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Assisted Living vs Home Care

Is it harder to do the things you used to do? Things like grocery shopping, driving, and self-care? Do you see your loved one struggling? Don't worry. This is a normal part of aging. And, it doesn't mean living independently is over.

With a thriving senior population in America, there's a high availability of senior living and assistance services. These services help seniors stay safe, healthy, and independent as they age. If you or your loved one can do a lot on their own, but need a little extra help, in-home care and assisted living are two of your options.

Home Care – Helping Seniors Age in Place

You create a life for yourself in your home, so you probably want to stay there. Most seniors do and so do their loved ones. You want to keep your own routine and sleep in your own bed. In-home assisted living allows for just that. You stay at home and the professionals come to you. How long they stay and how they help depends on your specific needs. They'll assist with activities of daily living (ADLs). Typical services include hygiene assistance, meal prep, medication reminders, companionship, transportation, emergency call systems, and more.

In-home care widely varies. One person, and sometimes several, comes regularly. The options usually fall into four categories:

  • Licensed medical professional care
  • Non-medical paraprofessional care
  • Dementia home care
  • Alzheimer's home care

If you require medical attention like shots or therapy, you'll need a licensed medical professional. These professionals include physicians, physician's assistants, nurses, physical and occupational therapists, and home health aides under the direction of a physician.

Need help with ADLs? Turn to non-medical paraprofessionals. They help with cooking, shopping, bathing, laundry, and companionship. The choices include personal care attendants, homemakers, companions, and home health aides. Family members, you may be able to help with this too.

Dementia home care services are for seniors who have progressive disorders like Huntington's Disease, Parkinson's Disease, or a form of dementia. Those in the early stages will need at least part-time help. Further along? 24-hour monitoring is the safest option. Look for a Certified Dementia Care Manager.

Alzheimer's home care services offer daily assistance or full-time memory care. Families who need a temporary break from caregiving can hire a respite care worker too. These professionals help with chores, errands, meal prep, memory care, and personal hygiene. Their goal is to keep your loved one as safe and comfortable as possible.

Assisted Living Facilities – Helping Seniors Live Independently Away from Home

With assisted living, you or your loved one goes to the caregiver. ALFs offer shared or private room in a community of seniors. The room might have a kitchen, or it might just be a bedroom and bathroom. It's a lot different from a nursing home too. There's no constant supervision or medical treatment. But, 24-hour personal assistance is available. Caregivers help with bathing, dressing, medication management, meal services, and transportation as needed. Housekeeping, laundry, physical therapy, and memory care might cost extra.

You might know assisted living facilities (ALFs) by another name. Some call it residential care, adult care home, or retirement home. For more information about assisted living facilities and who should apply for residence in these locations, take a moment to watch the video below on the topic from our YouTube channel.

Comparing Assisted Living and In-Home Care

Assisted Living In-Home Care
Payment
Average Monthly Cost $3,600 $3,813 (44 hrs./wk.)
Private Pay Yes Yes – most common
Medicaid Limited Limited
Medicare Limited Limited
SSI Yes Yes
Veterans Aid Yes Yes
Long-term Care Insurance Yes Yes
Grants Yes Yes
Services
Activities of Daily Living Yes Yes
Medication Management Yes Yes
Physical/Occupational Therapy Varies No
Skilled Nurse No No
Meals/Meal Prep Yes Yes
Transportation Yes Varies
Social activities Yes Limited
Housekeeping Yes Yes

Cost

Don't let the average costs scare you away. How much you pay depends on where you live and what you need help with. For full-time care, assisted living is the cheapest on average. A 2016 study found that the average monthly cost was $3,600. This covers a private room and core services. The general range falls from $2,000 to $5,000 per month or $24,000 to $60,000 per year. Some ALFs charge a separate move-in fee or a fee for specialized services.

You probably think in-home care is cheaper. That's not always the case. While part-time care is generally less expensive, full-time care can end up costing much more. The hourly price ranges from $0 to $40 per hour. How much you pay depends on insurance, veteran's benefits, services, and location. Need help at least 44 hours per week? A home health care aid costs an average of $3,813 per month. That does not include personal living expenses. Expenses like trash, sewer, property taxes, mortgage payments, water, and electricity can add up.

When family members act as caregivers, in-home care is the cheapest option.

Social Opportunities

Being social is essential for good health. Living alone makes you more prone to social isolation. This in turn can lead to depression. Luckily, both types of care can help.

In-home caretakers offer companionship. You might play cards together, talk about the news, or do daily crafts or memory activities. Some may even help with transportation. Going to the movies, catching up with friends, or attending church together are other possibilities. Staying in the same neighborhood keeps friends and regular activities close by. Plus, you can still enjoy family get-togethers at home, where everyone already feels comfortable.

Bingo, holiday parties, and group outings. You may think of these things when considering assisted living. In an ALF, you live near your peers–sort of like back in your college days. There are shared meals, organized social events, art classes, and group trips. With so many people nearby, it's easy to connect with others and fulfill social needs.

Safety

No matter where you live, you want to be safe. Assisted living communities were created to keep seniors safe. They have accessible elderly-friendly housing, security, and 24-hour personal care services.

Aging at home is safe too. It might just take some extra effort. Installing a medical alert system is one option. It puts help within reach if you or your loved one lives alone. Other modifications can make the home safer too. Some include widening doorways, putting in stair lifts, purchasing medication-reminder technology, or using GPS tracking devices.

Convenience

A big perk of in-home care is its convenience. No one has to move, sell their house, or break their routine. You or your loved one sleep in their own bed and enjoy familiarity. There are also no rules to follow like no pets or no smoking.

Moving, no matter where you're going, is often inconvenient. You have to pack up your stuff and sell your home. Then, you have to find a new routine and start over. This can be cause for worry. Plus, if there's not adequate care in your town, you or your loved one have to relocate and move further from family. There are some pluses to ALFs. Friends, meals, and activities, are readily available.

Quality of Life

If you're like 90% of older adults, you probably want to live in your own home. You'll feel happier with in-home care because you're doing what you want. Plus, your home is yours. It's comfortable and familiar. Familiar surroundings help when it comes to coping with illness or recovery. In-home dementia and Alzheimer's patients take nearly 50% less trips to the doctor. Living at home eases their stresses and anxieties.

Assisted living facilities offer happiness too; it just takes some getting used to. Meeting new people, finding a new routine, and adjusting to community life can cause stress and anxiety. Missing family and friends is tough too–for both the senior and their family. But, moving to an ALF can also be exciting. You will fulfill your social needs and have fewer worries. For example, you'll have fewer bills to keep up with.

Choosing What's Right for You

Spend time considering whether home care or assisted living is right for you or your loved one. Both have similar goals–helping seniors age while staying as independent as possible. The most important thing is that you choose what will keep everyone happy, healthy, and safe without breaking the bank.

After deciding what's best, search for a qualified caregiver or facility. Look through our provider directory or call us on our helpline. We're happy to help you find the best care in your area today.

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Scott founded Select Home Care Portland in 2009 and has been helping seniors live their best life at home or in their local senior community ever since. As an advocate for seniors, the primary philosophy has been to listen, educate and provide… Learn More About Scott Witt

Since graduating from Harvard with an honors degree in Statistics, Jeff has been creating content in print, online, and on television. Much of his work has been dedicated to informing seniors on how to live better lives. As Editor-in-Chief of the personal… Learn More About Jeff Hoyt

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