Types of Senior Care

A Guide to Different Options in Care

When you begin searching for senior care options, it’s completely normal to become overwhelmed by the vast number of care types and styles of senior living communities. To help you begin the journey, we have outlined the various choices for senior care, along with the corresponding advantages and disadvantages of each, which can help guide you toward the right path for finding the appropriate care for you or a loved one.

Adult Day Care
Many families make the decision to care for aging parents who cannot be left home alone during the day, often due to either physical or memory care needs. For these situations, day programs that offer enriching social activities and structured programs, as well as health care and rehabilitation services, may be advantageous for seniors.

This type of care provides a protective environment during the day with individuals returning home for the evening. Some may even provide therapeutic or rehabilitative services such as occupational or physical therapy.

Also known as: Adult Day Services, Senior Day Programs, Respite Care

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Allows for socialization with peers and provides activities, which may decrease loneliness and risk for depression.
  • Seniors need to be transported to and from the center every day, which may be stressful for seniors and/or family caregivers.
  • Provides assistance to family caregivers who work or have personal needs to attend to.
  • May not provide needed care for seniors with more serious health or memory issues.

Assisted Living

Assisted living refers to type of residential care for seniors that provides a combination of housing, support services and health care designed to aid individuals who need support on a daily basis. Generally, services include meals, laundry, housekeeping, medication reminders and assistance with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) such as bathing, dressing, toileting, eating and ambulating.

With services and amenities on-site, this residential community living option provides as-needed assistance with ADLs and includes daily programming and events. Residents often live in their own apartment within a building and typically eat meals together in a community dining area.

Also known as: Assisted Care Community, Personal Care Home

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Provides more peace of mind for family members with senior receiving consistent care and assistance with activities such as bathing, dressing, medication, transportation and meal prep.
  • May be resisted by seniors with strong ties to their own homes and neighborhoods.
  • Residents still have their own apartment with the freedom to choose how they spend their day and access to opportunities to socialize and partake in activities and programming.
  • Can be costly, especially if the senior does not have assets such as a home and retirement savings, or long-term care insurance coverage.



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Continuing Care Retirement Communities

A community that offers multiple “levels of living”, such as independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing care. These facilities provide a continuum of housing, support services and health care, commonly all on one campus.

The varied housing options are designed to meet the needs of seniors as they age and those needs change, ranging from fully independent homes to assisted living apartments, to nursing facilities or memory care residences.

Also known as: Continuing Care Facilities, Senior Living Communities, Life Care Communities, Retirement Communities

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Offers priority access to and ease of transition if more care is needed.
  • May not ever utilize different levels of care, which could mean unnecessary expense.
  • No time invested in researching housing options when needs change.
  • Can be costly depending on the community’s financial structure and contract options.

Family Caregiving

Many families opt to have a senior loved one stay with them in their home or the home of another family member for as long as possible. Families often think that home care will be more affordable and less stressful for their loved one. When considering this arrangement, many issues must be addressed, including the effect on family relationships, whether the home can be adapted, how finances will be handled, and the care and personal assistance the family member may need.

Also known as: Home Care by a Family Member

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Allows senior to have the comfort of a family environment.
  • Can be a hardship for adult children who need to work at home or have many activities to attend to.
  • Provides families with the many benefits of having extra time with their loved one.
  • Does not give seniors the opportunity to socialize with peers.

Home Health Care

The provision of medical and nursing services in an individual's home by a licensed provider or professional is referred to as home health care. Typically, home care involves providing assistance with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) such as bathing, dressing and meal preparation. Additionally, home health care providers may help with transportation, paying bills, making appointments and providing company to seniors.

Home health care allows seniors to remain in their own homes while receiving the assistance they need to stay independent. Home health care services can range from once a week to 24 hours a day, depending on the needs of the senior.

Also known as: Home Health Care, Home Care Aide, In-Home Care

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Can be scheduled with flexible hours to accommodate the needs of the senior and their family.
  • Does not give seniors the opportunity to socialize with peers.
  • Allows independence for seniors to determine their daily activities and routine.
  • Finding quality and consistent caregivers can be difficult and this environment lacks the structure and supervision that a community provides. The family is typically in the role of staff scheduling and supervision, which can be stressful and time consuming.

Hospice Care

Hospice care is an overall philosophy of the care and comfort provided to those with terminal illnesses at end of life. This approach usually includes palliative care to alleviate the individual’s symptoms, as well as counseling and social services for the individual and their family, rather than taking lifesaving measures.

Hospice care may be provided in-home or at a specialized center or hospital depending on the preferences of the patient and their family.

Also known as: End of Life Care

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Hospice care providers can help seniors and their families make the most of their remaining days together.
  • Some families and patients are not prepared to acknowledge the terminal illness and thus are unable to benefit from hospice care.
  • Allows patients to concentrate on the emotional and practical issues of dying.
  • Can be costly, although some or all of the cost may be covered by insurance or even donated through various charities.

