may offer general health services.

Adult Day Program. Adult day programs are typically community-based that offer supervision and care for those who do not require around-the-clock assistance. They often offer structured social activities where attendants focus on their social skills with others, but sometimes they also offer therapy and health care. However, these programs are, like their name suggests, only held during business hours.

Nursing Home. Nursing homes can be considered the opposite of adult day programs in that they are for those who require around-the-clock care. They are staffed with licensed social workers, nurses, and doctors who can make sure that residents receive the medical care they need. In addition, nursing homes offer laundry services, dining services, and social activities for residents. Medicaid will sometimes pay for a nursing home, but not always, so it’s important to research this before deciding whether a nursing home is the right fit.

It is clear to see there are many choices available for eldercare, but the right one for a family will depend on the needs of the senior, the family who will be helping to support their decision, and the kinds of services wanted.