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Cheryl Mathieu, Ph.D., M.S.W.
Ask the Expert Geriatric Care Manager

February 2nd, 2008
My mom has been living alone, but she is starting to be unsafe at home by herself. Does she need to go into a nursing home, or what are her housing options?

A large part of housing choices come down to – what type of care do you need and how much can you financially afford. The old way of thinking was that when people got older, they went to a nursing home. This is rarely the case. If your loved one has a skilled need (such as an IV antibiotic or physical therapy that can not be done at home), which means something that requires a trained person (such as a nurse or physical therapist), then a nursing home may be required. If not, they can remain at home or an assisted living facility. If there is not skilled need, a person can remain at home, with the proper care. Sometimes that means hiring non-medical caregiving for either shift-work or live-in work. Assisted living facilities have their own rules and regulations, so you must check the individual location for what types of care they offer and what a resident needs to be able to do for themself. If you are going to hire help in the home, it is important to carefully screen potential workers. If needed, Geriatric Care Managers can assist you with the process of screening, hiring, training and managing in-home care.

Housing options include: independent living communities, continuing care communities, assisted living facilities, residential care homes, and skilled nursing facilities. For explanations and pricing of different housing options, see AgingPro’s article on Housing Options for Older Adults.

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