Elderly care

As we age, there are various factors that can make it harder to live independently – whether it be illness, mobility concerns or loneliness. We've covered the different types of care that can improve daily life in this guide. 

Elderly care is dedicated support that addresses the physical and mental needs of people as they age. It can include short-term assistance to recover from a specific condition, respite care to give unpaid carers a break, or long-term support. Elderly care can include a range of services tailored to the individual and their specific situation – from helping them maintain a healthy and nutritious diet, to encouraging gentle and positive movement. Elderly care can help individuals maintain a positive quality of life during their later years.

 
two elderly ladies smiling and enjoying a cup of tea in a community dining room

What is the importance of elderly care?

The world is aging faster than ever before. According to the Centre for Aging Better, there are currently 11 million people aged 65+ in England alone, and this is set to rise to 13 million in the next 10 years. 

The ageing process does not always lead to disability, although 86 percent of people over 85 are living with at least one chronic long-term health condition.

It’s projected that the number of individuals in care in the UK will double by 2035, meaning care services are gaining increased importance. The use of their services enables our loved ones to maintain independence and enjoy a longer quality of life.

You're not alone

Coming to terms with a loved one needing support is rarely easy, and the event that pushes families to seek professional help can be influenced by many different factors. We asked families to share their experiences with us, and here’s what they said. 

73%

had provided some level of care to their loved one before seeking professional help.

64%

were worried about balancing care with their work and other relationships.

42%

were worried about being able to provide the right level of care their loved one needed.

38%

were worried about helping their loved one with intimate tasks (e.g washing, toileting)

Who would benefit from elderly care services?

Elderly individuals experiencing difficulty with daily activities due to health difficulties, mobility issues, or loneliness can benefit from some level of professional support. 

For example, those living with dementia, complex medical conditions like Parkinson’s Disease, or finding it difficult to keep up with personal care may see their quality of life improve with support from an experienced, highly skilled carer. 

It should be noted that an older person may not always be aware of when they require assistance. This can be challenging for friends and family members to observe and therefore needs a sensitive approach. We have some advice for discussing sensitive topics from a professional therapist here. 

 
An Asian carer supporting her client as she gets out of a car with a walking stick

Getting the timing right

Our research shows that 38% of people don’t explore their care options until a few weeks before it was needed. Talking about and understanding your options as early as possible can help relieve stress further down the line. 

Questions to ask

Before speaking with your loved one about their care, it may be helpful to consider some questions.

  • Can they navigate the house safely?
  • Can they go out alone for appointments and shopping?
  • Can they cook their own meals?
  • Do they keep themselves properly nourished and hydrated?
  • Can they hear the phone and door?
  • Can they maintain a clean and safe living environment?
  • Are they able to take care of personal hygiene tasks?
  • Are they experiencing frequent lapses in their memory?
  • Do they have regular social contact with other people? i.e. do they regularly have visitors, or are they able to go out without assistance?

 

If the answer to most these questions is ‘no.’ then your loved one may benefit from some form of elderly care service. 

Home care

Home care for the elderly provides an alternative to traditional residential care options. Rather than moving into a dedicated facility, people can receive care in their own homes – retaining as much independence as possible. 

Care for the elderly in their own homes is available in many forms – it’s not just traditional visiting care, and can be tailored to individual needs and offered around-the-clock. 

What's the difference between home care and domiciliary care?

Domiciliary care is another term for home care. it comes from the Latin. “Domus”, meaning “home.”

In social care you may come across a lot of language you’re not familiar with. Alongside our clinical team, we’ve created a glossary breaking down complex care terminology as well as further information if you need it.

Live-in care

Live-in care involves a professional carer moving into the home of the person they’re caring for. They’ll remain with them round the clock, helping them to live as independently as possible, for as long as possible. 

Live-in carers can help with day-to-day tasks, from providing personal care, housekeeping and cooking to errands and pet care. 

