In order to determine which type of elder care is best for your loved one, you need to understand your options and carefully weigh the pros and cons.
There comes a point when families will need to determine how best to take care of their aging relatives, especially if they become less independent, their health deteriorates and their quality of life becomes diminished. There are many things to consider when determining the type of senior care that best suits your loved ones’ needs. It is, fundamentally, a personal choice, and the only way you can choose is by knowing your options and understanding the differences between them.
The two major types of elder care are in-home care and assisted living. It’s important to look at each type and carefully examine their advantages and disadvantages in order to make an educated decision.
What to Expect from Assisted Living
Assisted living communities are residential facilities that cater specifically to seniors who need assistance with some day-to-day activities and tasks, but are not really looking for daily medical assistance. Basically, it allows seniors to preserve some of their independence while providing access to 24/7 care. Some seniors live in their own apartments, while some share rooms with other seniors. Residents of assisted living communities may maintain their own schedules and have access to various social activities and communal areas. These communities provide transportation, housekeeping, laundry, and meals. In addition, residents also have access to some medical services in case they need them. Assisted living facilities are designed with the safety and mobility of its residents in mind. Staff members interact with the seniors in their care on a regular basis and can usually detect when something about a particular resident is different – such as if he or she isn’t eating well or has lost their appetite – and can act immediately and alert physicians on staff. The facilities have people on staff round-the-clock so they can provide relevant support as needed.
One of the things that most seniors find difficult with assisted living facilities is the separation from their home, families and all that they know and hold dear. It can be quite disconcerting for aging relatives to be uprooted from their home and relocated to a strange place.
What to Expect from In-Home Care
Many seniors prefer “aging in place”, and in-home care can be the answer to that. With this option, caregivers provide a wide range of services depending on the senior’s needs and your arrangement with them, right in the senior’s own home. The caregivers can help with daily tasks including hygiene, nutrition, meal preparation, light housekeeping, exercise and laundry. Depending on his or her capabilities, the caregiver may or may not provide medical care, such as administering medication. At the very least, he or she can be counted on to remember when medications should be taken, or assist with scheduling doctor’s appointments. This type of senior care is valuable for those who are returning home from a hospital stay and need assistance for a limited amount of time, typically from a few days to a few weeks. It can also be helpful for those who need to follow a long-term consistent schedule, or for those whose family members provide most of the support for their elderly loved one and need someone to step in temporarily.
A disadvantage for in-home care is that often, seniors living alone at home can feel isolated and lonely. Even seniors whose care is provided by family members may feel as though they are intruding on or burdening others with their constant needs. Most people prefer in-home care so they can preserve their independence, only to realize later on that they will become more dependent on family members or friends for many activities. One example would be if they can no longer drive – going to church, doctor’s offices, grocery stores, or recreational activities will only be possible if they can get other family members to drive them. Additionally, in-home caregivers are usually only present for a number of hours a day, so when emergencies arise and the caregiver has already gone for the day, the senior will be left to their own devices until he or she returns. If a family member is the one caring for the elderly, the responsibility will fall on his or her shoulders to address the elderly’s unanticipated needs.
Comparing the costs of assisted living communities and in-home care can be quite complicated and difficult, since each senior has different needs. Most assisted living facilities’ fees include the residence, meals, maintenance and caregiver costs, although the cost can vary depending on the resident’s apartment size and other amenities available, as well as the level of care he or she requires. On the other hand, in-home care entails paying for the mortgage or rent (unless the senior owns his or her own house), utilities, maintenance, meals, and of course, the caregiver fee, which is typically charged per hour.