It is inevitable that as people reach their golden years, they will no longer be able to take care of themselves the way they used to. Whether it is because of limited mobility, chronic disease, or cognitive issues, many seniors need some type of assistance in their day to day lives. The level of care and assistance that seniors need will vary by case, of course, but few seniors will be able to live a largely independent life without the help of in home caregivers or the care staff of a nursing home or assisted living facility. The one question that all seniors and their families face when they reach this point in their lives is, what is the best way to provide the care that your loved ones need?
Traditionally, senior citizens have left their homes when they reach a certain point in old age to seek care and residence at an assisted living facility or nursing home. In these environments, there are trained staff and even skilled nurses on-site to handle all care needs of the residents and respond to emergencies. Even though nursing homes and assisted living facilities can offer more safety and better quality of care, most seniors prefer to remain in their homes in old age. According to AARP, as much as 90 percent of seniors prefer to age in place instead of leaving the home they have created for themselves and receive in-home care. In-home care services may not be as comprehensive as care provided within a nursing home or assisted living facility, but they can effectively cover the main care needs of seniors and allow them to continue living in their own homes.
There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing a nursing home or working with a home care agency. The choice should be made based on the specific care needs of your loved ones, the type of care they desire, and the financial investment it will take. This guide explains the advantages and disadvantages of receiving care in a nursing home or assisted living facility and receiving care at home to help you and your family make this important decision.
Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities
The terms “nursing home” and “assisted living facility” are sometimes used interchangeably. However, they are not quite the same thing. According to the Assisted Living Federation of America, assisted living facilities are institutions that provide a combination of housing, health care, and support services as a long-term care option for senior citizens. Assisted living facilities may accommodate independent living in which seniors who do not need as much help with daily activities are given their own room or apartment. Seniors in independent living are in close proximity to on-site doctors, exercise rooms, kitchens that prepare meals, and local transportation. Seniors who need more assistance with daily activities such as getting dressed, bathing, and taking medications can also be supported in an assisted living facility.
Nursing homes are assisted living facilities in which skilled nurses provide short and long-term care for those dealing with serious health issues or chronic illness. They are considered healthcare facilities and are licensed, inspected, and regulated by the Department of Health Services. Residents in a nursing home need complex care that cannot be provided in assisted living or with regular in-home care. While the difference between nursing homes and assisted living is technical, they are both similar in that seniors have 24/7 access to medical care and amenities such as gyms, prepared meals, and game rooms. Some retirement communities even include all types of care on the same campus including independent living, assisted living, and nursing homes. The level of care that your loved one needs, and your budget for elderly care will help you determine your best option.
You must fully consider the advantages and disadvantages of a nursing home or assisted living facility before making a decision:
Assisted Living and Nursing Home Advantages
- Residents in nursing homes and assisted living facilities have access to professional caregivers and nurses 24 hours a day.
- A range of medical professionals are available at care facilities.
- Nursing homes offer maximum comfort, safety, and security.
- Residents can socialize and participate in fun activities with other seniors.
- Residents have several options for entertainment and various activities.
- Nursing homes are the most cost-effective for seniors who need 24-hour care.
Assisted Living and Nursing Home Disadvantages
- Residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities have less personal freedom than those aging in place.
- There is a limit the to number of personal items that seniors can bring with them, meaning they will have to get rid of much of their possessions. They may also have to share a bedroom.
- Seniors go through a transition period when moving to a nursing home or assisted living facility which can be difficult to handle.
- Depending on the facility and level of care needed, nursing homes can get expensive.
If you and your loved one decide that a nursing home or assisted living facility is the best option, make sure you visit different facilities so you can chose the one that best accommodates their care needs.
In-home care has become the most popular option among the Baby Boomer generation as more seniors are choosing to age in their own homes. By remaining in the homes that they have established, seniors can stay in their familiar surroundings and maintain a more independent life. However, most seniors need some level of in-home care to age in place safely. There are several ways that families go about providing this type of care:
- Family caregiver: Sometimes a family member will become the designated caregiver when an elderly relative needs help in their home. This saves the family money and provides the individual with a caregiver who they know and trust. However, family caregivers are often highly stressed and overwhelmed, and they usually do not have the same level of skill as a professional caregiver.
- Direct Hire: A family can choose to hire an independent caregiver directly to provide care. While this is a less expensive alternative to working with a home care agency, it gives your family the added responsibilities as that caregiver’s employer. This makes the family responsible for hiring, training, payroll, taxes related to payroll, finding a replacement, and disciplinary action including termination.
- Home Care Agency: A home care agency employs, trains, and insures professional caregivers that are sent to the homes of seniors to provide care. They can come to the home as often as they are needed to provide personal care and assistance as well as help with meal preparation, housekeeping, and transportation. Working with a home care agency gives you more protection as the caregivers are bonded and insured through the agency, and the agency will also find a last-minute replacement if necessary.
Home care agencies tend to be the most beneficial of these home care options. However, you must consider the advantages and disadvantages before coming to a decision:
In-Home Care Advantages
- Seniors can continue living in their own homes among their friends and families. They can keep their social connections in their communities and continue to live in their familiar surroundings.
- In-home care gives seniors more freedom and control of their own lives, helping them maintain a sense of purpose and dignity.
- Care services are personalized to cover the individual’s specific needs.
- Seniors can build personal relationships with their caregiver.
- In-home care is paid for by the hour, so it can be less expensive than nursing homes and assisted living. You may also be able to find reimbursement for in-home care through resources like Medicare.
In-Home Care Disadvantages
- Seniors may feel isolated if they live alone without friends or family nearby.
- Homes are not as safe as nursing homes.
- Making modifications to improve the safety of the home is expensive and could lower the property value.
- In-home care becomes expensive if the individual needs 24-hour care.
In-Home Care from Assisting Hands Schaumburg
While nursing homes and assisted living facilities are generally more accommodating than in-home care, advancements in elderly home care guarantee high quality care that will meet the needs of your loved ones. Seniors who age in place will also retain a level of independence that seniors don’t normally get in nursing homes or assisted living. If you are curious about how in-home care services could benefit you or your loved ones, talk to Assisting Hands Schaumburg. Our professional caregivers provide excellent home care for seniors to help them age comfortably and safely in their own homes.