Home Health Care vs. Assisted Living
Watching a loved one grow older can be difficult, especially if they develop health conditions or experience difficulty managing simple daily tasks. You may want to do whatever you can to help out, but taking on the role of a caregiver is a big responsibility if you already have a busy schedule. Fortunately, there are many senior care options available that can provide your loved one with the help they need.
If you or a loved one is struggling with a medical condition but they aren’t ready for residential care, home health care provides short- or long-term skilled nursing care in the comfort of your own home. This may also be a good option for family caregivers who need help or can’t provide the medical services a loved one needs. If you’re in the opposite situation, meaning you don’t require medical services but can no longer live safely and comfortably on your own, assisted living may be a better option. An assisted living facility offers seniors help with activities of daily living while giving them the space to remain independent.
In this guide, you will learn more about home health care and assisted living, how much they cost and who can benefit the most from the services offered.
Home Health Care
At home, private
Average Monthly Cost
Skilled nursing care
ADLs, life enrichment opportunities, amenities, etc.
Who Should Consider It
Those who require short- or long-term medical care, but aren't ready for a residential facility
Those who require nonmedical assistance, but can still live somewhat independently
Home Health Care
Home health care agencies provide skilled nursing care at an individual’s home based on their doctor’s treatment plan. These services are usually administered to individuals as a continuation of care received at an inpatient facility for an injury or post-surgery, meaning the arrangement may be temporary. In some cases, family caregivers may decide to continue the services even after a doctor’s treatment plan has ended if they believe their loved one can benefit from ongoing care.
Skilled health care personnel can provide services family caregivers usually can’t, relieving some of the stress and worry caregivers may be feeling. A skilled nursing team of certified nursing aides, registered nurses and physical, speech or occupational therapists will visit patients at their home to provide rehabilitative and medical care, including:
- First aid and wound care
- Post-surgery recovery care
- Medication administration, including injections
- Assistance with oxygen tanks and tubing
- Blood withdrawals
- Assistance with managing chronic conditions
- Assistance with maintaining catheters, feeding tubes and other medical devices
- Physical, speech or occupational therapy
During a home health care agency’s initial visit, they’ll assess your loved one’s condition and develop an individualized care plan. Your loved one’s doctor will then evaluate the plan to ensure it aligns with your loved one’s needs before approving it. Once the paperwork is done, you and your loved one can determine what time of day works best for staff to visit and administer care.
Since these services are part of a treatment plan, many insurance plans, including Medicare, often cover the cost of home health care. Without coverage, the national average cost of these services is around $5,148 per month according to the 2021 Genworth Cost of Care Survey — but this price will vary based on where you live.
Assisted living offers long-term residential care for seniors who need help with daily tasks but can otherwise live independently. While each community is different, assisted living facilities are meant to feel like home. They provide a wide range of convenient services, amenities, comforts and life-enriching opportunities to improve quality of life and help your loved one stay independent for as long as possible.
The level of care provided at an assisted living facility falls between independent living and a nursing home. This type of care is for seniors who need help with activities of daily living such as grooming, bathing, dressing and toileting but don’t require skilled nursing care. Most assisted living facilities also offer additional services such as transportation, housekeeping, prepared meals and cleaning services. To keep seniors active and engaged, social activities and group outings are regularly scheduled. While activities and amenities vary based on the facility, examples include:
- Community activities such as happy hours, games, clubs, visiting lecturers or artistic performances
- Outdoor common areas
- Wellness programs
- A fitness center or gym
- A beauty salon and barber shop
- Computer rooms
- Concierge services
Moving your loved one out of their current home is a difficult decision to make. However, assisted living may be a good option if your loved one is lonely or having trouble taking care of themself and moving around the house. According to the 2021 Genworth Cost of Care Survey, the national average monthly rate for assisted living is about $4,500 — but this price will vary based on the city and state you live in.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the difference between home care and home health care?
Home care provides standard assistance with activities of daily living while home health care provides skilled nursing care. For example, home care focuses on companionship, housekeeping and personal care assistance such as dressing and bathing. Home health care includes medical services and therapies provided by certified health care professionals.
What are the housing options like at an assisted living facility?
Housing options at an assisted living facility can vary widely from cozy studio apartments and shared bedrooms to one- or two-bedroom apartments and spacious suites. Depending on the size of the apartment, a kitchenette, multiple closets and an outdoor space such as a private balcony may be included. Other common amenities you may find in an assisted living room are individually controlled air conditioning or heating, emergency call buttons, Wi-Fi and cable TV.
How do you find a home health care agency nearby?
You can use Caring’s comprehensive search database by entering your location and browsing through agencies near you. Each listing offers descriptions, reviews, amenities and photos of the facility, making it easier to choose an agency that aligns with the needs of your loved one.