Alternatives to Nursing Homes for Your Loved Ones

It seems only natural to think about nursing homes as your loved one ages. However, did you know that there are other places where the elderly can get all-inclusive care?

In this guide, we are going to explore the available alternatives to nursing home placement. We’ll take a look at the places where senior citizens can enjoy daily living care and achieve the highest possible quality of life.

What Are the Options for Care of an Elderly Person?

Research into nursing home alternatives has increased tenfold. It shows that people simply need more options. Hence, it’s no wonder why options providing specialized medical and living care for the elderly have increased.

Let’s briefly look at some of the most popular choices outside of standard nursing home options.

  • In-Home Care: In-home care is ideal for seniors interested in having a higher level of privacy in the comfort of their own homes. Any assistance required is provided by a caregiver who visits the house daily to ensure that the senior’s needs are well-provided.
  • Assisted Living: An assisted living community is a residential area specifically designed for seniors. Here, they still get to enjoy their independence and privacy most of the time, but they can take advantage of daily living assistance when needed. This option is ideal for seniors who don’t require a lot of help with daily living activities.
  • Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (or PACE: This is a comprehensive program that seeks to provide long-term medical and social services for the elderly within a community. This means that they can still stay at home with us while enjoying the care they need.
  • Adult Foster Care: These facilities are often referred to as “adult family homes” and have a family-oriented quality of life in private residences.
  • Medicaid Home & Community Based Services (or HCBS): This program seeks to provide both medical and non-medical support to Medicaid beneficiaries. It’s also an excellent option for seniors who want to receive such assistance in the comforts of their own home or community.
  • Respite Care: Does your loved one need round-the-clock care? We understand how exhausting it can be. That’s what respite care is for. Technically speaking, it’s a term that refers to the care provided to an elderly person or someone who has an illness or disability that requires specialized care.

On the other hand (such as in this instance), it may also refer to professional services provided to families that need a short-term break from caring for their loved ones. Please note that this service can also be provided in facilities.

  • Continuing Care Retirement Communities: CCRCs are perfect for seniors who enjoy retirement communities but could require additional assistance in the future.
  • Adult Day Care: Adult daycares are a phenomenal solution for offering socialization and high-quality care during the day.

Why More Families Are Turning to Nursing Home Alternatives

Standard long-term care facilities are slowly becoming an old-fashioned way of providing care to seniors. There are multiple reasons why households are exploring alternatives to nursing homes.


One of the primary reasons why an alternative to nursing home arrangements is preferred is for familiarity. Regardless of age or mental disability, individuals are significantly more comfortable when surrounded by their belongings. With certain types of senior care, you can ensure your loved ones aren’t moved from where they are most comfortable.

Quality of Care

The health care professionals at nursing homes are unsung heroes who only seek to provide the best care they can to their wards. However, it is not a big secret that financial constraints and management issues can significantly impact the quality of care they can provide.

Keep in mind that not all facilities are lacking in this regard. After all, increasing the quality of life is the primary objective of any nursing home. Nevertheless, it still remains one of the reasons why many people are looking into alternative options.


Nursing homes cover every type of living assistance you can think of. It is both its strength and its weakness. After all, not everyone needs all those extra services along with their cost. Opting to get care at home or in an assisted living facility may be the more cost-effective choice for some.


Alternatives to nursing homes are ideal for seniors who don’t really need significant daily assistance. Such arrangements will allow them to have more independence, which is great for their mental health.

Also, keep in mind that the more active and independent an individual is, the better their physical health can become over time. Not all seniors are applicable for this lifestyle, of course, as some require significant help with daily activities.

Nursing home alternatives give the option to mix and match the support that your loved one may (and more importantly, may not) need. This includes planning and preparing meals, running errands, and managing their medical needs.

What Other Options Are There Besides Nursing Homes?

Earlier, we took a brief look at the other options outside of nursing homes. Let’s get into deeper detail so that you know what each program entails.