For those living with more complex needs, or a long-term chronic condition, live-in care may be able to prevent the upheaval of moving, as carers often specialise in or have experience supporting a range of conditions, and can even be arranged as part of a palliative care plan.

An Elder live-in carer sits on the edge of a bed while chatting to her male client over a morning cup of tea.

Pros

Cons

98%

of people receiving live-in care say it’s helped them have a better quality of life.

Source – The Live In Care Hub

Find your ideal carer

We have connected over 5,ooo families  and carers across the UK. Search for yours today. 

An older woman sleeps gently in bed alone.

Overnight care

Some older people may feel anxious when left alone at nighttime, while others may need help with pain management, medication, or help moving position in bed at regular intervals.

There are many types of night-time support. Live-in care mentioned above can provide night time support. A single carer can assist a couple of times a night, or two carers can work together –one providing daytime care and the other working at night.

Alternatively, if you’re only looking for support at night, waking night care ensures a carer is on shift throughout the night to monitor and provide care, and sleeping night care means a carer will sleep at the property, but be ‘on-call’ and able to assist whenever needed throughout the night. 

Pros

Cons

Visiting care

Visiting care (sometimes called hourly care) is when a professional carer comes to your home, often for between 30 minutes to a few hours a day. Sometimes people will have a carer visit multiple times a day, such as early morning and bedtime. Carers can support with personal care such as washing and dressing, as well as more practical tasks such as cooking meals or getting you moving.

It’s ideal for people who need a long-term care solution or are finding daily tasks difficult, but can safely spend periods of time at home without supervision. 

A lady helps an older woman in the kitchen to prepare potatoes.

Pros

Cons

A daughter helps her older father with his shirt and tie while standing in his front room at home

Respite care

The above home care options don’t always need to be arranged as a permanent solution. Whether you have an informal care arrangement with family or friends, or rely on paid carers, it’s important to factor in respite care. It’s beneficial for both the carer and the person they’re caring for.

Respite care not only allows primary carers to take a break. but it can help cover instances of carer illness, or provide specialist care to support recovery following a hospital discharge. Home based respite care ensures the same level of care and support is provided in the home – minimising disruption to a person’s routine and way of life.

4.7%

of the population in England and Wales are providing 20 hours or more of care a week to a loved one – that’s the equivalent of a part time job.

Source – Carers UK

Residential care

Typically, residential care has been the go-to care option for many. There are a few different ways you can receive care outside of your current home, again the most suitable type will depend on how much support you need. 

An older man and woman have a chat in a sunny care home room over a cup of tea

Care homes for the elderly

A care home tends to be the first option people think about when a loved one is struggling to live alone. 

Care homes offer  residents their own bedrooms and bathrooms, while sharing all communal areas – for example, lounges, dining rooms, and gardens – with the other residents. Staff are available around the clock, and provide meals, housekeeping services and assistance with everyday needs – dressing, mobility, personal hygiene and so on. There’s often scheduled activities, as well as facilities such as cafes on site, but these vary from home to home. 

Residential care homes for the elderly are designed for those who require care but not nursing care i.e things like Artificial/PEG feeding. 

Pros

Cons

30%

of care homes surveyed in The Live In Care Hub’s Care Choices report said it would be impossible or very unlikely that a resident could go for a walk outside the grounds unless a visitor took them. 

Source – The Live In Hub

Nursing homes for the elderly

Nursing homes provide care for those with more acute needs. They are staffed with registered nurses and care support workers. For those with complex care needs, sometimes nursing homes are the only option – however, specialist care at home can be organised for some complex and life-limiting health conditions. This will usually involve a wider support team that would likely include a community nurse, and a live-in care worker.

It’s a common misconception that residential and nursing homes are the same – and while sometimes they may be located in the same facility – they’re not the same. Nursing homes are specifically tailored to those with advanced care needs – such as those with life limiting conditions. Nursing care can usually provide things like intensive rehabilitation, stoma care, pain therapies and cancer care. 

