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Caregiving Resources

Information for family caregivers and those caring for aging or chronically ill adults

What Kinds of Care Facilities are Available?

question mark composed of jigsaw puzzle pieces


The number of different types of senior care facilities is bewildering, and it can be hard to tell the difference between them.

Most commonly they fall into one of these three general categories (although the same senior care facility can offer more that one type of program):


  • in-home care programs;
  • senior care programs that take place outside the home for part of the day; and
  • residential care (like assisted living and nursing homes). Some provide medical care (like rehabilitation facilities), others that are concerned just with activities of daily life (like independent living or memory care facilities).

In-home care programs bring needed services to wherever seniors are living.

Some examples of these kinds of programs are:

  • in-home aides,
  • assistance with transportation,
  • shopping or meal deliveries,
  • visiting nurses or health aides to give specific treatment.

These can  happen on an ongoing basis or can be used occasionally as needed (perhaps as respite care to caregivers). Those kinds of programs are discussed on the Bringing in Expert HelpCaring at Home, and Caring for the Caregiver pages of this guide.

Deshi Senior Center in Jamaica Queens (Photo Wikimedia Commons)

Daytime Facilities for Older Adults

Senior Recreation Centers offer a range of social and enrichment activities to combat isolation and help older adults stay active and engaged. Some offer social meals, organized trips, and a wide range of programs on a drop-in basis. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many centers have moved as much of their programs online as possible.

On Lok Senior Services, San Francisco (photo Nancy Wong on Wikimedia Commons)

Adult Day Care Centers are typically open five days a week during regular business hours, and  provide a range of support services for adults depending on individual needs. They are usually community-based, and include transportation to and from their location. They are designed to help people stay mentally and physically active, while reducing their isolation, improving their health, and preventing decline of their abilities - and to give some respite care to family caregivers, especially those juggling care and work. Many also provide referrals to social services as needed.

Adult Day Programs are licensed in California to offer social and enrichment activities, assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs), and meals. Facilities licensed as Adult Day Health Care programs can also additionally offer therapeutic care, health monitoring (like blood pressure checks), and some other health services. 

Residential Care Facilities

There are many different types of care homes, and it can be very confusing to decide which would be best. Independent Living and Assisted Living facilities are multi-unit buildings especially constructed for seniors; and even larger housing developments like Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs), even Multi-Level Retirement Communities (MLRCs) are an option.

On a smaller scale are Board and Care homes (also called Personal Care Homes, Assisted Living Homes, Residential Care Facilities, Residential Care Homes, or Adult Homes). These can specialize in older adults who need assistance or can include younger adults who need assistance with activities of daily living.

Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs) can take in patients who are recovering from surgery or other medical procedures, or/and they can also serve patients who need ongoing nursing care.

Memory Care facilities specialize in people with dementia.









These resources explain the differences:

More on specific types:

Questions To Ask & Consider When Choosing a Care Facility


Also ask how the facility handles complaints by residents, their family and friends, and check whether there have been serious complaints in the past.


When a Facility Turns Out to Have Problems

If a complaint needs to be escalated to the state Department of Public Health, here's where to submit it online:

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