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Elderly care or simply eldercare is the fulfillment of the special needs and requirements that are unique to senior citizens. This broad term encompasses such services as assisted living, adult day care, long term care, nursing homes, hospice care, and Alzheimer's care.

Cultural and geographic differences[]

The form of elder care provided varies greatly among countries and is changing rapidly. Even within the same country, regional differences exist with respect to the care for the elderly.

Traditionally elder care has been the responsibility of family members and was provided within the extended family home. Increasingly in modern societies, elder care is now being provided by state or charitable institutions. The reasons for this change include decreasing family size, the greater life expectancy of elderly people, the geographical dispersion of families, and the tendency for women to be educated and work outside the home. Although these changes have affected European and North American countries first, it is now increasingly affecting Asian countries also.

In most western countries, elder care facilities are freestanding assisted living facilities, nursing homes, and continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs). In the United States, most of the large multi-facility providers are publicly owned and managed as for-profit businesses. There are exceptions; the largest operator in the US is the Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society, a not-for-profit organization that manages 6,531 beds in 22 states, according to a 1995 study by the American Health Care Association.

Given the choice, most elders would prefer to continue to live in their own homes (aging in place). Unfortunately the majority of elderly people gradually lose functioning ability and require either additional assistance in the home or a move to an eldercare facility. The adult children of these elders often face a difficult challenge in helping their parents make the right choices. [1] One relatively new service that can help keep the elderly in their homes longer is "respite care".[2] This type of care allows caregivers the opportunity to go on vacation or a business trip and know that their elder has good quality temporary care, and without this help the elder might have to move permanently to an outside facility.

Medical versus social care[]

A distinction is generally made between medical and social care, and the latter is much less likely to be covered by insurance or public funds. In the US, 86% of the one million or so residents in assisted living facilities pay for care out of their own funds. The rest get help from family and friends and from state agencies. Medicare does not pay unless skilled-nursing care is needed and given in certified skilled nursing facilities. Assisted living facilities usually do not meet Medicare's requirements. However, Medicare does pay for some skilled care if your relative meets the requirements for the Medicare home health benefit.

Thirty-two states pay for care in assisted living facilities through their Medicaid wavier programs. Similarly, in the United Kingdom the National Health Service provides medical care for the elderly, as for all, free at the point of use, but social care is only paid for by public authorities when a person has exhausted their private resources.

Elderly care emphasizes the social and personal requirements of senior citizens who need some assistance with daily activities and health care, but who desire and deserve to age with dignity. It is an important distinction, in that the design of housing, services, activities, employee training and such should be truly customer-centered.

However, elderly care is focused on satisfying the expectations of two tiers of customers: the resident customer and the purchasing customer, who are often not identical, since relatives or public authorities rather than the resident may be providing the cost of care. Where residents are confused or have communication difficulties, it may be very difficult for relatives or other concerned parties to be sure of the standard of care being given, and the possibility of elder abuse is a continuing source of concern.

See also[]


  1. includeonly>"Faced with Caregiving, Even the Experts Struggle", New York Times, July 2008. Retrieved on 2008-07-26.
  2. includeonly>"Caregivers Catch a Break with Respite Care",, September 2008. Retrieved on 2008-10-01.

Further reading[]


  • Beerman, Susan & Rappaport-Musson, Judith Eldercare 911: The Caregiver's Complete Handbook for Making Decisions, Prometheus Books, 2002. ISBN 1-591-02014-X
  • Casey, Nell (ed.) (2007) An Uncertain Inheritance: Writers on Caring for Family, HarperCollins, New York (227 pgs) ISBN 978-0-06-087530-5
  • Cavaye, J. (2006) Hidden Carers, Dunedin Press, Edinburgh ISBN: 1-903765668
  • Robin Means[1], Sally Richards[2] and Randall Smith[3] (2008) Community Care: Policy and Practice [4], Palgrave MacMillan. ISBN 0230006744
  • Lieberman, Trudy & The Editors of Consumer Reports (2000) Complete Guide to Health Services for Seniors, Three Rivers Press, New York (568 pgs)ISBN: 0-8129-3147-5
  • Zukerman, Rachelle Eldercare for Dummies, For Dummies, 2003. ISBN 0-764-52469-0

External links[]

  • Gov't publication - Eldercare locator connects older americans and their caregivers with sources of information on senior services

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