The senior population (adults 65 and older) is taking up a greater portion of the overall United States population every year thanks to the baby boomer generation (those born between 1946 and 1964). In 1985, seniors took up about 12 percent of the population. Current levels are at about 13 percent (more than 40 million people), and that number is expected to rise to up to 21 percent by 2050. That means there will be more than 80 million seniors living in the States at one time, which will require a great deal decision-making for a lot of families as to when and what type of care they should get for their loved ones once they can no longer live on their own. Luckily, though, senior care is a wide-ranging and highly inclusive industry. There are plenty of options to make sure your loved ones are in the best hands. The amount of inclusive senior care you or a loved one needs varies depending on the level of care that’s needed. Let’s look at the different types of care there are and what fits your situation best.

Nursing Homes

Nursing homes feature round-the-clock assistance for patients who need highly attentive, long-term care. The average patient who enters a nursing home is there for around two and a half years. Seniors who reside in a nursing home usually have lower ADL and IADL scores. According to a survey in 1999, more than 95 percent of nursing home residents needed help with bathing, and 88 percent of residents needed help with getting dressed. Nursing homes require that a registered nurse (RN) be present at all times when patients are being cared for, though nursing homes can have different levels of skilled nurses present. Because of the amount of assistance each patient needs, the plans for each patient vary and there usually isn’t one overarching plan to take care of all the patients in the home. Usually, nursing home care isn’t covered by Medicare. The official website states the reason is: “most nursing home care is custodial care, like help with bathing or dressing. Medicare doesn’t cover custodial care if that’s the only care you need.”

Assisted Living Care

Assisted living facilities are similar to nursing homes in that there’s 24-hour care, but usually patients in assisted living don’t need as intrusive care as nursing home residents. Like nursing homes, patients in assisted living facilities are expected to be there for the long-term, with an average patient staying for around three years. About seven times more women live in nursing homes than men, but that’s often attributed to the fact women are expected to live longer than men. Those who enter assisted living facilities can often do many activities on their own, but not enough to where they can comfortably and safely live alone anymore. Residents usually have their own living space and are still allowed to socialize with other residents freely. Meals are provided to residents, but some facilities allow patients to cook for themselves (if they are able).

Home Health Care

Home health care is the most popular form of senior care because it allows seniors to live in a place they’re comfortable with, and it allows family to come and visit freely without any restrictions or time-sensitive rules. Depending on the type of care needed, some patients can travel and leave the home. Patients who receive home health care have a wide range of care from once or twice a week, to 24 hours a day. Professionals who treat patients with home health care usually assist patients with activities like:

  • Bathing
  • Going to the store
  • Preparing food
  • Getting dressed
  • Transportation to appointments

Because of the wide range of care, home health services are usually offered hourly and can be covered through Medicaid and Medicare.

Independent Living Communities

There are also known as retirement homes and villages. Usually residents of independent living communities score pretty high on ADL and IADL scores, meaning they don’t need too much medical help. However, there are usually medical facilities in these communities. Because of this, the lifestyle can be relatively similar (or even better) than before because of the amount of people similar in age and the overall sense of community. These communities are particularly advantageous to seniors who are isolated. Isolation can cause depression and affect your overall well-being and health, so the sense of community given in a retirement village can help combat that. Retirement homes sometimes have social and entertainment activities like golf, tennis, gyms, and performing arts centers to help keep seniors engaged. Independent living communities are often one of the cheaper senior care options around, too, because of the lessened need for round-the-clock care.

Hospice Care

One of the toughest decisions you can make is putting a loved one into hospice care, but it’s the best and most comforting choice in certain situations. Hospice care is described as “the model for quality, compassionate care for people facing a life-limiting illness or injury” by the National Hospice Organization. It focuses on making sure patients live their last days in the most comfortable and pain-free environment possible. Hospice care has some of the most expansive rules on the Medicare website as to what is and isn’t covered, but they largely revolve around if the care is focusing on treating and attempting to cure any sort of malady.

Alzheimer’s Care

This type of care is specifically made for people with Alzheimer’s disease. Though that sounds like a specific type of care, more than five million people every year are affected with the disease. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia (memory loss), and, at its more advanced stages, can cause patients to become immobile. Alzheimer’s care is tailored specifically for the disease. For example, there is greater security because patients with Alzheimer’s are known to wander, and it’s important to make sure that patients can’t escape the area. There are many different forms of care, though, just as there are different types of senior care that vary based on the severity of the disease. Sometimes, Alzheimer’s care is incorporated to other types of senior care like nursing homes and assisted living facilities. It’s through understanding these different forms of senior care that you and your loved ones can feel more confident and comfortable with making such an important decision.