Home Care

Home care is one of the most popular options outside nursing homes because it keeps seniors in a comfortable environment. This type of care requires a caregiver or personal support worker to visit the senior at home regularly. Families can consider daily or weekly assistance, depending on the needs of the individual.

The primary responsibility of the caregiver is to offer an assortment of services to the senior in need. These services could include preparing meals, cleaning the home, assisting with dressing and hygiene, running errands, and more. It can also be a fantastic solution for seniors looking for moderate socialization and companionship with their support worker.

Is In-Home Care Cheaper Than Nursing Home?

One of the most common questions about home care is whether it’s cheaper than nursing homes. You’ll find that this type of care is typically more aligned with assisted living costs than nursing expenses.

On average, in-home care can cost upwards of $4,000/month, depending on the requirements of the individual. On the other hand, nursing homes can cost upwards of $7,000/month for basic care.

The more medical assistance an individual needs, the higher the costs are bound to become. With that said, opting for in-home care can be a far more preferable option for seniors on a budget. 

Assisted Living

Assisted living communities are a wonderful blend of community and privacy. These facilities typically offer apartments or smaller homes where seniors have access to many amenities. For example, they will have access to entertainment, transportation, and even shared meals.

Within assisted living programs, the support staff is available on a 24-hour on-call basis, allowing seniors to get care whenever they need it. The staff is highly trained to assist with bathing, dressing, and other essential tasks.

One of the most significant advantages of assisted living is that it helps seniors stay in a community environment for socialization.

PACE Program

The PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly) is an option for seniors looking for Medicare and Medicaid benefits. When enrolled, PACE will provide community-based services and in-home assistance, as well as a few extras, such as dental care.

It is a helpful option for seniors looking for Medicaid because most of the participants are dual-eligible. As a dual-eligible individual, you could receive both Medicaid and Medicare. Also, it’s a voluntary program, allowing participants to disenroll at their convenience.

You might find this alternative is preferable if you’re looking for a level of care similar to a nursing home. Some of the most considerable benefits of PACE include:

  • Emergency services
  • Nursing home care
  • Respite care
  • Physician visits
  • Special medical services
  • Transportation
  • Therapies
  • Home healthcare
  • End-of-life care
  • Adult day care
  • Personal care assistance

Adult Foster Care

Adult foster care programs are often referred to as “adult family homes” or “adult boarding homes.” In these living arrangements, seniors are grouped with other individuals for a more family-oriented arrangement.

All individuals will then live in a private residence. As such, they will have ample socialization through joint activities, shared meals, and more.

One of the most considerable advantages of adult foster care is how comfortable it feels for participants. It has a more familial atmosphere with the benefit of assisted living, such as access to medications, bathing support, and household chores support. With that said, most adult foster care programs don’t include comprehensive medical care.

Respite Care

If you’re fortunate enough to support your loved ones as they age, respite care can be a helpful option. As mentioned, respite care is a temporary situation that can give family members some time away but still ensure that their loved one is well taken care of.

It is often regarded as a supplement to senior care, whatever form it may take. This is also the reason why there are multiple levels of respite care, from less-assisted to more-assisted. What’s more, it can serve as a more affordable option, as care is split between a personal support worker and the family.

Medicaid HCBS

As a Medicaid recipient, it is possible to enroll for Medicaid HCBS, a combination of care and non-medical support services. It is similar to Medicare PACE in that it assists seniors who would typically require nursing home care. Also, it is a fantastic option for lower-income individuals searching for daily assistive arrangements.

The most important thing to consider is that you will need to meet specific requirements to be eligible for Medicaid HCBS. For example, applicants must financially qualify for Medicaid, require assistance with two specific daily living activities, and more.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities

If the needs of your loved ones change as they get older, continuing care retirement communities are a great solution. These communities are designed to assist seniors through all stages of their later life.

Instead of transferring a family member to a medical facility, they can remain at their original retirement residence if they require more in-depth care. These communities are structured similarly to standard retirement communities in that they have individual apartments and homes.

