How to Choose the Right Level of Care for an Aging Parent


You want the best for your aging parent. Your loved may need help with daily activities, someone checking in, better access to services or regular medical care.

Aging Parent

You may think that a nursing home in where seniors go when they can no longer take care of themselves. If so, it’s time to rethink your eldercare plan.

Placing your loved one in the wrong level of care could:

  • Cause you to spend more money than you should
  • Take your parent out of a comfortable home setting unnecessarily
  • Isolate your family member
  • Expose your loved one to disease
  • Steal your parents independence unnecessarily and far too early.
  • In this article, let’s look at the 6 primary options for an aging parent to determine where your loved one’s needs will be most readily met.

Nursing Home

A nursing home is a place for those who don’t need to be in the hospital, but can’t go home because either their medical needs are too great or there are no viable options for them to stay at home.

Nursing home professionals assist them with ADLs, activities of daily living like:

  • Bathing
  • Eating
  • Dressing
  • Maintaining a clean environment
  • Medication management
  • Glucose readings
  • Transport
  • Repositioning
  • Medical providers like Nurses, Therapists, Counselors and other trained professionals care for the medical needs like:
  • Wound care
  • Cath care
  • Maintaining an IV
  • More advanced blood draws
  • Physical/Speech/Occupational therapy
  • Behavioral health care

Medical professionals typically remain on staff around the clock to handle emergencies and administer care. Residents spend most if not all of their time in a hospital-like setting.

While this setting does offer a high level of care, it does remove residents from a home-like setting, expose them to more disease and typically costs the most.

Assisted Living

Assisted living facilities are designed for those who can’t safely live on their own because they have some minor but concerning medical conditions that make them prone to falls, fainting, overdosing, etc.

The residents here need help with some or all of their ADLs as described above. But they don’t need major medical care. Helpful staff monitor and keep an eye on each resident in order to prevent or quickly respond to injuries or health concerns.

This differs from a nursing home in that residents typically have their own apartments that feel more like home than a hospital room.

Retirement Communities

Retirement communities bring community resources to the aging in a central location, allowing adults to stay independent longer. The residents here are 55+, so having services accessible is important. But they typically don’t need any significant medical care.

These communities strive to create a very welcoming environment, like a resort, where you’re surrounded by amenities, activities, entertainment and other active seniors.

Each senior typically has his/her own apartment. Beauticians, House Cleaning Services, Fitness Trainers, Massage Therapists and Shuttles may be right on site or nearby. Because of the proximity and number of clients, they typically charge reduced rates.

Retirement communities can be costly, but offer a lot of senior living options to their residents.


Caregivers are non-medical service providers. They help with the ADLs like house cleaning and cooking as described above. A caregiver may be a family member or paid services provider. The aging parent will typically live in his/her own home, although you could be part of a retirement community and still have a caregiver come in to help once or twice a week.

If you’re hiring a caregiver, you’ll typically find them through a caregiving agencies or homecare. Always check their references if you’re hiring an independent caregiver. There are definitely some do’s and don’ts of caregiving.

Caregivers may be part time or they may live with a senior who needs around the clock supervision or care but is not ill enough to be in a nursing home or assisted living.

Respite Care

Respite care is a short term break for the caregiver. The caregiver may need to run errands or may simply need a break from caregiving for a few hours, a day or a weekend.

Respite care in incredibly important in senior care setting. Caregiving is exhausting. In order to provide good care a caregiver must take care of him/herself first.

That’s what respite’s all about.


Home care companies allow aging parents to receive medical care to stay healthy and safe in the comfort of their own home. They keep licensed professionals on staff to meet medical needs.

Their staff typically includes, but is not limited to:

  • RNs (Registered Nurses)
  • Physical Therapists
  • Speech Therapists
  • Behavioral Therapists

These professionals work together with family, doctors and any caregivers (called home care aides when they work for the home care agency), who may be from their company to provide comprehensive medical and general care to your loved one.

Finding the Right Level of Care

Evaluate your loved one’s needs. Have a heart to heart about what he/she wants. Consider your options for different levels of care. And find the level of care that best meets your loved one’s needs.

Author Bio:

KristenKristen is a passionate writer, teacher, and mother to a wonderful son. When free time presents itself, you can find her tackling her lifelong goal of learning the piano!

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