The different types of care for an aging relative

Old age varies from individual to individual, and while some people can live an independent and active lifestyle well into their senior years, others will require changes to both their lifestyle and living conditions – everything from assisted living to more dedicated 24/7 care.

The extent of care required will be dictated by your particular circumstances and the level of health of your relative. Below are some of the more common options you might want to consider.

Options for providing care to a relative

If your relative is reaching the point they can no longer safely look after themselves, you will need to decide how to care for them. As a general rule, you’ll have a few options ranging from hiring in-home care (in their home) to having them come to stay with you or putting them into the care of a nursing home. Options include:

Independent living: While relatively new, independent living communities are becoming more common and are often the preferred option, particularly for more active and capable seniors. In these communities, your relative will be surrounded by like-minded, similar-aged people, which can also help eradicate problems with loneliness. Independent living facilities typically offer support when it’s needed but without being overly intrusive.

In-home care: Very often, your relative will be resistant to the idea of leaving their home – even though they may be having problems performing simple, everyday tasks. With in-home care, they will receive professional help while still being able to enjoy their own space (the level of care will vary depending on their needs). Services are typically offered as 12- or 24-hour respite care, again dictated by your relative’s particular requirements.

Living with relatives:Moving in with relatives is often a realistic option for a relative that is still mostly capable but wants the comfort of familiar surroundings and people. Note, it is quite likely you’ll need to make some alterations to your home to make it safe for your relative.

Assisted living: Typically, a residential care home that still offers comparatively high levels of independence. Assistance is on-hand when required, but your relative will still be able to enjoy their own space and freedom.

Day care: While the needs of an aging relative are obviously the top priority, most people still need to work, making it impossible to care for them during the day. In these circumstances, you might want to consider putting them into day care while you’re not available. Note, these facilities are also particularly useful if your relative is recovering from an illness or medical procedure.

Care homes: When a relative has more specific and debilitating problems, a care home is often the best choice – particularly when they can no longer look after themselves. Care homes offer services that can help those with dementia (and other mental problems) as well as physical/mobility issues and other impairments.

Palliative care: These facilities are typically offered to care for those with serious, long-term, untreatable or end-of-life illnesses. This level of care is most often provided as a way to make a relative’s final days as pain-free and comfortable as possible.