Cost of Assisted Living vs. Home Care

May 26, 2017 | Blog | Reading Time 7:00 Minutes

When it comes to making decisions about our retirement care or the care of someone we love, the choices can be difficult or confusing. Take, for instance, assisted living and in-home care. Many people –including professionals in the field of geriatric services – often make the assumption that these two services are essentially the same thing (save, perhaps, whether the services are offered in an assisted living community or at a person’s house). In this case, the assumption that these two types of care are generally the same could not be more further from the truth. Assisted living and in-home care are not identical services, thus the costs are different as well.

Here are 5 quick considerations when choosing between assisted living and home care:

1. The arrangement is different.

Assisted living most often refers to a group of seniors, living in a community, who need very little (and sometimes no) daily assistance to live healthy, independent lives. The benefits of living as a group are vast and well-documented, and essentially assisted living exists to create community and fight the effects of aging and/or illness sometimes associated with people living in isolation. Additionally, members of an assisted living community often live in small, personal or studio apartments near a central location where assistance can be administered when needed. The understanding is that assisted living covers room and board, as well as meals, and roughly one hour of personalized care each day.

Home care, on the other hand, most often refers to a professional home health specialist (or aide) who comes to the senior’s home to assist with daily living tasks. Home care can be given over a period of a few hours daily to 24/7 care, depending on the individual’s needs. Home care specialists typically focus their efforts on daily living tasks such as any of the following:

  • bathing
  • dressing
  • feeding
  • toileting
  • walking

As necessary (and if agreed upon) can also include home care services like housework, medication reminders, shopping and transportation. It is not uncommon for home care to require a minimum commitment of 3 hours at a time, but agreements can be made for everything from 1 to 24 hours daily.

Similarities between assisted living and home care

It should be noted that, though the specifics of assisted living and home care are different, one prominent thing is similar: neither care option performs medical tasks (such as administering shots, medications, or wound care). For-hire nursing services are available, but these typically cost above the assisted living or home care pricing structure and may require hiring a different agency altogether.

2. The factors are different.

For both assisted living and home care, several factors drive the associated costs up or down. Specifically, the type and level of personal care, the type and number of amenities offered and the zip code in which the assistance is given can make a big impact on the bottom line.

Comparing assisted living and home care

Staten Island assisted living and home care fees vary depending on the services included within each program and if there are any a la carte options that can be added. Certain care options provided by assisted living communities or caregivers can be fairly basic, or they can offer services that are all-inclusive. No two programs are identical, and many factors influence the bottom line. It is common for assisted living and home care services to determine the fee structure based on the type and level of care needed by the individual.

Considering assisted living? Download our free interactive workbook.

3. The costs are different.

It would make sense, then, given all the above, that the cost of assisted living vs. home care would be different. The most recent Genworth Cost of Care Survey says the average cost of assisted living in the United States is over $3,000 monthly. One of the biggest impacts of this cost is size and location of the personal living space. An individual could choose to live in an assisted living community in a high-priced part of the country in a 2-bedroom suite, or an individual could choose to live in a studio apartment in a lower-priced part of the country … or anything in between. Keep in mind this monthly cost includes a place to live, as well as a certain number of meals and amenities. With regard to home care, the cost can typically range from $20 to $35 hourly.

Assisted living and home care costs

The type and level of care, as well as the area in which the person is receiving care, play a huge role in the fee structure. If you are looking at two programs with vastly different cost structures, it is a safe bet that the higher-priced option includes more services or is located in a more expensive area of the country than the lower-priced option. Do not assume the higher-priced service is simply seeking to earn a greater profit. (Although, it is always advised to do your research!)

4. The payment options are similar.

Whether you are embarking on assisted living or home care, you have two basic ways to cover the cost. First, you are free to pay for the care out of pocket. Second, you can use Medicaid or Medicare available to you or your family member.

Assistance in paying for senior care services

Additional assistance in the form of reverse mortgages, bridge loans, or long-term care insurance can be helpful, but essentially those are creative forms of paying out of pocket. If you, your family or friend is a veteran, it is a good idea to research Veterans Aid, but this doesn’t generally cover the entire cost of care.

5. The importance of making the right choice is clear.

Even though the conversation about the cost of assisted living vs. home care is vitally important, it is equally important not to choose between the two alternatives based entirely on the price tag. Sometimes in the rush to make a decision or to save money, a wrong choice could be made, and this can be detrimental to the overall cost. If an individual moves into an assisted living community only to realize he or she needs to hire home care on top of it to live independently, now the individual (or family) is paying for both when only one might have been necessary.

Quick note on commitment

Here are 3 typical reasons someone might make the wrong decision between assisted living and home care:

  • An individual may be in denial regarding the level of care that he or she needs. This is why it is paramount that families speak openly and honestly with each other about the situation. It is a good idea – especially if your family member in need of care lives out of state – that you spend time together so that you can personally observe the current needs. If you are the one in need of care, it is important that you accurately communicate with your family or friend what you need to be healthy and whole.
  • An individual or family may misunderstand what services will be provided. If you believe assisted living comes with 24/7 personal care, for instance, you could be in for a shock when only an hour of one-on-one care is received each day.
  • An individual may be improperly invited to benefit from a program in which he or she shouldn’t participate, based on a sales person’s desire to make a sale. While this doesn’t happen all the time, it has been known to occur. Personal research, asking the right questions, and documenting conversations and agreements goes a long way in ensuring this type of mistake doesn’t happen.

Bottom line

It is important to remember that assisted living and home care are not competing options in the same care space. Both exist for a specific purpose. It is also vital to be honest with yourself and your family or friend about what you need by way of daily assistance. Making the wrong choice to save a few bucks will generally prove to be disastrous in the end. Ask good questions, make strong personal observations, and be honest with yourself.

Here at The Brielle, we are committed to doing what we can to provide you with a holistic view of wellness. This begins by us helping you decide what type of care is needed. We want you or your family member or friend to live the best life possible. As such, our philosophy of care focuses on four key areas of personal wellness – social, intellectual, spiritual, and physical. We have opportunities to strengthen each of these areas. We want you to live among friends and enjoy the benefits that accompany a vibrant, independent lifestyle with qualified, caring support. Contact us today or call 929-256-3005 to see if assisted living or home care is right choice for you.