One of the most important decisions a caregiver makes is what kind of care is necessary for the elder for whom he or she cares. While most people prefer to care for a parent or other relative in the home environment, this is not always possible. Caregiver work schedules, the elder’s level of independence and health, and space availability among many other factors can contribute to the decision. If home care is a possibility, resources to help make it more manageable are discussed below; if home care is not possible, other options are available some of which are described below under Residential Care Resources.
Home Care Resources
Adult Day Care
Adult Day Care is a good solution for those who cannot stay at home with an aging loved one because of work or other obstacles. Your elder can still reside with you in the evening and during the weekends but travels to a center during day time hours. Adult Day Care can also provide at-home caregivers a break to run errands, take care of personal business, or simply provide respite. These centers provide activities and companionship with other elders.
The National Adult Day Services Association can help you decide if this type of care is the right choice for you and your elder. You will also find recommendations on locating a center as well as a checklist of questions you should ask before deciding on a center.
Visiting Nurses and Aids
Visiting nurses, aids, and other health care professionals are available to take care of an aging loved one at home. This may be a good idea for those who need some medical or daily living assistance but who wish to remain in the home. In addition to nurses and aids, other types of professionals, such as Physical or Occupational Therapists, Speech-Language and Medical/Social professionals, provide assistance in their respective areas. More information about home care professionals and what they offer is available at the Visiting Nurse Associations of America web site. Non-medical home care providers are also available to visit your elder in the home. More information is available here.
Meals on Wheels is a highly recognized provider of senior citizen nutrition, but many communities offer other names for the same type of service: bringing nutritious, ready-to-eat meals to those who cannot or should not prepare food for themselves. Visit MealCall, a web site decidated to finding local programs, for more information.
Transportations can be a major stress on an aging adult. If driving is no longer an option for your elder, public transportation is often the only option. The National Center on Senior Transportation can help to identify resources with which you may not be familiar in your community. Several public transportation options for Philadelphia and the Reading area are listed here. Albright College does not endorse any of these companies. They are listed here as a courtesy to visitors of this web site.
Berks Area Regional Transportation Authority
Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority
Reading Metro Taxi
Grab a Cab
Liat Taxi Cab Company
Victory Cab Company
Home Modification Resources
Not all houses are friendly for an aging person. Although not an inexpensive option, home modification may be necessary in order to make your or your elder’s home more accessible and less dangerous. The National Aging in Place Council can give you an idea of what kinds of modifications your home might need. Homemods.org can help to clarify all of the questions that go along with making major changes to a home including how to pay for it. MIT’s Family Caregiver Handbook suggests simpler and more affordable methods of home modification for accessibility.
Residential Care Resources
Several forms of residential care are available, and each of these are defined below. To find specific locations, a few different search engines can help.
The Medicare web site has a useful tool to find and compare different nursing facilities. Results include ratings on health inspections, caregiver staffing, and quality measures as well as overall ratings.
LeadingAge.org has a searchable database of its members and indicates if a facility has signed the organization’s “Quality First” covenant which “reinforces the commitment that all types of not-for-profit aging services providers have to maximize quality of care and quality of life for older adults”.
The Assisted Living Federation of America has a searchable database specifically for assisted living facilities.
Independent living is designated senior housing in which residents live in private homes or apartments and are almost entirely self-sufficient. Some elder-oriented community services and activities may be offered, but resident participation in them is voluntary.
Like independent living, assisted living facilities allow a certain level of independence but are designed for elders who need ongoing assistance with activities of daily living, or ADLs. The levels of independence and assistance for residents are defined by the individual facility.
Board and Care Homes
Board and care homes are small group homes for seniors who need assistance with activities of daily living, but who do not require ongoing skilled nursing care. A form of assisted living, board and care homes can be converted single-family houses with only two to six residents or they can be larger apartment buildings.
Nursing homes, also known as convalescent homes, provide around-the-clock skilled nursing care and personal care to seniors who can no longer live independently.
Continuing Care Retirement Communities
Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) combine independent living, assisted living, and nursing homes in one community, allowing residents to move between the three as their needs change.