Assisted living communities offer personal care, meals, social opportunities, and housing all in an apartment-style environment, while home care delivers comparable services directly within seniors’ homes. The overall costs associated with each type of care vary greatly, and the type of care your loved one needs will depend on their unique situation. When it becomes clear that an elderly family member needs daily care, deciding what to do next might seem overwhelming. However, assisted living and home care are two common options that can provide the additional support your loved one needs.
Assisted living communities provide housing and care services to active seniors who aren’t able to live independently. Some health care services are also provided on-site. These communities help seniors with activities like bathing, dressing, and eating, but they don’t always provide ongoing skilled nursing care.
Many assisted living communities for seniors offer numerous supportive care options, including the following:
While nursing care services aren’t typically included in assisted living, many communities offer residents the option to work with a third party organization for short-term nursing needs. Some assisted living communities have a skilled nursing unit within the community, making it easy for residents to receive the care they need without moving.
Many elderly people might prefer to stay at home longer because they fear change, says Michelle Aweshah, a regional manager at A Place for Mom. However, over time, assisted living communities can feel like home, too.
Seniors in assisted living, as well as their loved ones, can look forward to multiple benefits.
Assisted living can provide either short-term or long-term care, depending on a resident’s needs — it doesn’t have to be a permanent decision.
“Some people feel assisted living might be their ‘final place’ and are afraid that they won’t like it once they move,” says Aweshah. “The great news is, in most cases, assisted living communities only require a 30-day notification of a move, even if you signed to stay a year.”
In addition to providing flexibility, assisted living offers care day and night, as needed. The various skills of staff members in assisted living play a pivotal role in supporting the well-being and safety of residents.
“There are aides on staff around the clock to assist with personal care needs,” says Aweshah. “Most communities also have nurses on-site, as well as mobile services for physician appointments, therapy services, and more.”
“For many, being home may feel independent, but if they’re unable to drive, don’t visit friends as often anymore, or don’t eat as well, this can be very isolating and can lead to depression,” says Aweshah. “Being ‘independent’ can quickly become a detriment to quality and longevity of life.”
Assisted living communities provide planned on- and off-site leisure activities as well as social activities, like happy hours and holiday celebrations, which are all very popular with residents. Additional benefits of assisted living can include a host of helpful amenities and services:
If you’ve decided assisted living is the right fit, touring can help you compare communities and ask key questions. Use our downloadable resource to keep track of notes, observations, and next steps.
Our free tool provides options, advice, and next steps based on your unique situation.
In-home care offers companionship, transportation, and assistance with activities of daily living for seniors living at home. One way to think of it is like in-home assisted living. The level of care a senior receives from an in-home care aide depends on the type of in-home care, in addition to their specific care needs. While standard home care will assist with daily activities and socialization, caregivers may not be licensed to provide nursing services.
Instead, in-home nursing care, also known as home health care, can provide seniors with nursing assistance. Home health care typically involves caring for wounds, administering IVs or injections, or other care that must be administered by a medical professional. In most cases, seniors don’t need this level of care unless they’re recovering from a recent surgery, hospitalization, or live with a complex condition that requires regular medical assistance.
Keep in mind that you can also use a mix of home care and home health care to meet your loved one’s needs.
Home care allows seniors to remain in their homes while having regular company and professional care. Aside from enjoying the comfort of familiar surroundings, seniors can benefit from several other aspects of home care.
A major benefit of home care is that it offers one-on-one companionship. Some home care aides will plan in-home activities — such as reading aloud, playing games, or simply sitting and talking — to keep seniors engaged. They can tailor meaningful care services to the unique preferences and needs of your loved one.
In-home caregivers provide seniors with assistance for personal care tasks as well as helping out around the house. It’s typical for a caregiver to help with:
You can decide what in-home caregivers focus on based on your loved one’s needs and lifestyle. It’s easy to customize care services. For example, if your loved one is social, regular transportation to events and activities can be organized as part of the caregiver’s routine. If someone prefers to stay at home and would rather have more help with cooking or cleaning, in-home caregivers can arrange that, as well.
Many home care agencies will note whether they have caregivers experienced in specialized forms of care. This can be helpful for seniors with a progressive illness — such as Parkinson’s disease, dementia, or a disability — to receive the customized care they need.
The median nationwide cost of assisted living is $4,807 per month, according to A Place for Mom’s 2023 Cost of Long-Term Care Report. In comparison, the national median cost of in-home care is $30 per hour. For full-time care at home, the cost is $5,720 per month, based on a schedule of 44 hours per week.
At nearly a $1,000 difference per month, finances can definitely play a role in choosing care. However, it’s important to consider what you get with each type of care and how these costs are determined before making a decision.
Assisted living costs typically include care services, housing, and meals in one monthly fee. The monthly costs can vary greatly depending on factors like apartment size, state of residence, whether your senior loved one chooses to live with a roommate, and their required level of care.
Just like with any market, in-home care prices depend on supply and demand. Costs for home care can vary greatly based on your location, the home care agency, staff salaries, and more. Remember that home health care is a little different, because it’s medical care ordered by a physician and may be covered by Medicare or private insurance.
Families and seniors considering home care should evaluate additional, related costs, like utilities, maintenance repairs, and groceries. For an in-depth look at how the cost of home care would compare to assisted living costs in your area, try using A Place for Mom’s senior living cost calculator. You’ll be able to factor in common home expenses like utilities, groceries, and home maintenance when weighing your senior care options.
There are a variety of ways to afford assisted living or home care for your loved one. It’s important to consider that each situation is unique and that not everyone will be eligible for the options presented below. Programs and policies may also change without notice.
Payment options for assisted living may include, but are not limited to, the following:
In some cases, related services and costs for assisted living may be covered while room and board isn’t. Check with the program or policy you wish to use for more information on what they cover and what you’ll be responsible for.
Similar to assisted living payment options, your loved one may be able to pay for home care through the following options:
Our advisors help 300,000 families each year find the right senior care for their loved ones.
For seniors who need some daily assistance but remain independent and prefer to age at home, home care may be a good choice. However, if someone requires more than four or five hours of home care a day, assisted living may be the better choice financially.
“It’s a personal decision, and it can be difficult to reach out or ask for any type of assistance,” says Aweshah. “It’s always best to prepare yourself with the most information possible so you can make a choice that’s right for you and your loved one.”
A Place for Mom’s Senior Living Advisors are available to assist with your senior living journey every step of the way. From sending you information about local in-home care agencies to scheduling tours at assisted living communities, they can help answer all of your questions regarding senior living — all at no cost to your family.
Original article by A Place for Mom editor Merritt Whitley.
The information contained on this page is for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical, legal or financial advice or create a professional relationship between A Place for Mom and the reader. Always seek the advice of your health care provider, attorney or financial advisor with respect to any particular matter, and do not act or refrain from acting on the basis of anything you have read on this site. Links to third-party websites are only for the convenience of the reader; A Place for Mom does not endorse the contents of the third-party sites.
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