Understanding Level of Care for Seniors

By Kuʻunani De Monte

Deciding the right senior care solution to support your kupuna is an important decision to make as a family and it can be an intimidating task. You want to provide the best care possible for them, but where do you start? The first step in learning your options is understanding and identifying the level of care that your senior needs.

Level of care refers to how much or little assistance your kupuna needs to do day-to-day activities and care for themselves. However, each individual is different and requires varying levels of support. Identifying the needs of your senior at the beginning of your search will help you understand the options available and aid in your decision process. It is important to know that the level of care can change over time as more care is needed.

There are two main categories of senior care facilities that we look to for elderly care; senior communities and residential care. In senior communities, a larger number of kupuna live together in a plaza or apartment-like community. In residential care, seniors are cared for in a smaller, more intimate setting with an average of 3-5 seniors per home.

Photo: Craig Philbrick


Here we take a look at some of the common levels of care within these two categories to help you determine which level is the best fit for your kupuna.



Independent living is a level of care that requires minimal assistance for your senior. Kupuna who align with this level have few if any medical needs and live a mostly independent life. They are able to live in private apartment residences in retirement communities where they can socialize with other seniors and have opportunities to be an active member of that community. Independent seniors also can own and drive cars and are free to come and go as they please.

Assisted Living

Assisted living seniors require some assistance from caregivers in daily activities. These activities may include administering medication, meals, and self care. Seniors who align with this category are still mobile and if in a wheelchair, can self-propel.

Memory Care

Seniors who require memory care cannot safely live on their own and require 24-hour caregivers. At this level, caregivers are needed to assist with medication management and most daily activities including meals, self care, and mobility. The living spaces of memory care homes are safe and secure environments for patients.


ARCH Living

Seniors who belong to this category require a helping hand with daily activities, medication management, and other care tasks. Foster and Adult Residential Care Homes (ARCH) are spaces where seniors live together in a private home with on-site caregivers. Although a caregiver is needed, seniors requiring assisted living care are mostly ambulatory and able to walk on their own or self-propel in wheelchair. Residents identified as ARCH do require 24-hour supervision and care.

Foster Living

A subset of residential care is foster patients. Seniors who align with this category need the most support from a caregiver. Seniors who are bed-bound or have limited mobility can find care at foster homes, so 24-hour support from caregivers are needed to carry out daily activities and administer meals and medication.

Which level of care does your senior align with? Not sure? Level of care can vary from state and at Caregiver’s Heart Hawaii, we specialize in helping to place Hawaii’s seniors into care homes. We are proud to say that our service is free for families.

We are ready to help you find a care home by providing you with information and resources for placement, setting up tours of available care homes, and introducing you you to experienced caregivers who will look after your loved ones.

Give us a call at 808-425-5101 and we will help you get started.