Types of Health Care Services/Living Accommodations for Seniors

Often New York elder law attorneys are asked to give advice on the new and various types of health care services available to their aging clients and family members. Here is a helpful list:

Type of Care Definition Pros/Cons
Homemaker or Companion ServicesAssistance with household tasks like cleaning, preparing meals, shopping, driving to appointmentsKeeps family member in familiar setting. Companionship. Medication reminders. Can be isolating. No social or recreational opportunities.
Personal Care Assistant Services (PCA)Personnel hired to help with activities of daily living so that an older adult or disabled person may continue to live independentlyKeeps individual in familiar setting. Individual care and attention. Can be isolating. No social or recreational opportunities. Insurance reimbursements generally not available.
Home health careNursing or related care that is Provided in the home. Licensed in the state.Keeps individual in familiar setting. Individual care and attention. Can be isolating. No social or recreational opportunities. Insurance reimbursements generally not available.
Adult day careDay programs where transportation to and from the program is often available. Meals may be served.Nursing supervision, rehabilitation services and other assistance may be available. Many not work well if the program is the only source of care. Works best if informal caregivers are available. Limited financial support is available.
Independent senior housingHomes, condos or apartments for people who can maintain an independent lifestyle.Often has built-in opportunities for socializing. In some cases there may be rental assistance from the federal government. Generally, household help provided. No home health care
Congregate housing and retirement communitiesRetirement housing that may offer meals, transportation, recreational activities and other servicesNon institutional. When supplemented with services, the residence can meet the needs of a frail person who may maintain independence at a lower cost than in a nursing home. These facilities may not be appropriate for individuals with significant care needs.
Continuing care retirement Communities (CCRC)Residential living that often includes contracts guaranteeing lifetime medical care.Communities often offer premium residential settings and amenities. Security of knowing that there is guaranteed care. Entry and monthly fees applicable, and communities may not be able to take Medicaid residents.
Assisted LivingPersonal care services that are provided in a congregate-housing setting that meets state requirementsFacility is primarily a residence and is non institutional. Facility may not be appropriate for individuals with significant care needs.
Home for the AgedA facility where seniors requiring some daily assistance share meals and enjoy social and recreational services. State licensed.On going supervision is available. Less institutional than a nursing facility. A full array of health services may not be available within the home. Group living involves some loss of privacy and autonomy.
Intermediate care nursing unitA separate type of nursing home level for individuals with fewer medical and nursing needs than skilled nursing. State licensed.Nursing care and social and recreational programming available.Medicaid may be a source of payment for eligible individuals.
Skilled nursing unit.A nursing home in which residents may live either for short periods of time for rehabilitations or for extended periodsNursing supervision and social and recreational programming available for long term stays. Medicaid may be a source payment for eligible individuals.


This chart has been adapted from the “Senior Go To Guide” published annually by the Merrill Anderson Co.