Although good nursing homes provide comprehensive care in a comfortable setting, a skilled nursing facility may not be the right choice. It is important, both for the patient and the patient’s family, to explore other options.
For those with adequate funds, of course, private nurses, cooks, housekeepers, and drivers are not difficult to obtain. Most elderly people, however, live on fixed incomes and have limited resources. For these people, alternatives to nursing home care, if covered by insurance or Medicare, may be less expensive than long-term care in a skilled nursing facility.
Home health care may be a better option, particularly for elderly people who are in reasonable health but who need assistance. A home health care worker can assist the patient with everything from shopping for groceries to physical therapy to bathing. For patients who are in reasonable health but for whom living at home is impractical (even with home health aides), assisted living facilities or continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) may provide a good alternative. Some of these facilities are run like hotels; residents live in small apartments an are independent, but meals and housekeeping services are provided. While best-suited to people who are still independent, they can also accommodate people suffering from conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Adult day care services are often useful for those caring for elderly relatives who cannot be left alone during the day, (for example, Alzheimer’s disease patients). The typical adult day care facility works much like a child day care center; the participants are dropped off and kept occupied during the day with a variety of activities. Along with those activities, the participants are fed and also given the opportunity to socialize with others. Adult day care provides caregivers (usually adult children) an opportunity to continue working or taking care of other matters during the day while being able to watch their loved one at home overnight.
Some elderly individuals may benefit simply from a medical transportation program, which provides door-to-door transportation to doctor’s appointments and outpatient treatment, for example. This is helpful for people who can take care of their basic needs but who no longer drive.