Some might measure the years in birthday candles or gray hairs, but many quantify the effects of aging in how they go about daily life.
As you take strides toward your golden years, you might begin to consider various solutions that can help set your future self up for success. One of the most important topics that you’ll likely contemplate is how to best handle your health and independence, especially when these become difficult to manage on your own.
We know that the myriad of options for care can be overwhelming. To help you make an informed decision, the team at Evergold has assembled a comprehensive guide that walks through two of the most common arrangements: home care and assisted living.
What is Assisted Living?
Assisted living facilities have become increasingly prevalent, with more and more older adults (and their children) seeing their value. Assisted living facilities support older adults through daily activities such as bathing, dressing, meal preparation, and on-site nurses, while simultaneously enjoying both privacy and independence. For the more than 800,000 residents in assisted living facilities across the country, this long-term solution is an excellent fit.1 But the pros and cons of this solution vary from individual to individual, making them well worth considering.
Pros and Cons of Assisted Living
Advantages of Assisted Living
Assisted living facilities come with an abundance of perks for older adults, from social benefits to care advantages.
- Professional Care and Assistance: The hallmark of an assisted living facility is its team of trained staff, who are available around the clock to provide assistance and care. This can include support through routine activities or care from skilled nurses, all in the interest of keeping older adults safe, comfortable, and healthy.
- Social Enrichment: Assisted living communities are exactly that –– communities –– and these environments can help older adults cultivate and maintain relationships well into their golden years. Through planned activities, on-site amenities, and transportation services, assisted living facilities work to combat the isolation many seniors face.
- Safety and Security: Despite our best efforts, even the most attentive amateur caretakers cannot provide the 24/7 supervision needed to care for some older adults. Assisted living facilities are designed with the safety and security of residents in mind. Professional staff and community security keep a watchful eye on residents without encroaching on their independence.
Disadvantages of Assisted Living
Of course, despite its perks, assisted living is not without its limitations.
- High Costs: There are no two ways about it: Assisted living can be expensive. As of March 2023, the average monthly cost of an assisted living facility was around $4,000 –– a fee not covered by Medicare.2 If you’re exploring assisted living for your aging parent, carefully consider the financial implications to ensure you plan properly.
- Loss of Independence: Assisted living facilities aim to preserve residents’ independence. But to someone who may be leaving their private space for a community with around-the-clock supervision, this shift can still feel like a total loss of autonomy. Consider this lifestyle adjustment when deciding between assisted living and home care.
- Limited Personalization: While most assisted living facilities do retain an on-site nursing staff, there are limitations to the care these professionals can provide. Depending on individual needs, this lack of individualized care might necessitate additional help –– which can come at an additional (hefty) cost.
What is Home Care?
Home care is largely what it sounds like –– daily professional care and assistance, in the comfort of one’s own home. This solution ensures that older adults and seniors receive personalized care tailored to their specific needs, without having to uproot their lives and relocate. Compared to an assisted living facility, home care can be less expensive, more dignified, and more individualized. But like assisted living, the benefits can vary from person to person.
Pros and Cons of Home Care
Advantages of Home Care
Depending on the situation, home care can be an excellent alternative to assisted living for a number of reasons.
- Familiar Environment: One of the biggest benefits of home care is that seniors can receive the care and support they need in the comfort of their own home. The increased popularity of aging in place is largely due to this desire to remain in a familiar and comfortable environment, surrounded by belongings, memories, and loved ones.
- Personalized Care: Compared to the nursing teams at assisted living facilities, which are subject to frequent changes, home care is highly customizable and consistent. This not only allows you or your loved one to select the best caregiver(s) but also to modulate the level of care and ensure specific conditions are addressed and needs are met.
- Cost-Effective (Sometimes): At face value, home care can be a more cost-effective option than assisted living, largely due to the elimination of accommodation and facility fees. However, depending on the level of care and attention needed, any potential savings can quickly be reduced. Before pursuing the cost-saving benefits of home care, consider the full breadth of care needs to ensure this option is still cheaper after all.
Disadvantages of Home Care
Home care can help you save money and enhance the level of care, but its drawbacks are worth noting.
