The choice of assisted living or nursing home care is a struggle many people face when their loved ones age. This guide will provide you with the information needed to help decide what is best for your situation.
What Is Home Care?
Homecare is a set of services that have been designed to help people with disabilities or those who are elderly maintain their independence and quality of life. Homecare is not just about getting someone dressed or bathing them - it's also about making sure they are comfortable enough so they don't have to leave their own home while receiving care.
It's a way of living that allows adults with disabilities or seniors who need extra help in performing daily tasks to live independently at home as long as possible.
What's the Difference Between Home Care & Home Health Care?
Homecare is a term that refers to care given by people who are not professional healthcare providers. It can be provided at the recipient's home, in an assisted living facility, or in other residential settings. Family members and friends have traditionally provided home care, but there has been an increase in independent service providers of homecare services on behalf of others.
The quality and cost of these services will vary greatly depending on the provider and level of care required. Some common benefits to receiving home care include freedom from transportation difficulties, reduced rates for nursing homes, increased independence, regular contact with a caregiver, and usually results in less time spent waiting in doctor's offices or hospitals.
Home health care is clinical, medical supervision provided by a licensed professional. A doctor usually prescribes this type of care as part of a senior healthcare regimen following hospitalization or injury - registered and licensed practical nurses, occupational therapists, and physical therapists can all provide homecare through home agencies. These professionals check in on your loved ones to ensure they manage their recovery at the right pace while also assisting with daily activities.
Advantages of Home Care
- Customized Care: One of the main benefits of home care is that the care is tailored to your loved one's needs.
- Familiarity: A home is a place of comfort, so many with ailing parents opt for home care as it is healthy for their mental state and keeps them surrounded by familiar areas. Home care is also beneficial as friends and family can drop by whenever they want and not adhere to visiting hours.
- Strong Caregiver Relationship: The bond someone has with a nurse or caregiver is another huge plus of home care - as this undivided attention is usually split between many living in a nursing home setting.
- Independence: When you choose home care, your loved one can maintain their independence and make decisions when they eat, bathe, etc. In a nursing home setting, these tasks are typically scheduled for them, which removes the sense of control for those receiving care.
- Affordability: Homecare can be less expensive than alternatives like nursing homes or hospital stays and provide peace of mind to older adults by reducing their social isolation risk.
Disadvantages of Home Care
- Hiring: Your loved one's care can be impacted by who you hire to provide it. You want someone dedicated and attentive, make sure they show that throughout the hiring process.
- Security: Naturally, homes do not have the same security and safety measures as ones found in healthcare facilities. It is up to you, the caregiver you hire, and your loved one to ensure the home is safe and secure.
What Are Nursing Homes?
Nursing homes are a place for senior citizens who need long-term care. This is an excellent option for you if your loved one needs around-the-clock medical care, as there are customarily licensed nurses and nursing aides available to them 24/7.
Nursing homes typically offer three levels of care: basic, intermediate, and skilled nursing.
- Basic services include help with activities of daily living like bathing, dressing, and eating.
- Intermediate care includes the same level of support plus assistance with ambulation (walking).
- Skilled nursing facilities provide round-the-clock medical supervision and treatment such as wound care, IV therapy, or oxygen therapy. Some also specialize in certain diseases like Alzheimer's disease or dementia to treat those patients exclusively.
The cost varies depending on what type of room you want, how long your loved one stays at the care home, whether your insurance covers it, and other factors such as a private room or a shared one.
Advantages of Nursing Homes
- Care is Offloaded: When you place a loved one in a nursing home, you do not have to worry about hiring, managing, or directly caring for a loved one if your hired caregiver cannot make it. This allows you to focus solely on your relationship.
- Immediate Care: In a nursing home, you can count on your loved one to receive medical-grade care straight away - it's the reason why they are there, after all!
- Guaranteed Security: Nursing homes are known for their strict security measures and safe environments. This is especially helpful with patients with dementia, making it easier to locate them when they're out of bed or wandering off unsupervised.
- Socialization Opportunities: Nursing homes often host regular activities like games, crafts, performances, and outings where residents are invited to engage with others of their age group. This allows them to socialize and build friendships within their little community. While receiving care at home, they will likely not have these sorts of opportunities.
Disadvantages of Nursing Homes
- Costly: Full-time care in a nursing home can cost upwards of $93,075 a year, whereas home care is significantly cheaper, averaging around $53,768.
- Little to No Independence: Your loved one is tied to the nursing home's schedule, so they cannot make their own decisions regarding eating, bathing, etc. This may lead them to feel that a part of themselves has been stolen away, adding more stress to their family relationships.
- Adjustment Curve: For many seniors, moving from their home to a nursing facility can be profoundly upsetting and disruptive. This is especially true for those with dementia or Alzheimer's who may even resist moving into their new residence because it feels strange and unfamiliar. It takes time before your loved one will feel at ease in their new surroundings as they adjust to an entirely different routine.
- No One-on-One Care: Your loved one will receive care from many different nurses and caregivers in a nursing home. While beneficial that the care is around the clock, this can be upsetting for some residents.
- Fluctuating Quality of Care: With so many people taking care of your loved one, they may have trouble communicating their needs to each staff member. A rotating schedule can make life difficult for everyone, especially those who feel they are treated differently from caregiver to caregiver.
Factors That May Influence Your Decision
When weighing your options, you should consider not only the pros and cons above, but also take into account your family's finances, what type of care is needed on a day-to-day basis, and how much time they want to spend in a nursing home setting.
1. How Much Help Is Needed
It can be challenging to know just how much and what type of care your loved one truly needs. Taking the time to make a list and think about the reality of fulfilling those needs (time, cost, who does what, etc.) will help clarify this process to ensure they get exactly the most beneficial care.
2. Presence of Serious Health Conditions
Your loved one may not be able to take care of themselves as they once did. In some cases, at-home care and even home health aides may no longer suffice for the needs your loved ones have now that their condition has deteriorated. For some, a nursing home is better suited if round-the-clock assistance is necessary.
3. Lifestyle Preferences
While we all want to be independent, it isn't always up to us. As we age, we need more help. Home care is beneficial for those who may live near friends and family; however, it runs the risk of becoming a space of isolation if they live further away. Nursing homes give you that peace of mind that your loved one is ok and can socialize with others.
Figuring out the costs of assisted living and in-home care is not easy, but it's crucial to know how each choice would work with the budget. According to Genworth Financials' Cost of Care Survey, the average cost of in-home care in the United States is $4,290 a month. When home health care is factored into the equation, the cost is an average of $4,385 a month. If you are costing out nursing home costs, the amounts can vary greatly depending on time spent receiving care, the location, amenities provided and size of room. For example, a private room in a nursing home costs an average of $8,121 a month. For a semi-private room, the average cost is $7,148 a month. Talk over all the options with family members first before making a final decision!