Long-Term Care

Community-Based Services

Helping People Live Independently

Like home-based services, community-based long-term care services help people -- old and young -- stay at home and live as independently as possible. These services can be given at home or at a location in the community. Some programs are limited to people with disabilities or low-income people, but many are open to all. Community-based services are often provided by a local government, social service agency, or private company.

(Watch the videos on this page to learn more about community-based long term care services. To enlarge a video, click the brackets in the lower right-hand corner of the video screen. To reduce a video, press the Escape (Esc) button on your keyboard.)

Living in a Continuing Care Community

Community-based services may supplement other services provided at home. They can also give family members a break from caregiving. These services include

  • adult day service programs
  • senior centers
  • transportation services
  • meals programs
  • respite care.

Adult Day Care

Adult day service programs provide health, social, and other services in a safe place, generally on weekdays. They are designed for adults with mental or physical impairments. They are also for adults who need time to socialize and a place to go when their family caregivers are at work. Some programs provide rides to and from their locations.

Senior Centers

Senior centers offer a variety of services, including meals, recreation, social services, and classes. Many of them also provide information and referrals to help people find the care and services they need. Generally, senior centers are for healthy older adults without cognitive problems.

Transportation Services

Transportation services help people get to and from medical appointments, shopping centers, and other places in the community. Some senior housing complexes and community groups offer transportation services. Many public transit agencies have services for people with disabilities. Some services are free. Others charge a fee.

Read more about community transportation options.

Meal Programs

Community-based meals programs include services that deliver meals to homebound people ("Meals on Wheels"). Some programs offer group meals at senior centers, places of worship, and other locations.

Respite Care

Respite care temporarily relieves families of the responsibility of caring for family members who cannot care for themselves. It is provided in a variety of settings, including homes, adult day centers, and nursing homes.


One new type of service is the local "village," in which neighborhood residents band together to trade and buy services they need to live independently. Members typically pay an annual fee to obtain services such as home repair and rides to the doctor but not skilled nursing care.

How to Locate Services

It can be difficult to find the right kind of long-term care services. There are sources to turn to for help with this task. For example, geriatric care managers are professionals, usually nurses or social workers, who help people with their long-term care needs. They can assess a person's needs, develop a plan of care, and identify and coordinate whatever services are needed.

To find community-based services, contact Eldercare Locator at 800-677-1116 or visit www.eldercare.gov. You can also call your local Area Agency on Aging, Aging and Disability Resource Center, department of human services or aging, or a social service agency.

Making a home safer can also help people stay independent.

Get tips about home modifications and how to pay for them.