Elderly couple on couch with smiles drinking from mugs

Senior Care – An overview of the levels of care

As you face a loved one’s health decline, your care group, often comprised of family, close friends, and medical professionals, must evaluate the changing needs of your family member. You’ll find a “simple” google search isn’t so simple in identifying which level of care your loved one needs. Searching for the right fit is overwhelming when you’re new to the world of elder care. We’ve compiled a list of the levels of care available to families, and their definitions, often used by our staff at Arcadia Senior Living, who have over 30 years of experience. Our goal is to help you clarify the differences between options available in Portland, OR. 

Independent living in the family home can be possible with the help of a family/friend network or the addition of a paid care giver. Check out the family caregiver program on the Oregon Dept of Human services page: https://www.oregon.gov/DHS/SENIORS-DISABILITIES/SUA/Pages/Family-Caregiver-Program.aspx  

Assisted Living
An independent form of living, often similar to a landlord/tenant agreement that includes medication management, face-to-face daily care and interaction, meals, activities, linen/cleaning services, and balance/fitness programming. Additional services can be personalized. Residents often do not have any mental health diagnoses, have limited mobility issues, and have care needs satisfied by a 24 hour Registered Nurse.

Enhanced Assisted Living
For those requiring more customized care than assisted living, but do not require memory care.

Memory Care as defined by the DHS

Memory care communities provide specialized services in a secured environment for individuals with  Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia. These rules are designed to ensure that residents living in memory care communities have positive quality of life, consumer protection, and person directed care. Resident’s rights, dignity, choice, comfort, and independence are promoted in this setting.  Read the full definition here: https://www.dhs.state.or.us/policy/spd/rules/411_057.pdf

Adult Family Home or Adult Foster Home as defined by DHS

Adult foster homes are single-family residences that offer 24-hour care in a home-like setting. Adult foster home providers may help with eating, dressing, bowel and bladder care, bathing and grooming, walking, which may include getting in or out of a bed or a chair, behavioral issues as needed. They also perform general tasks including: laundry, medication management, meal preparation, and transportation arrangements. Read more at https://www.oregon.gov/dhs/providers-partners/licensing/APD-AFH/Pages/Overview.aspx

A Long-term care facility is a place that includes inpatient beds, provides medical services, includes nursing services but excluding surgical procedures except as may be permitted by the rules of the director. Description is an excerpt from: https://www.oregonlaws.org/glossary/definition/long_term_care_facility

Nursing Home

Nursing homes provide nursing care to residents who have chronic physical or mental health conditions, or both. Nursing home residents can receive prescribed treatment and personal care services beyond what’s available in assisted living. Nursing homes provide 24-hour supervision, assistance with activities of daily living and three daily meals are standard.

Skilled Nursing Home as defined by US News Reports/Health

The terms nursing home and skilled nursing facility are often used interchangeably, because the types of care involved often overlap, but they aren’t identical. Skilled nursing facilities are more likely to have a consistent presence of nurses or physicians and offer rehabilitation services such as occupational, physical and speech therapy. SNFs and nursing homes fall under different sets of regulations.

An individual who needs skilled nursing care typically needs continual assistance including, but not limited to, needing two individuals to move a patient and care that requires skilled nursing staff and equipment like dialysis or tracheostomy tubing. https://health.usnews.com/wellness/aging-well/articles/2018-10-30/whats-the-difference-between-types-of-long-term-care-facilities

Hospice (could come at any stage) as defined by OregonHospice.Org

Hospice is a philosophy of compassionate and comprehensive care for dying persons and their families that addresses the medical, psychosocial, spiritual and practical needs of the individual and the related needs of the family and loved ones throughout the periods of illness and bereavement.  Hospice is a good choice when curative treatment is no longer effective or no longer wanted and when life expectancy is measured in months or weeks. https://oregonhospice.org/information-for-patients-families/

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tyler johnson
6 months ago

That’s good to know that you could have someone come to the house and help the senior out. My parents don’t like the idea of assisted living facilities, so that might be a better option for them. I should look into that if they ever get to the pint where they can’t really take care of themselves.

Zachary Tomlinson
5 months ago

I find it amazing to learn that there are different ways of taking care of elders that could fit their needs. My friend’s grandpa is about to reach that age where they’d need assistance on their daily tasks. I love how you mentioned that they can still be taken care of at home by using a caregiver. I’ll share this with her so she could look for a caregiver.