For most people, there comes a time as they get older when they need extra assistance for daily tasks. A number of age-related situations can occur, including reduced mobility, increased doctors’ appointments, complicated medication schedules and impaired hearing or vision. With so many care options available, it can be difficult to determine which one will serve you best.

Some seniors may prefer aging in the comfort of their home. If you or a loved one is having trouble navigating their living space alone, a home care aide can provide assistance with daily tasks to maintain a safe environment. However, staying at home may not always be possible without proper home modifications or technology. Assisted living offers 24-hour, nonmedical care in a residential setting while allowing seniors to maintain their independence. 

This guide offers a comprehensive overview of the services provided by home care and assisted living. You’ll also learn about pricing and how to determine which care type may benefit you the most.

Home Care

Assisted Living


At home

Residential community

Care Provided

Nonmedical assistance with ADLs, transportation, companionship, etc.

Nonmedical assistance with ADLs, convenient services, enriching activities, etc.

National Average Cost



Who Should Consider It

Those who need minimal assistance and are otherwise independent 

Those who need ongoing help with ADLs and find it difficult to be alone

Home Care

For seniors who aren’t ready to relocate to a residential community, home care is nonmedical care provided in their own home. A home care aide is assigned to visit you and provide services such as companionship, socialization and assistance with activities of daily living that accommodate your individual needs. 

This type of care is ideal for older adults who need some home assistance but are otherwise in good health. Home care is sometimes used as respite care when a family caregiver needs to step away for work, travel or errands. The amount of care can be personalized based on individual needs, ranging from one day a week to around-the-clock care with services such as:

  • Light housekeeping
  • Grocery shopping and meal preparation
  • Medication management
  • Mobility assistance
  • Dressing and grooming
  • Toileting
  • Bathing
  • Transportation to doctors’ appointments or social activities

A home care aide can also serve as a companion for older adults who may feel isolated because they live alone, have cognitive impairments or experience difficulty moving around on their own. Companion care services can include playing games, reading aloud, preparing snacks and functioning as an additional pair of hands around the house. 

According to the 2021 Genworth Cost of Care Survey, home care costs about $4,957 per month or $26 an hour. These costs are based on the national average, and pricing will vary based on the city or state you live in. 

Assisted Living

Assisted living is a long-term residential care option for older adults who require assistance with nonmedical daily activities. An assisted living community is far from the clinical setting many people might imagine. Instead, residents live in a homelike environment that offers a variety of amenities and enriching activities. 

As the bridge between independent living and a nursing home, assisted living may be a good option for seniors who can live somewhat independently on their own but need help with daily tasks. While each community is different, most have trained staff to provide residents with personal care assistance such as dressing, bathing, eating, walking and medication management. 

Residents also have access to many services and amenities to maintain comfort and independence. Services can include transportation, housekeeping and laundry. Amenities will vary based on location, but some examples are:

  • Outdoor common areas
  • Wellness programs
  • Gyms or fitness centers
  • Beauty salon and barbershop
  • Computer room
  • Wi-Fi
  • Concierge services
  • Social activities and events such as happy hours, guest lecturers, clubs or planned social outings

Although every situation is different, if you or a family member is finding it difficult to manage daily tasks, pay bills and prepare meals or are experiencing significant changes in physical appearance, it may be time to consider assisted living. According to the 2021 Genworth Cost of Care Survey, assisted living costs about $4,500 a month, based on the U.S. average, but this price will vary depending on where you live. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is home health care different from home care?

Home care doesn’t provide skilled medical services, but home health care does. Services vary depending on an individual’s needs, but home health care can provide postsurgical recovery care, first aid, medication administration, blood withdrawal, catheter management and physical or occupational therapy. Home care focuses on nonmedical services such as companionship, transportation and assistance with daily tasks. 

What services are included in monthly fees for assisted living?

Services covered by monthly fees will vary based on the facility, but housing, meals, personal care assistance, transportation, housekeeping and on-site activities are usually included. Luxury amenities like specialty programs or fitness centers may cost an additional fee. Purchases made during social outings to a restaurant, movie or store can also result in extra costs.

Does insurance cover home care?

Medicare and most other health insurance don’t cover the cost of home care because it’s considered custodial care rather than medical care. However, home health services like durable medical equipment, medical supplies for home use and various therapies are covered under Medicare Part A and Part B. 

How do I find an assisted living facility near me?

It’s important to find an assisted living community where you feel comfortable and your needs are fully met. You can search for communities using Caring’s search database by entering your location. Once you see the options in your area, you can browse through each facility and make a list of your top choices.