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Types of Long Term Care For Seniors

As our loved ones age, the care required to keep them healthy and active inevitably shifts. At a certain point, most people will require long-term care. Although the benefits of home care can be great, it’s sometimes better for an individual to receive skilled nursing care

Long-term care is the medical and non-medical care for individuals who need help with basic daily activities.1 Long term care ranges from nursing homes where residents are under full-time supervision to simple technologies to keep seniors safe. This can also be great for those experiencing old age diseases, whether they’re in a nursing home or in an assisted living facility. 

While it can seem like a daunting task to find the proper type of care for our aging family members, there are plenty of types of long term care available. From personal care assistance at a nursing facility to at home medical assistance, finding the right option for your loved one is an important one. 

What Is Long Term Care and Why Is It Important?

Long term care boils down to the services an aging individual needs to live a full and healthy life. Those long term services can include things like:

  • Transportation to appointments or to run errands
  • Personal care assistance with activities such as dressing, bathing, and using the toilet
  • Support with mobility moving from place to place or even from bed to a chair
  • Management of medical conditions
  • Preparing meals and cleaning home spaces

Essentially, long term care helps an older person care for themselves. 

But why is this so necessary? Because as we age, even some of the most simple tasks can become nearly impossible. Severe arthritis might make it painful for someone to pick up a comb and brush their hair. Diseases like Alzheimer’s or certain medical conditions associated with aging can keep someone from being able to safely drive to the store to pick up groceries or medication. Mental conditions may even make it difficult for someone to even remember basic personal care tasks such as bathing or eating. 

Long term care services offer a helping hand to ensure an older person can still live safely and thrive in their golden years. 

Types of Long Term Care

Every person has different long term care needs that will suit them best based on their unique needs. Which is why there are a few kinds of long term care to explore, from medical to non medical senior care. The two main types are as follows:  

  1. Facility care – Facility care is long term care that takes place in a community setting, wherein the senior moves into lodgings with communal shared spaces.  There are many types of long term care facilities that range from large-scale communities to smaller nursing homes. Facility care might be a good option if a senior needs to be monitored frequently (or simply wants more interaction with other folks their age).
  2. At-home care – Instead of going somewhere else to receive care, at-home care comes to you. This type of care is for seniors who are still able to move about their home and generally don’t need care around the clock. Most seniors prefer this type of care to facility care if their health allows for it.  

Types of Facility Care 

Not every individual needs the same kind of long term facility care, which is why there are many different options to choose from.

Independent Living Communities

Independent living communities—sometimes known as retirement communities—are very common and are probably what you think of when you imagine senior care.2 These communities are perfect for a variety of seniors, from ones who need little care but want the company of others to ones who need more moderate help with their day-to-day activities. 

That said, they are ideal for seniors with fewer medical conditions. 

These communities generally offer fully equipped private homes or apartments to their residents while keeping them under the umbrella of a community with full-time professionals ready to assist them when needed. From housekeeping to meal preparation, these communities are often all-inclusive and offer anything that may be needed for the seniors living there. 

Another benefit of independent living communities is they often offer social events for residents, helping build community. Outside of home care, independent living communities are some of the most desirable location for seniors. TThat’s because there’s a decreased risk of isolation because of the community aspect but a feeling of freedom is often maintained since residents usually live in their own homes. 

Finally, these communities allow for seniors to thrive because they often no longer have to complete strenuous tasks like housekeeping and home maintenance. 

Keep in mind, this type of living is typically not covered by insurance. 

Assisted Living Communities 

An assisted living community supports seniors that require a higher level of care. Assisted living communities provide access to 24-hour assistance but in a home-like setting. Seniors usually have their own room or apartment located within these facilities. Residents also have the option of using communal recreation areas to build community. These facilities often schedule events and provide daily meals as well. 

While similar to an independent living community, these facilities provide a more intensive level of support since there are always workers at the facility. 

A few of the added care elements are assistance with: 

  • Using the bathroom
  • Bathing 
  • Grooming
  • Dressing 
  • Taking Medication 

Medicare and Medicaid typically do not cover the types of long term care insurance needed for assisted living communities.3

Nursing Homes

Nursing homes are for people who don’t need to be cared for at a hospital, but can’t be cared for at home. Residents at nursing homes are provided with a higher level of care and supervision. Nurses are always on-duty and ready to help. Services often involve providing more medical care than independent living and assisted living communities. 

