Assisted Living vs. Home Care: Differences & Decisions

December 2, 2021

With the holidays approaching, many families are reuniting for the first time in months, if not years. 

With these reunions come joy, gratitude – and sometimes, difficult realizations about aging loved ones whose needs may have changed since last year.

If Grandpa’s memory is beginning to worsen or Mom needs more help around the house, it may be time to look into long term care options.

This blog will focus on two options to consider: assisting living and home care.

Assisted Living vs. Home Care: At A Glance

Below is a basic comparison of assisted living and home care and when they might be appropriate for a loved one: 

Assisted LivingHome Care
LocationA community that provides housing and care services for residents in a home-like setting. Occurs in the senior’s home, with a caregiver either coming to the home periodically or living with the senior.
Services Commonly Offered

Personal care  services (e.g.. bathing, dressing and eating)24-hour supervisionMealsMedication managementSocial servicesRecreational and spiritual activitiesExercise and wellness programsLaundry and linen serviceHousekeeping and maintenanceTransportation arrangements

Personal care services (e.g. bathing, dressing and eating)Medication remindersHousekeeping and laundryMeal preparationRunning errandsTransportation assistance
Social Activities
Assisted living communities offer a higher level of socialization opportunities for seniors and encourage residents to interact with each other and, when possible, venture out into the community.

Home care does not offer structured socialization opportunities, but can offer companionship and help seniors connect with their local community.
Level of Care
Assisted living communities can offer 24/7 access to care that is scalable depending on your loved one’s needs.Medical care may be provided or coordinated, with some assisted living communities offering clinical services  on-campus.

Care is offered on a predetermined schedule – from several hours a day to round-the-clock. Medical care is not typically provided.
Median Cost:
$51,600/yearCosts may vary depending on each resident and their specific level of need. If 24/7 care is required, assisted living may be more cost effective.

Median Costs: $53,700-$55,000/yearCost is scalable – may be most cost-effective for less involved care.

When it comes to choosing a long term care option, there is no “right” or “wrong” answer – there’s only what works best for your loved one and their needs (and your finances). Various long term care options should be viewed more as a continuum rather than choosing one or another. Your loved one may start out receiving care in the home, and as their needs evolve, find that assisted living may be the next step. Continue to explore your options and learn about local facilities near you.  

Read more about the different types of long term care options here.