Differences Between Assisted Living and In-Home Care

For those who are aging and beginning to see certain health declines, there are a few robust avenues to turn to for help. Two of these that are similar in some ways, but also very different in other important ways that should be noted by those considering them, are assisted living communities and in-home care services. 

For many, particularly those who need daily assistance in certain areas, assisted living communities are the ideal program. In other cases, in-home care solutions will be perfect for a given senior’s needs, and those of their family and other caregivers. Here’s a primer on what each of these titles refers to and the sorts of assistance seniors can receive from each of them, plus some tips on determining what’s right for yourself or any senior loved one you help care for. 

Basics on Assisted Living

While both these programs are meant to assist older adults and allow them to remain independent while still receiving some help in certain areas, assisted living accomplishes this while the senior in question lives on the actual premises of the care facility. These communities can be quite large, accommodating anywhere from a dozen or so residents to over a hundred. 

They offer seniors access to meals and recreational activities, as well as assistance with things like bathing, grooming, and dressing. In addition, most facilities have on-site nurses and other medical staff who can provide additional support as needed. Finally, assisted living communities also provide a sense of social connection and community that many seniors find invaluable as they age.

In addition, many seniors who struggle with certain health conditions or mobility issues may find that assisted living is a more affordable and practical option than in-home care.  Memory care communities, for instance, are a form of assisted living that specializes in caring for seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s. 

In other cases, assisted living will be ideal for seniors who need forms of assistance that can’t be accommodated in their current living situation. For instance, if a senior requires major alterations to their bathroom in order to make it wheelchair-accessible, living in their own home may no longer be an option.

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Basics on In-Home Care

As its name suggests, in-home care is care that is delivered in the home setting. This can be as simple as a few hours of help per day with things like cooking, cleaning, and laundry, or it can involve round-the-clock care from a nurse or other medical professional.

A major part of the draw of in-home care programs is their versatility. Some seniors will only need limited assistance, while others will require more comprehensive care. In-home care providers can tailor their services to meet the specific needs of their clients. 

Another big benefit of in-home care is that it allows seniors to stay in their own homes and maintain their independence for as long as possible. This is often very important to seniors and their families, and can be a cost-effective solution when compared to assisted living.

The downside of in-home care is that it can be more expensive than other options, and it requires a certain level of commitment from the senior’s family and caregivers. In addition, in-home care can be more difficult to find in rural areas or small towns.

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Making Your Choice

Whether you’re a senior, a caregiver or a loved one, correctly identifying which of these assistance types is best is an important task — and one that typically comes down to several individual factors. Here are a few questions to ask yourself when trying to decide:

  • Does the senior in question require more help than I or my family can provide on a regular basis?
  • Do they need assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs), like bathing, dressing and grooming?
  • Is the senior able to live safely and comfortably on their own, but would benefit from some occasional help?
  • Can they get around without assistance, but need help with tasks like grocery shopping or taking medications?
  • Does the senior have a specific health condition that requires regular care and monitoring?
  • Is the family able to provide emotional support and social interaction for the senior?

Once you’ve answered these questions, it will be easier to determine which form of assistance is best to pursue. 

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