Senior Health Care | Senior Care Providers Explained

During this stressful time, you're trying to learn & understand a new language, new abbreviations, and the senior health care industry.  What follows is a quick overview of common care terms, organized with the level of care need increasing as you go down the list.


Home Care Companion Helper:  A Home Health Agency (HHA) is usually the provider of home companion helper care in a person's home.  Services often include light housework, companionship, errands, and grocery shopping and/or meal preparation.


Home Care Nursing or Home Medical Care:  A Home Health Agency (HHA) is usually the provider of Homecare in a person's home, at a level less intensive than a Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF).  Often the person providing care is a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) or a Certified Home Health Aide (CHHA), at levels below a Registered Nurse.   In addition to Companion Helper services they may provide help with drug scheduling, bathing, emergency help (CPR trained), & more.


Senior Adult Day Care:  Provides geriatric day services out of the home, including social, nutrition, nursing & some rehabilitation.  Requires transportation to and from the person's primary residence, and often has specific hours of open/close, similar to child day care.


Retirement Homes, Independent Senior Living or Senior Living Community:  Sometimes called Congregate Living, these facilities provide independent living for seniors in good health who want independence and companionship, with amenities such as meals, transportation, and social activities usually included in a monthly rental fee.  For people who are physically mobile and mentally competent.


Continuing Care Retirement Community - CCRC:  Combines independent living, assisted living and some nursing care all in a single setting, throughout the stages of elder care need.  Normally requires an entry fee, offering a living unit, meals & health care.


Assisted Living Facility - ALF:  Also known as Congregate Living Health Facilities (CLHF), the smaller facilities (6 beds) are termed Residential Board & Care and/or Residential Care Facility for the Elderly (RCFE).  Each Assisted Living facility provides a combination of housing, personalized supportive services & health care designed for those needing help with the activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, medication dispensing and incontinence care.  Some also have Alzheimers or Dementia care sections.


Nursing Home, Rehab Center or Skilled Nursing Facility - SNF:  Provides care to those unable to care for themselves, have health or mental problems requiring convalescent and/or restorative services.  Includes the 'sub-category' of Intermediate Care Facility (ICF). Some facilities care for Alzheimer's, Dementia, etc.


Alzheimer's Memory Care | Dementia:  Facilities offering specialized programs for residents suffering from Alzheimer's and other related forms of severe memory loss.  Assisted Living or Skilled Nursing Facilities can offer these programs.


Hospice Care | Palliative Care:  May be provided in the home or a senior care facility.  Services can include pain management and a variety of emotional, spiritual and physical support issues, as the person will soon be passing from their current life.