Independent Living

A residential setting for seniors who are able to care for themselves without assistance is called an independent living community. These communities usually provide amenities such as meals, housekeeping, social activities and transportation and often promote an active, healthy lifestyle.

Typically, a variety of apartment sizes or even freestanding villas are available. For seniors with few medical problems who are capable of caring for themselves, joining an independent living community can often enhance their active lifestyle. With maintenance, housekeeping, meal preparation and other services provided by the community's staff, residents have more time to pursue interests, travel and activities.

Also Known As: Retirement Communities, Congregate Care, Retirement Villages, 55 + Communities, Senior Apartments, Senior Living Communities

Advantages Disadvantages
  • A high sense of independence is maintained.
  • Does not provide medical care, unless part of continuing care retirement community.
  • Facilitates socializing with other seniors through a shared dining room and activities.
  • Requires a pro-active move from the home and neighborhood a senior is accustomed to.

Memory Care

Many continuing care communities provide a specialized area called memory care, which is dedicated to caring for patients with dementia, Alzheimer's or other cognitive impairments. Specific on-site services, activities and events dedicated to memory improvement may be provided in a safe and physically secured environment. Memory care residents often also have access to outdoor walking paths or gardens.

Families often have difficulties caring for their loved ones with dementia or Alzheimer’s at home, given the extreme time commitment and specific capabilities that are required to care for a person with memory impairment. A memory care community can provide the expertise and peace of mind of 24-hour support, as well as structured programming to improve a loved one’s quality of life.

Also Known As: Memory Support, Alzheimer’s Care, Dementia Care

Advantages Disadvantages
  • A specialized team can coordinate a treatment plan and work toward improving memory impairment.
  • People with Alzheimer’s or dementia may have a strong desire to remain in a familiar environment.
  • Offers higher quality of life with stimulating activities and structured enrichment.
  • Caregivers may feel guilt and anxiety about placing a vulnerable senior in a facility away from home.


When individuals require intensive physical, occupational or speech therapy with the goal of restoring them to a former capacity, it is called rehabilitation. This therapeutic care may be needed following an accident, injury or surgery.

At a rehabilitation center, these services are provided with the objective of helping individuals reach their highest level of functioning in daily life. Facilities, whether part of a hospital, continuing care facility or freestanding, should be specialized with multi-disciplinary equipment, resources and programming.

Also known as: Short-Term Rehabilitation, Sub-Acute Care

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Offers patients the chance to heal without the high cost of an extended hospital stay and is typically covered by Medicare for a defined duration of time if rehab follows a qualifying hospital stay.
  • Rehabilitation care is strictly temporary and cannot be relied upon for long-term support.
  • Experienced personnel, including physicians and nurses, are on staff.
  • Some treatments are not able to be provided in rehabilitation units.

Respite Care

Respite care services allow caregivers temporary relief from their duties, ranging from several hours to several days. These services may be provided as in-home assistance, short nursing home stays or adult day care.

Caregivers for senior family members have little time for breaks or vacations; respite care allows them to take time off from caregiving duties while their loved one is being cared for by an experienced support team. Respite stays may also serve as a chance for seniors to get acquainted with a particular facility as they consider a transition from living at home.

Also known as: Short-Term Stay Programs, Adult Day Care

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Offers both health care and life enrichment that can improve seniors’ well-being.
  • Less outgoing or active seniors may find the increase in people and activities to be overwhelming.
  • Helps prevent caregivers from becoming burned out and overly stressed.
  • Caregivers may feel guilt and anxiety about taking a break from providing care.

Skilled Nursing Care

Skilled nursing care communities provide 24-hour licensed skilled care for individuals who generally need assistance for most or all Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) and medical care by trained medical staff, such as a registered nurse or therapist. Skilled nursing care is generally thought of as one step below hospital acute care and may include rehabilitation services, memory support services and other types of therapeutic care.

Residents of skilled nursing care communities generally have high care needs and complex medical conditions that require routine skilled nursing services. Typically, these residents share a room and are served meals in a shared dining area with activities also available.

Also known as: Nursing Homes, Convalescent Care, Nursing Center, Long-Term Care Facility

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Constant care is available.
  • Some seniors may view skilled nursing care as depressing, leading to other problems.
  • Experienced personnel, including physicians and nurses, are on staff.
  • There may be waiting lists for admittance to certain nursing homes.

Sometimes, providing the best possible care for a senior family member means finding the right type of help or support. Deciding on the “right” senior care for a loved one depends on many factors, but the choice is often easier once the differences in care are known and understood.

Talk to us today about the senior care options available for your loved one.

The Springs at South Biscayne provides assisted living, memory support and short-term respite care in a homelike setting. If you have additional questions or would like more information about The Springs, please call us at 877-638-8191.