Senior Care Options

With so many options out there, it is important to understand the difference, so that your loved one may receive the best possible care. Here is a summary of senior care options:

Home Health

Home health professionals offer skilled services such as nursing, and physical and occupational therapy, to be administered in a home. These services must be prescribed by a doctor. Home health agencies are licensed by the state, and must adhere to federal regulations. Home health is sometimes confused with homecare (also known as waiver care). Homecare does not require a doctor’s prescription and does not include skilled nursing services. Home health focuses on skilled care (not housework), while homecare aides can assist with or take over most light household chores. For more information on home health, click here.


Homecare (also known as waiver care) is care that an individual receives in the home. Homecare aides provide companionship and assistance with the activities of daily living (ADLs), such as eating, bathing and dressing. They may also help with light household chores or transportation needs. There are three types of homecare: agency, referral and private hire. Many agencies and caregivers specialize in specific types of care, such as rehabilitation or dementia. Though home health nurses can administer medication, homecare aides can only provide reminders to take medications. The cost of homecare is significantly less, as these caregivers do not provide skilled care. For more information on homecare, click here.

Assisted Living Facilities

Assisted living facilities (ALFs) – also called personal care homes, residential care facilities, domiciliary care, sheltered housing and community residences – strive to allow residents to live as self-sufficiently as possible and are a good middle ground between living independently and living in a skilled nursing facility (SNFs). Most ALFs offer 24-hour supervision and an array of support services. They usually provide more privacy and space than skilled nursing facilities, since their residents are ambulatory, in good health and able to do more for themselves. Like SNFs, these facilities offer custodial care, which is assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs). However, they do not provide skilled nursing care. For more information on assisted living facilities, click here.

Skilled Nursing Facility

Skilled nursing facilities – also known as SNFs (pronounced “sniffs”), nursing homes or convalescent homes – are live-in facilities that provide medical treatment prescribed by a physician. They offer a higher level of care for more acute residents, with a licensed physician and nurses. SNFs provide a private or semi-private room, all meals, social activities, personal care, a secure, safe environment and ready access to medical services when needed.

SNF residents may be unable to perform daily tasks alone, such as taking medication, using the bathroom, eating, dressing, etc., but only require custodial care. They cannot take care of themselves totally, and they require more care than their family can provide. For more information on skilled nursing facilities, click here.

For a complete list of services by senior care option, click here.

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