David Lohmann

By: David Lohmann on August 4th, 2019

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7 Alternatives to Nursing Homes

Family Members

Are you looking for an alternative to a nursing home for your senior loved one? Nursing homes are ideal for seniors who need to be cared for day and night by a skilled nursing staff. Maybe your loved one doesn’t need this level of care. If that’s the case, you may want to consider some of these alternatives to nursing homes.

1. Assisted Living Communities

If you’re looking for alternatives to nursing homes, the first place you may look is to assisted living communities. These are communities in which seniors live, and are provided meals and care. Seniors also receive the following services in assisted living communities:

  • Assistance with tasks of daily life – dressing, bathing, eating, toileting, etc.
  • Healthcare monitoring and assistance
  • Housekeeping and laundry services
  • Medication management
  • Activities and entertainment
  • Transportation

Assisted living communities are ideal for seniors who may require assistance with some tasks, but do not need extensive or constant medical care, in contrast to seniors in nursing homes. The national average cost for an assisted living community is $48,000 per year.

2. Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs)

For seniors who may still have a level of independence, but require a little assistance now and then, a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) could be an ideal option. These communities fall under the umbrella of independent living, while also incorporating skilled nursing care and assistance. Seniors can always receive a greater amount of care as their health needs change.

Because this is a form of independent living, seniors receive fewer services in a CCRC compared to assisted living communities or nursing homes. They may receive personal assistance, like toileting, bathing, and personal hygiene, in addition to medical care, housekeeping services, emergency services, and transportation services.

The fee structure for entering a CCRC differs from other senior care options. Residents first pay an entry fee, which is on average $249,857. However, that cost can increase or decrease depending on where you live or the unit you choose. In addition to the upfront fee, you also have to pay a monthly fee that can be a few hundred or a few thousand dollars. If you’re concerned about cost, this may not be the best option for your senior loved one.


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3. In-Home Senior Care

Many seniors want to stay in their own homes, aging in the place where they’re most comfortable. In-home senior care allows them to receive the care they need in their own homes. The care provider will come to your loved one as often as they need for as long as they need. Some seniors may require only one visit a week, while others may require a daily visit.

When seniors choose in-home care, they have access to a wide range of services, from medical assistance to homemaking tasks. Common services seniors can expect from in-home caregivers include:

  • Bathing
  • Dressing
  • Hygiene
  • Medication management
  • Meal preparation
  • Transportation 
  • Help getting in and out of bed
  • Companionship
  • Cleaning

As with any care service, prices can vary depending on where you live and the level of care you need. Most home care agencies require seniors to schedule visits that last a minimum of four hours. In that case, the average for in-home care is about $142 per day. 

You do have another option. Using an agency that provides a pay-by-the-minute visit model means you only pay for the amount of care you need. So, if your loved one only needs 30 minutes of care, you pay only for that time. To facilitate these visits, many of these agencies use the CaringOnDemand app, allowing you to schedule care when you need it. Costs with this option can be as low as $29 per day.

4. Hospice Care

Hospice care is among the alternatives to nursing homes, but this care option was designed specifically for seniors in their final days. With hospice care, seniors are made comfortable in the last phase of a terminal illness, treating pain and ensuring this time is peaceful.

Hospice services include:

  • Medical services and care
  • Medical equipment and supply provision
  • Medication to reduce pain
  • Physical, occupational, and speech therapy
  • Emotional and spiritual counseling for the senior and their family
  • Respite care to provide relief for family members

Hospice care is for people who are facing the end of their battle with a terminal illness. Usually they have six months or less to live. Fortunately, Medicare may cover some of the cost of hospice care. In 2016, Medicare paid an average of $153 per day per person for hospice care. If your loved one qualifies for Medicare coverage, your out-of-pocket expenses for hospice care are likely to be little or none at all.

5. Respite Care

If your family is caring for a senior loved one, you may need a break from time to time. Respite care offers relief for primary caregivers, allowing you to run errands, go out of town, work, or simply relax. This type of care can happen in your own home, in a senior living community, or even an adult day care center.

When you trust your loved one to respite care, you will feel confident that they are being cared for, instead of worrying about them at home alone. You can find respite care that offers all of the same services that you provide for your loved one as the primary caregiver, from bathing and hygiene assistance to homemaking services. Generally, respite care does not include medical care.

Costs for respite care will vary based on how many hours or days of service and the extent of care that your loved one needs. Respite care can cost anywhere from $70 to $135 per day on average. However, these costs can greatly increase if you choose an assisted living community for respite care, or your loved one requires overnight care.

6. Adult Day Care

Adult day care offers seniors a safe place to receive care and socialize during the day. Many caregivers have to go to work during the day, leaving seniors in need of care. Adult day care center staff members meet seniors’ daily needs, in addition to providing transitional or short-term care.

Much of senior day care is focused on health and entertainment. Some services seniors can expect at these centers include:

  • Meal preparation
  • Medical assistance
  • Health and medication management
  • Entertainment - activities, outings, movies, concerts, crafts, etc.
  • Transportation

These are just a few of the many services these senior day care centers offer. So many seniors face loneliness throughout the day, as loved ones are off at work or school. If you don’t want to leave your senior parent or family member at home alone, or if they want to socialize with others, adult day care may be the best option.

The average cost of adult day care is $72 per day. Depending on region, length of stay, center you choose, and other factors, this cost may vary.

7. Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)

An accessory dwelling unit (ADU) is a secondary dwelling that shares a lot with a primary home. Generally thought of as “mother-in-law suites,” this could be a great alternative to a nursing home for your senior loved one. A private, smaller home in your backyard, above the garage, or elsewhere can provide your loved one with independence, while still allowing you to conveniently care for them.

The price for this option is hard to predict, since every family has specific needs. If you already have a building on your property, like a detached garage or pool house, the cost may be minimal. If you’re building a custom home, you can expect to pay up to six figures to build an ADU.

Finding the right care option for your loved one can be a challenge, but when you carefully consider their needs and explore all of your options, you’re sure to find the right choice.

Want to find out if in-home care is right for your loved one? Take the home care quiz now.

About David Lohmann

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