As loved ones age, the need for care and assistance often increases. Determining the best care option can be a difficult and emotional process for families. Two common choices are assisted living facilities and in-home care. Both provide support and care, but they differ in significant ways.
This article provides an overview of the primary differences between assisted living facilities and in-home care. Understanding these differences can help families make an informed decision that best meets the needs and preferences of their loved ones.
Assisted living facilities provide a residential setting with a range of services. Residents live in their own units, often with a small kitchen area, a bedroom and a bathroom. They have access to shared dining areas, common spaces and outdoor areas. In Western PA, assisted living facilities are generally technically licensed as “personal care homes.” (More so in Eastern PA, there are licensed “assisted living residences” that are in between personal care homes and nursing home level care.)
In contrast, in-home care allows seniors to stay in their own homes. Caregivers come to the home to provide services, which can range from a few hours a week to full-time live-in care.
Level of care
Assisted living facilities typically offer a higher level of care. They provide assistance with daily activities such as bathing, dressing and medication management. They also have staff available 24/7 and offer either medical services or medical monitoring, referrals and transport to emergency room or hospital care when needed.
In-home care can be more flexible and personalized but usually provides non-medical assistance such as meal preparation, light housekeeping and companionship. Medical services may be available in-home but would require a professional home health care provider.
Assisted living facilities often have a variety of social activities and amenities. Residents can participate in group activities, use fitness centers and eat meals with other residents.
In-home care provides fewer opportunities for social interaction. However, seniors can maintain their existing social networks and community involvement as much as possible.
Costs for both options can vary widely depending on the level of care required. Assisted living facilities usually charge a monthly fee that covers room and board, supplemental care services (such as incontinence care), and activities. In-home care costs depend primarily on the number of hours of care needed per week and if care is contracted through an agency or via private arrangements. Family in-home care is of course least expensive.
The choice between assisted living facilities and in-home care depends on a variety of factors. Families must consider the needs and preferences of their loved ones, as well as the cost and the level of care required. By understanding the differences, families can make a decision that provides their loved ones with the best possible quality of life.