As the older adults celebrate more birthdays, they begin to become less independent, requiring some assistance in their daily lives. Some are not able to cook, groom, transfer, and do other daily living tasks as comfortably as they would in the past due to aging. At this time, families usually have the responsibility of determining the right path to choose in regards to looking after their aging relatives. This is something that can be stressful, confusing, and time-consuming.
The primary options caregivers have for retirees who are still in somewhat good health and are mostly self-dependent are moving them to an assisted living facility or letting the older adults receive in-home care.
Naturally, caregivers want to ensure that their aging parents or loved ones are happy, healthy, and in the right hands at all times. It is why they must consider several factors before choosing any senior care option to make sure that it is the most viable one.
Understandably, a high percentage of older adults desire to remain in their homes and receive care in an environment that they are already accustomed to and comfortable with. However, not all families can benefit from this kind of arrangement. To make things more transparent, here are some guidelines that outline in-depth comparison of assisted living and home care options to help individuals make an informed decision.
To begin with, it is crucial to understand what the senior care options are to understand what they entail.
The definition of assisted living is as follows: assisted living facility (ALF) is a retirement community for aged adults who require little to no help to satisfactorily complete and enjoy their day-to-day activities. The facilities offer accommodation and care, encouraging residents to involve themselves in activities, mingle, and take advantage of the various amenities that the assisted living facilities provide.
What is In-Home Care? Unlike assisted living, In-Home care is where an older adult chooses to have a professional home health aide come to their house, which can be a private residence, ALF, or nursing home. The experts come in for a few hours a day to help out, or they can be live-in home health aides as well for those senior citizens who qualify. The aides provide one on one care. It is a great option because seniors have trained caregivers by their side who use customized care plans to take care of their needs. The care plans are generally prepared by case workers from the home care agencies that the families contract with. Such case workers also do periodic follow-ups to make sure that in home care aides are doing a great job. This sort of senior care option enables older adults to live independently and perhaps longer in their place of residence. Because in home care is a popular senior care option, there are numerous home care agencies in every state, so finding home health care near you shouldn’t be a problem.
Opting to stay in a retirement home means that an aging individual will have to part with some money to enjoy their stay, although there are many ways to pay for assisted living. Prices of assisted living facilities range significantly in all states, but the average is under $4000 per month.
A majority of facilities operate using the tiered programs which means that they have various service levels where each tier of service typically costs more than the one below. As senior citizens demand or need more services, the expenses increase. Depending on the type of assisted living community, seniors usually have an option of either renting the apartment they want to stay in or buying it.
When it comes to private home care, the costs may be less because members of the older generation do not pay board and room in the residences. The nationwide average monthly cost for in-home care as compared to assisted living is just a bit higher than $4000 per month. However, seniors and their families do have to pay for the aide working with them every single day based on number of hours that they work every day. If only occasional in-home care is needed and the number of daily hours is low, in-home care will be a more affordable option than assisted living.
Even though both in-home care and assisted living cater to the same senior population segment, it is possible that one individual may be an excellent fit for assisted living and not do too well with in home care – and vice vesa.
Assisted living communities specialize in pooling care for many older inhabitants. Sometimes, it translates to limited amounts of individual/one-on-one care because caregivers have multiple people to look after. It should be noted that some assisted living homes have less than ten occupants while others can house over a hundred senior citizens. It should not be a cause for alarm though, because each assisted living facility staff according to their size to ensure they do not ignore residents. There are also specific staff to resident ratio regulations in each state to ensure that all seniors receive proper and adequate care.
Occupants who pay for assisted living get to take advantage of meals, board and room, care and numerous additional amenities. Some facilities come with luxurious amenities that occupants can use; thus it is upon the older adults to choose the senior care option they can afford while catering to their needs and wants.
Note that a high percentage of assisted living facilities do not offer nursing care (with the exception of continuing care retirement communities, also known as CCRCs) but can help with tasks such as medication administration and reminders. Many older adults here enjoy the fact that they become part of a community with aged and like-minded individuals.
Senior citizens also participate in activities outside the assisted living residences, enjoy charming outdoor areas, and can also utilize transportation services to run errands and get to appointments with medical experts. Furthermore, there is always someone at the front desk to assist in emergency situations. An older adult can choose to stay alone or have a roommate who can be a spouse or a friend.
Services that clients receive with in-home care option are similar to those offered in assisted living, and typically center on activities of daily living (ADL’s). These may include help with tasks like toileting, bathing, feeding, dressing, and mobility. It is similar to what assisted living offers, alongside instrumental activities of daily living which can include communication help, transportation, medication reminders, and housework.
A home care aide gets payment for reporting to an elder’s home for a certain amount of time to accomplish the responsibilities they are in charge of. The minimum amount of time that the professional can spend in one’s residence is three hours per day. Retirees who require help round the clock, known as live-in home health aides, can only get them after an assessment of their condition is conducted, and it is determined that they qualify for 24/7 in-home care. For more fragile older adults who do not qualify for 24/7 in-home care but need 24/7 monitoring, assisted living is a better and safer option.
