DEFINITION of 'Elder Care'

Elder care, sometimes called elderly care, refers to the kinds of services older people often need as a result of age-related physical or mental impairment.

It can include help with:

–  health matters

– housing

– transportation

– meals

– finances

– “activities of daily living,” such as bathing and dressing



Elder care takes many forms and is provided in many different ways. Often the caregiver is a relative – paid or unpaid – who assists the older person in the latter’s own home or in the relative's home. In other cases, care might be provided by a paid home health aide or housekeeper, or in an institutional setting. The physical-care component may also be referred to as custodial care.

From a financial standpoint, the thing to know is that elder care can be costly, so it’s wise for families to plan ahead for the day when it might be needed. Fortunately, there are public and private sources of help. The Eldercare Locator at, sponsored by the U.S. Administration on Aging, can refer people to agencies and other resources in their area. Also see Top 5 Strategies To Pay For Elder Care and Alternatives To Nursing Homes.

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