This includes those who…

  • Need around-the-clock care,
  • Experience significant trouble conducting daily activities,
  • Have just exited the hospital and may not be able to return to living at home, 
  • Or have injuries or mental health challenges that require a higher level of care.

Some nursing home residents are simply making a stopover from the hospital while they recover from an injury. Many ultimately return home or to a lower-care long term care facility. 

Most, but not all, nursing homes accept Medicaid 4.

Residential Care Facilities 

Residential care facilities provide services to a group of seniors all living under one roof with live-in caretakers. These homes are traditionally located in residential neighborhoods and have a family-like atmosphere since residents all live under one roof. 

Residents often have the following perks:

  • A private or shared bedroom
  • Access to assisted transportation
  • Home-cooked meals
  • Asistance with personal needs

These homes are often quieter than assisted living communities because they comprise few residents. 

This type of care facility is usually best for someone who needs care between an assisted living community and nursing home. Residents get the community and care, but don’t necessarily need to be monitored around the clock—though professionals are there if needed. 

Types of At-Home Care

At-home care can be more comfortable, familiar, and more desirable than facility-oriented care. Almost 90% of seniors report that they would prefer to stay at their home as long as possible, according to a survey by AARP.5 For that reason, people should consider types of at home care before defaulting to facility care. 

There are a few types of at-home care, according to the National Institute on Aging:6

  1. Home health care – This type of service allows for a medical professional to help a person at home recover from a medical incident. Typically in these scenarios, a doctor or nurse regularly visits the patient at home, providing types of therapy or check-ups. This type of care can be covered by agencies approved by Medicaid. 
  2. Homemaker and personal care services – An individual may hire someone to assist with tasks inside the comfort of their own home. These caretakers often clean, prepare meals, perform tasks the senior may not be able to complete. These services occur outside the purview of a doctor, though they may be used in conjunction with home health care and are typically not covered by insurance.
  3. Visitor and companion services – These services allow for a senior to be visited by people. They are ideal for someone who is frail and needs help with a few tasks a day or for someone who is living alone and simply wants company. Oftentimes, this type of service is provided by volunteers, but a senior may pay someone to provide the service as well. 
  4. Transportation services – Getting around can become difficult or dangerous as a person ages. These services help seniors get to and from appointments, shopping areas, or other locations. Some transit authorities provide these services for free.
  5. Emergency medical alert system. This may be the simplest of the types of long term care provided at home. An emergency medical alert system allows the senior to request help in the event of a fall or other accident. Typically, the senior wears a communication device around their neck. Pushing a button on the device connects the senior to a person who can help. 

Planning for Your Loved One’s Future

You never know when long-term care will be needed, so it’s best to have a plan in place for your loved one. These plans should be made by consulting your loved one, considering their wants and needs should they need to move to a long term care option. 

The National Institute on Aging recommends seniors and their families research these communities ahead of time to be able to make a swift decision when the time arises. This allows families to weigh the benefits of the type of care along with the cost of the services while free of pressure, ensuring they’re able to make the right choice for their loved one.

Find a Helping Hand at Alliance HomeCare

We all want our loved ones to thrive, and determining which type of care is right for your loved one can be a daunting task. It’s even better to weigh your options between types of at home care and types of long term facilities, but it’s best to remember that what’s familiar is often what’s most comfortable for anyone. 

Should you choose long term homecare, Alliance HomeCare is here to help, providing many high quality, in home nurse care services. Our compassionate, long term care specialists can offer the comfort and support you and your aging loved one need. Alliance services include a variety of offerings so you can find exactly the right fit for the senior in your life, whether that’s a little extra help at home, chronic care management, palliative care, and so much more.

This time in your loved one’s life should be as simple, and enjoyable as possible. Let us help you find the care your family needs. Contact Alliance HomeCare today. 


  1.  HealthCare.Gov. Long Term Care.
  2.  Leisure Care. What Are Independent Living Communities.
  3. Where You Live Matters. Assisted Living Defined.
  4. How Can I Pay for a Nursing Home?
  5. Alliance Homecare. Home Health Aide Care.
  6. National Institute on Aging. What is Long Term Care?


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