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Senior Services

Residential Options for Elderly Parents: Deciding Between Assisted Living, Independent Living, or a Nursing Home

By a Verblio Writer

(1633 words)

There comes a time in every adult’s life that they must ask important questions: Are my parents safe at their home? Do they need help with daily activities? Are certain household tasks becoming too hard for them? Are they experiencing isolation and loneliness at home? As we age, these concerns become real. In most cases, the children of a senior citizen may have to begin the conversation about elder care.

Deciding to move your parent to an elderly care facility can be a difficult decision. It can be upsetting or even traumatizing for both the parent and their family. The family can feel guilty about passing the responsibility of caring for their parent to others and anxious about the level of care and support he will receive. The parent may be upset because of separation from family and moving to a new and unfamiliar home. However, consolation comes from the fact that an elderly facility provides unprecedented care to your loved one, and they will find a home away from home.

Friendly nurse supporting an eldery lady

Whether you want your parents to move to a senior living facility because of a medical condition or because it is becoming a challenge to live independently, it is essential to assess your options. Finding the right residential option may be daunting and overwhelming because of the numerous care options in the market. This article simplifies the process by presenting three common residential options and walking through their pros and cons to help you choose the right one for your beloved mom or dad. By learning about the options available, you can select the right facility with a healthy, happy, and fulfilling environment for your loved one.

1. Assisted Living

This residential option is ideal for an elderly parent who does not need skilled nursing care but has difficulty living alone. Such a parent requires care and supervision and a sense of communal living. Assisted living facilities offer multiple services to help elderly parents handle daily tasks and challenges such as laundry, bathing, housekeeping, and managing meds. Outside providers offer the residents healthcare services when needed. Residents in assisted living facilities live in private or semi-private rooms located in a complex.


  • Offers assistance with personal care activities like bathing and dressing
  • Allows for greater independence because care is available when needed, but not ever-present, ensuring their solitude and privacy
  • Offers a home-like setting
  • Living in an assisted living space gives your parents an opportunity to socialize with other seniors, which is good for their mental health
  • Assisted living facilities costs lesser than nursing homes
  • Allows seniors to live a fairly independent life
  • Flexible to adapt to changing seniors needs


  • Can be costly, especially when Medicare does not cover it, and you will incur monthly charges as well as personal care costs
  • Some seniors experience difficulty living away from home and adjusting to a group setting, while others feel like the group setting offers less privacy than their homes
  • May not be ideal for parents who require specialized medical care. For example, a parent with a chronic condition may need a higher level of care than the one offered by assisted living facilities.

2. Independent living facility

As the name implies, independent living facilities are designed for independent and active seniors. This is the best option for active adults who want a built-in community without giving up their privacy. These facilities offer security, community centers, and fitness centers in a community living setting. Also, they offer services like laundry, meals, and transportation for the residents.

Most independent living facilities feature studios, single-family homes, townhomes, or multi-bedroom apartments with kitchens so that residents get as much privacy and independence as possible. In other cases, independent living facilities consist of numerous condominiums and free-standing homes.


  • Provides numerous socializing opportunities. Independent living facilities offer various activities and events for socializing such as watching movies in a community, going fishing, dancing, card games, and touring the countryside. Research shows that engaged seniors live longer and healthier.
  • You get worry-free and convenient living because you don’t have to worry about home maintenance and utilities. Maintenance costs are included in the monthly charge and you don’t have to worry about mowing your yard or trimming the trees.
  • Wide range of living arrangements: You can choose between a townhome, apartment, or condo depending on your preferences.
  • Stress-free transition to higher levels of care: Some retirement communities offer a continuum of care that allows residents to transition to assisted living communities when the need arises.


  • Most independent living facilities lack onsite medical assistance.
  • It may be emotionally stressing to move to an independent living center and give up your home.
  • High cost: Independent living is costly because of the amenities and maintenance you get. The cost can put a strain on the family of a senior.

3. Nursing Home

Nursing homes are also referred to as skilled nursing facilities. They are ideal for parents with illnesses or mental disorders that require supervision and care. Nursing homes provide medical care, personal care, social services, and therapy. They offer residents hospice and end-of-life services as well as personal care services like housekeeping, medication aid, laundry, dressing, and transportation. Residents in nursing homes live in semi-private rooms.


  • Offer medical and personal care.
  • Advanced medical care for residents with medical conditions. If your dad suffers from Alzheimer’s or any other medical condition, he gets medical providersnurses and doctorsattending to his needs 24/7.
  • Access to social opportunities such as events and activities for residents to socialize and pass time.
  • Nursing homes adhere to a structured and scheduled life where meals are served at certain times and social activities take place during certain times. A scheduled life has health and welfare benefits for senior citizens.


  • Nursing homes are pricey because they offer full-time personal and medical care. You spend tens of thousands of dollars each year. According to a recent Cost of Care Survey, nursing homes are the most expensive residential options for seniors. In California, for instance, an average private room cost 112,000 per year.
  • Lack of freedom due to the structured lifestyle. A senior has to transition from living a fully independent life to a largely structured life. They may not be able to engage in the activities they love.
  • Seniors have to deal with a change of environment from the familiarity and comfort of their home to an unfamiliar place. Changing the surroundings of a senior with dementia from a familiar to an unfamiliar place can result in cognitive decline.

Making a Decision

When making a decision on the ideal facility for your parents, you must consider several things:

Parent’s needs

When choosing a residential option for your parent, you must consider their needs. Does your loved one suffer from a condition that needs adequate care and monitoring? Then a nursing home would be ideal. If your parent just requires some help with a few daily activities and tasks, then the best option would be an assisted living facility. The bottom line is to ensure that you choose a facility that best suits an elderly parent’s needs.

You can start by making a list of medical issues, daily tasks, and hygiene assistance that your parent needs help with. This will help you establish the level of assistance they require.  Additionally, it is essential to determine what things would delight your parent. Is it maintaining privacy, being able to express his faith, easy access to a garden, or a private room to host visitors?


The staff members of a facility are the ones caring for your loved one and guaranteeing their safety and wellbeing. Therefore, their expertise, experience, professionalism, and attitude are extremely important. Before settling for a facility, you should spend some time observing the staff in their work. Identify if the staff members are polite, warm, and respectful towards the residents. Do they call residents by name? Do they knock at a door before entering? Also, consider whether staff members spend time with residents.


Consider the proximity of the facility to you and other family members and friends. You may want to visit your mom or dad regularly, and you wouldn’t like to travel hundreds of miles each visit. Other relatives may also want to visit, so you want to be sure that they can get there easily.

History of the facility

It is good to consider the history of a facility before you settle on it. How long has it been in existence? Has the facility received any recognition for quality elderly care? Does it have any allegations or cases of neglect and abuse?

Red flags

Although state and federal agencies regulate elderly care facilities, there are some bad eggs out there. You can use resources like Medicare.gov, ProPublica and US News to get reports on a nursing home. Watch out for severe violations, incompetent administrators, and ‘a bad feeling in the gut’. Some senior living facilities are not just the right place, from the cleanliness and smell to the behavior of the staff.


Facilities charge different costs depending on the services and amenities they offer. It is best to choose a facility that meets your parent’s needs and your financial capability.

Elderly care is something we will all need to deal with in our lives, whether you are looking for a residential option for your parent or your children are looking for a residence for you. The secret to choosing the best residential care for your elderly parent is to be informed and know your options. This way, you will choose the best facility that offers a favorable environment and is a home away from home. The best facility does not have to be a luxurious resort but should meet safety, medical, social, and recreational requirements to give residents the highest quality of life.

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