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What Are the Types of Elderly Care? The 6 Care Services You Need to Know

As loved ones age, their needs change. With that comes important choices to be made about different types of elderly care. 

Knowing the specific needs of the person being cared for, whether short-term or long-term, is only one piece of the puzzle. Caregivers will then need to figure out what kind of senior care arrangement can address these needs properly and how it can be funded. 

What types of care are available? What forms of care does your elder need to ensure comfort, safety, wellbeing, and health? Find out the answers to these questions and more below. 

6 Most Common Types of Elderly Care

Discover the seven types of elderly care and the benefits of each, so that caregivers can better gauge which form of care is most suitable for certain needs. 

1. Skilled Nursing

Nursing homes are a live-in facility that offer round-the-clock medical care for seniors who are unable to live independently, but skilled nursing can also be provided in the patient’s home or in a hospital.

Licensed medical professionals provide care for the person suffering from injuries or illnesses, and, in facilities, trained staff assist the residents with laundry, bathing, housekeeping, and eating. 

A skilled nursing facility is state-licensed and certified according to the criteria of federal Medicare. Services include but are not limited to skilled nursing care, custodial care (e.g. assistance with personal care), medically-related social services, and dietary services.

Find out more about nursing homes in the ‘Types of Nursing Homes’ section below.

2. Assisted Living

Assisted living facilities are particularly well-suited for those suffering from loneliness, since they focus on establishing a sense of community with social events and joint meals.

3. Respite Care

Out-of-home respite care takes place in a non-profit senior care facility center or private respite facility, like an adult day center. 

Depending on the provider, a combination of services, activities, and meals are included. Some providers also offer services for short-term guests when their caregivers may be traveling or occupied.

4. Independent Living

Independent living facilities allow residents to live independently and participate in activities, such as holiday gatherings, movie nights, and arts and crafts. 

Hence, independent living is for the elderly that requires little to no assistance in daily living.

The management of the apartments may provide minimal care services, like a weekly cleaner, or laundry services. However, the person’s family may also hire a help service as needed.

5. Palliative Care

Palliative care aims to improve the life quality of families and their loved ones with life-threatening diseases by preventing suffering (spiritual, psychological, and physical). 

The goal is to alleviate suffering while improving the patient’s life quality. 

A team of medical professionals, who work with the patient’s doctor, deliver palliative care. Together, they develop a specialized care plan to provide symptoms management and treatment goals.

They also guide the patient’s family in making complex decisions and providing the patient with emotional and spiritual support as well as pain and symptom relief.

6. End-of-life Care (Hospice)

End-of-life care services, typically referred to as hospice care, are a holistic approach that offers utmost comfort for terminally-ill patients.

Assisted-living homes and other elderly care homes typically do provide hospice care. 

Hospice care focuses on the person’s emotional, mental, physical, and social wellbeing, with the hospice team developing a specific care plan to meet the needs of the patient.

It can be given in the patient’s home, but more often in a special residence.

Hospice care combines symptom management, pain control, and spiritual and emotional support. The family of the elder and the elder themselves can participate fully in the provided care.

A hospice team is composed of spiritual counselors, social workers, therapists (physical, occupational, and/or speech if needed), home health aides, nurses, and doctors.

Using AlfredCamera to Monitor the Elderly Living Alone

Talk to the loved ones through the app, and get notifications when significant movement (i.e. falls) are detected.

‘I use Alfred Camera to care for my Mom. She has fallen 3 times in the last several months and I have peace of mind to keep an eye on Mom’

‘First of all, thank you for this app, I watch my dad thru Alfred at home. I checked on him and thank God I did, he had fallen and wasn’t able to get up. I rushed home and got him his walker, and all was well.’

‘My dad has dementia, and he tries to escape from the house. I use the cameras to help me keep up with him. Thus helping me keep him safe.’

Types of At-Home Care for Elderly

Doctor CareA doctor visits the home of the patient to diagnose and treat their illness and conduct a review of their health care needs.
Nursing care
A nurse sets up a care plan in consultation with the patient’s doctor. Nursing care may include health support, pain control, and general health monitoring. 
Occupational, physical, and/or speech therapyThis type of care may involve a team of healthcare professionals. A speech therapist, for instance, helps a patient relearn speech and clear communication.  An occupational therapist can assist a patient in relearning daily functions, while, a physical therapist can help regain strength of muscles and joints. 
Medical social services
Locating community resources that aids in the recovery of the patient and counseling are types of medical social services. If the condition of the patient is complex, a social worker may also serve as their case manager.
Home health aide careThis type of in-home care assists the patient with their personal care needs, such as dressing, bathing, and walking.  Some home health aides may also assist with specialized care with the guidance of a nurse. 
Basic assistance careBasic assistance refers to types of care found in senior assisted living, like laundry, meal prep and cleaning. 

