There are a variety of adult care options. This allows each elderly patient to find a method of adult care that suits him or her personally. Adult care facilities are often best for elderly people that require constant supervision, even if the need is only temporary. An in-home nurse service may be a better choice for elderly patients that do not need very much medical attention.

Adult Care Options

Adult care options include the following:

–      Family care, possibly with the assistance of a weekly nurse or maid

–      Adult day care

–      Rehabilitation facilities

–      Assisted living communities

–      Nursing home facilities

–      Retirement communities, particularly those that offer additional assistance to meet each person’s individual needs

–      In-home nurse or medical service

–      Live-in nurse or adult care service

Types of Nursing Facilities

In the United States, there are many adult care options depending on the elderly patient’s needs. However, there are 3 basic types of nursing facilities (NFs) that provide more complex medical care than any home-based caregiver service. These facilities are all nursing home options where the elderly patient lives, either permanently or temporarily. Nursing facilities can be classified by the extent of care they provide and the methods of payment that are accepted from the patient.

Adult Congregate Living Facility

Adult congregate living facilities (ACLFs) are sometimes called residential care facilities or assisted living facilities (ALFs). An adult congregate living facility provides minimal assistance for elderly patients and people with disabilities. In this type of facility, the elderly patient will receive some basic medical care and assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs). An elderly person can live at an adult assisted living facility for many years.

Adult congregate and assisted living facilities promote the elderly patient’s continued feelings of independence and dignity. Patients at adult congregate living facilities are typically high-functioning elders who enjoy the social atmosphere this facility provides. Residential care facilities are not the ideal environment for a patient that requires 24-hour medical supervision. These facilities can be paid for by the elderly person out-of-pocket, but may also be subsidized by the patient’s private health insurance.

Intermediate Care Facility

An intermediate care facility (ICF) is a step above an adult congregate living facility in terms of the patients’ need for care. An intermediate care facility is ideal for elderly patients that require general assistance, but do not require constant medical supervision. Intermediate care facilities provide assistance to disabled patients, as well as patients who are not acutely ill.

Intermediate care is frequently offered in a facility that also supplies a section designated for skilled nursing. Patients may stay at intermediate care facilities for many years. Elderly patients may pay for the facility through private financial resources, private health insurance, or a third-party service such as a hospice company.

Skilled Nursing Facility

A skilled nursing facility (SNF) is a type of nursing home that focuses more medical care than other nursing facilities. Skilled nursing facilities are seen as more of a rehabilitative or temporary facility for elderly patients. This type of nursing facility may supply services to acutely ill or severely disabled patients. Skilled nursing facilities are certified to participate in Medicare or Medicaid programs.

State governments oversee the licensing and regulation of skilled nursing facilities. Regular inspections must be conducted to ensure that the skilled nursing facility meets the state’s standards of care. Skilled nursing facilities can be paid for out-of-pocket, subsidized by the patient’s private insurance, or covered by Medicare or Medicaid.

What is the Difference between Medicare and Medicaid?

Medicare and Medicaid are similar methods to receive financial assistance from the government for health care costs. However, Medicare is a federal program that is supplied to elderly patients over the age of 65. These patients must have financially contributed to Medicare and Social Security while they were younger and employed. Medicaid is also a federal program, but it provides assistance to patients of all ages based on need. Since each state defines poverty, each state defines its own parameters for Medicaid eligibility.

How to Select Adult Care Facility

The first step in figuring out the appropriateness of an adult care facility is to decide whether the elderly person is actually in need of the supervision provided by an adult care facility. If a need is established, the next consideration should involve the ranking of the adult care facility through government-affiliated programs. Medicare’s Nursing Home Compare page provides an excellent database to use while researching local nursing facilities.

The elderly patient should visit the adult care facility with a patient advocate or a loved one. It is important to tour the adult care facility several times, at different hours on different days. Ask for references and speak with other patients or families. Talk to the adult care staff to get an idea of their demeanor and average daily activities. Request state inspection information, and ask about the ratio of patients to caregivers. For more detailed information while investigate the appropriateness of an adult care facility, visit our page on finding nursing homes.

Specialized Adult Care Facilities

Certain types of adult care facilities are better for patients depending on their individual needs. For example, a patient with severe dementia or Alzheimer’s disease will be best-suited at an adult care facility with a specialized memory loss department. This will ensure that there are nurses accustomed to the unique problems causes by Alzheimer’s disease. A special memory loss unit within an adult care facility can also help prevent elder elopement.




Florida. Agency for Health Care Administration. Long Term Care Review: Florida Nursing Homes Regulation, Quality, Ownership, and Reimbursement. Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, 2007. Print.

Saison, Joanna, Doug Russell, and Monika White. “A Guide to Nursing Homes: Skilled Nursing Facilities and Convalescent Homes.” Help Guide. Help Guide Organization, n.d. Web. 28 May 2013.

Swanson, Mark, Leonard Achiron, Kerry Beebe, Jerry Davidoff, N. Gorman, Alfred Rosenbloom, Byron Thomas, Alfred Waltke, and Timothy Wingert. Optometric Care of Nursing Home Residents. American Optometric Association; Nursing Home and Geriatric Practice Committee, 1999. Print.