Home Care vs Nursing HomeHome Care vs Nursing Home

Many seniors prefer to “age in place,” living out their later years in their own homes, especially when faced with the outdated concept of old “nursing homes.” However, today’s senior can enjoy a wide range of choices in what his or her life will look like in the years to come, including options for still-active seniors who simply want to downsize, or seniors with medical conditions that would benefit from easy access to medical care.  Below are three considerations in this decision, and the pros and cons of staying at home or moving to a nursing facility.

1. Access to Care

In-Home Care:

While access to care at home is definitely a possibility, it’s important to consider how much care a senior will need, and when he or she will need it. There are agencies that provide a range of services, from assistance in daily tasks (such as preparing meals, taking medication, grooming, etc.), to simple companionship, to more intensive medical care. You can even arrange for physical and occupational therapists to come to the house to provide therapy on a regular basis, helping maintain quality of life for as long as possible. Care services can range from a few times a week, to daily, or even overnight. Many agencies also offer “palliative care,” meaning someone coming to stay with a senior for several hours to allow a caregiver personal time to run errands, make appointments, or just take a break. In-home care can be substantially more expensive than care in a facility, but there are pros and cons to both choices.

Nursing Home:

Nursing homes are probably the most convenient way to ensure you or a loved one will always have immediate access to medical-grade nursing care, although it’s important to review what a potential facility offers, since it can vary. Some facilities provide the additional benefit of offering a range of care options, allowing residents to move around as needed. For example, a resident may need knee surgery, so for the six weeks of recovery, he or she can move into the facility’s rehab wing, then return to his or her permanent room once they’ve recovered. These types of residences offering continuous care are helpful for couples, where one member may need more medical care at any given time, allowing the other member to visit easily and maintain most of his or her regular daily routine.

2. Familiarity

In-Home Care:

A senior often prefers to remain in his or her home where they have created so many memories and where they are familiar with the location of all necessities, furniture, light switches, and restrooms. A drawback, however, is that a once-manageable home can easily become difficult to maintain, with lawn care, cleaning, and chores for a large home adding up. There are ways to safety proof a house that can make life easier for a senior, including ensuring that all rugs and carpets are removed or tightly secured, furniture is out of traffic ways, and handles and bars are installed in bathrooms to help with mobility. If a senior is living alone, some wearable safety technology can allow them to contact help with the touch of a button if for some reason they cannot reach their phone.

Nursing Home:

Some seniors, especially those in the beginning stages of dementia, can find change especially confusing and upsetting. Moving into a new living facility can cause substantial frustration and worry. There are several ways you can ease the transition, including visiting the facility ahead of time, and also having familiar people along during the move (ideally, you can have two people helping the senior, one to fill out the needed forms and one to attend to the senior).

For more active seniors, downsizing to an apartment in an independent living community can be a major change but can also offer freedom from maintenance and chores. Today’s senior facilities often offer hotel-like amenities, and plenty of shared space for entertaining friends and family who may come to visit. More senior-only apartment complexes are popping up across the nation, creating the ideal environment for getting to know new, likeminded people and get involved in clubs, activities, and groups.

3. Cost

The bottom line is that the more care a senior requires, the more expensive the care. However, it’s important to remember that in-home care can often outpace care facilities since providers often charge by the hour. Depending where a senior is on the spectrum of care, different options might make the most sense.

For a ballpark on cost, 2015 averages show:

  • Home Care Aide Cost: $20 per hour or $160 per day
  • Assisted Living Cost: $119 per day, approximately $43,000 a year
  • Skilled Nursing Home Cost: $220 per day, approximately $80,000 a year

Whether the final choice is to stay at home until the very end, or to try out a new locale, there are many great topics to consider and discussions to have. It’s an incredibly important decision to make for yourself or a loved one, and thankfully, there are numerous free resources and options to seniors. Finding the best solution can take come work, but feeling safe and cared for is invaluable and worth the time, energy, and money.

SeniorAdvisor.com has a comprehensive listing of home care and nursing homes across the country. Explore your options now:

Find Nursing Homes

Megan Hammons lives in the Central Texas countryside just outside of Austin, pursuing her love for copywriting after a career in high-tech marketing. She is part of a large, diverse family and enjoys spending time with the multiple generations living in her community.


  1. Bridget July 26, 2016 Reply

    I would choose home care as it allows your loved ones remain independent whilst receiving proper care.

  2. Rachel August 17, 2016 Reply

    Choosing the right care for your loved one means knowing what their limitations and needs are. I once saw that a good rule of thumb is if they need more than 40 hours a week of care, then they should probably be in an assisted living home. This makes sense, considering home care can end up costing you more. Thanks for sharing this.

  3. Gregory Willard September 9, 2016 Reply

    I can understand why a senior would want to remain in their home where they have created memories. It’s really great that they can receive the care that they need without having to leave their home. I know that when I get too old, I would want someone coming to me to help me.

  4. Shana January 3, 2017 Reply

    I believe that in home care is very vital. Families loved one receives one on one care. Less room for falls and injuries. Not to mention, those who have medical conditions such as Dementia, changing the environment and relocating residency can become frustrating and difficult for them.

  5. Derek Mcdoogle March 7, 2017 Reply

    In your article, you stated that nursing homes are probably the most convenient way to ensure you or a loved one will always have immediate access to medical-grade nursing care, although it’s important to review what a potential facility offers, since it can vary. My mom just celebrated her 78th birthday and at her party, she was having a really hard time getting around and doing things for herself. I wonder if there is a point when a nursing home is no longer an effective place for someone to be.

