Deciding whether your loved one should move into an assisted living facility or remain at home is a tough decision and, given the choice, almost everyone would prefer to stay at home. However, that kind of decision rarely depends on what we want. Costs, safety, health, proximity and living situation, for instance if your elder lives alone or with someone else. Although every situation is unique, these are the factors to take into account when making a choice, and we’re here to help.

What is Assisted Living?

Assisted living communities are usually structured like apartment homes. They feature round-the-clock security, a registered nurse on campus (or on call) and elder-friendly homes (bedroom layouts, grab bars, and regular check-ups).

Assistance with the activities of daily living are also provided. For example, meal preparation, laundry services, cleaning, and home maintenance. Seniors have freedom to leave the premises — it’s not a locked down facility — and many assisted living homes provide transportation. There are events and daily activities hosted on the campus, promoting a core part of the assisted living experience: socialization.

Assisted living tends to be expensive however. For the United States, the average an assisted living community is $3,500 a month. Of course, that cost may be less substantial when you consider your elder’s needs and physical/mental health. It is important to factor the cost of assisted living with the myriad of other reasons, such as health, living situation (alone, married, or with a roommate), current neighborhood, etc. To help make an informed decision, we need to look at one of the alternatives: in home care.

What is in Home Care?

In home care is a caregiver that visits your parents’ home and provides non-medical care, specifically help with the activities of daily living (ADLs). ADLs are what they sound like, everyday activities. These include meal preparation, cleaning linens, laundry, garbage, dishes, personal grooming, dressing, bathing, transportation, etc. In home caregivers perform all these tasks and many are even available for 24/7 companionship.

In home caregivers usually cost an hourly rate, so it’s on you to determine the best time allocation for your loved one.

On the surface then, in home care and assisted living may seem as though they provide the same service, but one allows your elder to live at home while the other forces them to move. Why then would you choose to move your elder? To answer that, you need to consider the following questions. That doesn’t mean they require an absolute answer, but they need to be thought about before you decide.

Questions About In Home Care Options

1. What does your senior want?

This question is frequently on two ends of the spectrum: either it’s regarded as the only question that matters or it’s disregarded entirely. You should consider what your senior wants as every person is different and what they may want is to not leave the house they have all their memories in. Even if your loved one is showing symptoms of dementia, being in a familiar environment may help anchor their memories or provoke muscle memories. That said, if your loved one is suffering from debilitating condition, moving to a facility that’s fitted for long-term care could be a good option.

2. What is your elder’s current living situation?

This is one of the more challenging questions to answer because it branches into a myriad of others. First, do you live with your elder? If you do, how is your mental well being? Are you managing your job while giving your senior the care they need? And what of your own immediate family (spouse & children)? Are they cared for or overworked and overtired? If you do live with your loved one and have a support system, then an in home caregiver may be the best option. Someone to help when you need to get work done or simply need to take the day off to recuperate.

If you don’t live with your elder, then do they have a loved one or roommate living with them? How is their health. As an example, say you and your mother start to notice your father is showing signs of dementia, but you live out of state. Your mother may be confidant, but is she able to provide enough care to your father? How will that impact her health? In a situation such as this, “cost” may be relative considering that caregiving may negatively impact your mom’s health, thereby potentially costing much more.

3. What do you want?

It’s no secret that caregivers are self-sacrificing individuals, and when you’re the primary caregiver for your loved one, you may fail to recognize your needs. Many think “what they want” is selfish, but it’s not. You need to “put your oxygen mask on first” so to speak.

Are you someone that would panic if you couldn’t get a hold of your elder on the phone? Do you need 24-hour assistance? Or will you feel guilty going against your parents’ wishes? Consider your needs as well when making the decision between in home care and home health care.

In Home Care vs Assisted Living

If you’re still wrestling with these questions, a good rule of thumb is to consider your senior’s health first. If your loved one suffers from a condition that will get progressively worse, an assisted living community may be the right option so they have access to more intensive care as the condition worsens. If however, you’re worried about your loved one, but they don’t have a degenerative condition, then an in home caregiver may be the best option. For instance, if you worry about your father’s driving, or your mother is recovering from a fall, then in home care might be the best option for you and them.