Making Sense of Different Elder Care Options

progression of elder care options

Elder care models for older adults vary quite a bit. Most people tend to lump them all into one often misunderstood term: “nursing home.”

Indeed, discerning and understanding the different care options for seniors can be difficult, even for those who know that the one-size-fits-all perception is inaccurate. What’s more, the main categories of elder care can go by different names, depending upon the facility, governing agency, or other entities.

First Things First

Over 60 percent of nursing home admissions come directly after hospitalization. Causes of hospitalization may include a stroke, a bad fall, or some other unexpected event. Whatever care environment is ultimately deemed best, it’s always wise to explore all elder care options before a crisis situation arises. This will help avoid a rushed and perhaps less than ideal decision.

In the interest of foreknowledge, let’s examine the various levels of elder care, beginning with said nursing home.

What Exactly Is a Nursing Home?

Nursing homes, also known as skilled nursing facilities, convalescent care, or long-term care, offer the highest level of elder care, rendered by a 24/7 nursing staff. Skilled nursing facilities have come a long way from the bleak, sterile institutions of yore that gave them their reputation. Today, most offer a warm, homey atmosphere, activities for residents as they are able, tasty, nutritious foods, and other services and amenities. Residents may have private or semi-private accommodations.

Your loved one might need skilled nursing if they:

  • Require skilled medical care, often 24 hours a day
  • Need help with most or all ADL’s, including activities of daily living such as eating, bathing, toileting, getting in and out of bed, walking
  • Have serious injuries or illnesses
  • Are physically or cognitively impaired
  • Have dementia or Alzheimer’s and require memory care (often a separate, secured area in a skilled nursing facility; see more on memory care below)
  • Need skilled, short-term care following a hospital stay for an unexpected event. Then, they can return home or to a lower level of care (see more on post-acute rehabilitation below).

This level of care at Barclay Friends is known as Skilled Nursing.

Okay, But What Is…

Assisted Living

Assisted living is a care model that is also sometimes misunderstood. Quite simply, it is exactly what it sounds like: living with some level of assistance, but not as much as 24/7 skilled nursing. What that assistance might entail is where things can vary, and many individual services are on an à la carte basis. Depending on their needs, people in assisted living lead relatively independent lifestyles in private or semi-private accommodations, most often with daily meals and engaging activities in common areas. Personnel varies widely depending on the community, but trained staff is typically available 24/7, with regular visits from off-site nurses and doctors.

Your loved one might need assisted living if they need help with:

  • Cooking, housekeeping, laundry or other such tasks
  • Transportation
  • Managing medications
  • Some personal care or ADL’s (dressing, bathing, grooming)
  • Or they could benefit from daily well checks and/or a call button

This level of care at Barclay Friends is known as Personal Care.

Post-Acute Rehabilitation

As noted above, there is sometimes a need for short-term skilled nursing and rehabilitation following an acute event such injury, stroke, surgery or illness that requires hospitalization. These events carry the expectation that the person will return to their own home or a lesser care setting once they have recovered. Such care includes physical, occupational and/or speech therapies and varying degrees of help with ADL’s.

Barclay Friends offers a team approach to award-winning post-acute care, providing the bridge between a hospital stay and a return to home.

Continuing Care

Aging in place” is generally understood to mean remaining in one’s own home as they grow older. But it also applies to continuing senior care in which, as needs change, a person does not have to move from their retirement community because all care levels are in the same location. Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC’s), sometimes called life care communities, are “full service” campuses in which one can transition from independent living to skilled nursing (and levels in between) without the disruption and disorientation of another move.

Barclay Friends’ beautiful buildings are all interconnected, allowing our residents a full continuum of care and the ease and comfort of uninterrupted transition, should it become necessary.

Memory Care

Memory care can be in a stand-alone facility or in a separate area within a larger continuing care community. Residents in memory care live in fully secured private or semi-private accommodations. In this elder care level, staff specializing in memory care provide structured activities.

Your loved one may need memory care if they:

  • Have significant memory problems, dementia or Alzheimer’s
  • Wander from their residence or are a flight risk
  • Struggle with Sundowners Syndrome
  • Are disturbed or frustrated by the lack a structured, predictable environment

At Barclay Friends, our Memory Care is a person-centered living option focused on “doing with” residents, not “doing for.”

Home Care

Home care involves trained, paid staff in one’s own home. This is the option that most aging adults say they would prefer; understandably, people wish to stay in the comfort and familiarity of their own home for as long as possible. However, depending on the level of need, home care can be as expensive as an outside facility. It can also be unreliable and isolating, particularly if the need for help with ADL’s is great and caregivers are not onsite ‘round the clock. Also, the belief that one is more independent in their own home runs counter to the constant pressures of home and yard maintenance. Still, for many, home care is the best option.

Your loved one might do well with home care if they:

  • Do not require 24/7 care, supervision or attention within moments of an emergency. Or, if they do, they can afford a live-in person or team to tend to every possible need.
  • Have adequate social connections and access to transportation
  • Also, loved ones can manage, with or without help, the responsibilities of meal preparation, maintaining a home, yard, and other domestic affairs

Independent Living

This model of senior living entails no care! This is because those in independent communities live as self-sufficiently as they did in their previous residences. They are there strictly by choice, seeking new friends and state-of-the-art accommodations. Additionally, your loved one will enjoy myriad activities, great meals prepared by someone else, and freedom from household chores. They can do whatever they want, whenever they want. These folks are living the “golden years” to the hilt! Like many Pennsylvania communities, Independent living at Barclay Friends is called Residential Living.

Want to visit our community?

Barclay Friends offers a full continuum of care. Schedule an appointment with our team today to find out what level is right for you or your loved one.