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Home Care vs. Assisted Living - Breaking Down a Critical Decision

If you or a loved one are facing this decision, it can be overwhelming and emotional. Can you or your loved receive proper care at home, or would it be best to move into an assisted living facility.

What Are Assisted Living Homes? Assisted living homes are best for individuals who require very little senior care daily. This means that most assisted living homes provide residents with some help accomplishing various tasks such as organizing medications, but they don’t offer full-time long-term care. These are not nursing facilities you may have seen in the news during the COVID-19 crisis. There are almost 30,000 assisted living homes in the United States. These facilities currently house approximately 1.2 million residents. Most of these residents are mobile individuals over the age of 65 living full lives with just a little help with day-to-day chores. Those who need a wheelchair to move around or suffer from behavioral or cognitive impairments are typically discouraged from moving to an assisted living facility since they require more specialized care.

Maintaining Independence Assisted living homes allow residents to maintain their independence as long as possible without compromising their safety. They support residents’ privacy, autonomy and dignity while focusing on community and family involvement. Most assisted living homes also promote a resident’s right to interact and socialize with people both in and out of the facilities, to participate in residential councils, to continue using personal possessions and to manage their own finances. Visitors can typically come to an assisted living facility at any time of the day and even stay overnight. Pets are also allowed in many assisted living homes.

Residence and Services People living in an assisted living home typically live in their own private or semi-private apartments. These residences usually include a bedroom, bathroom and kitchen area. Residents get daily assistance with normal tasks such as eating, dressing and bathing. Dining programs offer meals three times daily, and activities for exercise and education are common. Other assisted living services may include housekeeping, health services, recreational activities, laundry services, social and religious activities, transportation services, third-party nursing care through a home health agency, 24-hour security and wellness programs.

What Is In-Home Care? The in-home caregiver is one of the fastest growing and most requested services in the United States today. Agencies providing in-home care offer a range of different services from simple companionship to supervision and personal care. In-home caregivers are appropriate for individuals who want to stay at home, but also need ongoing care that family members and friends cannot provide. This care can be augmented with a Medical Alert System. It allows seniors to age in the comfort of their own home. Most in-home care plans include a combination of assisted living, or non-medical, services and skilled health care services. In the past, there was no significant difference between “home health care” and “in-home care”; however, many people now refer to home health care when skilled nursing care is involved and in-home care when only non-medical care is required. While those differences may seem insignificant, they are important, as they help people understand the level of care being offered.

Non-Medical Care Services Typically Include:

  • Personal care

  • Companionship

  • Supervision

  • Laundry

  • Light housekeeping

  • Meal preparation

  • Medication reminders

  • Shopping

  • Errands

  • Transportation

Tips to Help You Choose Even if you thoroughly understand the details of how assisted living homes and in-home care work, that does not mean this is an easy decision. This is an important step in your life or the life of your loved one, and you want to make sure you make the right choice logically, not emotionally. To do this:

  • Determine how much help you (or your loved one) needs Make a list of everything your loved one needs assistance with on a monthly, weekly and daily basis. This will give you a clear picture of the right level of care required.

  • Compare those needs to the help that is already available. Then you need to realistically assess how much family and friends can help. It is essential that you look at this based on the long-term.

After critically comparing lists, you will have a better idea of how much additional help will be required. This may make your decision on in-home care or assisted living immediately clear, and it may not. Either way, it will be a very helpful tool as you continue.

Evaluate the Pros and Cons Obviously, both assisted living homes and in-home care services offer some great benefits, but both also have disadvantages based on your specific situation. As with any comparison, a simple pro and con analysis can be valuable.

In-Home Care Pros

  • One-on-one care tailored to meet unique preferences and needs.

  • Remaining in the comfort of home and familiar community.

  • The ability to choose the person who will be providing care.

  • One consistent caregiver rather than several.

  • May be more affordable.

  • Different types of care can be combined to lower overall costs.

In-Home Care Cons

  • If 24/7 care is required, it can be very costly.

  • Managing caregivers and backup care planning requires family involvement.

  • While living in the home has its benefits, it can also lead to social isolation.

  • The home may need to be modified for wheelchair accessibility and safety.

Assisted Living Pros

  • Assisted living homes are more affordable when 24/7 care is required.

  • Residents have ample opportunities to socialize with others.

  • The family will not have to manage, schedule or hire caregivers.

  • The level of care can easily be increased as necessary.

Assisted Living Cons

  • Due to frequent staff turnover, one-on-care won’t be as consistent.

  • The quality of care can differ depending on the specific staff members.

  • Residents may be asked to leave for a long list of reasons with little to no advanced notice.

  • Your loved one may simply not enjoy living in a group environment.

Although deciding between assisted living homes and home care can be stressful, if you look at it critically and on paper, you and your loved ones may be able to embrace whatever decision you make more readily. If you determine an assisted living environment is best, do your research, there is a vast difference in quality, services and pricing.

Give Willamette Valley Caregivers a call to help you break down this critical decision you might be facing. Even if you have made the choice of Assisted Living - we can help connect you with some great options/resources.

Content Credit: Today's Caregiver

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