Similar to assisted living centers, home care aides do not perform medical tasks such as administering drugs, diabetes shots and looking after open wounds. Note that some private home care companies exist to provide nursing services at an extra cost.
When an elder’s needs and illness demand hospice services, a majority of assisted living homes permit hospice companies to offer their much-needed services in a senior’s apartment inside the assisted living facility. A team of professionals which can include doctors, nurses, and aides can cater to the aged person in their living unit.
In regards to home care, there is a huge difference from assisted living because it is often not possible for an individual to receive hospice services in their home. In such instances, loved ones have an option of hiring home care aides to assist in making retired adults feel as comfortable as possible and can try to get in-home nursing services as well, if necessary.
As mentioned above, seniors have to pay regardless of the senior care option they choose. Individuals who are able financially can pay using their savings or other investments for the services they want to receive.
Long-term health insurance and Medicare can also take care of some costs, both for assisted living and non-medical in-home care. With Medicare, however, one must qualify financially and medically. Be sure to check with the state requirements to confirm eligibility.
Services Medicaid can pay for include durable medical equipment, in-home health care, minor modifications such as widening doorways or adding ramps for wheelchair accessibility as well as personal care services that might include bathing and dressing. Additionally, it may also cover costs for transportation to medical appointments (to and from), basic laundry and cleaning tasks, and simple meal delivery or preparation.
In cases where older adults and their families do not have enough money to afford senior care, it is advisable that they tap into numerous options that the community has to offer. Never overlook synagogues, churches and the local Aging Office, Area Agency, and senior centers. They can assist or point an elderly individual in the right direction to get the financial aid they desire.
Veterans Aid and Attendance Pension is another option the elderly can look into to assist with in-home care or assisted living costs. It is only accessible to veterans or surviving spouses who have less than $80,000 in assets.
It also never hurts to ask for support from family and other loved ones as they can come together and pool the resources that a person needs to comfortably afford senior care, whether they want to remain at home or find a local assisted living facility.
The main perks of assisted living are the supervision and support that occupants enjoy 24/7. The facilities are put in place to offer older adults a safe place to retire, taking care of their hygiene, nutritional, and fitness needs.
Most importantly, they create an ideal social environment that allows retirees to thrive as they make friends with their age mates and explore not one but numerous possibilities in regards to recreational and educational opportunities. It is something that is known to lead to better quality life for those in their post-retirement years.
Retirees also do not have to stress about home maintenance chores in their retirement age when they choose ALF’s over in-home care. Senior living communities have professionals in place to handle things like painting, repairs, mowing the lawn, and everything else that makes sure the retirement communities are running seamlessly.
Some might say that families might benefit from some financial relief when they opt for in-home care. Relatives and friends also get a chance to be close to the older adults so that they do not feel as though they were abandoned and their children and grandkids only visit during the weekends or holidays. This living situation tends to be ideal for people who prefer personal space and do not want to be around many "strangers" inside a senior community. In-home care works out well for older adults who have expected and consistent needs like taking a bath at a particular time of the day all week because the aide will come in at the right time, carry on with their tasks, and leave the aging individuals afterwards to spend time with family.
Absolute freedom in regards to daily activities is another thing that seniors who choose in home care enjoy, as well as reduced stress and proximity to their pets, family, friends, neighbors, and other things they like. Although it should be noted that there are plenty of pet friendly senior apartments that provide assisted living services.
With in-home care a senior gets to stay with their family members in a home they love without having to move to unfamiliar territories. Home care aides allow senior citizens to have control over their routines as they maintain independence. On the flip side, choosing to have a home care aide around may also prove to be annoying or intrusive to other relatives or family members who are living in the same home – a problem that you wouldn’t encounter in an assisted living facility.
Despite the fact that both options come with many perks, they also present a couple of drawbacks for members of the older generation.
For assisted living residents, they may go through loneliness, anxiety, and stress, especially when they first move in because of separation from their families and homes. It may take a long time before they get used to their new living arrangement.
When it comes to in-home care, one of the significant disadvantages is that there aren’t any social or recreational opportunities as compared to assisted living. Many aging individuals may end up feeling lonely and isolated because most of the time, they are either alone or with their caregiver, not spending time with their families or with other older adults. Moreover, pre-determined schedules can be dangerous especially during an emergency. Considering that seniors are prone to slips and falls, when one chooses at home care instead of assisted living, they must make sure that there is always either a home care aide or a family member around.
Another thing worth mentioning is that should senior citizens discontinue the services of an in-home caregiver, it may lead to separation anxiety. It is because the elderly may have been working with their home health aide for many months if not years and may have become attached.
The question of whether hiring an in-home caregiver is the right choice or whether assisted living is better is something that families with aging parents or relatives might have to consider someday. Although it is a complicated decision, the answers usually depend on your or your loved one’s preferences and situation.
Never be in a rush to decide, as it is crucial to consider the options and what they bring to the table carefully. Do not forget to prepare the seniors adequately for a change in the living situation, so that it does not shock or catch them by surprise.
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