Getting to Know the Continuum of Care
The language of caregiving and healthcare may be all new to you. This section will clarify the types of services available to you; what advance directives are and your payment options. Also, a general “jargon” listing will give you a good working knowledge of the language you’ll now be speaking.
Home and Community Based Services
Adult Day Centers. Working caregivers may opt to use these “adult day centers” to ensure that their loved one receives proper care during their work hours. Programs vary, but usually offer health and medical monitoring, meals, and group recreation. Click here for A Glimpse of an Adult Day Center
Care Managers. These specialists in planning care for elders are sometimes called geriatric care managers and are trained as gerontologists, social workers and/or nurses. They assess needs and arrange for services. This is particularly helpful for long-distance caregivers.
Congregate Meals. Senior centers and nutrition sites often provide inexpensive or free, nutritious meals in a group setting. Transportation may be available, as well as recreational and social activities.
Companions or Friendly Visitors. These may be volunteers or paid companions. They provide companionship, friendship, support, or supervision to older adults for a few hours at a time. Some may even be available to stay overnight. In general, they do not provide housekeeping or personal care services.
Home-Delivered Meals. Home delivered meals operate in almost all areas of the U.S. This service provides a hot or frozen meal for each day of the week. Services vary from one area to another.
Home Health Aides. Aides can be hired to provide help with personal care such as bathing, feeding and toileting. Those provided by a certified home health agency are trained and supervised by a registered nurse.
Home Health Nurses. These registered nurses provide health assessment and home health care to loved ones who need nursing care at home. Often, additional services such as physical or speech therapy can be arranged.
Homemaker Services. These services provide in home assistance with light housekeeping, laundry, linen changes, and meal preparation.
Hospice. Hospice is care an individual receives at the end of their life. Hospice focuses on caring, not curing. In many cases, hospice care is provided in the individual’s home. However, hospice care is also provided in freestanding hospice centers as well as special departments within hospitals, nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
Medical Alert Device. In the event that the residential caregiver works during the day, or even has to be away from the home for a short time for errands, the care recipient can wear this electronic device that sends a signal to a central dispatcher, often located at a hospital, if he or she falls or needs help. Emergency assistance is summoned immediately if there is no answer when the dispatcher calls the home.
Senior Centers. Senior centers provide recreational activities and health and wellness services to seniors living in the community. Local communities often offer senior centers through their division of parks and recreation. Other sponsors may include community organizations.
Service Coordination. Service coordinators often work for senior apartment management and help its residents become informed about services available.
Senior Living Options
Adult Care Facilities and Group Homes provide housing and limited personal services for usually 3 to 16 adults. Each state has its own regulations and definitions.
Assisted Living Facilities and Residential Care usually offer private suites or apartments with congregate services, personal care and limited skilled care. Licensure rules vary from state to state.
Congregate and Retirement Housing features apartments in which residents receive some services, such as a daily meal with other tenants. Some may be rent-subsidized (Section 8 housing) or affordable, meaning that they are priced to serve those at or below median income levels.
Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) offer multiple levels of care (independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing care), housed in different areas of the same community. As a result, residents can remain in the same community even if needs change. They charge a monthly fee and sometimes require a considerable entrance fee.
Independent Living Facilities feature private apartments but services are not included as part of the rent, though the resident may be able to get them for an additional fee.
Nursing Homes are licensed by the state to offer residents personal care and skilled nursing care 24 hours a day. They may also provide room and board, supervision, medication, therapies and rehabilitation.