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Senior Living Options: Home Care vs. Assisted Living

Aug 3, 2016

Senior Living Options: Home Care vs. Assisted Living

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When it comes time for you or your elder to explore senior care options, you want to be sure that you are making the right choice. One question that is often raised is whether a senior should move to assisted living or receive in-home care. Each care type has their own benefits and disadvantages, so we'll explore the similiarities and differences here.

The Difference Between Home Care and Assisted Living

It is important to know about both of these senior care options, and the differences so you can make the best choice for your senior loved one. If you are wondering which care type is right for you, the SeniorCaring Living Options infographic will help you start your search!

Home Care

Home Care is a type of care for seniors who need assistance with tasks but would like to remain in their own home. The level of assistance can range from help with activities of daily living to skilled medical or memory care.

Home care is typically paid for by the hour and costs will vary depending on the level of care needed. You may have a home care worker in the home for just a couple hours a day, or even hire a live-in aide if you can afford it. The costs of these options will vary depending on your location and the services required, so be sure to get a clear idea of what will be required of a caregiver before beginning the interview process. 

Hiring an In-Home Caregiver

You have two options when choosing an in-home caregiver, opting to use an agency or an independent caregiver whom you are responsible for hiring and managing.

Full-service agencies cost much more than independent providers but have prescreened applicants and do background checks. Because the home health aide is employed by the agency, you will not need to worry about any extra taxes or billing issues. Typically, if your caregiver quits or calls in sick, the agency will have a replacement for you. This can eliminate unnecessary stress in what may already be a turbulent time for a loved one's health. 

Independent providers are often times cheaper than agency hires, however, this choice leaves seniors or their primary guardian to do a lot of work. This would include the verification of potential caregivers for identity and background checks and would require knowledge of taxes and social security procedures since you would be hiring them as an employee or contractor. If your caregiver quits, you will be responsible for finding your own replacement, starting the process all over again.

Advantages of Home Care

In general, seniors want to stay in their home as long as they can. Home care allows seniors to “age in place” with their family or spouse and provides privacy while receiving care from a professional in comfortable, familiar surroundings.

A big advantage of home care is that it gives the senior or their families control in scheduling and daily routines. Seniors also get plenty of one-on-one time with their caregiver when compared to assisted living. This can help greatly with an individual's emotional health, often leading to more potential for recovery and wellbeing overall. 

Disadvantages of Home Care

Home care is expensive and may cost you anywhere between about $3,300-$5,700 per month. Pay varies widely based on geographic location and type of care needed. That does not include adult day care services that your senior may or may not use during the weekdays. Bonding with a caregiver may be difficult for some seniors at first too, so finding the right caregiver can take time. 

Even though home care may give seniors privacy, it can be intrusive for other family members staying in the home.  Another disadvantage to home care is that you only have the support and assistance during the scheduled hours.

Assisted Living

Assisted living is a type of senior care for those who may need assistance with daily tasks but do not require skilled medical care just yet. In assisted living communities, seniors may live in shared or private rooms and have access to things like transportation, housekeeping, laundry services and some basic health care services. All of the features and services in assisted living communities are covered by each monthly payment, ensuring seniors always have the necessary resources available to them. 

Advantages of Assisted Living

Assisted living is typically much more affordable than home care, and is usually one monthly cost for 24-hour support and supervision. Beyond services like housekeeping and meal preparation, assisted living communities also provide many recreational and social activities for residents. Additionally, each community is built with seniors in mind to allow individuals with as much independence as possible while maintaining a safe and secure environment. 

Seniors will feel comfortable being surrounded by other people in the same stage of life as them, encouraging new friendships and a network of support. Although Medicare doesn't directly cover the costs of assisted living, there are many ways to ensure that this care option remains a financially viable decision for seniors and their families. 

Disadvantages of Assisted Living

Assisted living may not be for everyone. If you can afford home care, an individual may prefer to stay at home and receive assistance in a familiar environment. Some seniors may experience emotional distress leaving their homes and families to transition to a new place. Finding a place that is fully accepting of a senior's lifestyle and preferences can sometimes be a difficult task as well. 

Seniors also have less privacy in assisted living settings and residents have much less control over their schedule and daily routine when compared to in-home care. Additionally, the usage of advanced medical services in assisted living can also cause monthly payments to increase without the right amount of planning and budgeting. 

No matter you or a loved one's preferences, there's a senior care option out there for everyone. Whether in independent living, assisted living, a nursing home, CCRC, or home-based care, we'll be with you every step of the way to make sure you or a loved one enters the retirement they deserve!

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Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between home care and an assisted living facility?

There are several differences between home care and assisted living. Home care means hiring a trained professional to provide care right in your home, while assisted living involves moving to a community to receive similar care. The amount of assistance that home care provides depends on your senior's needs and can be tailored accordingly. Home care can range anywhere from weekly companionship and therapy to 24-hour skilled nursing care or even hospice. In contrast, assisted living provides seniors with an enriching community of their peers and medical attention as needed, making it a flexible option for many. 

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I was just told that my Dad is getting kicked out of assisted living. Is that possible?

Unfortunately, yes. Though it sounds awful, seniors can sometimes get kicked out of assisted living communities. Some of the reasons senior get kicked out are: endangering the health and safety of other residents or workers, breaking the rules, not paying the bill, or needing more healthcare than the community provides. However, most communities will provide residents with at least 30 days’ notice of eviction to allow families to plan around the situation. 

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