Choosing Between Assisted Living and In-Home Care

Caregiver completing a jigsaw puzzle with a senior in an assisted living community

When the time has come to consider assisted living or in-home care for your loved one, it can be difficult to determine which option will improve their quality of life and meet their unique needs. Assisted living and in-home care both provide benefits, and it’s important to understand what each option offers to make an informed choice for your loved one. We’re taking a look at both options to help you decide.

What Is Assisted Living?

The assisted living senior living lifestyle balances support and independence. These communities are staffed by compassionate and caring team members who help your loved one maintain that balance by providing the level of care they need to live their best life.

Assisted living offers a variety of amenities and services, depending on what residents require, so each assisted living community is as unique as the residents who live there. These unique services and amenities mean that residents’ everyday responsibilities and worries are replaced by the joy and excitement of looking forward to new experiences.

Assisted living is ideal for older adults who:

  • Need assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) such as bathing, dressing, eating, or walking, or who require help with instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) such as managing medications, housework, or laundry
  • Are in good health, but are looking for low-maintenance living
  • Require assistance and specific services, whether on occasion or 24/7
  • Enjoy socializing and want to make new friends


What Is Assisted Living Like?

Assisted living communities are filled with compassionate staff members who guide residents in maintaining the delicate balance between independence and support. 

Assisted Living Costs

The cost of senior living depends on several factors, including amenities, lifestyle type, the care and services your loved one requires, and even the cost of living within the geographical area. Sometimes potential residents and their families overestimate the cost of senior living, which can make it feel out of reach. This is why it’s so important to understand the true cost of senior living.

Assisted living communities follow three main pricing structures. Here’s what you can expect:

  • Inclusive pricing: This typically includes monthly rent, care level, meals, laundry, housekeeping, security, transportation, recreational activities, and anything else residents require or is required by state law. It’s important to note that not all senior living communities include the same services in an inclusive pricing model. 
  • Levels-of-care pricing: This generally includes 3–4 service group tiers, with higher costs for higher care levels and lower costs for lower care levels.
  • Fee-for-service pricing: This level typically includes a flat monthly fee and often includes meals. Each service is at an additional cost.

Social Interaction

There’s more to wellness than eating nutritious foods and staying as physically active as possible. Socialization is also a key component of wellness. Several health challenges can arise from social isolation and loneliness, ranging from depression and anxiety to decreased immune responses, higher risk of heart disease, and negative impacts on cognitive health.

Senior living communities recognize the positive effect that socialization has on a person’s well-being, so assisted living communities are designed around social opportunities. These communities increase social interaction by providing shared social spaces, common experiences, and bonding over meals at the dining table, all of which make it easier to keep up with old friends and start new friendships.

Community Amenities

Assisted living communities offer on-site amenities to enrich residents’ lives, including:

  • Pet-friendly accommodations: Many assisted living communities welcome pets and provide amenities such as dog parks and walking trails on-site.
  • Personalized activities: Assisted living communities offer a full enrichment calendar with plenty of new learning opportunities, excursions, and social events for residents to participate in. At Cedarhurst, our programs are tailored to meet resident preferences, so every resident has the opportunity to live life to the fullest.
  • Family-friendly environment and community programs: In the past, senior living communities didn’t always offer family-friendly spaces, or they didn’t host events for families to get involved in. Today’s senior living communities provide a welcoming atmosphere with private dining rooms and activities so families can visit and spend time together. 
  • Support for healthy living: Assisted living communities offer support for healthy living, from delicious and nutritious food options to fitness classes that help residents maintain strong bones, flexibility, and balance.

Medical Care Access

Assisted living communities generally have team members on-site 24/7, which means your loved one can feel secure knowing that there’s always someone available to help when needed. In turn, you and your family can feel secure knowing your loved one has access to the care they need, when they need it.

Care Levels

Every person is different, and assisted living communities work hard to ensure each resident receives the best care possible, fine-tuned to their needs. Care levels include:

  • Supportive care: This is a minimal level of care focusing on in-person reminders to complete daily tasks and ensuring that residents are maintaining healthy habits.
  • Assistive care: This moderate care level is more attentive and supervisory, and it includes observation from staff members to ensure daily tasks are completed.
  • Comprehensive care: This maximum care level includes any help necessary from staff members to ensure healthy habits are maintained. The responsibility for these daily tasks is placed in the hands of trained staff members.
  • Medication management: This level of care is focused on ensuring medications are taken as prescribed.
  • Enhanced care: If needed, enhanced care is available for residents with balance difficulties, mobility challenges, or cognitive impairment.

Is it time for senior living?Learn more about senior living and find out which options are the best fit for you or your family with this quick 4-5 minute survey.

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What Is In-Home Care?

In-home care is provided in the home of your loved one. Caregivers provide a wide range of services tailored to your loved one’s unique needs so they can receive as much or as little support as necessary. In-home care may be an ideal option for older adults who are unable to live completely independently but don’t require the round-the-clock type of care provided in assisted living.

What Is In-Home Care Like?

In-home care can help your loved one meet their care goals and provide support for the services they require, all within the comfort of a familiar environment.

In-Home Care Costs

In-home care can often cost less than assisted living, but it’s critical to ensure your loved one receives the appropriate level of care and the caregiver is properly trained. Keep in mind that not all home care providers may have the necessary credentials, so you’ll want to verify with the care company how they screen, train, and supervise their care providers. Also, make sure the provider can devote the necessary time to the care your loved one requires. 

After verifying credentials and ability to meet the care requirement, it’s time to compare costs. Remember that home care service costs can quickly get more expensive because providers may charge by the hour and request an hourly minimum per day or week. Check with your loved one’s insurance company to see if they cover the cost of any of the services your loved one requires.

Personalized Care

In-home care guarantees that your loved one will receive personalized, one-on-one attention. The provider will work with your loved one to create a personalized care plan based on their unique needs.

Familiar Environment

One of the appealing aspects of in-home care is the fact that your loved one can remain in a familiar environment. Although senior living communities provide many benefits, the transition from a current residence to a new place can be a big adjustment. With in-home care, your loved one may feel like they’re in an environment where they can retain as much control as possible.

In-Home Care vs. Assisted Living: Factors to Consider

You’ll need to take into account additional considerations when deciding between assisted living and in-home care. Let’s take a look at each of these in detail.

1. Overall Costs

Paying for in-home care services may not seem unrealistic if your loved one only requires a few hours of assistance weekly. However, consider how those needs may change over time. For example, your senior loved one may need more support as their health changes, which will increase expenses.

2. Meals

Meals and snacks are usually provided with assisted living and are factored into the costs. In-home care providers can do grocery shopping or prepare meals, but this service is not always included in the hourly cost.

3. Transportation

Assisted living communities provide transportation to and from appointments, and in-home care providers can also provide transportation services.

4. Activities

Assisted living communities have a variety of activities and amenities available, such as arts and crafts, fitness classes, and more. In-home care providers are more limited in what they can offer. For example, some providers may simply assist with daily tasks.

5. Long-Term Prognosis

Consider your loved one’s health prognosis and how that may change over time. For example, if your loved one only needs a little help with ADLs and wants to stay in their own home, then in-home care is a feasible option. If they need more comprehensive support now or will need comprehensive support in the future, that may impact the feasibility of home care services months or years down the road.

Explore Senior Living Options

Deciding between assisted living and in-home care can be tough because you want to make the best choice for your senior loved one. To guide you through this journey, we recommend exploring our guide to Understanding Senior Living Lifestyle Options

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