In Elder Law News

Nurse helps senior man out of his wheelchair.Many older adults can no longer safely live on their own. However, they may not need the highly specialized care of nursing homes. Intermediate care facilities present one option for older adults who cannot live independently but require daily assistance.

As a residential option for seniors, intermediate care facilities (ICFs) can house residents on a long-term basis. Residents can get help with activities of daily living and managing medical conditions. For instance, staff can help with:

  • Bathing
  • dressing
  • meal preparation
  • bathroom use
  • getting in and out of a wheelchair
  • taking medication
  • monitoring residents’ medical conditions

Intermediate care facilities initially focused on meeting the needs of those with cognitive disabilities and chronic illnesses. However, they have adapted to serve older adults as well, according to Some facilities run independently. Others are part of larger establishments, as when they comprise units housed within such facilities as continuous care retirement communities.

Moderate Medical Care

Even though ICFs offer health supervision and nurses, they are not at the same level as a skilled nursing facility. While residents may receive periodic health care assessments and rehabilitative services, ICFs do not offer medical care for severe conditions.

Since intermediate care facilities provide moderate, custodial care, they can be appropriate for those transitioning between different levels of care. For example:

  • Residents who develop more complex health needs can move on to skilled nursing facilities better suited to meet their medical needs.
  • Those residing within a continuous care community can transition to an ICF unit should their health decline.
  • In some cases, older adults recovering from hospitalization may reside in ICFs until they can regain independence and return home.

The Benefits of an Intermediate Care Facility

  • Level of Assistance. Many older adults prefer to remain in their homes and receive in-home care as they age. Yet sometimes they may require more consistent help. In intermediate care facilities, individuals can obtain round-the-clock assistance.
  • Cost Savings. One reason people choose intermediate care is that it is relatively less expensive than other options, such as assisted living. Since residents do not typically get their own apartments, the room and board fees can be smaller than in assisted living.

    And in addressing the individual needs of residents, intermediate care facilities limit assistance to what residents require, further lowering costs.

  • Care Options. ICFs also offer a range of care options. Intermediate care facilities can serve those who need extensive help with daily living as well as those who require aid in a few areas. Individuals receiving different degrees of care can live together in the same environment.
  • Flexibility. Support can also adapt as residents’ needs change. For example, an older adult may move into an intermediate care facility for assistance with meals and medication management. If they then develop mobility challenges, they can get additional help; ICF staff monitor and respond to the person’s needs.

Further Reading

For those concerned about requiring consistent aid with daily living as they age, intermediate care facilities can be an option. To learn more about other senior living options, check out the following articles:

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