Senior Living
Assisted Living vs Home Care: Difference in Suitability

Assisted Living vs Home Care: Difference in Suitability

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assisted living vs home care


As we get older, we become less independent. For many seniors, this means moving either to an Assisted Living Facility or In-home Care. So, what’s the difference Assisted Living vs Home Care? Which one should you choose?

Let’s compare Assisted Living vs. Home Care and discuss the benefits of Assisted Living and the cost implications of each type of care. We’ll also dive deeper into the 2 levels of Assisted Living to help you decide where you’d like to spend your senior years. 

Assisted Living vs Home Care: the Key Differences

Assisted Living is a good choice for seniors who need help with ADLs (activities of daily living) in a home-like setting. On the other hand, Home Care helps seniors with everyday tasks in the comforts of their own home. An Assisted Living Facility is not an alternative to a nursing home and is an intermediate level of long-term care.

What Is a Nursing Home?

nursing home (aka skilled nursing facility) provides 24/7 medical care outside of a hospital with the help of licensed medical staff. Seniors move to a nursing home after a hospital stay, right before they return home. These care centers deal with complex medical conditions and provide high-level assistance to seniors. 

Nursing homes help residents who are confined to a bed, rely on tube-feeding, or need to use a wheelchair to move around (among others). Seniors typically go to a nursing home when they need full-time nursing care or have needs that a hospital typically provides. 

But, if an older adult only needs minimal care and help in their ADLs, they won’t need a Skilled Nursing Facility.

What Is an Assisted Living Facility?

Assisted Living Facilities provide care for seniors who need help with bathing, dressing, minimal monitoring, etc. These communities help seniors maintain independence and have medical staff 24/7

The 2 Levels of Assisted Living

It’s common to find at least 2 levels of care in Assisted Living, but there can be upto 4 levels of care as well. The level depends on the older adult’s care needs. 

1. Lower Levels

The Lower levels of care are for residents with minimal assistance needs. These seniors can walk without help, have high-functioning cognitive abilities, and can make their own decisions. They might need a little help with getting dressed in the morning or taking a shower, but they are mostly independent.  

Nurses manage medication, check vitals, and administer regular tests. But, there’s no complex monitoring involved.

2. Higher Levels

Caregivers provide more hands-on help for these residents. This care level is ideal for seniors who can’t walk without assistance or need extensive help getting dressed, among others. Many of these seniors have memory loss and need complex medical monitoring.

What Is Home Care?

Home care includes support services for ADLs while living at home. There are different home care types like personal care, companionship, nursing, and home health care. 

Some seniors love their privacy and prefer professionals coming in every day to assist with what they need. When choosing in-home care, use a personal medical alert device that notifies caregivers when you’re in distress. The wearable call button also lets you speak to a dispatcher through a base unit. 

The 3 Types of In-Home Care

Depending on your needs, having the correct type of home care is critical. There’s no need to hire a caregiver for medical reasons when all you need is Homemaker Services. 

Let’s hash out the 3 types of Home Care options available:

1. Non-medical Home-care

Home Aides help with tasks of daily living like cooking and cleaning. They’re not medical professionals, but they are trained to help seniors with chronic illness, age, or disabilities. 

Home Care services don’t have to be prescribed by a doctor. You or your family get to decide if this is the type of help you need. 

2. Nursing Care

Nursing care is also called long-term nursing or home-based skilled nursing. RNs (registered nurses) or LPNs (licensed practical nurses) provide this type of care. They could sometimes help with ADLs, but their specialization is in wound dressing, monitoring vitals, and administering shots.

3. Home Health Care

Even though Home Health Care is similar to Nursing care, the focus is on short-term health problems. These medical care professionals include:

  • Physical therapists
  • Occupational therapists
  • Social workers
  • Speech pathologists
  • Physicians

Home Health care aims to help seniors return to living independently ASAP.

Is Assisted Living Better Than In-Home Care?

Assisted Living is more affordable when you need round-the-clock care. Seniors can focus on family relationships and don’t need to hire caregivers. Yet, Home Care has its upside when 24/7 care is not required. Seniors also get to stay in a familiar setting without being uprooted. Have a look at the table below to decide which one is better for you: 

Factors  Assisted Living  In-Home Care 
Cost  More affordable round-the-clock care  High costs for round-the-clock care 
Care plan  Care plan is more generalized  Personalized care plan based on needs and preferences 
Socialization  Plenty of socialization opportunities  Not many socialization opportunities 
Caregivers  Multiple caregivers that may lead to inconsistency in quality of care  The person or family can choose a specific caregiver that they like 
Household tasks  Helps with housekeeping, groceries, personal care, etc.  Does not typically take care of household chores  
Assisted Living vs In-Home Care

Benefit Comparisons

Seniors get assistance with daily activities Many seniors struggle with things like taking a bath or preparing meals. Having round-the-clock assistance ensures ADLs get done on time and with fewer risks of accidents. Stay in the comfort of your own home Seniors can stay with their loved ones or in surroundings that are familiar and comfortable.
Seniors socialize often A 2019 Harvard study shows that seniors who socialize often are active and have more positive moods. Mingling with other people is excellent for seniors, especially for those with dementia.  Build real one-on-one relationships Because the elderly would receive care from only one person, becoming comfortable with each other is more effortless. Relationship-building is essential to achieve optimum health. 
Maintain independence Many seniors hate the thought of losing independence when aging. An ALF helps seniors maintain independence to some extent without solely relying on someone else. Maintaining independence reduces the risk of depression. Freedom to choose The elder and their family have the opportunity to choose the caregiver or home-care aide.
Increased levels of care Increasing levels of care are more manageable. Typically costs less Depending on what your care needs are, costs can be lower than an Assisted Living Facility. Reducing hours to your care needs might save you cash while still getting the right amounts of care. 
benefit comparison

