Best Senior Housing Options: A Guide to Home Care Services for Seniors

Written By: Irene Lefever
Reviewed By: William Rivers
Published: December 30, 2020
Last updated: November 11, 2023

As we age, the things that we've gotten used to start to get harder. Even things as simple as personal care become challenging to maintain. These are just some of the things that the best home care services try to tackle.

One unfortunate fact of life is that assisted living becomes a necessity as we get older. Families need to make living arrangements for the elderly. It doesn't matter if you were an athlete in your younger years; daily life will be much harder to deal with alone when you're a senior.

This is where assisted living facilities come in. Housing for seniors 55 and older, residential care homes for the elderly, and elderly care services have become ever more common on search engines.

The thing is, not everyone is comfortable moving into assisted communities. The environment is different and the people more so. That's why single-family homes and home care for elderly in their homes have become more and more popular over the years.

The best home care services mean being able to stay put. This also means being closer to family and friends, and being in the comfort and familiarity of your own home. This includes housing for seniors living solely on social security and single-family homes for seniors.

It's hard to find the best cheap home care services for seniors since, of course, certain conditions will come into play. When talking about home care options for seniors, a few factors should be considered.

How We Choose the Best Home Care for Seniors

Let's start with the basics. What are exactly are these services?

The home care service simulates the kind of care you would normally expect from an assisted living facility. Instead of moving into an assisted living community, the caregiver instead attends to the elderly in the comfort of their own home.

The levels of care can vary for different service providers. Some services allow the caregiver to take residence in the senior's home, if necessary. Others simply clock in every morning, similar to a day job.

The particulars will depend on the needs and resources of the senior. For example, seniors living with their families can opt to choose from senior living options that cater to their needs only when the rest of the family is out.

That's not to say that assisted living facilities are bad — in fact, far from it. The problem is, not everyone is okay with living far away from loved ones. Others are opposed to the idea as that will mean that they will be living in a nursing home, which often has a stigma that they do not agree with.

So despite the professionalism of assisted retirement communities, it's much better to have more options for the health care of older adults.

Simple right?

Now, just because the services are offered at home doesn't automatically translate to efficient healthcare. Skilled nursing care should be a paramount condition. Another thing to keep in mind would be the home you'll be living in. Does your housing plan account for the difficulties that come with age?

These are just some of the questions you should be asking. The tricky part is, different people will have different needs. For example; memory care is vital for seniors exhibiting signs of dementia or early onset of Alzheimer's.

Of course, there are memory care facilities available for this. Seniors are not incapable individuals, but living independently can become dangerous for them if they're not careful. Memory care is an important aspect of assisted living facilities so that they can offer more senior living options.

To summarize, some questions that you should consider are:

  • Are there specific needs for the senior in question?
  • What are the housing preferences of the senior?
  • Is the senior capable of independent living? To what extent?
  • In terms of location, how far is the senior from loved ones?

Undoubtedly there would be more particular details for each senior. The bottom line here is to determine the needs of the senior to better match them to the type of service. Which brings us to our next point.

Types of Home Care Service for Seniors

Social Service Medical Care

Social Service medical care caters to individuals seeking assisted living at a limited capacity. Services included in this type of care include counseling and resource management to better improve the elderly's way of life.

For extreme cases, the social worker will also take care of any logistical issues when the elderly are in need of multiple forms of senior care.

Nursing Care Service

Skilled nursing is an essential aspect of this type of care. As much as a family member may care for the elderly, the skilled nursing application allows for a more efficient residential service. Their service can range from assisting with simple personal care matters to managing certain health conditions.

A skilled nursing care service covers needs such as ostomy management, general livelihood, and pain management. The varying levels of care will be a big factor in deciding on the type of service.

Home Health Aide Care

As much as any adult can help one another, some older adults may have different needs. Health aides specialize in assisting the elderly at home with tasks such as getting dressed, bathing, and the like. While this may sound simple, they are often the most appreciated.

Daily tasks should be made easier by their specialty in dealing with older adults. These are individuals trained in assisting the elderly with the activities of daily living.

Companionship Care

Other times, there are services that a big nursing home will not be able to offer. Companionship care focuses on the emotional state of the elderly rather than their physical care needs. This type of service trains individuals to communicate better with seniors.

Long term care often necessitates this kind of care. Since seniors tend to spend a lot of time alone, companionship and communities will help improve their quality of life, sometimes even offering them more living options.

Home Caring from Volunteers

The level of care that the elderly need does not always need to be professional. Volunteer home services allow interested individuals to visit the senior in their home or a place of their choice. It's a form of companionship that can improve the quality of living for seniors.

The volunteers can come from professional senior care home health agencies or simply individuals that offer senior housing options. Transportation and paperwork assistance are just some of the ways seniors can benefit from this type of care.

Home Nutritional Care

Senior care facilities will have covered this level of care automatically. For home services, assistance is given in the form of a visiting dietician to assist the senior with maintaining a health plan for better maintenance.