Types of Institutional Care for Elderly

Nursing Home (Skilled Nursing Facility)In-patient medical treatment and nursing rehab where licensed medical professionals, including nurses, audiologists, speech pathologists, and physical and occupational therapists, provide patients with 24/7 medical services and assist with ADLs. Learn more about nursing homes in the section below. 
Adult Homes
Licensed and regulated for either short-term or long-term residence for elderly people who cannot live independently. Services include personal care, supervision, three meals a day, and housekeeping.
Independent Living ApartmentsThese group homes for elderly are for seniors who require minimal personal or medical care and would like to live with a senior community sharing the same interests. Independent living apartments allow seniors to participate in activities and events, such as on-site projects, field trips, and shopping trips. 
Family-Type HomesOffering a home-like living environment, family-type homes are adult care facilities providing supervision, residential, and personal care services to, at most, four seniors who are unrelated to the operator. They live in the home of the operator, whose business is overseen by Social Services.
Enriched HousingEnriched homes’ primary mission is to provide long-term residential care to at least five adults over 65 years old.. They are licensed by the State Department of Health. Seniors live in independent housing units under an enriched housing program.
Lifecare/Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC)Also called a ‘life plan community’, a CCRC offers seniors an independent living option and an opportunity to live in one location as long as it’s needed.  It also offers an amenity-rich lifestyle, providing seniors access to a higher level of care should it be necessary.
Assisted Living Program (ALP)An ALP is often chosen as an alternative to nursing homes.  An outside agency provides skilled nursing services, case management, and room and board. ALPs also accept home relief, Supplemental Security Income, and Medicaid recipients.

Types of Nursing Homes 

The services of nursing homes vary widely depending on the type you’ve chosen for your loved one.

Many of these facilities offer short-term post-acute nursing care, such as  speech therapy or intensive physical therapy, that a patient may need after an injury, surgery, or illness. 

They may also provide long-term care and respite care, day care, and other community-based services. 

Community Living FacilitiesThese care homes offer adults with disabilities, like brain injury or mental illness, a community lifestyle in which they live in apartments or semi-independent homes, maintaining their private and personal lives. 
Intermediate Care Facility for the Developmentally DisabledThis nursing facility provides developmental services, personal care, and nursing supervision. They supportdisabled people with intermittent recurring needs for skilled nursing. More than 100,000 developmentally disabled individuals and those with related conditions, like mental  illness, seizure disorders, and behavior problems, are under the Intermediate Care Facilities for individuals with Intellectual disability (ICF/ID) program.
Skilled Care Facility
A skilled care facility is an in-patient facility providing medical and rehabilitation care to patients, helping them  recover after illness or surgery before transitioning home. Doctors and nurses provide temporary round-the-clock medical supervision until the patient is well enough to go home. Services may include IV therapy,  respiratory care, and physical therapy, to name a few.
Sheltered Care Facility‘Sheltered care’ is a boarding home for those with special needs, providing them with meals and rooms, as well as transportation, counseling, social support, and personal care.
Intermediate Care FacilityA licensed facility providing seniors with supportive care and licensed nursing supervision on a non-continuous skilled nursing care basis but under a doctor’s direction.


What are the four types of long-term care?

The four types of long-term care are assisted living communities, nursing homes, independent living facilities, and continuing care retirement communities (CCRC).

What are the three basic levels of long-term care?

The three basic levels of long-term care are assisted living, skilled nursing, and independent living.

What are the different care levels?

There are three primary care levels –  level one, level two, and level three. Each reflects the extent of needs, level one being the least required, level three being the most.  

What care is available for elderly in nursing homes?

Nursing homes offer custodial care, such as assistance in eating, getting dressed, and bathing, and skilled care (medical monitoring by a licensed nurse). Nursing home services typically include monitoring and medication, room and board, 24-hour emergency care, and recreational activities. 

What does the government do for the elderly?

SNAP, SSI, Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare are some government programs that can help make the lives of the elderly more comfortable.

What assistance can you provide to elderly persons in housekeeping?

Housekeeping assistance may include general cleaning, dusting, vacuuming, and organizing cupboards and closets. 

What kind of government policy supports caregiving for elderly relatives?

What do caregivers need most? 

Does social Security pay you to take care of a family member?


There’s quite a variety of types of elderly care, which, although annoying for families to have to consider so much information, is necessary to deal with the vast array of needs seniors have depending on their health concerns.

Careful consideration of the wants and needs of the person being cared for is paramount, and caregivers must balance their desires with those of advising healthcare professionals to determine the best solutions for their loved ones.