Which Care Option is For You: In-Home Care or Senior Housing?
by Sue Lanza
Planning ahead is the best strategy for situations when seniors may need health care. Unfortunately, many of face these decisions before they are prepared. How do you sort out the maze of choices quickly yet effectively? First, you should look at whether you want to use In-Home Care or Senior Housing.
Defining In-Home Care
Receiving assistance in your home setting for a variety of services and functions is the simple definition of in-home care. The types of service you might find available in your home range from housekeeping tasks such as cooking and cleaning through more complicated or medically-related jobs, like assistance with bathing or help in taking medications.
Advantages of In-Home Care
The biggest selling point of having in-home care is the fact that you are remaining in the most comfortable place you know: your own home. The care comes right to your door in the form of a home health aide (someone trained to usually assist you with personal care duties) or a companion (a person who may keep you company or do light housekeeping tasks).
Costs are variable based on the duties you need performed but it can be more reasonable to have this limited help and remain in your own place. Some insurance plans may cover aspects of in-home care so be sure to check with your provider.
The range of services available is diverse and you don't have to find help alone. There are many agencies that specialize in matching in-home care services to senior clients in need.
Disadvantages of In-Home Care
- Quality of service received by a client depends on the caregiver or agency.
- The cost of remaining at home may be too prohibitive for some clients.
What is Senior Housing?
Options in senior accommodations that are permanent living quarters outside the home include those that are based on a lifestyle model and those that include medical services as well as housing. Here are some of the categories of senior housing.
- Retirement Communities. Retirement communities are a cluster of apartments or housing units for those who meet a certain age requirement for entrance. Normally the community offers a wide range of social activities for the community members but no medical services on the campus. Dining services may or may not be offered.
- Continuing Care Retirement Communities. Continuing care retirement communities offer many different living options (independent living apartments, assisted living suites and skilled nursing care) on one site which allows community members to have access to multiple service levels as their needs change. For instance, a couple may enter the community and share an independent living apartment on the campus. As the needs of the couple change, the wife can relocate into the assisted living area while the husband can maintain his independence in his apartment while still having access to his wife.
- Assisted Living. Assisted living is a housing level in which seniors are given help and supervision with many daily activities and functions such as medication management, bathing, dressing and eating. The amount of assistance is personalized to the needs of the specific client but assisted living clients live in their own apartments but usually dine in a congregate setting.
- Skilled Nursing Facility. Skilled nursing facilities deliver skilled nursing care or care that must be provided by nursing and/or rehabilitation staff. Assistance is still based on the care that each client needs but the level of caregiving interaction in this setting is the most stringent of any of the senior housing options.
Advantages of Senior Housing
There is a housing option to fit almost every situation and need. The different levels of care allow a person to come directly into the stage they need and therefore maintain their independence.
Disadvantages of Senior Housing
- Health care housing can be costly with some options, such as the Continuing Care Retirement Community, even requiring an entrance fee.
- Making a permanent move from home can be a difficult loss to adjust to.
In-Home Care vs. Senior Housing: Making a Decision
To begin the process of deciding whether in-home care or senior housing is right for you, the first step is to determine if the services you require allow you to remain in your own home. If yes, contact your area Office on Aging or Senior Center to get a list of reputable agencies and start calling.
If you need more advanced care, enlist a family member or friend to help you make some visits to check out facilities. Be sure to measure "apples to apples" when you review costs and services provided by each level of care. Once you've made your choice, breathe a sigh of relief for you have made an informed decision.