Deciding whether to move into an assisted living facility or opting for home health care is a significant life choice. If you or your loved one need assistance with activities of daily living (ADL), either option will offer help with that, but which one should you choose? In this article we’ll weigh the benefits of each option to help you make an informed decision.
A Quick Comparison of Assisted Living and Home Health Care
Assisted living facilities are residential options designed for seniors who require assistance with activities of daily living but do not need the extensive medical support offered in nursing homes. They offer a community environment, often with a variety of social activities, dining services, and around-the-clock care, making them a good choice for those seeking active social interaction and access to various amenities.
On the other hand, home health care allows individuals to stay in the familiar surroundings of their own homes while receiving personalized care tailored to their specific needs. This option can be particularly appealing for those who want to stay in the comfort of their home.
Both choices offer unique advantages, enabling individuals to select the option that best suits their lifestyle, health needs, and personal preferences.
Type of Care in Assisted Living Versus Home Health Care
The type of care for seniors in an assisted living community and those who choose home health care can be very much the same. In both situations, the client receives assistance with ADL on an as needed basis. Some seniors will need more help than others whichever choice is made. Typical ADL care in either situation includes help with bathing, dressing, grooming, and bathroom assistance. In some cases, caregivers remind clients to take medication but are usually not allowed to dispense it.
A home health caregiver can easily customize the type of assistance required depending on the client’s needs. Many home health services offer help with meal preparation, housework, and transportation as well as assisting with daily living activities. The hours that the caregiver is in the home varies with the level of service chosen. Some seniors just need some help during the day, while others might need someone on site 24 hours a day. Most home health services offer various levels of care.
For seniors who choose assisted living, many facilities have on-site amenities such as beauty salons and barber shops, fitness centers, game rooms, and concierge transportation services. A big plus in an assisted living community is the communal dining hall where meals are served three times a day. Some assisted living facilities like Kingston Residence of Santa Fe offer 24-hour care that is included in fees.
Assisted living facilities provide residents with personal apartments or rooms that can be furnished and decorated to suit the personal taste of the resident. Kingston Residence of Santa Fe offers apartments with spacious layouts, including patios or balconies, and plenty of room for relaxing or entertaining guests. Residents can choose whether to stay in or step out to mingle with others in common areas or to choose an activity. There’s plenty of freedom and independence, but the care is there when needed.
Home health care, of course, means that the senior who needs some help with daily activities receives that help at home. Whether it’s a spacious house or a small apartment, the client is at home. This option is very important for some individuals. Caregivers arrive on the agreed-upon schedule and help as needed.
Cost of Assisted Living versus Home Health Care
Without going into specific numbers, home health care typically costs more than living in an assisted living community. But there are several factors to take into account.
With assisted living, the resident pays a fee that includes their housing costs, utilities, food, and all the other amenities offered. If the room requires maintenance, the facility pays for it, not the resident. Bundling all these costs can save money.
In the case of home health care, the client is just paying for the services rendered by the provider. If that’s the only thing considered, it might in many cases be more cost effective.
However, if the client pays rent or a mortgage payment, utilities, plus regular household maintenance costs, the overall costs can become expensive. Home health care rates vary depending on the services provided. Individuals will have to weigh the costs of each scenario and decide on a plan that best suits their needs and budget.
Socialization and Other Considerations
It seems like there’s a news article every day about the positive effects of socialization for senior citizens. The importance of maintaining connections with others cannot be overstated, but it can be difficult to initiate and continue activities and connections with others for various reasons — the loss of a spouse, physical limitations, and other factors can make it difficult to get out and engage in social activities.
While a home health caregiver does provide one-on-one companionship, the opportunities for engaging with others are far greater in an assisted living community. The term “community” says it all.
Social and recreational pursuits play a crucial role in assisted living communities, focusing on keeping residents engaged and active. At centers like Kingston Residence of Santa Fe, it’s a regular sight to see residents participating in creative projects, fitness sessions, or attending local events, with transportation arranged for these outings.
Summing up the Decision
For some people the decision will be a quick one. One choice will far outweigh the other. For others, it might take more time to weigh the benefits of one situation over another. The only piece of advice here is — don’t rush into a decision. Talk with friends and family, consider personal likes and dislikes, and interview more than one home health care company and visit assisted living facilities.
Story by Julia Osgood