Senior Care

Consider the following statistics released from a major study on the state of senior caregiving in the United States:

  • As seniors live into their 80s and 90s, they underestimate the resources they’ll need to live to those ages. As a result more of them will have to find employment.
  • Over 80% of seniors suggest they want to remain in their own homes
  • Beginning in 2011, over 8,000 people very day will turn 85
  • By 2525, there will be an estimated 72 million seniors- over 20% of the population
  • The national cost of a private room in a nursing home is about $231 per day or almost $80,000 annually

While the baby boomers are among the healthiest generations, many will still need some degree of care as they age. Because of the immense population, the number of caregivers is expected to dramatically increase. They will provide care ranging from a small amount of assistance to full time care.

Check out our Senior Care Guide to learn more about all the different aspects of senior care.

With some variations, there are five senior care options:

  • Living at Home
  • Independent Living Communities
  • In-Home Care
  • Assisted Living
  • Nursing Home

Living at Home

With over 80% of seniors suggesting they want to live at home, this is the most popular option. Many seniors thrive on their own or within a home with family members. They may need some medical assistance like everyone does now and then. However, the reality is that their life is not much different than prior to becoming an “official” senior.

This group, which makes up the largest amount of seniors sees family and friends, travels and remains active in the their community.

Independent Living Communities

Independent living communities are housing that’s established for residents age 55 and older. This means that while visits are fine, people under 55 do not live in the communities. Often, the seniors live in condos, townhomes or single family homes. They may have a common community area for activities, meetings, and outings.

The communities are designed to provide security, safety and a sense of belonging for the residents.

In-Home Care

In-home care covers a wide variety of situations. It can include:

  • Companionship and visits with caregivers
  • Assistance with day to day tasks such as paying bills, doing chores and shopping
  • Comprehensive care such as caring for a senior suffering from Alzheimer’s

Related to this are programs called adult day care. These community centers provide vehicles to pick up their clients each day and bring them to a facility. The facility might contain a hair salon, a place for meals, planned activities and exercise areas. However, at the end of the day, the seniors are bussed back to their homes.

Adult day care is sometimes used to provide a respite for an in home caregiver or family caring for a loved senior. This way the caregivers can receive some time away to take care of errands or spend necessary alone time.

Assisted Living

While many facilities are called assisted living, the senior care provided can be all over the spectrum. In general, assisted living is designed for people who need help with the activities of daily living (ADL).

These homes can be large or very small and specialized. They can house just a few or hundreds of residents.

Nursing Home Care

In general, nursing homes are the last places selected for senior care. You can find useful information on other long term care options as well as how to select a nursing home at http://www.medicare.gov/Nursing/Overview.asp.

Since nursing homes are a long term care option, it’s important to perform intense due diligence prior to selecting a facility. Nursing home options are based on the needs of the individuals. Following are some factors to consider in selecting a nursing home:

  • Staff- When you visit a nursing home prior to making a decision, note if the staff is friendly and treats the residents with respect. Check and see if certified nursing assistants are available and if registered nurses are present on a full time basis. Find out if a social worker and a doctor are readily available.
  • Safety- Ask about the nursing home’s emergency plans and how they fared in the latest federal or state report
  • Rooms- Look in the rooms to see if they suit the space needs of the residents including whether or not:
  • Personal belongings may be safely stored there
  • There is access to a phone and television
  • Policies and procedures exist to ensure the safety and protection of all residents

Two other resources for senior care are the non-profit Senior Service America at http://www.seniorserviceamerica.org/ and the Social Security Administration at

http://www.ssa.gov/.