Residential Care Options for Aging Adults

Choosing to move out of your home can be a hard decision. For aging adults, moving into a residential care facility (i.e. nursing home) can be even more challenging. We all want to give our loved ones the option of living at home, but there may come a point where more care is necessary. That’s when you may decide to encourage your loved one to move to a residential care facility. Keep in mind that these housing options will differ based on the following:

  • if they are required to be licensed or not
  • the overall cost
  • the population they serve
  • other potential factors

The most common types of residential care you can explore in your community are Assisted Living, Care Homes, Independent Living Communities, Nursing Homes, Memory Care, Continuing Care Retirement Communities, and Hospice.

Assisted Living

An assisted living facility (or home) can offer a wide range of 24/7 support. The staff at these facilities assume responsibility for your aging loved one’s safety and well-being. Some of the common services provided include: laundry, housing, transportation, meals, recreational activities, assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) and even some nursing care. The size of the facility will vary based on location but often have at least 10 residents. These types of residences are licensed by the state and in some cases offer subsidies for low income seniors.

Care Homes

Similar to Assisted Living Facilities are Care homes, which are also known as board and care homes or residential care homes. While residents at care homes receive assistance with ADL’s, they do not receive skilled nursing or medical care. Typically this option is good for those aging adults who prefer a more intimate setting, as Care homes tend to be private and much smaller that Assisted Living facilities.

Independent Living Communities

Independent living communities are apartments (or condos) that are age restricted. This means that the minimum age for a resident is 55 years or older. These communities are exclusive for older adults and typically offer a friendly, social environment, including recreational activities and other general services. The residents usually are in overall good health so the staff are not providing any additional care or supervision. These are often associated with Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC) which are very similar in purpose and function.

Nursing Homes

In nursing homes, older adults are given around-the-clock care by licensed, skilled nursing staff to fulfill their basic care needs. They provide some medical care, but do not provide as much high-level medical care as hospitals. Under medical supervision, nurses carry out non-surgical treatments of chronic diseases. In addition, there are trained speech, occupational, and physical therapists, who support the residents in a variety of ways.

Memory Care

Memory care residential facilities are designed to support older adults with Alzheimer’s, Dementia, and other forms of memory issues. You may also hear them referred to as special care units. These units provide 24-hour supervised care (often within an assisted living home). These can be extremely helpful to you and your loved one because they provide a personalized plan to address common emotional, physical, and intellectual concerns associated with memory disorders.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities

While most retirement communities only offer independent or assisted living, CCRC’s provide residents with a continuum of care. They include independent living, assisted living, and memory care facilities.


Hospice residential care options provide care for those with a terminal illness who need trained, skilled staff to care for them. Those who need hospice care will receive 24-hour nursing care and support from staff specifically trained in hospice care.

As you can see, there are many residential care options available. This means your aging loved one can get the specific care they need. The help and support is out there – so use this as a starting point. Go out and see these facilities for yourself to make a better judgement on what works best for you and your loved one.

Also, if you’ve done your research and you’re still not sure, consider enlisting the help of a Geriatric Care Manager. They are professionals who perform an assessment of a person’s mental, physical, environmental and financial conditions to create a care plan to assist in arranging housing, medical, social and other services.