If you have an elderly family member, you probably often worry about how to best take care of them. Many elderly people eventually can’t live on their own, or perhaps they don’t want to, or you don’t want them to.

That then leaves a difficult decision on how to best care for them.

One option is a nursing home, but a nursing home can be a scary option for some families because of the reputation they have.

According to the American Journal of Public Health, as much as 11% of elderly people have suffered some form of abuse or neglect in the past year. It’s estimated that around 30% of nursing homes may be getting away with mistreatment.

Inevitably nursing homes are almost always understaffed, and that may be a particularly significant problem now with the coronavirus pandemic. Despite this understaffing, most elderly residents in nursing homes require almost around-the-clock supervision and attendance.

There are situations where the residents are unattended and neglected, not always maliciously, but because of these staffing issues.

Signs of nursing home abuse and neglect can include unexplained injuries, weight loss, dehydration, bedsores, and unsanitary conditions.

An elderly person who’s being neglected or mistreated in a nursing home may also show changes in mood or behavior and frequent illnesses including ones that aren’t reported to family or doctors.

While nursing homes can have problems, what are the alternatives if your elderly loved one needs care?

Home Care

Home care is a growing option and more companies are offering this service. Home care is more private and since your loved one gets to stay in their home, it can be less disruptive for them, especially if they have dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Home care allows for your loved on to develop a one-on-one relationship with their caregiver, in a familiar setting.

There are also ways for an elderly person to stay more independent with home care, and it can be less expensive than care out of the home.

Home care can prevent frustration on the part of your loved one who doesn’t want to feel old or like they can’t take care of themselves, but they still get what they need.

With home care, you can tailor it to the needs of the seniors and the services they require.

Pricing models for home care depend on where you live, and also the level of care your loved one is receiving. You might pay by the hour or the day, but there are also pay-by-the-minute options so you can pay only for the exact amount of care your loved one needs.

PACE

Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) is a program run by Medicare and Medicaid that helps people receive their health care in the community instead of going to a long-term care facility. The goal is holistic, coordinated care.

PACE organizations deliver services in the home and the community as well as a PACE center.

They will contract with specialists in the community to ensure enrollees have the care they need.

To qualify you should be 55 or older, live in the service area of a PACE organization, and need a nursing home level of care, which is determined by your state guidelines. You should also be able to safely live in the community if you have the help of PACE.

PACE can cover a wide range of services like adult day primary care, recreational therapy nursing services, dentistry, home care, hospital care, and quite a bit more.

Senior Apartments and Independent Retirement Community

Depending on the health of your loved one, a senior apartment could be an option. A senior apartment is a living arrangement focused primarily on convenience.

A senior apartment is different from an independent retirement community. The good things about a senior apartment are the fact that they don’t have to worry about things like maintaining a lawn or doing household repairs—the community takes care of those.

It’s also nice because there are people around your loved one who are their age, so they can socialize and many senior apartment complexes will offer a few social activities, but they don’t offer a lot of extra services beyond that.

There are also independent senior retirement communities, which are like senior apartments but with more services to improve the quality of life of residents.

For example, services at an independent retirement community might include laundry and housekeeping, transportation, and meal service.

An independent retirement community is also known as an assisted living facility.

These types of living environments are for older people who do have some level of independence and don’t need constant medical care but can’t live entirely independently or don’t prefer to.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities

Continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) are for seniors who mostly want independence, but with a little help along the way.

A CCRC is somewhat like an independent living center, but they have skilled nursing care and assistance, and the care available can change with the needs of residents.

Some of the services a resident might receive in a CCRC can include personal assistance, medical care, housekeeping, transportation services, and emergency services.

Residents pay an entry fee, and they can choose an independent unit. Then, there’s also a monthly fee. This is an expensive option, however.

Finally, there’ is adult daycare as well. Adult daycare offers the opportunity for seniors to get out of the house and socialize during the day while receiving some care. If you have a senior who lives with you but you go to work during the day, this might be something to consider.

Senior daycare is primarily focused on entertainment as well as health. It also includes transportation and when necessary medication management and medical assistance.

There are a lot of options for your loved one outside of the traditional nursing home environment if you don’t prefer that, or the thought of it worries you.