Types of Elder Care: Which is Right for Your Parent?

As life expectancy rises (between 1959 and 2014, the US experienced a 9-year jump from 69.9 years to 78.9 years!), so does the need for elder care. The market has responded, and there are more choices than ever when seeking support with the aging process. And while having more options can be a good thing, the downside is the confusion that can result when you’re trying to figure out what’s best for your loved one. In this article, we’ll cover the 6 most common types of elder care so you can determine what might be right for your family. 

Types of elder care and how they work

Before learning about the various options, it’s important to know the biggest factors that will come into play as you make this decision. The type of care you decide on depends on three key things: the level of support your parent or loved one needs, your ability to be involved, and the budget. Secondarily, you may also want to factor in what they might need in the future, as making big transitions from one type of care to the next can be difficult. Whether or not they can or want to stay in their current home can play a part as well. 

In-Home Care

This is the only option for your parent to stay independent in a home of their own without having to be taken to a secondary location for assistance. In-home care can either be non-medical (help with the activities of daily living, transportation, meal prep, medication reminders, etc.) or medical. Medical in-home care, or home health care, is a good choice if your parent or loved one has medical needs like wound care or administration of medical treatment. Care can range from a few hours per week to a 24/7 live-in situation. 

Your role as the family caregiver would be to engage the services of an in-home care agency or hire a private caregiver yourself. Note that doing the latter requires much more time on your part, as you’ll have to go through the process of hiring and managing the caregiver as well as paying taxes and insurance. 

With this option, your parent or loved one can remain in their home, or the caregiver can come to wherever they reside (your home, a senior community, etc.). It’s a great way to get your loved one some help without a big transition. And if you work with an agency to coordinate care, you as the family caregiver will typically have little disruption to your everyday life. Learn more about what to consider when determining if in-home care is right for you in this related post.

Adult Day Care

This type of care is usually limited to daytime or regular business hours. Essentially, it’s supervision and care in a structured setting without any medical component. It works best for people who are not safe to stay on their own but who may not be able to afford an in-home caregiver for that many hours. This option can allow your parent to remain living in their own homes, except for the time they’d spend in this daycare. 

Keep in mind that you as the family caregiver will have to either provide or arrange for transportation to and from the facility. 

Age-Restricted Communities & Senior Apartments 

If your parent or loved one is ready to move out of their home but is generally healthy and capable of caring for themselves, a senior living community can be a great choice. Many of these communities focus on an active lifestyle, so they often have well-equipped clubhouses and other amenities. While most don’t have medical assistance on-site, they do enable socialization with peers and some also provide transportation. Socialization and transportation to and from appointments and to run errands are typically some of the first things seniors will need help with as they age. 

These types of communities can be relatively affordable but depending on how your parent’s health changes as time goes on, it may not be the last move they make. Your role as the family caregiver would likely include helping them downsize and move which can be a daunting task.

Board and Care Home

Board and care homes, also called residential care facilities, are private facilities that are smaller in scope. There are usually 10 or fewer residents and many operate out of large homes with residents occupying their own rooms. Personal care assistance and meals are provided, and staff is available 24/7, but nursing and medical care are not provided on-site. 

This option is typically used by those who don’t have the budget for a caregiver in their homes, but still need help with activities of daily life and need on-site supervision. As the family caregiver, your role would be minimal in the care process, but you’d likely need to help with moving.

Assisted Living

Unlike board and care homes, assisted living facilities are usually much bigger. They can range in size from as few as 25 residents to 120 or more, and depending on the facility, residents may have their own apartments or suites. Typically, a few levels of care are available, and the costs rise with each level.

Residents have access to many services, including meals, personal care assistance housekeeping, and 24/7 supervision and security. Many also provide social and recreational activities. With assisted living, some medical assistance may be available and oftentimes staff members are CNAs (certified nursing assistants). 

Like board and care, your role as the family caregiver is minimal when it comes to daily care but downsizing and moving will be necessary.

Nursing Homes

Nursing homes, also called skilled nursing facilities, provide medical care in addition to the personal care services you’ll get with board and care and assisted living. In a nursing home, residents can receive nursing care, 24-hour supervision, meals, and assistance with the activities of daily living. Rehabilitation services, such as physical, occupational, and speech therapy, can also be provided.

Skilled nursing is best if your parent or loved one needs ongoing medical supervision, but they are unable to afford 24/7 live-in in-home care. And as with the other situation in which your loved one will need to move from their home, your care role will be limited once the transition is made.

Hybrid options

It’s important to know that you don’t have to choose just one type of care. A professional caregiver can easily go to a senior apartment or retirement community, or even an assisted living facility. You could also utilize adult daycare during the day and have a professional caregiver help out overnight. 

Another option you can consider if your parent is ready to move but does not yet need help with personal or medical care is a continuing-care retirement community. This option offers both independent retirement living and assisted living/skilled nursing. In this situation, your parent would start out in an independent-living apartment or home that offers the various social, recreational, and cultural activities of a traditional retirement community. But down the road as their health and abilities decline, they can move to the assisted living or skilled nursing tier as needed. 


This can be a lot to consider! Once you’ve evaluated where your parent is at health-wise, determined the budget, and assessed how much time you have to participate, the next step is to research specific organizations that provide the services that best match. Be thorough and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Check reviews and testimonials, learn how each operates, and verify claims and credentials. 

If you need some help determining what might be right for your parent or loved one, please feel free to reach out! We offer a complimentary discovery call, assessment, and home evaluation. And even if in-home care doesn’t make the most sense for you, we’ll do our best to direct you to the resources that can help.


Leave a Reply

Contact us

Give us a call or fill in the form below and we'll contact you. We endeavor to answer all inquiries within 24 hours on business days.