Definitions adapted with permission from “Community Guide to Senior Care,” published by the Western New York Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, and the “Consumer Guide to Continuing Care,” published by the New York Association of Homes and Services for the Aging.

Senior Housing
Senior housing, also called independent living, is ideal for seniors able to live on their own or with minimal support. This service may offer or arrange for supplementary support services such as emergency call systems, meals, or transportation.

Personal Care or Companion Care
A personal care or companion care aid assists seniors in their homes with activities such as dressing, grooming, meals, shopping, housekeeping and transportation to appointments. Other activities may include weight monitoring and managing medications.

Home Care
Home care includes medical and/or personal care services provided in an individual’s home. Home care is wide-ranging, from personal care services that provide grooming, shopping and meal preparation to nursing and therapy services. Home care may be augmented by many different types of community services.

Community Services
Seniors have many different options for community services, ranging from Meals on Wheels and nutrition sites to transportation. Increasingly, adult day care and respite services offer seniors the ability to remain at home while taking advantage of some services normally offered by senior care providers.

Adult Day Care
Adult Day Care is appropriate for a person whose needs are ordinarily met by their own family members, especially when those family members may work outside of the home during the day but are generally at home in the evenings and on weekends. There are two models of adult day care.

  • Social model adult day care is oriented toward the social aspects of life and may include games, memory orientation and exercises, music, dancing and reading in a supervised atmosphere.
  • Medical model adult day care has a strong medical component. It is usually staffed by at least one full-time registered nurse able to administer medicine and perform routine medical tasks. There is on-site physician back-up when needed.

Respite Services
Respite services provide temporary overnight care for ill or disabled older adults for a few days or weeks. It gives caregivers a short break from their duties, whether for personal or medical reasons.

Assisted Living/Adult Care Facility Services
Assisted living (also called adult care facilities or enriched housing) is a good option for seniors who can still live independently, but need some assistance with bathing and dressing, medication management, housekeeping, and shopping. Meals are usually offered in a central dining area, often with special dietary needs addressed. Assisted living also offers 24-hour supervision. This category offers a wide range of services among different facilities, and can accommodate a wide range of seniors as they age.

Skilled Nursing Facilities
Skilled nursing facilities are the best option for people who need 24-hour nursing care. Stays may be short term or long term. Dietary, social activities and therapy services are often provided, and a special care program is set up for each individual. Another option for persons in need of this level of care is the long term home health care program.

Long Term Home Health Care Program
The long term home health care program is a specialized certified home care agency that offers care to individuals who require nursing facility level of care but who are able, and choose, to remain in their homes. This program is sometimes referred to as a “Nursing Home Without Walls.”