Abstract Information gained from elderly people regarding their needs for community-based long-term care is necessary for informed and responsive policy development. Informed policy development is essential given demographic projections and the need to develop cost-effective alternatives to institutionalization. The purpose of this study was to understand the context within which elderly people would be able to continue residing in their communities. Programs have been developed based on providers' perceptions of services that are necessary to maintain elderly people at home. There is a lack of information about elderly people's perceptions. Data were collected from 9 elderly people who represented the phenomenon of being at risk for institutionalization. Participants were interviewed serially and contingently in stages using naturalistic methodology. The interviews were tape-recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed by the inquirer. Findings of the study indicated that the desire of elderly people to stay at home is motivated by their need to maintain control over their daily lives and have their individualized needs addressed. Perceptions related to nursing homes, roles of family, essential services, and future needs for assisted living emerged as major themes. The findings suggest policy implications for professional nurses related to the long-term care system, providers, and nursing homes.