Home Care vs. Assisted Living: Making The Best Choice

By Betsy Gold, Co-Founder, LeanOnWe

More and more older people prefer to age in place, and flexible in-home care options are readily available. Yet some families may still find providing in-home care overwhelming, and many seniors enjoy living with their peers in an assisted living community.

With so many factors to consider, how do you determine whether in-home care or assisted living is best for you or your loved one? Ultimately, the choice is a personal one. But understanding the differences between the two will help you decide.

What is In-Home Care?

In-home caregivers can provide a wide range of services depending on your needs. They can support daily activities of living such as hygiene, dressing, nutrition, and exercise. They can also help with light housekeeping, meal preparation, and laundry.

Though caregivers don’t provide medical care, they can remind your senior to take medications, schedule doctor appointments, and in many cases, help with transportation.

Benefits of In-home Care

  • Flexibility -- Home health aides can provide a wide range of services and may work anywhere from a few hours a week to full-time.
  • Cost -- You negotiate rates with your caregiver and pay him or her directly. With LeanOnWe, we eliminate the agency middleman so you save money and your caregiver earns better pay.
  • Familiarity -- This type of care allows seniors to age comfortably in their own homes.
  • Companionship -- Personal caregivers allow seniors to receive 1-on-1 attention. Caregivers are available to run errands, take walks, and play games with your loved one.

What is Assisted Living?

Assisted living communities are residential facilities that preserve some of the independence of aging in place while making around-the-clock care available. Seniors typically live in their own apartments and maintain their own schedules, but they also have access to a variety of social activities and public areas. They offer the following types of care and services:

  • Dining
  • Daily Care
  • Housekeeping and Laundry
  • Medication Management
  • Transportation
  • Recreational Activities
  • Nursing and Medical Services

Benefits of Assisted Living

There are several benefits to consider that come with assisted living, they are:

  • Life Balance – These communities offer a balance of support when needed and independence when possible. In addition, you can sign up for different levels of care based on your needs.
  • Social Life – There are numerous opportunities to engage socially with peers, including classes, exercise, games, lectures, movies, and more.
  • Meals – Typically, up to three meals a day are provided, with many buildings also offering a small in-apartment kitchen for simple food preparation.
  • Safety and Security – Communities promote secure living, especially for someone with memory impairment living in a special Memory Care Community.

Cost Comparison: Home Care vs Assisted Living

Comparing the cost of in-home care and assisted living can be complicated, particularly since every family has different needs and priorities.

Remember that aging in place requires paying a mortgage or rent, utilities, maintenance, meals, and in-home caregiver costs. Assisted living fees include these expenses, though they may be affected by the size of your apartment and the level of care required by the facility. Many assisted living communities also charge an administrative fee of up to several thousand dollars when you move in.

In the New York metropolitan area, the average cost of assisted living is about $6,000-$8,000 per month per person. In-home caregivers are paid at rates typically ranging from $25-$40/hour, depending on what type of help is needed and how you hire a caregiver.

What’s Best for Your Situation?

To decide whether in-home care or assisted living is the right choice, start by asking these questions:

  • Does your senior need occasional or more frequent help with basic daily needs?
  • Is she still actively involved in the community or is he isolated and lonely?
  • Are family and friends able to stop by frequently to make sure she is safe and healthy?
  • Has your senior voiced a preference for aging in place or living in a senior community?
  • Which option makes financial sense for your family?

There is no right answer to these questions. But it’s important to remember that assisted living is always an option, so you can start with home care and change your mind later on. But once you move to assisted living — that’s usually a final decision as it is more difficult to leave and find a new home.

Explore the care options in your area and talk openly with your family to determine what is best for your loved ones.

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About The Author

Betsy is a LeanOnWe co-founder and leads the Care Advisor Team that provides day-to-day support for their clients. Before LeanOnWe, Betsy was an award-winning journalist and business editor.