Family members might even benefit from this service too. The level of care that a senior receives should include their nutrition considering how the options available for seniors can be limited later on. This is one of the senior care options that should not be forgotten.

Basic Home Assistance Care

Senior living options, particularly senior housing options or an assisted living community, often include this kind of service. For seniors living independently, an assistant can be in charge of taking care of basic homemaker tasks.

This includes the usual chores that are necessary for the home. The local community could take part in this service as, usually, this level of care does not include health services.

Pharmaceutical Services

Residential health agencies and hospitals can assist seniors with the prescribed pharmaceuticals that a senior might need. This is especially important when special equipment is necessary to make sure the senior is getting the right kinds of personal care services.

People might mistake this kind of service as a doctor's visit but that's a different level of care altogether. While this kind of service also takes care of health care, the focus will depend on the types of senior needs that the elderly require.

Doctor Visitation

An important aspect for both retirement communities as well as elderly living at home, doctor visitations cover the aspects of care that regular caregivers are unable to provide. The types of senior needs will, of course, be a factor here.

Generally, the doctor visits will cover a general checkup to make sure that the senior is receiving the right care service. Skilled nursing facilities will cater to more specialized equipment but these days, most care services should be possible to bring to the patients' homes.

Senior living conditions must be met if this is to be maximized. That means taking note of each doctor's visit and making sure that whatever prescriptions or suggestions are noted. That way, any health issues caused by the residence can be addressed right away.

Delivered Meals

People might confuse this for the home nutrition care service. Rather, this type of care will focus on providing the finished product; the actual meal. This is perfect for seniors living outside of care homes who are unable to cook for themselves.

This will also factor into long term care services as food provision might become an issue. This goes especially important for seniors living alone with no home care services.

Other people might know this program as Meals-On-Wheels. It's become a popular outreach program that helps people connect and assist those seniors who opted for independent living.

Different Housing Options for the Elderly

Aging in Place

Aging in place focuses on giving the patient the option to live at home, whether independently or with a level of assisted care. The point of this practice is to remove the inconvenience of relocating the elderly person.

Having senior citizens living at home would give the benefit of alleviating any mental issues that may arise when making a move. This is most applicable for people that prefer the comfort of their own homes.

The Village Concept

Communities have been an important part of retirement practices. This can happen with both assisted nursing facilities or at home. The point with this one is to give senior citizens a long term community that they can share with fellow older adults.

The effect then is creating communities that can support each other. You can think of it as a support group for people experiencing very similar levels of care needs.

Independent Living

We have to admit, not everyone is comfortable with sharing a home with a bevy of fellow senior citizens. This helps them avoid developing issues with residents of a care community that some people experience when exposed to many people at once.

The challenge here is to provide home services that meet the demands of assisted communities. Of course, as we've detailed above, assisted living is a viable option these days with effective home health care.

Residential Care Homes

Also known as a boarding or care home, a residential care service tackles the issue by placing seniors in an environment with higher levels of care than an assisted living facility. The focus of a residential care service is to provide a more personal experience as compared to nursing homes.

Not to say that nursing homes are inefficient but some individuals do need more help than assistance with activities of daily living. This means companionship is factored into the whole equation. Of course, this will still depend on the facility in question.

Assisted Living Community

Assisted living communities are similar to that of the Village Concept but provide more emphasis on the idea of professionals supporting an assisted living community. This does entail more attention to detail when it comes to health care needs with the end result being communities that act like large nursing homes.

Let's not forget though that different people will adapt to the idea with varying levels of acceptance. The important point with this one is to make sure that the people in the area of the senior citizen are people they can interact with.

Nursing Homes

The nursing home is the typical idea that people get when talking about residential care for senior citizens. The family of the senior citizen may be the ones to suggest but in some cases, the senior will check themselves in.

This is perfect for people that prefer a slower approach to the activities of daily living. In this scenario, the senior's loved one can easily visit the resident whenever they so choose.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is housing for senior citizens?

Strictly defined, senior housing is a place suitable for the needs of senior citizens. Residents should be comfortable and able to traverse the place without much need for assistance. The focus for senior housing should be accessibility, modularity, and safety considerations not present in a normal setting.

This might not be the best option for seniors suffering from extreme forms of Alzheimer's and dementia, both of which might necessitate memory care facilities. Otherwise, the place must simply focus on giving seniors more options in terms of quality of life.

Assisted living facilities exist for this very reason. While there are independent living communities, the family of the senior citizen usually opts for a nursing home with a long term care plan for their loved one.

Does Medicare pay for elderly care?

