October 29, 2018

America’s population is getting older – which means that a new generation of family caregivers is facing some important questions about providing support for their loved ones.

If you’re someone whose elderly parent or guardian is in need of help, you’ve likely asked yourself any number of questions:

  • “What’s the best living situation for my parent?”
  • “Is my parent going to be able to live alone?”
  • “What happens if my loved one has a medical emergency?”
  • “What can I do when my parent can’t cook, clean, or keep up with housekeeping any longer?”
  • “What’s the best way for me to help my parent get the attention they need?”

If any of those questions sound familiar, you’re not alone. Many, many people are in the exact same place as you, weighing the options available for caring for their aging family members. For many people, two main courses of option tend to leap out, after some course of research – assisted living, and in-home care.

What Is Assisted Living?

An assisted living facility is a residential facility, which preserves some of the independence of aging in place for older adults.

In an assisted living community, senior residents generally live in their own private rooms and maintain their own schedules, while also having access to a variety of social activities and events held in public areas.

Daily care is typically limited to providing support with activities of daily living (ADLs), but residents may sometimes also have access to some medical services, if they need a higher level of care.

There are numerous pros and cons to assisted living. For instance, for families, assisted living can take away some of the burden of caregiving, since you can allow the facility itself to set caregiving schedules and provide support services. If your older loved one needs round-the-clock care, this also makes constant attention and service more available. At the same time, older adults who love to socialize can often get involved in a community fairly easily in an assisted living facility.

On the other hand, assisted living arrangements certainly have their drawbacks. For some seniors, community living is not an ideal situation, with many older adults preferring to age in place. These facilities can also be quite expensive. Staff turnover at some assisted living facilities is quite frequent, and there is no guarantee of the level of care your loved one may receive from facility to facility.

What Is In-Home Care?

In-home caregivers, as their name suggests, can come directly to your parents, whether that means visiting their home, or offering service in a hospital or rehab facility.

In-home caregivers, also called companions and non-medical home care providers, can typically offer older adults a wide range of services, depending on your loved one’s unique needs and the personalized care plan that you and your caregiver devise. In any event, in-home caregivers can offer assistance with ADLs, including helping your parent keep up their hygiene, get dressed, move from room to room, prepare meals, and do laundry.

Most in-home caregiver are not medical professionals, so they cannot provide direct medical support. On the other hand, companions can help your loved one remember to take their medication, help schedule and provide transportation for doctor’s appointments, and help with any other number of errands or daily responsibilities. Finally, companions offer a friendly face that your loved one can get to know and trust, thanks to plenty of one-on-one time.

Non-medical home care is often less expensive than institutionalized residential care options, and your loved one will have one, reliable caregiver that they can get to know and spend time with. At the same time, many adults prefer to age in place in the comfort of their own homes, and a companion can typically provide transportation services that an assisted living center cannot.  

However, some seniors with chronic health conditions may benefit from more extensive attention, or even medical care. Some homes are not equipped for older adults to age in place without significant retrofitting, which can be time-consuming and costly. Families will also often have to take a more active role in planning and managing care with this type of arrangement.

Deciding What’s Best for Your Loved One

Ultimately, the choice for your family will come down to a number of factors that only you and yours can decide upon. As you do more research and weigh the various pros and cons of assisted living and home care, you may wish to think about:

  • Budget/Financial Situation
    In many cases, your family’s financial situation may play a role in which type of care you pursue for your loved ones. For home care, costs may depend on the level of service and time required for the client, taking into account their personal care needs and schedule. With assisted living, you’re paying a base rate for your senior’s residence and care, as well as administrative fees for things like housekeeping, meals, and extra services, which can often mount up into the thousands of dollars.
  • Timing and Flexibility
    Does your loved one only need support for a few hours per week, when family caregivers need a break? Then home care may be a more logical option. However, if your loved one needs 24/7 care, the costs of home care can add up. Everyone’s unique situation will be unique.
  • Your Loved One’s Health Needs and Preferences
    What level of care does your loved one require? Do they need occasional, or more frequent, help with activities of daily living? Are they active and engaged with their community, family, or friends? How much time can your family commit to spending with your parent? Is their home equipped to handle someone with more limited mobility? Is your loved one showing any early warning signs of severe physical or mental decline? All of these are important factors to keep in mind! At the same time, listen to your loved one’s wants and preferences. They may have firm opinions about staying at home versus moving into a community, which you should pay attention to. For instance, according to a report from AARP, 90% of seniors want to stay in their homes as long as possible.

Looking for Guidance You Can Trust?

If you have any questions about finding the best possible care for your aging loved one, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Companions for Seniors. At Companions for Seniors, empowering elders and their caregivers is our passion, and we’re happy to talk over any thoughts you might have. We’re always here to bounce ideas off of, and help you find the best course of action for yourself and your senior loved one.

Wondering if your older loved one would benefit from in-home care? Don’t hesitate to drop us a line to discuss creating a personalized care plan for your senior.

At Companions for Seniors, our mission is to help seniors live independently and with dignity in the comfort of their own home by empowering them to lead an active and enriched lifestyle, connecting them with their community, and nurturing meaningful relationships. Our companions are trained, bonded, and insured, and can help provide a variety of services designed to help your loved one remain in their own home. We’re locally owned in the Chicago area, with clients in the city and suburbs. Don’t hesitate to contact us today to get the conversation started.