Types of Care
There are many types of care available. Care needs can change, so it’s helpful to familiarize yourself with various short, mid and long term options.
As the name suggests, in-home care takes place at home. It may be care provided by loved ones, family, friends, neighbors or professional caregivers. In-home care typically includes assistance with day-to-day tasks such as bathing, walking or cooking. If care needs are more extensive or medically intensive, in-home care may not be able to meet them. Area hospitals, care agencies or therapists may offer training sessions to help caregivers learn how to provide quality care and avoid caregiver stress.
Adult Day Care
Adult day care or “adult day service” offers part- or full-time care in a group setting. Adult day care is an appropriate choice for those who are unable to stay at home alone, even for short periods. Adult day care offers supervised care within a safe and secure environment. It may be community- or facility-based. Services typically include meals, social or recreational activities, and health-related assistance.
Respite care is a short term relief program that gives caregivers a break. In respite care, a skilled care professional assumes caregiver responsibilities for a predetermined amount of time. Respite care may range from a few hours to a few weeks. It helps caregivers reenergize, reduce stress and address personal needs that may have become neglected because of care responsibilities. Respite care can take place at home or at a center, such as an adult day care center or Skilled Nursing Care center.
Assisted living care facilities, sometimes called “residential care centers,” offer a home-like setting, plus varying levels of supervision and personal or medical care. Assisted living is appropriate for individuals who are no longer able to live alone, but who do not require extensive care.
Assisted living facilities vary greatly in how many residents can live there and can range from a private room or an apartment to a multi-unit facility. In general, they promote self-sufficiency and are designed to offer residents a high level of independence. Service options, like accommodations, vary widely, especially from state to state. Care can include assistance with daily tasks, such as bathing, dressing or help with medications. Facilities might offer social activities or meal, laundry or housekeeping services.
Skilled Nursing Care
Nursing homes, professionally called Skilled Nursing Care centers, offer 24-hour staffing to provide comprehensive services to those requiring a greater level of care than that offered by assisted living facilities. All Skilled Nursing Care centers require the professional skills of a registered nurse (RN) or licensed practical nurse (LPN). With 24-hour nursing care and many of the comforts of home, Skilled Nursing Care centers balance quality care and quality of life. These centers promote autonomy and choice, and offer a variety of services, social activities, and recreational opportunities. Residents are encouraged to continue social activities and personal interests.
Today's Skilled Nursing Care centers offer services ranging from short-term rehabilitative care to long term extended care. Services can be grouped into three general care categories: medical, nursing and rehabilitative, and personal.
Medical care in a Skilled Nursing Care center may be one-to-one (attending physician) or one-to-many (medical director). These physicians oversee medications, examinations and treatments. They work with staff, residents and families to develop care plans.
Nursing and Rehabilitative Care
Nursing services include assessment, treatments, injections, and administration of medications. Rehabilitative care services might include post-hospital stroke, heart or orthopedic care, or various types of therapy, e.g. respiratory, physical, occupational or speech therapy.
Personal care offers assistance with “activities of daily living.” These daily tasks can include help getting out of bed, bathing, using the toilet, dressing, walking or eating.
Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) provide much of this care.
Rehabilitative services assist patients recovering from illness, injury or disease. Rehabilitative treatments help patients regain abilities recently lost. Services might include post-hospital stroke, heart or orthopedic care, or various types of therapy (e.g., physical, occupational or speech therapy). Dietary consultation, laboratory, x-ray and pharmaceutical services may also be included in rehabilitative settings.
Dementia is the general term used to describe a set of symptoms that affect intellectual and social abilities, such as memory, problem solving and communication. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia. Each person’s symptoms and progression differ. Consequently, there are many treatments and care options available for people diagnosed with dementia.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers support programs for veterans and their caregivers. The VA provides support and services for those who care for veterans, as well as short-stay and long-stay nursing home care. Learn more about Health Programs for Veterans.
Hospice care offers comfort and support to those nearing the end of life. Hospice is a care philosophy focused on reducing suffering rather than curing a condition. Hospice addresses physical, spiritual, social and emotional needs of dying individuals and loved ones. Hospice care can include pain medication, therapy or counseling.