Long-Term Care

Types of Long-Term Care

Typically, long-term care is not set in stone.

While most long-term care begins at home with family members as unpaid or informal caregivers, this might change over time. Paid or formal caregivers might take over part or all of the time, and the person who is ill or disabled might require supplemental or overall care from community resources or a long-term care setting for the short-term or long-term.

The kind of provider or setting often depends on such factors as the progression of an illness, intensified care needs, a change in a caregiver’s own health or responsibilities, and cost.

The types of long-term care include:

Community-Based Long-Term Care
Community-based long-term care could involve home health care, care at an assisted living facility, adult day services, respite care and hospice care.  

  • Home health care includes skilled nursing services, such as providing therapy treatments or administering medication; home health aide services, such as checking temperature and blood pressure; personal care, such as help with bathing, dressing, walking and exercise; and physical, occupational, respiratory or speech therapy.
  • Assisted living facility care is care given in an assisted living facility and includes supportive, personal or nursing services. Supportive services may involve assistance with meals, housekeeping, laundry and arranging for transportation. Personal services refer to direct, hands-on help with activities of daily living.
  • Adult day services is a group program designed to meet the needs of functionally impaired adults in a nonresidential, community-based setting, such as a local Alzheimer’s agency, senior center or house of worship. It is a structured, comprehensive program that may provide a variety of health, social and related support services during any part of a day. Programs are either social models or medical models.
  • Respite care is the provision of personal care, supervision or other services to a person with a functional impairment in order to temporarily relieve a family member or other primary caregiver from caregiving responsibilities. Respite care services are usually provided in the person’s home or in another home or home-like setting, but may also be provided in a nursing home.
  • Hospice care is a specially designed package of social and medical services that primarily provides pain relief, symptom management and supportive services to terminally ill people and their families.  

Nursing Home Care
Care in a nursing home may involve several different levels of care: skilled nursing care, intermediate nursing care, and personal or custodial care.

  • Skilled nursing careis care furnished on a physician’s order that requires the skills of professional personnel, such as a registered nurse or a licensed practical nurse, and is provided either directly by or under the supervision of this type of professional.
  • Intermediate nursing care is basic care, including physical, emotional, social and other restorative services that are given under periodic medical supervision. This nursing care requires administration by a registered nurse, including observation and recording of reactions and symptoms.  
  • Personal or custodial care is care that can be performed by persons without medical training and is primarily for the purpose of meeting an individual’s personal needs, including eating and personal hygiene.

Click here for tips on easing the transition to a long-term care facility.
Click here to find an AFA Excellence in Care setting.   
Click here to read about long-term care residents' rights.
Click here for a checklist on selecting a long-term care facility. 

Government Resources
Click here for the Eldercare Locator, a public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging that can help locate community-based support services.

Click here for Welcome to Home Health Compare, a tool that gives detailed information about Medicare-certified home health agencies.

Click here for Welcome to Nursing Home Compare, a tool that provides detailed information about every Medicare- and Medicaid-certified nursing home in the nation.

For more information about long-term care, connect with the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s licensed social workers. Click here or call 866.232.8484. Real People. Real Care.

Alzheimer's Foundation of America  866.232.8484