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Feature Articles - Aging


Many options available for choosing elder care

Mary Gosche, Human Development Specialist, Cape Girardeau County, University of Missouri Extension


It may be overwhelming to think about care for yourself or an elderly loved one. There are many long-term care options for the elderly (e.g., in-home services or different types of facilities). Talk with your family, your doctor or a social worker to help you decide what kind of care is needed. The following information provides different choices of care, steps to choosing a care facility and contact information for organizations that may be able to provide more details about elderly care.


Choices for elder care:


  • Community services such as adult day care, Meals On Wheels and senior citizen centers will help to meet daily living needs so that a person can continue living at home or in a low-care facility.
  • Home care is nursing or attendant care in the home.
  • Subsidized senior housing is for those with low to moderate income. Rent payments are usually a percentage of your income.
  • Group homes are for people who can’t live alone, but do not need nursing home services or help with daily living activities.
  • Assisted living facilities help with daily living activities, meals and distribution of medicine. Residents live in their own room or apartment with shared common areas.
  • Continued care retirement communities offer more than one kind of housing and different levels of care. There may be individual homes or apartments, assisted living and nursing home care. These communities may require a large payment and charge monthly fees.
  • Hospice is a special way of caring for people who are terminally ill and their family. Care is provided at home, in a hospital or in the nursing home.
  • Nursing homes provide care for the frail elderly.


Follow these steps to find the elder care facility or nursing home that is best for you:


  1. Find elder care facilities in your area.
    • Medicare’s Nursing Home Compare web tool has information to help you find and compare nursing homes. Go online to and search by name, city, county, state or zip code.
    • Ask people you trust like friends, neighbors, family or clergy.
    • If you are in a hospital, ask the social worker for a list of local nursing homes or elder care facilities with an available bed.
    • Contact your local Area Agency on Aging for a list of long-term care choices. The toll free number is 1-800-392-8771.
  2. Compare the quality of nursing home or elder care facilities. Look at health inspection and fire safety reports, nursing home staffing rates and quality ratings. Find out how many stars the facility received on their quality rating.
  3. Visit the nursing homes or care facilities to see the environment and ask questions of the residents and staff. Before visiting the facility, consider what is important to you:
    • Can you participate in social, recreational, religious or cultural activities?
    • Do you get to choose what time to get up, go to sleep and bathe?
    • Is transportation provided?
    • Can you keep your doctor?
    • Is it close to family and friends?
    • Can you bring your pet?
  4. Choose the facility that meets your needs. Moving is difficult, but do not stay in a facility that is not right for you.


For more information, see Your Guide to Choosing a Nursing Home or Other Long-Term Care by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.


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Last update: Monday, October 03, 2016