- Limited Social Interaction: According to a report from the CDC, as many as 25 percent of seniors are socially isolated –– an affliction linked to dementia and other serious medical conditions.3 Seniors receiving home care may have fewer opportunities for social engagement compared to those in assisted living communities, putting them at a greater risk.
- Necessary Home Modifications: Simply because a home is comfortable and familiar does not mean it’s safe. In order to pursue home care as a long-term solution, certain home modifications may be necessary. These can be inexpensive, like adding grips to the shower floor, or they can be costly –– like installing stair lifts or widening doorways.
- Dependence on Caregivers: The 24/7 care and supervision of assisted living facilities is one of their biggest benefits –– and one many may overlook when faced with the steep cost. Round-the-clock at-home care, on the other hand, is contingent on the availability (and reliability) of caregivers, and the quality of care may vary based on the selected service. With that said, home care allows you to choose your care team, which is a luxury assisted living facilities do not provide, and may be enough to tip the scale for many.
How to Decide Which Option is Best for You
As evidenced above, there are countless benefits and limitations of both assisted living and home care, and choosing between the two will require some careful consideration. In addition to our highlighted pros and cons, here are some factors to consider when weighing your options, whether for yourself or for a loved one.
Level of Assistance Needed
When comparing home care vs assisted living, assess both your current and potential future needs for assistance with even the most routine activities. If you already stand to benefit from more comprehensive care (or simply some daily support around the house), assisted living might be worth your consideration.
Some thrive on independence, and others like a helping hand now and then. Be honest: which one are you? As you contemplate home care or assisted living, look inward at your desire for independence to ensure you make the right choice for your living situation. Whether you elect for autonomy in a familiar setting or embrace a new community, know that 1) it’s your life and 2) there are no wrong answers.
Much like there are independent and dependent people, there are those who prefer alone time and those who derive their life force from a good social hour. Home care and assisted living can mean dramatically different things for a social life, making it all the more important that you evaluate the role social interaction plays for you.
For many, the difference in cost between assisted living and home care may be the biggest factor in the decision. Keep in mind, however, that while assisted living may appear to be the more costly option, the costs of home care can (and do) creep up there. When considering the two, review the long-term expenses associated with each, weighing costs against your budget and available resources.
Your current and future health status will play a significant role in deciding home care vs assisted living. Assess your current condition and any potential future health concerns, ensuring your chosen living situation can grow with you. If you suspect your health needs will likely increase, assisted living may offer a more supportive environment. However, you might find that in-home care is still the right fit after some modifications to your home.
Family and Caregiver Support
Lastly, take into consideration the degree of support you’ll have from both family and caregivers. While you may feel supported and loved by family, keep in mind that your loved ones have lives to live and may not be able to assume the caregiver responsibilities needed to keep you healthy. As you weigh home care vs assisted living, consider the availability, proximity, and willingness of family members or caregivers to provide support. If you’re reassured that your support system will be there for you, home care may be the right fit.
Plan for Tomorrow with Evergold
The choice between home care and assisted living is far from an easy one, especially given the limitations of both. That’s why we at Evergold created our Life Plan at Home (LPaH) program. Through wellness management, coordinated care, and financial support, we built our membership service to support Columbus residents as they age –– on their terms.
Evergold's Life Plan at Home seamlessly bridges the gap between the desire for independence and the need for comprehensive care. To combat limited social interaction, we foster a sense of community and connection by offering various engagement opportunities that enrich the lives of our members. For necessary home modifications, Evergold provides comprehensive assessments and assistance, ensuring homes are safe and tailored to individual needs. Lastly, our program alleviates the reliance on variable caregiver availability by providing consistent, high-quality care through a network of vetted professionals.
With Evergold, you're not just choosing a care plan; you're choosing a lifestyle that values your comfort, safety, and well-being. Learn more about our Life Plan at Home by connecting with one of our Membership Counselors, and begin protecting your future with Evergold today.
1. American Health Care Association. Facts & Figures.
2. Paying for Senior Care. Paying for Assisted Living & Home Care in Ohio.
3. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Loneliness and Social Isolation Linked to Serious Social Conditions.