Seniors needing critical care have several choices. Two primary options are nursing home and hospice care. Both types provide care for those with terminal health conditions but nursing home care is provided in a hospital-like setting, while hospice is typically given in an individual’s home or with family. Due to the sensitive nature of these types of care, it can be difficult to choose which one is best suited for you or your loved one.

This guide discusses both types of care, including what they cover, the costs and who they are best suited for.

Nursing Home




Clinical, home

Care Provided

24-hour supervision, meals, personal care assistance, rehabilitation, therapy and skilled nursing

Pain management, spiritual support, family support, counseling

Average Monthly Cost

$7,908 for a semi-private room


Who Should Consider It

Those who require 24-hour care, those recovering from a serious illness and those with mobility issues or who can no longer care for themselves

Those with terminal illnesses or who require end-of-life care

Nursing Home

Nursing homes offer comprehensive care to those who don’t require hospitalization but aren’t well enough for at-home care. Nursing homes offer 24-hour supervision from skilled nurses and clinical staff. Sometimes, care is provided by other professionals, including doctors and therapists. Many individuals move to a nursing home from a hospital while recovering from a surgical procedure or illness. However, some individuals may live in a nursing home long-term if they have a progressive or terminal illness.

Aside from treatment, nursing homes may offer social and recreational activities, including games, parties, music, exercise and hobbies.

Nursing Home Services

Nursing homes can help seniors with getting in and out of bed, showering, dressing, feeding and hygiene. They also provide high levels of medical care, including wound care, IV administration and health monitoring of chronic conditions. In a nursing home, seniors may receive diagnostic care, including X-rays.

Nursing Home Candidates

Seniors with worsening health conditions and those who aren’t able to receive the care they need at home are excellent candidates for a nursing home. In some cases, a situation is unmanageable for family members, so they must make the decision to place their loved one in a nursing home.

Nursing Home Costs

According to Genworth’s 2021 Cost of Care Survey, the average cost of a semiprivate room in a nursing home in the United States is $7,908 per month. A private room costs around $9,034 per month. The actual cost of a facility can vary depending on where it’s located within the country. Other factors that can determine the cost of care include the age and size of the facility, the number of amenities and the type of care the facility provides.


Hospice care is provided when other forms of treatment are no longer an option. Hospice generally focuses on pain management and maintaining quality of life for as long as possible. Hospice care is available from a wide variety of professionals, including registered nurses, doctors, spiritual leaders and volunteers.

There are four levels of hospice care: routine home care, general inpatient care, continuous home care and respite care. Routine home care keeps the individual stable by controlling the symptoms of their illness. General inpatient care is provided in a nursing home or hospital setting and provides short-term care for pain that has become unmanageable through other means of treatment. Continuous home care is crisis care, which typically involves an IV or other pain management. Respite care is provided for family members caring for their loved ones on their own. This type of hospice care focuses more on helping the caregiver and less on the patient’s needs.

Hospice Services

The main type of care provided by hospice nurses is pain management through IV care or medication management. Other services include counseling, respite care and family support. Hospice care may offer family meetings, bereavement counseling and assistance with activities of daily living.

Hospice Candidates

Individuals facing a terminal illness who want to remain as comfortable as possible during their last days are excellent candidates for hospice care. Hospice allows the illness to take its course on its own while focusing on medicated pain relief, spiritual advisement and counseling for the family.

Hospice Costs

The cost of hospice varies depending on where the care is provided. Typically, hospice is charged by the day — but these charges are usually paid by Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance.

Frequently Asked Questions

When should someone begin hospice care?

Many people wait until the final weeks or days of their lives to enter hospice care. To determine the best time for this type of care, it’s important to discuss the options with your physician. In some cases, starting hospice early can improve an individual’s quality of life, making it easier to spend the maximum amount of time with loved ones.

Does hospice involve continuous care?

The majority of care for an individual in end-of-life treatment is provided by family and friends. Hospice usually only involves a couple of hours per day of medical care. Volunteers and professionals are always close by to provide treatment 24/7.

What is the main benefit of hospice care?

Individuals who opt for hospice tend to have more control over their end-of-life care. They’re better able to choose which types of care, testing and medications they receive and have greater control over their pain management.