What’s the Best Fit? Assisted Living vs. Home Care

When an older adult needs assistance or has been diagnosed with a chronic illness, it’s common for loved ones to start debating which care option is the best fit. While one family may choose to work with a home care agency, a different families loved one may be best suited to move into an assisted living facility. Either way, it’s a big decision and one that should be treated with care. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s beneficial for you to learn about these two popular options for senior care.

Nonmedical Home Care
While home health care offers skilled nursing and therapy services in the home, a home care agency’s main focus is on nonmedical support. Every older adult’s situation is different, but generally caregivers can be hired to provide assistance with responsibilities such as light housekeeping, menu planning, grocery shopping, meal preparation, bathing, and grooming.

To help with your decision, here are some criteria that suggest an older adult may be a good candidate for non-medical home care services:

  • Needs minimal to moderate level of overall assistance
  • Would benefit from nonmedical support each day for a few hours at fairly regular times.
  • Does not have intermittent needs, like needing help getting to and from the bathroom sometimes in the middle of the night

It’s also a good idea to have your loved one residing in a home that is senior-friendly, like a single level with an accessible bathroom and limited stairs.

Some families also utilize home care as a short-term solution while they are searching for an assisted living community. This allows families more time to ensure they are making an informed choice about which community is the best fit for their loved one.

Assisted Living
Similar to home care, assisted living allows elders to preserve their independence. Assisted living residents generally have their own apartment or suite in a welcoming atmosphere. They are able to live with the peace of mind that comes with knowing caregivers are on-site 24/7, if needed.

To help with your decision, here are some needs or special criteria that suggest an older adult may be a good candidate for assisted living:

  • Difficulty managing their medication schedule and refilling prescriptions
  • No longer driving and is having difficulty having access to transportation
  • Is living with a mobility impairment, which increases the risk for a fall
  • Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia
  • Living in an older home that is not modified for senior safety

Having access to nutritious meals and opportunities to socialize with fellow residents are a few more benefits of moving to an assisted living community.

Home Care vs. Assisted Living – Cost Comparison
It’s common to assume that it’s more budget-friendly to have your loved one stay in their own home rather than moving to an assisted living community. This is an understandable assumption since many seniors live in homes that have their mortgages paid off. However, this doesn’t take into account the additional costs of maintaining a private home, including but not limited to, taxes, utilities, cable service, maintenance repairs, as well as property and homeowners’ insurance.

When comparing the costs of home care vs assisted living, it’s important to compare the costs in a fair manner, meaning you should make sure to include expenses most seniors will eventually need if they continue living independently:

  • Housekeeping and laundry
  • Lawn care
  • Snow removal
  • Grocery shopping
  • Meal preparation
  • In-home caregivers and aides
  • Medical alert emergency call system

Depending on the needs of the older adult, family members may be able to cover certain tasks for a few hours to help out each week. However, if your loved one needs recurrent care such as taking their medication during the night or overnight assistance to the bathroom, it might be essential to hire an around-the-clock caregiver. This can cause the overall expenses to add up quickly.

The overall takeaway here is that there are a variety of factors to take into consideration when making this decision. You need to choose the best option for your loved one to make sure they are happy and comfortable with whatever choice you and your family make!

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