New Concepts in Elderly and Disabled Housing

With all of the new concepts in Elderly Care available today, there is much confusion on the types of services available. This information is intended to clarify the terms used today to describe the "level of care" categories for the elderly and disabled.

Independent Living: This refers to people who are active and are generally able to come and go as they wish. These people do not require supervision or assistance. Usually, these people are retired or elderly people who want companionship and are still active in their daily activities. Some of these facilities are apartment complexes for those age 55 and older. In many cases, meals and extensive activities are provided.

Assisted Living: This term is used differently throughout the United States. In Texas, however, it is usually defined as a facility that provides room and board with no assisted daily living (ADL) task offering. This means, for example, the person must get to the dining room on their own. When medical needs are required, such as helping with medications, bathing or toilet use, then the elderly or disabled person is not a candidate. In some cases, the elderly/disabled person may be asked to leave. They may suggest the use of in-home health agencies to prolong the stay. This is based on a doctor's authorization.

Home Health Care Agency: This refers to elderly/disabled people requiring skilled nursing or physical therapy while in a home bound status. Medicare and HMOs have limits to the amount of benefit payout.

Personal Care or Intermediate Level Care: This is best described by the Texas Department of Human Services as, "People who need assistance with day-to-day tasks, such as, helping with eating, bathing, walking, toilet use, personal grooming, and monitoring of medications." These people are in need of help with at least some of the above daily tasks and in most cases need 24-hour supervision. This person is somewhat ambulatory, meaning the ability to walk unaided, use a walker, or need assistance when transferring to a wheelchair. In this type of environment, the resident is able to "age in place".

Skilled Care: This term is used to describe people who require skilled professional care. This requires a Registered Nurse and they need a physician's direct care. In some cases, they may be bed ridden and require constant supervision. This type of care is for people who are very sick and have a life threatening illness.

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