What do you do when your parents begin to need help on a regular basis? What are the options, what does it all mean? When you start investigating resources, it helps to have a working knowledge of the basic levels of care and the services they provide.

  1. Home Care. This is usually the lowest level of care service an elderly person might need, whether it is an ongoing need or temporary. The focus is on assistance with activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, eating, toileting, and mobility. It might also include meal preparation or delivery, light housework, or transportation. Companion care is another important feature of home care service. Not everyone needs all the services provided, so a home care service plan is tailored for individual needs. Home care is available in traditional residences and at independent living facilities.
  2. Home Health Care. Typically, a physician’s order or prescription is needed to obtain health care services, which will be provided by a health care professional such as a registered nurse, licensed practical nurse or a therapist. The focus is more on assisting with the recovery from an illness or injury and may include administration of medication, medical testing, and wound care. It also may be available both at a traditional residence or independent living facility.
  3. Independent Living. This is the entry level to many senior communities. The individuals still live independently, as they did in their traditional residences. The advantage for many who make the move is to make socializing easier, convenient access to dining, and hospitality services such as some housekeeping and laundry. Some also like the control that comes with proactively choosing a community and making the transition before the need become acute. Independent living might also offer services such as transportation to common destinations and extra security.
  4. Assisted Living. When individuals need more assistance with those activities of daily living, it is often time to “level-up” to assisted living. This level typically combines the much of the freedom of independent living with home care and home health care level assistance. Again, the assistance provided is typically tailored to the needs of the individual, to maintain as much independence as possible.
  5. Skilled Nursing. There is a wide range of needs that fall under the skilled nursing umbrella. The defining characteristic is that the care or treatment can only be done by licensed nurses, such as complex wound dressings, rehabilitation, tube feedings and rapidly changing medical and health situations. Types of skilled nursing care include:
  • Rehabilitation. Tends to be a short-term need. The goal is to bring the individual back from an illness or injury to the point they can return to the most independent living situation practicable.
  • Nursing Homes. These might feel like more traditional medical facilities and the individuals tend to need long-term medical care.
  • Memory Care. This type of skilled nursing is designed specifically for those with memory care issues. From the security of the facility, the design, décor and activities, everything is geared to the specific needs of those with dementia and illnesses with a dementia component.

The transition to elderhood, and all the changes to their independence can be overwhelming and frightening. Knowing the jargon can make it less daunting. If you or your clients need assistance in this area, please let me know. Even if my services are not required, I may be able to help them find the right resource for their situation.