If you’re looking at aging care options and feel overwhelmed, take heart. You already know the most important piece of the puzzle in finding the right care: how you want to feel.
You want to feel safe, of course, but you also want to feel healthy, happy—and respected. Treated like family. If you like crescent rolls with every meal, that’s what you should get. If you love wearing the sweater your grandkids gave you, you get to wear it every day if you want. If having friends over for weekly Bible study lifts your spirit, you get that, too.
You want to feel good, in other words, and not just physically but in your head, heart, and soul. And quality care does that. But what type of care do you need? That’s the other important piece of the puzzle. Options run the gamut, from in-home care to 24-hour nursing and memory care centers. Here’s a rundown, plus some guidance to help you sort through it all:
Home Health Care
With home health care, the clinic comes to you. It’s just what it sounds like: an in-home option that provides clinical care from licensed nurses and physical, occupational, and speech therapists. The advantage of home health care is the ability to manage a chronic illness or other medical condition with the help of licensed clinicians in the comfort of your own home. You remain independent and continue your aging journey in familiar surroundings.
Home care, also called personal care, is for anyone who needs help with daily activities. Home care staff can include certified nursing assistants (CNAs) and home health aides (HHAs). These professional caregivers can help make life easier by assisting with bathing, washing your hair, getting dressed, preparing meals, doing laundry, and more. An aide can also help make sure you’re taking your medications.
What if you need both medical care and help with daily living? Many older adults enlist both home health care and home care. It’s a convenient combination that allows you to age in place.
Assisted living may be a good choice when you need more support than you can receive at home but don’t need the level of medical care or round the clock supervision of a nursing center. Care is provided in an assisted living center or community, where meals and housekeeping are taken care of, and you get all the help you need with day-to-day activities like bathing and dressing. You may have your own apartment or room and share common areas with others. All this allows you to maintain your independence while also feeling socially connected to reduce any feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Nursing centers, also called nursing homes, often are divided based on the type of services you need and for how long. Short-term rehabilitation is often received after a hospitalization with the focus being on healing and returning to a previous level of functioning. Long-term aging care is for people who require more medically focused support and more frequent supervision than can be provided in the community, but do not require a hospital to provide that ongoing care. Services can include 24-hour nursing care from licensed nurses, rehab services from licensed therapists, and plenty of help with activities of daily living.
Adult Day Care
Adult day care centers offer care and companionship to older adults who can’t be left home alone safely during the day. Centers are generally open weekdays, although some offer evening and weekend hours. Services vary but can include providing social stimulation, such as meals and activities, healthcare services such as therapeutic exercises, and help with personal care. Not only do adult day care visits help alleviate the sense of isolation and loneliness you may feel, they can give family caregivers an important dose of respite self-care.
Memory care communities provide specialized, intensive care to help people with Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia live with dignity, despite struggles with memory that complicate daily living. Memory care resembles assisted living in that it provides support for activities of daily living, but there are important differences. Memory care communities may provide extra security to keep residents safe from wandering, a lot of structure is built into daily routines to help reduce stress for residents, and staff members are specially trained in caring for individuals with memory impairments.