The Crucial Differences Between Assisted Living & In-Home Care5 min read

On the surface, in-home care services can seem very similar to assisted living centers. Before you move forward with selecting the best service for yourself or for your loved one, consider these key differences when choosing between assisted living locations and in-home care services.

When deciding between home care or moving to an assisted living center there are several things you should consider including:

  1. Level of Care
  2. Cost
  3. Flexibility

Assessing Level of Care

IADLs and ADLs

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs) and Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) are at the heart of all home care services. Most care facilities will focus on helping with these needs.

The ability of an individual to perform these activities is what sets their needed level of care. 

Many home care services will offer a free in-home assessment where they evaluate things like mobility, cognition, medical needs, home arrangements, physical well being, and recurring chores to see what level of care you or your loved one will need.

For example, a senior who is able to pay bills and perform basic hygiene but needs help with housekeeping and taking care of their dog would be on the lower end of hours of service needed.

If the above senior is using home care services, they will be able to adjust their needed hours of service within their home as they age. They will be able to live at home while still receiving the support they need to be independent.

If that same senior chooses an assisted living center, they will be required to move into the center to receive the same level of care. Despite going through all the hassle of moving into assisted living, the average stay for a senior in assisted living is only around 2 years.

Why do seniors leave assisted living?

Because they eventually require a higher level of care.

This is one of the most crucial differences between assisted living centers and in-home care support. Home care is able to adjust to your needs without you or your loved one ever having to move from your home.

Cost Comparisons of Assisted Living & Home Care Services

Calculating cost between assisted living and home care can be misleading. This is because average calculations can not factor in the unique needs of individuals.

For example, say you or your loved one chooses to move into an assisted living center as a couple. You sell your home and move in only to have one spouse have a stroke after one year. Their medical needs become too great and then need to move to a nursing facility.

The costs involved in this scenario present several issues that should be considered:

  1. the cost of moving
  2. the cost of spouses
  3. the cost of relocating to a nursing facility
  4. the cost difference between the spouses’ level of care
  5. the emotional cost of moving from your home and then once again into a skilled nursing facility

Unfortunately, for some couples moving to an assisted living center can be too expensive. In-home care can often be the more affordable option with the added benefit of not needing to move out of your home. Respite care, long-term care, or palliative care can be adjusted based on the level of care and your budget. You can also move in and out of palliative or recovery care.

The best way to assess costs for your care is to speak with a representative from either service to get a price quote based on their going rates as well as the level of care that you need.

Flexibility with Senior Care

Many view assisted living or nursing care as the natural progression for aging seniors. For most, it isn’t a matter of “if” they’ll move into assisted a living but rather “when”.

With adequate home care services, a senior should never have to leave their home. Assisted living can seem like an ideal prospect for very social individuals who enjoy the community setting; however, they should keep in mind that they may need to relocate if their health care needs change down the road. Unfortunately, this is the case for many seniors who move into assisted living.

Home care services offer a team of trained nurses, physical therapists, carers, and doctors to maintain a level of independent care at home. Assisted living centers often have limited staff available to provide care to all seniors at the facility. The care is not as personalized.

It is important to note that home care services do not always require medical support! Home care can be a simple as help around the home or as in-depth as 24-hour skilled nursing. Home care services can include transport to social events and many seniors report bonding closely to their carer or nurse.

Making the Decision on Care for Your Loved One

Whether you’re considering moving into assisted living or you’re weighing the options for your loved one, it is a tough choice. The pros and cons of both should be weighed carefully. The advantage of starting with home care services is that assisted living will still remain an option down the road. Keep in the mind the level of care that you need as well as how much flexibility you have with cost and possible health care changes down the road. Long-term planning will help you keep your overall goals in mind when making adjustments to your care in the future.