Assisted living vs in home care is a tough choice When your parent or spouse needs assistance in their daily life, many families face a tough choice – assisted living vs in-home care. Choosing between assisted living and home care involves many factors, both personal and financial.
It’s a complex decision and the answer depends on your older adult’s specific situation. We share what you need to know about the 3 essential factors to consider: how much help they need, key differences between assisted living vs home care, and their financial situation. Knowing the facts helps you make the best choice for (or with) your older adult.
1. Figure out how much help they need Before making any decisions, it’s necessary to find out how much help your older adult needs and compare that with how much help is already available.
First, make a list of everything your older adult needs help with on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Being able to see the whole picture helps you choose the correct level of care. Next, be realistic about how much help you, family, or friends and neighbors will provide. It’s important to think about this in terms of long-term, ongoing help – a few weeks or months isn’t going to be enough. After comparing those two lists, you’ll have a better sense for the tasks your older adult will need additional help with – anything that isn’t already covered. In some cases, looking at this list makes it obvious that in home care will work best. In other cases, assisted living might be the clear choice. 2. Understand key differences between in home care and assisted living Before you can choose between in home care and assisted living, it’s important to understand how they work. Here are the basics and key pros and cons for each.
In-home care: pros and cons In-home care is when a caregiver is hired to come into the home to help seniors with activities of daily living. This enables your older adult to continue living safely at home. The specific help provided depends on the older adult’s needs and could include meal preparation, getting around the house, transportation, bathing, dressing, using the toilet, etc.
Senior gets one-on-one care tailored to their needs and preferences
Senior can stay in their home or a relative’s home as they age
Costs can be lower depending on hours of care needed and caregiver skill level
Family gets to choose the caregiver
Senior gets to know one caregiver, rather than being cared for by many different people
Flexibility in care arrangements: different types of care could 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
Ongoing family involvement is needed for hiring and managing caregivers as well as planning backup care options
Potential for social isolation, which can contribute to depression, cognitive decline, or health problems
Home may need modifications for safety or wheelchair accessibility
Housekeeping and home maintenance need to be done and groceries and personal care and household supplies need to be bought
Assisted living: pros and cons An assisted living community is a place where many seniors live, in rooms or small apartments. Most communities offer a wide range of care options, from seniors who are mostly independent to those who need a high level of care. Services like meals, transportation, group activities, and housekeeping are included in the monthly fee.
More affordable way to get 24/7 supervision and care
Family can focus more on the relationship rather than on care needs
Senior has plenty of opportunities for social interaction with other residents
Family doesn’t need to worry about hiring, scheduling, or managing caregivers
Level of care can be increased as needed because staff is already in place
One-on-one care won’t be as personal as it is at home.
Relationships with caregivers can vary depending on the staff/resident
If significant one-on-one care is needed, moving to a higher level of care community such as skilled nursing may be necessary
Senior may not enjoy being in a group living environment
3. Understand the financial situation Before you can make a choice about assisted living or in home care, you need to know how each choice would work with your older adult’s budget.
Figuring out assisted living and in-home care costs isn’t easy and is specific to each person’s needs, location, and how much family help they have. This takes some work, but it’s worth the effort because it helps you plan for the future and avoid unpleasant scenarios like your older adult suddenly running out of money. The best thing to do is to call around to get actual pricing information from assisted living communities you’d consider and in home care providers you might use. That way, you’ll know how much it would cost to get the level of care your older adult needs in the city they live in.
A faster, but less accurate approach is to use averages from an online long term care cost estimating tool. According to Genworth, the 2021 national average monthly cost for in-home care was $4,957 for 44 hours of care per week. The 2021 national average monthly cost for assisted living was $4,500.
There will be a lot of factors to consider because you’re essentially making financial estimates for the next 5 to 10 years of your older adult’s life. If analyzing and comparing costs becomes overwhelming, ask a trusted relative or friend for help. Or, consult a reputable financial adviser or accountant. Here’s an overview of the key costs you’ll need to take into account.
Monthly in home care costs
Hours of care needed x caregiver hourly rate
Groceries and meal preparation
Personal care supplies
Housekeeping and laundry
Rent or mortgage and property taxes
Home and yard maintenance
Utilities, water, and garbage
Assisted living costs Assisted living fees vary by community so don’t assume that most services will be covered by the base monthly rate. Lakeside Place is an all inclusive community and does not charger for higher levels of care. That’s why it’s important to ask for a list of ALL potential fees on top of the monthly rate. Your older adult may need these additional services now or in the future.
Common fees include:
Monthly base rate
Additional fees for the necessary level of care
Housekeeping and laundry
Personal care supplies
Meals, in-room dining, or snacks
After adding up the costs, you’ll have a good idea of which option fits better in your older adult’s budget, assisted living or in home care.