Assisted Living vs Home Care: Which Is Better?
When an older loved one can no longer care for themselves, or they are approaching that situation, it’s time to decide how best to provide them with the care and assistance they need. If you or another family member are not able to be the caregiver, you may be faced with choosing between assisted living and home care.
Making the right choice for you and your loved one involves many factors, both personal and financial. What’s right for one family may not be for another. Which is better may depend on your loved one’s specific situation.
To help you make your decision, you may want to consider 3 essential factors: how much care and assistance they need, key differences between assisted living vs home care, and their financial situation (and yours).
1. Determine How Much Help They Need
Before making any decisions about where they will live, you need to figure out how much help your older adult needs and if you and your family members can provide some of that help.
Start by making a list of everything your loved one needs help with on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. This can include things like transportation, help with meals, assistance with medications, help with bathing, housekeeping, and more. Looking at the big picture helps you choose the correct level of care.
Next, be realistic about how much help you, your family, and friends will provide. If you live in the same town as your older adult, you may be able to offer more help than if you live in another state. Your loved one may even be able to move in with you.
It’s important to think in terms of long-term, ongoing help. It’s a big commitment. After comparing how much help is needed and how much help you and others can provide, you’ll have a better idea of the tasks your loved one will need additional help with.
In some cases, looking at this list makes it obvious that in-home care is the best option. In other cases, assisted living might be the best choice.
2. Learn About the Main Differences between the Two Options
It’s important to understand the differences between in-home care and assisted living so you and your loved one can make an informed decision. Let’s start with the basics of how each type of care works, and key pros and cons for each.
In-home care is when you hire one or more caregivers to come into the home to help your senior with activities of daily living (ADLs). This allows your loved one to continue living safely at home.
The specific help provided depends on your loved one’s needs and how much help you and others are already providing. In-home care can include meal preparation, light housekeeping, transportation, assistance with bathing, dressing, using the toilet, etc.
- Senior gets one-on-one care tailored to them.
- They can stay in their home or a relative’s home as they get older.
- Costs may be lower depending on hours of care needed.
- Older adult gets to know one assigned caregiver, rather than being cared for by many different people.
- Flexibility: different types of care can be combined to lower costs, increase social interaction, or provide medical-type care – family help, adult day programs, privately-hired caregivers, agency caregivers, and home health care
- High costs if 24/7 care is needed, as care is billed by the hour.
- Family needs to be fully involved in hiring and managing caregivers and ensuring there is a backup plan for care.
- Increased potential for social isolation, which can contribute to depression, cognitive decline, or health problems.
- You may need to modify the home for aging in place by installing a wheelchair ramp, widening doorways, installing grab bars, etc.
- You or someone you hire still needs to provide housekeeping and home maintenance, as well as buy groceries, personal care, and household supplies.
An assisted living facility or residential care home is a place where multiple seniors live, in rooms or small apartments. Spouses or best friends can live together and receive individualized care.
Most assisted living communities offer a wide range of care options, from seniors who are mostly independent to those who need a higher level of care.
Meals, group activities, and housekeeping are usually included in the monthly fee.
- It’s more affordable than in-home care if you need 24/7 supervision and care.
- You don’t need to worry about hiring, scheduling, or managing caregivers.
- The family can focus more on a loving relationship rather than on care needs.
- Your loved one has more opportunities for social interaction with other residents.
- The level of care can increase as needed with staff already in place.
- Each resident gets a personalized care plan.
- The quality of care may vary based on individual staff.
- Your senior may not enjoy a group living environment.
Now that you know more about assisted living vs in-home care, you may be close to deciding which environment is best for your loved one. The next thing to consider is cost of care.
Before you can make a choice between assisted living or in-home care, you need to know how each choice would work within your budget and your older adult’s budget. Will you and other family members be able to help out financially? Does your loved one have the financial ability to pay for assisted living?
It’s important to note that Medicare does not pay for assisted living, and only covers home health care on a part-time basis.
It’s important to figure out care costs ahead of time so that you can make a long-term care budget that’s realistic. The easiest way to do this is to call around to get actual pricing information from assisted living communities you’re considering as well as in-home care providers you might hire.
According to Genworth’s Cost of Care Survey, the 2020 national average monthly cost for in-home care for 44 hours of care per week was $4,481. The 2020 national average monthly cost for assisted living was $4,300. Remember, that these are just ballpark figures, and the costs may be higher or lower depending upon what state and city your senior lives in and what services they need.
If running the numbers becomes overwhelming, ask a trusted relative or friend for help. Or, talk with a reputable financial adviser or accountant.
Let’s take a look at the key costs you’ll need to consider:
In-home care costs
- Hours of care x caregiver hourly rate
- Groceries and meal preparation costs
- Housekeeping and laundry costs
- Household supplies
- Personal care supplies
- Transportation cost
- Rent or mortgage payments and property taxes
- Utilities costs
- Home and yard maintenance costs
Assisted Living Costs
Assisted living fees vary by community. You will want to ask each facility for a cost breakdown of what is included in the monthly rate, and what extra fees there are.
Common fees include:
- Monthly base rate (will vary for a private or shared room)
- Meals, in-room dining, or snacks (should be included in base rate)
- Housekeeping and laundry (may be included in base rate)
- Additional fees for memory care
- Personal care supplies
- Overnight visitors
After crunching the numbers, you’ll have a good idea of which option is the most cost-effective one for your loved one.
If you’re looking for a residential assisted living home in Maryland, we hope you’ll consider Broad Creek Manor Assisted Living. We’re located on 23 idyllic acres in Harford County. Contact us today to schedule a tour or ask any questions you might have.