2nd Step In Elder Law Process – Dad Can’t Live Independently at Home Anymore. What Are My Options?


For an adult child, it can be agonizingly painful to watch a parent’s physical and/or mental deterioration.

At some point, your roles may reverse, making you the caregiver and decision maker. If it becomes clear that it is no longer safe for your parent to live independently at home, it is time to seek help. Fortunately, there are a number of different options available that provide varying levels of care.

Home Health Care

Not all that long ago, the options for seniors in need of care were limited. If family members were unable to provide adequate care at home, a permanent “retirement” home was the only option. In more recent years, however, the elder care industry has focused on providing seniors with less restrictive options, such as home health care. Understandably, most older adults prefer to remain in their homes as long as possible. The time may come when only the level of care offered by a skilled nursing facility will suffice; however, when a senior only needs care for an injury or illness that is expected to get better as a result of that care, home health care may be the answer.

Home health care is typically provided by a skilled medical practitioner such as a registered nurse, occupational therapist, physical therapist, or other medical professional and generally requires a doctor’s order. Services provided by a home health care provider may include things such as:

  • Administering medications
  • Wound care
  • Intravenous or nutrition therapy
  • Rehabilitation therapy
  • Mental health counseling
  • Hospice and palliative care

Home Care

Although the terms “home health care” and “home care” are frequently used interchangeably, they actually refer to different types of care. Home health care provides medical care while home care provides non-medical care. As such, a home care provider may not be a licensed medical professional. The goal of home care is to provide assistance to a senior who needs help accomplishing the daily tasks of living, such as:

  • Bathing
  • Dressing
  • Using the toilet
  • Transferring (to or from bed or chair)
  • Eating
  • Housework
  • Cooking
  • Shopping

Assisted Living and Independent Living Facilities

An assisted living facility or independent living facility is another option for your dad if living at home is no longer feasible. From the outside, an assisted living facility (ALF) and an independent living facility (ILF) looks essentially the same. Both focus on creating a small community where residents enjoy their own private housing. The style of housing can vary significantly from small stand-alone cottage type residences to high rise condos. The overall concept, however, remains the same. Both ALF and ILF communities focus on providing seniors with everything they need within the confines of the community. Think of an ALF as an all-inclusive resort for seniors.

The primary difference between an ALF and an ILF is found in the level of assistance provided to residents. In an ALF community, residents receive assistance for daily tasks of living, such as housekeeping, on a regular basis. Typically, the cost of this assistance is factored into the monthly cost of living at the facility as is the cost of additional services such as transportation, meals, and maintenance. In an ILF community, the residents may have access to the same assistance as those who live in an ALF community; however, in an ILF community, that assistance is optional. As such, residents in an ILF community only pay for assistance and services if they are needed.

Skilled Nursing Facilities

At the end of the care spectrum, you will find skilled nursing facilities, commonly referred to as a nursing home. These are residential facilities where patients can receive skilled nursing services 24 hours a day. When a patient enters a skilled nursing facility, the goal is almost always to provide sufficient care or rehabilitation that will eventually stabilize the patient and allow him/her to return home (or to an ALF/ILF).  A skilled nursing facility will generally look and feel more like a hospital with patients having the option to pay for a private or semi-private room.

Choosing the Right Level of Care

Choosing what level of care is best for your father will not be an easy task. If your father is capable of contributing to the decision-making process, it is always best to include him. You may also need to consult with your dad’s physicians so you are able to anticipate his needs down the road as well.

CONCLUSION: At Jeff Jinks Law,  we have extensive knowledge of the different care options and facilities in the area in addition to well-established relationships with the senior community. That combination has put our firm in a position to successfully guide clients when making care choices, always taking into consideration their legal and financial circumstances which may change rapidly as a result of a loved one’s medical condition.



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