When it comes to choosing long-term care for your loved one, you have many options to consider. Many aging adults prefer to remain in their home for as long as possible, so, at first, it may make the most sense to look at home care options. However, as one’s health care needs increase, it may become more difficult and costly to continue with home care. As a loved one’s medical condition progresses, 24-hour skilled nursing, pain management, and more might be needed, so a nursing home may be the safer and more affordable option.
These decisions can be overwhelming, so we’ve created a guide to help you navigate the best care options for your loved one. Our advice comes from specialists across the senior care spectrum, but, as always, you should make your decision based on your loved one’s immediate needs and what is doable for your family.
Read on to learn about the differences between home care versus nursing homes, the pros and cons of each, how much they cost, and more.
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Home care is care provided within an individual’s own residence. In-home care options range from a few hours a week to round-the-clock care. Most seniors who have home care receive approximately 44 hours of care or less per week.
This option best serves those looking to age in place with the added support and safety of a home care aide. Home care aides can provide support with some activities of daily living (ADLs), companionship, and many other helpful services.
Home care aides typically provide the following additional services:
Home care aides aren’t typically licensed to provide medical services, however, home health care aides are.
Home health care, otherwise known as in-home nursing care, is medical care provided by a licensed nurse within a client’s home. Home health care aides are essentially medical caregivers that can typically provide an array of skilled nursing services.
Home health care aides can provide the following types of services:
If your loved one requires 24-hour assistance, live-in home care may be a good option. Live-in care means the caregiver lives within a client’s residence and provides around-the-clock care. They sleep at the residence in case emergencies or medical needs arise overnight. Some home care agencies also provide options where multiple aides will provide continuous care in alternating 12-hour shifts across 24-hour periods.
There are many conditions that might make live-in home care necessary. Here are just a few examples of some situations where a live-in caregiver could provide a safety net:
A nursing home is suitable for seniors who aren’t able to care for themselves or aren’t safe alone in their homes due to medical care needs. If your loved one has a significant physical or mental health condition that requires skilled nursing and personal care, a nursing home might be the most suitable option, especially if they need ‘round-the-clock supervision and immediate access to medical staff.
A nursing home may also be a good option for those recovering from medical treatments or surgery. They can provide short-term, rehabilitative care that may be less costly than hiring a home health care or live-in aide.
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There is no one answer for this. In fact, your loved one may require home care at one point and a nursing home at another. For example, if your loved one has a condition that makes it hard to perform a few daily activities or they’re just seeking companionship, home care might be a better fit. If they have a progressive medical condition, their needs may increase and you might consider home health care or a nursing home later on.
Your loved one’s situation might also be the opposite. If they currently live in a nursing home and their condition becomes terminal, they may wish to spend their remaining time with family in the comfort of their own home. In this case, you may consider switching to a home health care service that provides hospice care.
Home care may be the right option if your loved one has the following characteristics or preferences:
A nursing home might be a better fit if your loved one has the following needs:
If you’re wondering how you can start narrowing down choices, you’ll want to compare costs, local nursing home facilities, and local home care agencies.
To remain within your estimated budget, it’s important to consider the costs of home care services and nursing homes. At a nursing home, costs can increase due to factors like a private room, higher level or person-centered services, and diverse programming. With home care, prices will increase due to higher levels of services and care, such as home health care and live-in care. Nursing home and home care agency prices will also vary greatly depending on location.
We’ve compared the national average nursing home versus home care costs for you here:
Finding a good fit for your loved one may have you scouring many options. Senior Living Advisors at A Place for Mom can make this process easier. They can share their expertise to find long-term care solutions for your aging loved ones. They can help you compare services and costs at local home care agencies and nursing homes to help you make an informed decision — all at no cost to you.
Genworth Financial, Inc. (2021). Cost of care survey.
De Reuck, J., Proot, P., & Van Maele, G. (2007, September). Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease as a risk factor for stroke-related seizures. European Journal of Neurology.
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