Care Partner Information Sheet

Understanding Long-Term Care

Understanding Long-Term Care

Many people need help to care for an older adult. For example, they may need someone to come into the home to help. Or, it may be best for the older adult to move to a facility that provides care. These are both "long-term care." There are many types of long-term care. Medicare pays for some types of care. Long-term care insurance and Medicaid pay for some types of care. And the individual or family must pay for some types of care. Call the person's insurances to learn what types of care each will pay.

Care for older adults who live at home

Care options for older adults who live at home
Care Provided
What it is


Companion Services
Someone visits to spend time with the older adult.
Personal care services
Someone visits to help with bathing, dressing, eating or other personal care.
Homemaker Services
Someone helps with housekeeping, shopping, or preparing meals.
Home Health Care (Also called Skilled Care)
A nurse or other care provider helps with medical needs.
Hospice Care
Special care for patients near the end-of-life. Care focuses on reducing pain or discomfort, and provides support for family and caregivers. Hospice care can be in the home or at a care facility.
Community Center
Adult Day Center
A daytime program at community center with activities. Some programs also offer personal care or health care.

Care for older adults outside the home
Another type of long-term care is when the older adult moves out of their home and lives somewhere else. This is called "residential care."

The table below describes the types of care outside the home.

Type of residential care
What it is
Independent Living Also called "Retirement Housing"
Older adults live on their own, but with support for meals, activities, and transportation.
Assisted Living
Older adults live in their own room in a facility with many other older  adults. Care can include meals, group activities, transportation, help with medications, and personal care. Some assisted living centers have areas called "memory care."  These areas provide care for people with dementia.
Group Home Also called "Adult Care Home"
Older adults live in a regular house with a private or shared bedroom. Paid caregivers are there 24 hours a day. The type of care can be small things like help with meals. Or, care can be things like help with dressing, toileting, and other personal care.
Skilled Nursing Also called "Nursing Home"
Rooms may be private or shared. Nurses work 24 hours a day to help care for older adults with many medical needs.
Continuing Care Community Also called "Life Care"
These can provide independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing (see above). A person can start in independent living and change to have more care when they need it.
Hospice Care
Special care for patients near the end-of-life. Care focuses on reducing pain or discomfort, and provides support to family and caregivers. Hospice care can be in the home, or at` a care facility.

Useful Websites 

Written by: Deborah Schaus, MSW, Executive Director, Alzheimer's Association, Southwest Chapter

Care Partner Information ~ Tips for Providing Older Adult Care
Edited by an inter-professional team from the University of Arizona Center on Aging

This project was supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number U1QHP28721, Arizona Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program.  This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S.  Government.