Nurse helping an elderly man

Nursing Care for the Elderly: What Are the Options?

Get the facts on nursing care for the elderly so you can make informed decisions.

If you look back 100 years, nursing care for the elderly wasn’t a difficult decision. In fact, there were no real options, so there was no decision to make at all! In many cases, the aging parents lived in the same home as the children and grandchildren, so it was an inevitable fact of life that as the parents grew on in years, they would stay in the home. With loving family around them 24/7, they had wonderful care.

That is not the case in most homes today. It is less likely the aging parents live in the same house with their children and grandchildren. It is more probable that they don’t live in the same city or even the same state. Considering these facts, nursing care for the elderly can become a major issue. Even if the family does live nearby, there are difficult tasks involved with caring for the elderly that not everyone can perform.

Along with these new challenges, there are several options concerned family members can consider. With every solution, there are pros and cons. The choices can be overwhelming, but understanding what resources are available will prepare you for changes in the older adult’s health or abilities. These changes could be due to physical deterioration, or it could be as the result of a fall, injury or recent surgery. Whatever ailments arise, having the most up-to-date information at hand will make the decision easier during a stressful situation.

Taking Care of the Elderly at Home

Most senior citizens want to stay in their homes as long as possible. This is true for singles as well as married couples. They might be living in the home where they raised their children and have many happy memories, or it could be a home they bought when downsizing as the children began to leave. They have their personal belongings all around them with the furnishings and decorations that make them comfortable.

Assuming the home is safe and suitable for any medical equipment the person needs, home health care is a perfect solution. The level of nursing care or home health care depends on the types of services the senior requires. However, as the person’s abilities and medical status changes, the caregiver services can adjust to accommodate this.

The types of services that home health care offers vary, but typically include the following:

  • Help with bathing and dressing
  • Meal preparation and feeding
  • Getting ready to go to bed
  • Help to get to the toilet
  • Managing medications
  • Going out for walks
  • Organizing short trips
  • Doing the shopping and cooking
  • Housekeeping duties

The number of hours and the level of skill required are relative to the person’s specific needs. Since a basic caregiver or nursing framework is already in place, it can easily adjust to any changes in the person’s condition. There are no special visiting hours, dietary changes or new, uncomfortable beds. The aging parent can stay in a familiar environment with family and friends coming to visit as often as they want.

Independent Group Living for the Elderly

One of the first steps toward caring for the elderly is moving into an independent community with others in the same age range. This option is available to senior citizens who can still live independently and suffer from only minor medical problems.

Besides being able to choose from different sized apartments, there are usually options for ordering meals. These could be from a dining room, where everyone eats together, or from meals ordered to the home. Independent communities offer group activities that encourage social interaction and chances to get out and do things in a supportive environment. These facilities have many names: retirement communities or villages, 55+ communities, senior apartments, congregate care or continuing care retirement communities. Payment is usually through personal funds.

Assisted Living Arrangements for the Elderly

As a person gets older, living independently can become more difficult. Whether it’s due to an increase in dementia or worrying about a possible fall, the person needs to be living in a place that has the right level of support and care. While assisted living facilities are not high-level care, it is a step up from living independently in a group environment. The care includes management or assistance with medications, on-site activities, organized outings to events or for shopping and meal preparations.

Residents typically live in apartments that include a limited kitchen, and there is staff available 24 hours a day. Assisted living quarters usually include the option of nursing services, but these may be available only during specific hours. These centers are also called assisted care communities or personal care homes.

Nursing Homes to Care for the Elderly

For the elderly who are frail and need an increased level of medical assistance, nursing homes provide advanced services. A medical staff that ranges from aides to nurses to doctors is always on-site or available for visits. Residents of these types of skilled nursing facilities can be there temporarily or permanently. For instance, if a person in an assisted living apartment falls or requires surgery, a nursing home provides a short-term solution with constant medical supervision. For those who are recovering from an operation, serious illness or injury, nursing homes offer rehab facilities with trained personnel.

Rooms in nursing homes are often suitable for two residents living together. Residents typically share prepared meals in a large dining room. Patients who are unable to go to the dining room, eat in their own rooms. Even in nursing homes, residents can enjoy group activities and entertainment such as concerts, crafts and shows. Other names for this type of housing are nursing centers, skilled nursing centers, long-term care facilities and convalescent care.

Are you trying to weigh your options when it comes to nursing care for the elderly? We understand this is a major decision and are here to help you make an informed choice. Don’t hesitate to call our friendly and considerate Celestial Care team at 602.375.8880 for a free home care assessment.

Nurse holding an elderly woman's hand