As the needs of the residents change, they are then provided with more in-depth personal support care. Seniors will have access to exceptional medical care paired with off-site trips, transportation, housekeeping, and more.

Continuing care retirement communities are one of the most open options for maintaining independence. However, keep in mind that they can be quite expensive. There are two fees that you should definitely look into.

First, this type of care will require a fixed entrance fee. This is to offset the cost of property expenses (such as building maintenance fees and furniture). It can also seek to cover future medical equipment and its costs, depending on the signed agreement.

Second, you may expect to pay adjustable monthly fees. This covers the day-to-day cost of caring for the residents, including labor, supplies, and utilities, among other necessary expenses.

Adult Day Care

For many families, managing the care of their senior members is easy when it adapts to their daily schedule. Yet, like many of us, you’re probably not in a position where you can quit your job to take care of your loved ones 24/7. In these instances, adult day care can be a preferred option, as it allows for more flexibility.

Like traditional daycare, these facilities allow families to share the responsibility of caring for seniors. In the morning, you would bring your family to the senior care facility, go to work, and pick them up at the end of the day.

Adult daycare can be a fabulous option for seniors of every age, especially if they are craving socialization. You’ll find that they will be able to meet plenty of new friends, make strong connections with other like-minded individuals, and stay active.

Adult daycare facilities always have an impressive number of activities to keep individuals entertained and comfortable. Families also benefit from seeing their family members daily, as you pick them up at the end of the day.

What Happens If You Can’t Afford a Nursing Home?

Undoubtedly, you’ve found an alternative to nursing home placement in the list of options above. Although they all sound great, many of the more fluid options come with higher costs. In fact, the majority of nursing home alternatives can be a significant expense for families to bear.

In these cases, you will need to find a way to comfortably afford care outside of a nursing home. There are a few options that you can consider to ensure your loved ones get affordable, high-quality care.


Medicaid, in general, is a health insurance program for low-income citizens. It is jointly funded by the state and federal governments. It aims to be all-encompassing, though, and as such, it has numerous sub-programs that seek to focus on more specific objectives.

For the purposes of this article, we will be referring to the Medicaid program that provides long-term care for the elderly and the disabled. Eligible citizens may enjoy long-term care coverage of different forms: nursing homes, in-home care, adult daycare, foster care, assisted living, and more.

Each state has its own Medicaid program with its own eligibility requirements and coverage options. Thus, you will need to perform further research if you want to access more specific information in relation to the state you or your loved one is in.

Veteran Benefits

If your loved one is a veteran, another area to explore is veteran benefits. Individuals will need to prove that they were active for 90 days, with one day being during a war period, to be eligible.

These benefits are referred to as Aid and Attendance Benefits and allow vets and their spouses to get living assistance. The majority of these offerings revolve around daily living assistance, such as bathing, taking medication, toileting, eating, and more. These benefits are readily applicable to nursing homes and living facilities but can also be used for at-home care.

Reverse Mortgages

Reverse mortgages are a type of loan available to residents over the age of 62. Homeowners can opt to convert or borrow against part of their home’s equity for cash. More seniors are opting for this solution, as it allows them to pay for assisted living and other areas of healthcare.

There aren’t any restrictions to how you use the proceeds from your reverse mortgage, making them a highly flexible income source. Since the home is the collateral, reverse mortgages can be beneficial because there aren’t any payments to worry about.

Once the homeowner passes, the heirs can opt to repay the mortgage without selling the home. However, there are downsides to reverse mortgages, as there are fees applied to the initial loan. Also, it is important to consider interest, which accrues over the mortgage’s term.

Alternatives to Nursing Homes: Final Thoughts

Finding alternatives to nursing homes can help you live a more comfortable lifestyle as you age. There are many more affordable and independent-lifestyle communities to consider with the multiple nursing home options in your area. Before you opt for one living arrangement over the other, consider the costs, quality of care, and access to assistance.


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