Senior mother with daughter on a green bench in Carmel, IN

Understanding The Types of Senior Care

With so many senior housing communities popping up around Indianapolis and numerous in home care options, choosing care for you loved one is difficult. Here’s a brief overview of the most common types of care to help you with your decisions.

Assisted Living

Because there is no nationwide definition for assisted living (although it is regulated in all 50 states), senior communities that call themselves assisted living facilities can offer differing levels of care. They offer a less-expensive, residential approach to delivering many of the same services available in skilled nursing, either by employing personal care staff or contracting with home health agencies, home care agencies, and other outside professionals.

Level of care is determined by the facilities license or licenses.  Many assisted living facilities offer dedicated Alzheimer’s memory care programs for residents which are designed to decrease wandering, agitation and improve their quality of life. Generally residents with early stage Alzheimer’s or dementia can live among the regular population of assisted living residents, but when the condition becomes advanced, residents are then transitioned from the regular assisted living section to the memory care area.  Indiana law only provides recommendations for assisted living facilities, although it has several laws that impact residential care facilities in general.  For example, all facilities must have at least one staff member on duty at all times (for facilities with fewer than 100 residents) and an additional staff member for each 50 residents above 100.

Skilled Nursing Facility

A nursing home is normally the highest level of care for older adults outside of a hospital. Nursing homes provide what is called custodial care, including getting in and out of bed, and providing assistance with feeding, bathing, and dressing. However, nursing homes differ from other senior housing facilities in that they also provide a high level of medical care. A licensed physician supervises each patient’s care and a nurse or other medical professional is almost always on the premises. Skilled nursing care is available on site, usually 24 hours a day. Other medical professionals, such as occupational or physical therapists, are also available. This allows the delivery of medical procedures and therapies on site that would not be possible in other housing.

LICENSED STAFF (RN, LPN/LVN) 1 DON RN full-time included in 1 RN 8 consecutive hours/7days/wk and 1 LPN Charge Nurse each shift For 1-60 resident: DON may be Charge Nurse included in: RN/LPN RATIO 0.5 LPN hprd to resident ratio (averaged over 1 week, excluding DON)

Home Health Care

Home health agencies provide skilled medical care in your home. Doctors prescribe home healthcare when someone needs help recovering from surgery, an accident, or a serious illness. Home healthcare is a great option when your loved one is not ill enough to be in a hospital but is not yet well enough to be home alone. Home healthcare agencies are licensed by the state and must also adhere to federal regulations.
Home health agency nurses do some of the work that doctors used to do when they made house calls: They administer medications, change dressings, manage catheters and intravenous lines, give injections, and provide other skilled care. Therapists assist patients with recovery and help them safely regain mobility. The nurses and therapists can also teach patients and family caregivers how to perform many of these tasks.  Note: Home healthcare, which is short-term medical care, is different from in-home care, which is short- or long-term personal assistance but not medical care.

Home Care

If you imagined your parent (or yourself) growing old in the comfort of your own home, you’re not alone. This option, traditionally referred to as aging in place, is the most common scenario that American’s picture when asked their preference. Whether your parent is still living in their home, or they’ve moved in with you, helpful in-home caregivers are available to provide in-home care for the elderly — one afternoon per week or 24-hours a day. Home care is non-medical. The home-bound person may be recuperating from an acute event such as surgery, suffering from a chronic disease, or simply elderly and frail. In any case, they likely require help with the Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s) such as dressing, bathing, eating and toileting. In addition, there usually are other tasks-laundry, shopping, and light cleaning, to name a few-which are beyond the capabilities of the sick or elderly person. This kind of assistance is referred to as Supportive “Non-medical” Care.  Indiana requires a Personal Services Agency license to be a home care provider.