Assisted Living vs. Home Care: How to Decide What’s Right for You
Last Updated: July 8, 2019
When you, a parent or spouse is ready for more care, it’s important to consider all of your senior care options — and to decide whether you want that care in an assisted living community or in your own home.
This is a lot to consider, so we’ve put together a list of six things to factor into your assisted living vs. home care decision. Read through these tips:
1. Do you have help close by?
If you have caregivers, family or friends nearby to help you, staying at home may be a fine choice. If your family lives too far away to help on the spur of the moment, it may be safer and less stressful to rely on the 24/7 on-call help in assisted living.
2. How much does home upkeep cost you?
Even if your mortgage is paid off, home maintenance is an ongoing expense. To do a valid cost comparison between assisted living vs. home care, add up the yearly expenses to maintain your home (appliance replacement, lawn care, roof repairs and septic tank maintenance, for example). Include the cost of safety upgrades like grab bars, a ramp or a stair lift. Add that number to the cost of live-in care and compare that total to assisted living rates in your area.
3. How much help do you need?
On average, you’ll have someone at home 44 hours a week, year-round. If you need someone for fewer hours, in-home help may be a better deal than assisted living. If you need more care, or if full-time care is more expensive than assisted living in your area, assisted living might save you money.
4. What’s the quality of your options?
Try out a few home care services and visit several assisted living communities before you decide. Lower cost doesn’t necessarily mean better value. Look for assisted living and home care services with great customer reviews and low staff turnover rates, and think about how well they will serve your particular needs.
5. What’s your ideal social life?
For some people, seeing familiar neighbors, hosting family and friends, and enjoying peace and quiet at home is ideal. For others, meeting new people and participating in assisted living social activities is a great mood boost.
6. Which costs less, assisted living or home care?
The cost is roughly the same in many parts of the country, according to the most recent Genworth Cost of Care survey. The national median assisted living cost is $43,200 per year; homemaker services cost $44,000 and home health assistance, $45,700. But there are some big differences by state. The home care numbers are based on full-time care services (it becomes a lot less expensive if you only need a home caregiver for a few hours a week, as we explain in the next section). You can click here to see assisted living rates for your state as well.
Finally, there are factors that are harder to fit into a checklist, but they matter a lot. One is what your loved ones are telling you (or are hesitating to tell you). If they’re truly worried that living at home is no longer safe and can’t be made safe, that’s a big sign it’s time to move. The other is how much staying in your home means to you. If it’s the key to your happiness and your family supports the idea, it can be worth the effort and money to make it work.
For free expert help navigating your options, please call (866) 592-8119 to be connected with a local Senior Care Advisor.