The short answer is yes.
You'll have to keep in mind, however, that Medicare splits this into four categories. Here are the summarized versions:
Part A - This is also referred to as Hospital Insurance. Coverage includes inpatient care, skilled nursing, hospice, and prescribed home health care. This will cost nothing per month for most beneficiaries thanks to the Medicare taxes paid during employment.
Part B - This one covers outpatient services as well as some health services. The premium on this was $135 per month last 2019.
Part C - This is also known as the Medicare Advantage Plans. This allows private companies to offer insurance that covers, in addition to parts A and B, dental and vision coverage. Some plans also allow for home and community-based care. Certain conditions may apply.
Part D - Part D, for the most part, covers Prescription Drugs. For a monthly premium ranging from $12 - $100, private insurance companies can cover prescriptions for their beneficiaries.

Is there housing help for older veterans?

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has guidelines for government assistance of veterans. This includes allowances for refurbishment or acquisition of veterans or a loved one. This assistance comes in the form of loans and financial grants.

Of course, there will be conditions that need to be covered. A Certificate of Eligibility must be obtained, which will be given if the individual meets the financial requirements of the loan.

Once obtained, the individual may then apply for a loan online or through the mail. Alternatively, this COE can be presented to the lender in question as proof of eligibility.

The goal of the program is to support service members, their spouses, and veterans with housing problems. On their part, the VA assures that a portion of the loan will be covered by the department. This then allows lenders to offer a better option for the individual involved.

What are the basic needs of the elderly?

Senior living is not easy, as we all should know. Skilled nursing is just one of the ways people have tackled the challenges. The physical limitations are only the beginning of the challenges that seniors start to face as they age, not even including housing options.

In a published study by Putri, D. and Lestari C., they determined that long term, seniors' needs cover a few general categories, namely;
Financial security needs
For the most part, the needs of the elderly start becoming a burden as they get older. This can be attributed to the necessity of certain medications and equipment that they may need.
Mental health needs
While the average caregiver might not be well equipped to tackle this issue, any form of effort should be made to assist the mental state of the elderly. Of course, there are caregivers trained for this type of need so it will depend on the care service you acquire.
Personal security needs
The vulnerable state of senior citizens means that they can become easier targets for individuals with malintent. Neglect is included as a form of abuse and one which caregivers try to target as much as they can.
Physical health needs
Continuing care retirement communities normally don't have this problem, nevertheless, it is a need that should be consistent with all seniors. The physical state of seniors puts them at risk of chronic diseases, which means that they should be constantly monitored.
Self-actualization needs
This is one aspect of assisted living that even a loved one might forget about. This is something that younger people will have difficulty assisting with.
That's because the goal of self-actualization is achieved through experience, and further, wisdom. This is said to be possible as long as the needs mentioned above are achieved.

What are homes for the elderly called?

Homes for the elderly can be called different names. You can have retirement homes, nursing homes, or assisted living communities. The bottom line is that each one of these specializes in a specific kind of senior care.

Determine the senior living options by doing a little research on the facility you're interested in first. That should tell you how the senior housing tackles daily challenges as well as long term management.

What are homeless services and resources?

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has taken it upon themselves to fund programs and resource centers that focus on producing valuable information for concerned citizens. To date, there are several divisions that publish helpful resources on the internet related to the situation of homeless elderly.

To help you in your search, here a few resources to learn more about the situation of the homeless in the country:
Public Service Announcements for the National Runaway Safeline
Locate a Health Center
Homelessness Resource Center
Additionally, there are a couple of resources available online for policymakers interested in the situation of the homeless elderly. These resources focus on providing data that can help government officials make better decisions when dealing with the issue.
U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness
Interactive Homelessness Lessons for Head Start
Potential Analyses with Homelessness Data: Ideas for Policymakers and Researchers

How do the elderly take care of their home?

This would largely depend on the physical and mental state of the elderly in question. Assisted living conditions can include house management, of course, but other seniors find comfort in being able to take care of themselves.

Determine the capacity of the elderly person you are concerned about and act on that. Don't forget to take pride into account though; some people would have difficulty admitting that they need help.

Additional Resources

For seniors experiencing mental health challenges, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) also has a resource page that helps people get in touch with professionals that can assist them with any mental issues.

FindTreatment.gov - FindTreatment.org caters to individuals seeking help for any habits they may have developed. Seniors are included in this category as everyone is at risk of some form of substance abuse, be it drugs or alcohol.

Disaster Distress Helpline - Given the vulnerability of some senior citizens, it is vital that an emergency hotline be established. Disaster Distress Helpline caters to any individual seeking help in times of disaster.

National Helpline - The National Helpline is an accessible resource that keeps information confidential. The primary focus of the helpline is to help individuals suffering from mental health issues as well as substance abuse.

Suicide Prevention Lifeline - Anyone can be a victim of suicide. The suicide prevention lifeline is a service dedicated to helping those mentally ill to find comfort in their own lives and to prevent any acts of self-harm.

If you're looking for senior housing options, contact Senior Strong today!

Looking for a home care in California? Check out our detailed blog post about California In-Home care to know more.

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Irene Lefever is a senior advisor whose role is to make sure that senior citizens’ physical, mental, psychological, and emotional needs are catered to. Lefever got her degree in Multimedia Arts at the University of California, Riverside.
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