Comparison of Senior Living Care Types

Continuing with our series of helping you navigate the new world of senior living, today’s post focuses on the senior living options that are available so you can determine the best fit for your loved one.

All too often people think that a nursing home is the only option available. In fact, there are several different types of care options available. And because senior living has its own vocabulary, be sure to also visit our Senior Living Glossary for the terms that you will come across during your search. 

After reviewing the differences between the senior living options, visit us later this week as we discuss how to determine which community setting is the best fit for your loved one.


Care in the Home

Elderly couple dancing at home


Live with Relatives
  • Familiar environment
  • You know and trust the caregivers
  • Least expensive
  • For families who are close-knit, this is a wonderful opportunity to strengthen intergenerational bonds.
  • A preferred option for family members who do not like highly social or unfamiliar environments.


  • Lack of personal space/privacy for caregiving family members
  • Personality conflicts will be magnified by the caregiving relationship
  • Difficulty of holding down job while providing care
  • Financial and personal stresses will be very apparent to all family members and can create a stressful situation for the loved one needing of care.
  • If caregiving family members work, there is limited time for socialization and activities for loved one.


Private In-Home Care
  • Allows loved ones to remain in the comfort of their home
  • Live life as they had, but with the necessary support
  • A well-suited caregiver can be a reliable face and form personal bond with loved one.
  • Very affordable option for those with mild care needs
  • This is a preferred option for more private individuals who do not wish to leave the home to socialize.


  • Depending on the number of hours budgeted for, this can limit socialization opportunities for your loved one.
  • This is the most expensive type of care for those with high care needs.
  • Costs can exceed $10,000 per month for around-the-clock care.



Seniors exercising

Care in a Community



Care Home/ Adult Family Home
  • Intimate personal care in a single-family home environment
  • Small staff with relatively high caregiver ratio and few residents (typically 10 or fewer beds) per home
  • Familiar faces and routines are the best settings for those with cognitive decline who might be anxious in a larger community.
  • Frequently less expensive than a larger assisted living community
  • Quality and oversight of communities varies widely
  • Fewer amenities and activities offered/available
  • Fewer socialization opportunities
  • Fewer meal options
  • Fewer wellness services
Assisted Living Facility/Memory Care Facility
  • Larger communities often have many activity and entertainment opportunities
  • More services available on site
  • The peace of mind of 24-hour staffing
  • Licensed caregivers
  • On-site amenities, such as meals, outings, and a beauty salon
  • Opportunity to form new friendships with adults of similar age and ability
  • Frequently there are multiple care levels, allowing a resident to age-in-place.
  • In communities that offer memory care, caregivers are often specifically trained to care for seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia.


  • Frequently, many older adults have fears or concerns about living in a senior community
  • Communities that provide many living options and levels of care can be more expensive.
  • Those not familiar with or comfortable with apartment-style living may feel out of place
  • High staff or resident turnover can lead to a feeling of impermanence and can negatively impact daily life.
  • Frequently there are complaints about caregivers being unable to spend one-on-time with a resident.


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