Disadvantage Comparisons

It could cost a lot of money Average costs of Assisted Living Facilities vary from state to state.  Sometimes, seniors sell off their homes and other possessions to pay for Senior Living. Too many people incur debt as the cost is just too high. Caregivers could annoy others you live with If you’re living with family, the constant visits from strangers needing to assist you could infringe on their privacy.
Limited privacy Even though socialization is critical for a better quality of life, having people around you all the time is tiring. Staff members are constantly going in and out of living quarters that you may be sharing with a roommate. We could all use some alone time. But, being in constant contact with others can take a toll on privacy and is often a significant contributor to not wanting to be there. Round-the-clock monitoring is expensive Having a personal Home-aide professional available at your home 24/7 costs more. For example, an in-home carer that earns $24 per hour would cost you $576 a day and about $17,280 a month.
Not enough medical care Most ALFs only provide limited medical care, if they do at all. Seniors probably won’t find help with chronic health issues or memory care (among others), as these care centers are suited for seniors in good health. Limited financial assistance from Medicare Medicare coverage has limitations. It doesn’t pay for 24-hour in-home care, meals delivered to your home, homemaker services, etc.
disadvantage comparison

How Much Does It Cost for Assisted Living per Month?

Genworth’s Cost of Care Survey in 2020 shows that Home Care costs between $4,481 to $4,576 per month, depending on your needs. Homemaker services cost about $4,481 per month, while Home Health Aides cost about $4,576 per month. 

Home Care is considerably less expensive than a Nursing Home. In-home aides are paid between $23.50 to $24 per hour, and working hours can be kept low.

Still, Home Care costs more than an Assisted Living Facility since the location, care needs, and working hours play a role in pricing.

You could draw funds from a few sources like retirement savings, private health insurance, long-term care insurance, and veterans benefits. But, the question is whether you’re eligible or not. 

How Do I Choose a Nursing Home or Assisted Living?

Consider what you want at the beginning of your hunt. Talk to family and friends and get in touch with nursing homes. Arrange to chat with staff and other residents about their experiences. During your tours, note down things that stood out (negative and positive) and start eliminating the care centers that are not a good fit. 

What are your needs?

First, consider your care needs and why you need to use Assisted Living. These are some things to consider:

  • Meal preparation
  • Religious factors
  • Nursing care
  • Physical therapy
  • Special care for dementia and Alzheimer’s patients
  • The location so that loved ones can easily visit 

Getting other people’s opinions

Speak to friends, social workers, religious groups, and healthcare providers about which senior communities they find acceptable. After a hospital stay, ask for a recommended care center. If you’re looking for a long-term nursing home, ask your doctor’s office for any recommendations. 

Get in touch with different nursing homes

Make a list of nursing homes and contact them. Find out about how many people live there and what it costs. Check if they have a waitlist. Visit the facility and meet the Nursing Director and Community Director. 

This handy checklist helps you decide on an Assisted Living facility that’s a perfect fit for you.

Things to take note of during your visit:

  • Ask the staff to explain the strong smells lurking around. A foul odor could indicate a problem, while an overbearing pleasant smell could hide problems. 
  • Ask how long the Community Director and Nursing Director has been in the position with the facility.
  • Find out how long Social Services have worked with them.
  • How often are the staff changed? A high staff turnover is not a good sign.
  • Visit the facility without an appointment so that you can accurately gauge the conditions. It also allows you to meet other staff members.
  • Carefully read your contract and question things you don’t understand. 
  • Go as far as to get someone else to read over the contract for you too.

Why Is Home Care Better Than Nursing Home?

Home care provides personal care and a 1:1 relationship with the Home Care Aide. It’s more than just familiar territory for the elder; it speeds up recovery too. Home Care usually costs less than a nursing home, depending on your care needs and controlling the care hours.  

The senior remains independent and doesn’t just depend on Nursing Home professionals for easy tasks. At the same time, they are still close to loved ones. For those who have pets, choosing Home Care would also be a better alternative. That’s because finding a pet-friendly assisted living facility can be challenging.

Mingling with other people is excellent for seniors, especially for those with dementia. 

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Top 3 Points

1. Assisted living offers seniors round-the-clock medical assistance, independence, and various opportunities to socialize with other seniors in the community. Home Care, on the other hand, includes support services for ADLs while living at home.

2. Home Care usually costs $4,957 to $5148 per month, which is less than a Nursing Home but is more expensive than an Assisted Living facility. 

3. When choosing between Assisted Living vs Home Care, you should consider the level of care needed, costs, as well as privacy preferences.


The main benefit of Assisted Living is round-the-clock medical assistance while maintaining independence. Assisted Living allows a significant amount of socializing, while Home Care retains your privacy. The disadvantages of each type could be higher cost implications depending on your needs and limited financial help for cash-strapped seniors.  

We compared the benefits of Assisted Living to Home Care and note a few disadvantages of each type too. We hope this article helps you to decide which care facility is better suited for your elderly loved one.  To find our similar blogs, visit BoomersHub Blog

Interested to learn more about Assisted Living? You may like also:

State & federal regulations for Assisted Living

Veterans’ benefits for Assisted Living

Activities for Assisted Living residents

Independent Living vs Assisted Living

Assisted Living vs Memory Care

Checklist for moving into Assisted Living

How to get parents into Assisted Living?

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