An elderly lady enjoys a laugh with a nurse wearing a uniform while sat outside on a terrace.

Pros

Cons

An older man does the dishes in his flat.

Elderly assisted living

Assisted living is similar to residential care but with more independence. Generally it’s not appropriate for those who require full-time care – but could be considered a good option for someone with some mobility issues, requiring a little extra support. 

A person or a couple moves into their own unit – usually a self-contained flat, with its own front door. These properties are part of a specialist housing complex, and are often smaller and easier to manage than a traditional house.

Different providers vary in terms of the provisions and levels of care they offer, but you can usually expect there to be staff available 24 hours a day, to provide support when needed.

There is likely to be a programme of communal activities too, and participation in these would always be optional.

Pros

Cons

An Elder Care Advisor takes a call from a family seeking care.

Next steps

Arranging care yourself can seem like a daunting process, however we can help you understand the process and get started. 

Here are some of the first steps many Elder customers choose to take:  

  1. Ask your local council for a  care needs assessment
  2. Find out if you’re eligible for any funding
  3. Consider the type of care best fits your needs and wishes. Completing our no-obligation care profile may help you get a better picture of everything you need. 

Why not discuss your needs with an Elder care advisor?

Give us a no-obligation call. We’re here for you seven days a week. 

Care with Elder

Elder has delivered over 10 million hours of care to thousands of families across Great Britain, and we’re rated ‘excellent’ on Trustpilot.

Personalised support

Our advisors are rated 5* and available 365 days a year

Fast & flexible

Whether you need care now or are planning ahead, we’re here 

clear & honest pricing

No hidden costs or surcharges during peak-times

Intelligent matching

9 out of 10 customers are happy with their first choice of carer

Read more about elderly care

FAQs

Ours do. Whether it’s first thing in the morning or late at night, there’s always help on hand with a live-inself-employed carer.

Assistance at bedtime can prove key in giving your loved one a better night’s sleep, which can have a positive and lasting effect on wellbeing. And if your relative needs to get up in the middle of the night, live-inself-employed carers are perfectly placed to help them do it safely.

Learn more about elderly night-time care on our ‘Overnight care: how to help ageing parents’ page.

Live-in care is a form of elderly support in which aself-employed carer provides assistance in the care recipient’s own home.

This might just be during home visits scheduled throughout the week. Or it might involve a professionalself-employed carer moving in to offer 24-hour support, as it is with Elder. Your choice will depend on the extent of your loved one’s needs.

To find out more, we’ve put together some of the myths and misconceptions about home care for you to explore.

While visiting homeself-employed carers may not have time to prepare meals, this is one of the most important responsibilities of a live-inself-employed carer.

They’ll find out the sorts of things your loved one likes to eat, and get them involved in the prep if that’s something they’d like to do. But whipping up meals is just one part of a live-inself-employed carer’s role: they’ll also keep an eye on nutritional content to make sure your relative stays fit and healthy.

You can find out more about a live-inself-employed carer mealtime responsibilities on our ‘Nutrition: caring for elderly parents’ page.

If your loved one is staying in their own home, you may want to make some changes to the way it’s laid out.

This may include moving furniture around or reducing what’s there altogether, and installing ramps, rails and stairlifts. You might also want to add security features, such as automatic cut-offs for cookers.

We’ve gone into all of these in more depth on our ‘Making homes safer for older people’ page.

There are some key differences between live-in care and residential care, and which you choose ultimately comes down to your personal circumstances.

The obvious one is that residential homes require your loved one to move out of their own home. This means they may not get to eat when they want to, or get out and about when it suits them. This isn’t the case with home care, which tends to be much more adaptive to their needs.

The other major difference is the cost and the provisions in place to support payment. This is a complicated subject, and we’ve broken it down for you on our ‘Home care or nursing home: what’s the difference?’ page.