  6. Melia April 27, 2017 Reply

    This is all great, but when your parents have limited income they get limited care. The home care people are not the greatest, so as usual the poor are the ones who suffer. Money talks! The elderly work all their lives and are treated like dirt. Your article has opened my eyes to how money talks. Seen it every time my mom goes into the hospital.

  7. Kourtney Jensen May 12, 2017 Reply

    Your article was very helpful in comparing the two options of an assisted living home and home care. I like that with in home care that they can be in a place where they are in a place they know and are comfortable in. The fact that they can also administer medication or simply be company is great. I never knew the cost of both options but always assumed in home care would be cheaper, but I was completely wrong! I have seen in home care really benefit peoples life at the end stages of their life. I’ll be sure to pass this along to anyone who is thinking about senior care options.

  8. Banny Dairard June 27, 2017 Reply

    Thank for such informative article.Choosing the right care for your loved is difficult task.One has to prepare mentally at the time of putting your elderly parent/s to the nursing home.I would probably prefer nursing care home, as it provides qualified registered nurses, 24-hour expert nursing care, High quality and supportive care in a comfortable environment .

  9. Jackie June 28, 2017 Reply

    Independent living is also an option, allowing the senior to feel “independent” while being among many other seniors sharing the same situation. It is also less expensive than assisted living.

  10. Derek Dewitt August 10, 2017 Reply

    My wife is thinking about putting her dad into a nursing home but isn’t sure about it yet. I like that you mention how there are hotel-like amenities and lots of shared space at retirement homes. This would be really great for when the entire family comes up to visit! Thanks for sharing.

  11. Kyle Wayne October 6, 2017 Reply

    I like that you mentioned how a nursing home is probably the most convenient way to ensure your loved one has immediate access to medical care. My dad is looking to find an old-people home for his dad who is in a quite frail condition. I’ll be sure to talk to him about finding a nursing home to take him to so he has the medical attention when needed.

  12. Julius Wither Amberfield January 18, 2018 Reply

    What I liked the most was how you said that senior care in a nursing home was the best bay to ensure that our loved one will receive the right treatment and care that they needed. To be honest, I didn’t like the idea of sending my grandma to a senior care facility at first. I was convinced that we can take care of her ourselves. But seeing this article and realizing that she will receive the right care if she was admitted there made me change my mind. Thank you for sharing. I’ll just make sure to visit her often.

  13. Jerri February 13, 2018 Reply

    Helpful information for those that do not have knowledge of Home Health vs Nursing Care experience. However, not so much for individuals like myself. I currently work in a retirement home for aging adults. The fees in this article doesn’t come close to what I know in terms of what individuals and couples are paying. It cost is great. Not to mention having to sell estate or give to a next of kin when moving into an assisted or nursing facility.

  14. Ellie Davis March 9, 2018 Reply

    I was completely unaware that you could hire physical and occupational therapists to come to your home. My mother is getting older and she is becoming less able to take care of herself. This breaks my heart and I would hate to see her sent to a home. I think I want to start researching in home healthcare so she can stay on her own two feet for as long as possible.

  15. Celestia Stratheimer March 13, 2018 Reply

    It was really nice how you said that in-home care is a good option simply because most seniors will prefer to stay in their homes where they have made a lot of fond memories and which they are familiar with. That’s the same thing my grandmother said and so she wants to stay in the house with us. I guess now, our only option is to look for an in-home care provider to give her what she needs as we cannot do it for her. Thank you for sharing!

  16. James Anderson April 14, 2018 Reply

    My mother is in need of assistance as she has Alzheimer’s. It’s great that you’ve mentioned how living assistance will be able to help her with daily tasks as well as provide intensive medical care if ever she needs one. We do want to give what’s best for her, which is why we’ll be checking around the area for the best possible facility that can cater to his condition.

  17. Mina Edinburgh July 27, 2018 Reply

    It sure was informative when you said that the nursing home is the best option if the family wants to make sure that their loved one has access to medical assistance whenever they need it. If that is the case, then I will consider leaving my grandma in a nursing. I only want what’s best for her, and I know that she will not do well living with me because I am usually out of the house, and the nearest hospital is miles away.

  18. Thomas Westgren September 19, 2018 Reply

    I like how yous aid that a nursing facility is a good place to put your family to ensure that they will have the medical care that they need at all times. My mom is getting pretty old and after my dad died, she has had a hard time taking care of herself. We’ll have to look into a good nursing facility nearby that we can put her in so she can get a little more constant and consistent help.

  19. Olivia Pearson October 24, 2018 Reply

    I like how you said that a senior often prefers to remain in his or her home where they have created so many memories, and where they are familiar. I think that in-home senior care is a great way to help seniors feel comfortable, and stay with family, as well. My friend’s mother is getting older, but she doesn’t want to leave her home, where her whole family is. I’ll have to recommend that she find a reliable in-home senior care service in her area, that can take care of her in the comfort of her own home.

  20. Taylor Bishop December 6, 2018 Reply

    Thanks for helping me learn more about in-home care and nursing homes. It’s good to know that at a nursing home a senior can have immediate access to medical-grade nursing care. This sounds very important especially if a senior has some conditions that need to be treated regularly.

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