The pros and cons of assisted living and senior home care

The pros and cons of assisted living and senior home care


When seniors become incapable of taking care of themselves, families have to decide where should the senior continue living. Should he stay at home or go to an assistеd living facility. Families have to consider a lot of factors in order to make the right decision.

Senior home care basically means taking care for the senior in his or her own home. Seniors get assistance with toileting, bathing, dressing, cleaning, cooking and running errands. Families often contact an agency that sends a caregiver who depending on the needs of the senior takes care of him or her for several hours each day or a few times a week. Another option families choose is a live-in caregiver.

Assisted living means that the senior will get home care but he will live in assisted living facilities such as private apartments, or dormitories. Assisted living facilities provide 24 hours service, food and activities for the seniors.

“Both options have advantages and disadvantages and are good for the senior,’’ says Eleonora Tornatore-Mikesh, chief experience and memory care officer at Inspir, a new senior living community in Manhattan.

“Families are the ones who make a decision depending on the situation and financial resources.’’

Anna-Gene O’Nnea, division vice president of Brookdale Health Services Hospice, which provides private duty home care services, home health and hospice, says that there is no correct answer to the question. “Whether taking care of the senior at home is better depends on several factors such as:"

Safety is very important

Safety is one of the key factors that determine what’s better according to Dr. Susann Varano, a geriatrician at Maplewood Senior Living, a Westport Connecticut-based senior living residence company. “If you want to prevent falls, you need to install “grab and safety bars’’ in the shower or other dangerous areas. And if they show symptoms of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, locking the doors will make staying in home safer, and prevent them from wandering off out of the house and exposing themselves to danger.

“Staying in home is always a better choice if you meet all these needs,’’ says Kim Elliot, senior vice president of clinical services with Brookdale Senior Living, a Tennessee-based company with more than 800 senior living and retirement communities across the United States. If the senior is safe at home he doesn’t need to be accommodated to an Assisted-living community. “Assisted living has a purpose to enhance the senior’s life, so if the senior’s quality of life is not disrupted, he can enjoy staying in his home.’’

Aging in place at home has a lot of advantages. “The senior is getting all the care needed from members of his family, which gives him a feeling of independence, says Elliott.’’ Change can be very difficult, especially when the cognitive functions are changing adds O’Neil.

On the other side, “staying at home mean that sometimes the senior will not get the care he needs 24/7, which might make him feel lonely or isolated, because family members have to go to work, cook, pay the bills, while the assisted living community care provides around-the-clock care, which is considered to be a great advantage.

Socialization is key for living a healthy life

The fact that socialization plays a great role should not be underestimated. Tornatore-Mikesh says “People who are surrounded with other people on the same mission as them, have a better quality of life. Even research from the NIH shows that socialization is very important for health. And it is very difficult to create conditions for socialization at home.’’

The assisted-living community also provides services such as working with a physician, psychologist, music therapist, social workers and others, while those services are less available in a home care setting.

A major problem for families is how to pay for senior care. Retirement savings, private health insurance, the sale of the family home, long-term care insurance and veteran’s benefits are a potential way of paying for this type of care.

Staying at home and moving to an assisted-living facility has different financial costs. A 2018 survey conducted by Genworth Financial found that the median costs for an assisted-living community are $4000 per month, or $48.000 per year. Long-term care by a home health aide costs around $4,200 per month and more than $50,400 per year. Skilled nursing in a private room costs around $8,365 per month, or more than $100,000 per year. Prices are different depending on the country where the community is located and the services which are included.

In some cases family members are taking care of the senior for free, but some families hire a visiting home care aide, or live-in care which is expensive. Professional caregivers charge around $15 and $25 per hour or around $300 per day, all depending on the services provided, contract, and state you live in. To sum up, home-care options are as expensive as assisted-living facilities, so make sure to do your due diligence and choose an appropriate option.

What does Medicare cover

"When you consider choosing where should your loved one receive the best care needed, you should also consider how much will it cost and what will insurance such as Medicare cover and not cover,’’ says Andrew Shea, vice president of eHealth, Inc.’s Medicare sector. eHealth is a private, online health insurance exchange based in Santa Clara, California. “Medicare doesn’t cover the costs of Assisted-living arrangements.’’ Which means people will have to pay out of their own pocket, or use the long-term care insurance, he says.

“In some cases Medicare will cover some of the costs for people with low-income living in assisted living facilities if they qualify for the program,’’ Shea explains. “The help you’ll get depends on the state you live in.’’ You alone have to figure out what is the best option for your loved one depending on the financial situation and the way you’ll pay for it.

The needs of the senior will change over time, and it will be difficult for him to continue living at home. Most people understand that time will come when the senior will have to be moved to an assisted living community or nursing home setting. “People consider moving seniors to an assisted living community when the safety of an older person is at stake. For example if he is susceptible to falling or injuring themselves, experiencing weight loss, or taking the wrong medications.’’

Are mental health problems an issue

Mental health problems such as feelings of depression, loneliness and isolation are symptoms which shouldn’t be disregarded and may be a reason for moving to an assisted-living facility, where patients will be interacting with each other and will not feel lonely. “In-person interaction will be beneficial for the mental health of patients,’’ says Elliot.

Seniors with multiple chronic medical conditions need frequent appointments at the doctor is a sign that “It may be time to move the senior to an assisted-living facility where care is more accessible,’’ says Eliot.

Moving a loved one to an assisted living community is a challenging transition and a difficult decision. “At first a lot of sons and daughters feel guilty for moving their parent into assisted living, but after a while they say that they made the right decision for their parent,’’ says Eliot. “When they see the benefits of assisted living such as meeting new friends, having activities and people to assist them when needed, adult children have peace of mind.’’

“Instead of being afraid to move their parent to an assisted-living facility, adult children should be prepared and plan ahead of time, which will bring excitement and decrease feelings of stress and guilt,’’ says Varano.

When the time comes for a senior to move to a new home, he or she will feel content, knowing that his wishes have been fulfilled as much as possible.

We can Help! Our local advisors can help your family make a confident decision about senior living.

Call: 800-997-1342


Petar Jangelovski
Petar Jangelovski

Petar Jangelovski A former ESL teacher who enjoys reading books and going out with friends. Experienced and creative translator, and once upon a time a poet, who wrote Shakespearean-like sonnets.

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