The aging journey can be a grand adventure of self-discovery, deeper relationships, and greater leisure. It can also pose significant challenges. Your loved one's age and health will not undermine their desire to live independently on their own terms. What’s a caregiver to do when a loved one needs additional support?
Many families choose home care because most older adults want to age at home. It’s a myth that living at home means you and your loved one can’t access the support you need. For many, though, assisted living offers consistency they can’t experience at home. This includes access to care whenever and however they need it, a range of amenities that are difficult to take advantage of at home, and a comfortable, attractive space that maximizes independence.
How do you help your loved one decide between assisted living versus home care? Here are some factors to consider.
Assisted Living vs. Home Care: What’s the Difference?
If you’re supporting your loved one at home, you might feel you already know much about home care. Many families find themselves sewing together a tenuous net of home services that demand a lot of family caregivers. However, the truth is that many caregivers aren’t aware of the services they can use while their loved one continues living at home.
WesleyLife offers a robust range of services, such as Meals on Wheels, in-home health aides and non-medical support, and Adult Day services, which allow family caregivers to tend to other responsibilities while ensuring their loved one is safe and happy.
Home care doesn’t offer 24/7 support, but it is a great option for older adults who only need a little extra support. With in-home solutions, you contract the services you need and can change the contract as needs shift. This can help your loved one achieve greater independence — and may help prevent caregiver burnout.
Like home care, assisted living offers only the support your loved one needs and wants. But unlike in-home support, assisted living ensures 24/7 access to care. If your loved one’s needs change, an emergency happens, or there’s a change in plans, you can be confident your loved one will receive the care they deserve.
Assisted living also offers on-campus amenities, such as pools and walking trails, that encourage your loved one to become (or stay) active, nurture their mind, and make new friendships. Together, these amenities may improve well-being. Most assisted living communities also offer meals, so your loved one can prepare food only when they feel like it.
Cost of Assisted Living vs. In-Home Care
Assisted living offers a higher level of support and a vast range of services and amenities. For this reason, it’s generally more expensive than living at home — but this isn’t always the case. Because assisted living is all-inclusive, it also eliminates many expenses. And if your loved one requires daily comprehensive support, the residential care of an assisted living community might trim your budget.
How might assisted living save you money?
- If your loved one moves out of their home, they’ll no longer deal with the costs of homeownership and may be able to sell their home to decrease costs.
- Assisted living lends predictability to your loved one’s monthly budget.
- Long-term care insurance policies will typically pay for assisted living.
- You’ll eliminate certain expenses (such as property taxes) and will no longer need to pay for an in-home aide.
The value you receive for your dollar is also important. While your loved one may feel more comfortable in the familiar setting of home, in an assisted living community, it may be easier for your loved one to be more independent because they live in a safe and supportive home and can access help in an emergency.
Each situation is unique. To explore whether assisted living or at home care is a better fit for you or your loved one, check out our cost calculator to assess your potential costs and savings.
When to Choose Assisted Living
The decision is ultimately your loved one’s, so it’s important to engage them in an ongoing discussion about their needs and preferences. Assisted living could be the right choice for your family if:
- You are experiencing caregiving-related stress.
- Your loved one seems unhappy, lonely, or unsafe at home.
- You worry about your loved one’s safety or well-being.
- Your loved one needs ongoing and frequent support with activities of daily living.
- Your loved one wants access to more amenities or craves the support of a close and walkable community.
- Your loved one wants to eliminate the stress of home maintenance and decrease the burden of daily chores such as laundry and housekeeping.
- Your loved one wants the option to have someone else do the cooking and meal preparation.
- Your loved one wants more privacy and prefers not to rely on family caregivers.
When to Choose Home Care
Home care works well for many families, especially over the short term. It may work for you or be a temporary option before a move to assisted living if:
- Your loved one requires minimal care and support.
- You enjoy caregiving and do not feel overwhelmed or burned out.
- Your loved one is not ready to move.
- Your loved one is happy living at home, with plenty of friends and a rich and fulfilling lifestyle.
- There’s room in the budget for home health support if your loved one needs it.
Signs It’s Time for Support
For many families, home care works for a while, but as care needs increase, it may become stressful or too expensive. Here are some signs you might need more support than you’re currently receiving and providing:
- Your loved one needs support with activities of daily living.
- Your finances are strained, but you want your loved one to continue to enjoy a high quality of life.
- You worry that the current arrangement is negatively affecting your family or loved one’s health.
- Your loved one needs more specialized care than you can currently offer.
- Your loved one needs — or will eventually need — 24/7 care.
- Your loved one is experiencing ongoing declines in health or mobility.
- You experience caregiver burnout or stress.
- Your other obligations make caregiving difficult or impossible.
- Your loved one is unhappy with the current arrangement.
- You feel anxious about your loved one’s well-being, or they feel chronically concerned about their living environment.
- You are experiencing family conflict about your loved one’s support needs.
You and your loved one deserve the best support possible. The right support can improve your relationship, benefit your loved one’s health, and help the whole family attain a happier lifestyle. So, is it time for more help? Take this assessment to help you decide.