The Senior Care Guide: Types of Senior Care

Home care and long-term options

The range of choices for senior care can be confusing and overwhelming for seniors and their families. Here's a run-down of choices and corresponding pros and cons.

Telephone Call Assurance

Automatic or live telephone system whereby seniors are called regularly to make sure they're okay and/or have taken their medication.

Pros:

  • Easy-to-use service for both the senior and concerned family members.
  • Calling schedule can be altered or changed if need be.

Cons:

  • Does not necessarily offer personal or even human service.
  • May not provide access to immediate medical attention should there be a problem.

Companions and/or Caregivers

Come into a senior's home or apartment and assist with chores, driving, shopping, light housekeeping, while also providing social stimulation. They do not provide medical care.

Pros:

  • Perfect for those who need some assistance but prefer to remain independent.
  • Allows seniors to remain in their own home rather than moving to a nursing home or assisted living facility.

Cons:

  • Can be expensive -- as much as $19 per hour in some cities.
  • May be difficult to find a substitute if caregiver/companion is out of town, leaves her job, or falls ill.
  • Since the elderly can be vulnerable, it is important to make sure that the caregivers do not take advantage of them and do not have a criminal record.
  • Some seniors object to having strangers in their home.

Respite Care Providers

Provide short-term or emergency senior care in the absence of a primary or family caregiver.

Pros:

  • In-home care can make things less stressful for everyone.
  • Immediate attention may help to avoid a larger problem down the road.
  • Some insurance companies and certain states may pay for or help with the cost.

Cons:

  • Can be expensive if emergency help is required.
  • Good communication is needed so that the respite care provider knows exactly what is expected.

Visiting Nurses

Registered nurses (RNs) who come to a patient's home to provide a range of medical care, rehabilitation, and hospice services.

Pros:

  • Immediate medical attention by a qualified nurse means the senior receives proper care.
  • Qualified nurses can diagnose in the home, perhaps avoiding a hospital trip.

Cons:

  • Can be expensive if nursing care is not covered by the patient's health insurance.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities

Varied housing options designed to meet the needs of seniors as their needs change, ranging from fully independent homes to assisted living apartments, to nursing facilities. These facilities are usually expensive, with monthly fees up to several thousand dollars.

Pros:

  • Offers peace of mind to a senior who knows that if more care is needed, high quality care will be offered within the same complex.
  • Seniors need not invest time researching various housing options -- just one place will take care of all their needs.

Cons:

  • Facilities are expensive. If the senior stays healthy and never needs more care, he or she is spending a lot of money that might not have been necessary.

Assisted Living Facilities or Congregate Housing

Establishments which allow for a senior's continued independence while providing some care, social stimulation, and, usually, meals.

Pros:

  • A sense of independence is maintained.
  • Socializing and networking with other seniors is facilitated through a shared dining room and other shared facilities.

Cons:

  • Can be expensive, especially if the senior does not have this benefit covered through insurance.
  • Some seniors prefer to stay in their own homes and neighborhoods.

Nursing Homes

Full-time medical care is provided along with meals, some activities, housekeeping and possibly other services.

Pros:

  • Constant care is available.
  • Experienced personnel, including physicians and nurses, are on staff.

Cons:

  • Some seniors find nursing homes depressing, leading to other problems.
  • Some nursing homes do not provide acceptable care and family members need to monitor the care given to be sure it is adequate.
  • There may be waiting lists for admittance to certain homes.

Hospice Care

Hospice care offers a specific kind of nursing and care for patients who are terminally ill. Patients can receive this care either in their own home or in a hospice facility, depending on the preferences of the patient and her family.

Pros:

  • Hospice nurses can greatly help a person and his or her family come to terms with the impending death, and make the most of their remaining days together.

Cons:

  • The cost can be prohibitive although some or all of the cost may be covered by insurance or even donated through various charities.
  • Some families and patients aren't ready to acknowledge that they are terminally ill and so are unable to take advantage of hospice care.

Need advice on what type of Senior Care is right for your family? Call Care.com Senior Care Planning Staff today and let them help you find the right care!

Lisa Tabachnick Hotta is the mother of two young children and a freelance writer, editor and researcher.

Next: Cost of Senior Care »
Comments (2)
Paula L.
What are the hours are you requesting??
Caregiver, Paula Luse
Posted: September 15, 2012 at 2:59 PM
Margaret M.
Why can I not find a senior caregiver for Sat and Sun? No one is willing to work 3-6 hours each of those days.
Posted: March 12, 2012 at 4:38 PM
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