To explore the difference between assisted living and staying in your own home lets break down the information into categories: socialization, meals, exercise, transportation, maintenance, and finances.
Before diving into to differences between each of these categories, lets establish a basic description for Assisted Living and Home Care.
Assisted Living refers to any community that provides services and amenities for residents in Independent Living, Assisted Living or Memory Care. These services include assistance with activities of daily living (bathing, dressing, transferring, etc.) and amenities such as a fitness studio, library, dining room, art studio and more. Some communities offer services for all three options (independent living, assisted living and memory care) in the same building and others might only offer one or two options (memory care only or exclusively independent living).
There are 2 types of home care: in home care and home health care. In home care is not medical and aids with activities of daily living. Home health care is medical care and is more often used for seniors recovering from serious health issues, services provided include wound care, at home therapies, pain management, etc.
For the purpose of this post we will be referencing in home care in comparison to Assisted Living.
Assisted Living: moving into a community provides numerous opportunities for socialization. Most communities follow a monthly calendar of events featuring programs in music, art, cooking, fitness and trips. Program Directors tailor the monthly calendar to fit the needs of the current residents and will often work with the local community to form relationships bringing in inter-generational programming. Residents are able to be as active and involved in community programs as they wish.
In Home Care: people may choose to stay at home for the comfort of being surrounded by familiar neighbors and friends, there may be weekly traditions and gatherings that have been carried on for years. Some home care agencies provide transportation services, mostly for errands around the town and can assist with making sure your loved one is still able to be involved in familiar social circles. It is important to make sure your loved one is socially active, living at home may limit social interaction to other people living in the house and, if needed, the home care worker. Click here to read more about this in our social isolation blog.
Assisted Living: Included in the monthly rent is three meals each day eaten in the community dining room with other residents. Menus are designed for the senior population and feature a variety of heart healthy options. Chefs are also available to customize meal plans for any residents who are on restrictive diets.
In Home Care: the home care worker that comes to your house will most likely be able to assist in preparing and cooking meals to make sure that your loved one eats nutritious food on a regular basis. While you may have family and friends that stop by for lunch or dinner often, there are bound to be meals that your loved one is eating alone.
Assisted Living: Part of the monthly programming within a community will include fitness programs. Classes can vary from chair yoga to Tai Chi to strength building and balance. These classes are offered at the community, usually in a fitness studio, at no extra cost.
In Home Care: in home health may be able to drive your loved one to the local gym or a local fitness class they enjoy taking part in.
Assisted Living: each community offers scheduled transportation services in the community van, this typically includes designated days for medical appointments. In addition to errands around town to the local shops and grocery store, living in a community offers the ability to go on trips with fellow residents. These trips are to museums, outdoor attractions, movies and more!
In Home Care: The home care agency may be able to provide transportation services for your loved one. These services would typically be used for trips to medical appointments and errands around town. Home care agencies may differ on what transportation services they provide, be sure to look into the finer details of any agency you chose to use.
Assisted Living: living in a community offers a maintenance free lifestyle. The community will employ a maintenance department who will take care of snow removal, lawn care, any issues with heating, air conditioning, and plumbing.
In Home Care: a home care agency may be able to help with transportation in inclement weather, but they will not be shoveling your walkway or cutting your grass. You will most likely have to contract out to a landscape company to handle lawn care and snow removal. You will also need to have reliable plumbers and HVAC specialists on hand in case of any emergency inside the house.
Assisted Living: it is important to remember all the services and amenities that come included in the monthly fee for an assisted living community. At first look the price may seem overwhelming but it is inclusive of an apartment, 3 meals each day, daily programming and exercise, most maintenance services and weekly housekeeping. Perhaps one of the most important benefits is a designated amount of personal care each day.
In Home Care: You pay for in home care by the hour. This is beneficial for someone who may only need a few hours of care each week. This will start to get expensive once you need in home care to come every day, all day. In addition to paying the in-home care team you may be paying for your house, utilities, snow removal, lawn care and any other maintenance problems that arise. To be sure the house is safe and accessible as your loved one ages in place adjustments may need to be made. This could include: hand rails and grab bars in the bathroom, safe carpeting throughout the house to prevent tripping, user friendly household appliances, large doorways and ramps for walkers and wheelchairs.
When making the choice between moving into an Assisted Living Community or using a Home Care Agency, choose the one your loved one is most comfortable with, but keep in mind long term care needs. It may be easier for your loved one to make the move to Assisted Living when they are at their healthiest, making friends with residents and connections with associates is so important to finding success in living at a community.
Be honest about the amount of care your loved one could benefit from, if it is more then a few hours each week it may be time to explore your options in senior living.