Home Care Services vs. Senior Assisted Living

Reviewed and Updated by Kelsey Davis,

Nearly half of everyone over the age of 65 needs some form of assistance in their daily routine. That’s approximately 18 million seniors! When choosing between home care services and senior assisted living, it’s important to consider the costs, qualifications, and available services before making a final decision.

Home care services allow you to get the assistance you need in the comfort of your own home and is great for anyone who is chronically ill, disabled, recovering from surgery, or needing basic assistance. Senior assisted living is an affordable way to get 24/7 care that includes interaction with other residents and eliminates the need of hiring, scheduling, or managing caregivers. This is great for those who have difficulty moving around and require more medical supervision. Both home care and assisted living focus on providing care, but the specifics of what is provided differ.

What Services Does Home Care Provide?

The three major types of home care services are:

Personal Care and Companionship

Personal care and companionship can provide assistance with self-care including bathing, grooming, and dressing. They also help with fall prevention by assisting with movement around the home. Meal preparation, cooking, light housekeeping, laundry, and other errands are included. Plus, this type of care allows you or a loved one to have companionship which can help with isolation issues, especially in the winter. Personal care and companionship can be long or short-term and is great for those who need basic help around the home.

Private Duty Nursing

Private duty nursing can help with basic medical services inside the home. This includes monitoring vital signs and administering medications. Ventilator, tracheostomy, gastrostomy, catheter, and feeding tube care may also be included. Private duty nursing care is typically long-term and is ideal for those who have a chronic illness, injury, or disability.

Home Health Care

Home health care includes several short-term nursing services. This includes physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, medical social work, and other home health aide services. Home health care is often short-term and is recommended by a physician. Home health care can help patients recover from an injury, illness, or hospital stay.

What is Assisted Living for Seniors and Medicare Eligibles?

Senior assisted living provides 24/7 care, meals, housekeeping, laundry, transportation, recreational activities, and wellness programs. Plus, facilities may offer on-site pharmacies, physical therapy, and even salon services.

Another large benefit of assisted living is social activities and entertainment. Many facilities have common areas including libraries, cafes, and game rooms. Plus, there are several social activities offered like gardening groups, book clubs, and movie nights.

Senior assisted living can help you or a loved one rest easy knowing that all care is personalized to meet any and all health needs.  Emergency first aid, medication management, pharmaceutical services, and maintenance of medical records is often provided to residents. Some facilities have a staff physician who provides routine checkups.

Senior Assisted Living and Home Care Services Costs

It’s important to look at the price tag when making a decision. Home care and assisted living offer different services and their prices reflect that.

What Does Home Care Cost?

The cost of home care services is unique to each situation. According to NPR, the average costs for home care services are:

  • Personal Care and Companionship: $70/day or $18,200/ year
  • Private Duty Nursing: $19/hour or $19,760/year
  • Home Health Care: $21/hour or $21,840/year

There are several companies that provide home care services, but the prices will vary. Plus, there are several other costs that are not included. Keep these in mind when looking at your budget. These costs include groceries, personal hygiene items, household items, transportation, rent or mortgage, utilities, and maintenance.

What is the Average Cost of Senior Assisted Living?

The type of residence, size of the apartment, services included, and location of the community are all factors that can increase the overall cost of senior assisted living. Costs can range from $2,200 to $6,000 per month depending on the cost of living for each state. However, keep in mind these are all-inclusive costs and eliminate the cost of rent, utilities, maintenance, meals, and personal care if you or a loved one lived at home.

Senior Assisted Living and Home Care Services Qualifications

Assisted living and home care each have a specific set of qualifications. Before finalizing on a plan option it’s crucial to know if you qualify.

How Do You Qualify for Home Care?

Within the three types of home care, personal care and companionship is the only type that doesn’t require a prescription. Plus, if Medicare or Medicaid is covering some of the costs, there are different qualifications. To qualify you must meet the “homebound” criteria as established by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid and require skilled care on a part-time basis in order to improve or maintain your health issue. If you meet these requirements, Medicare will cover your costs, but only if you receive your care from a Medicare-approved home health agency.

Who Qualifies for Assisted Living Facilities?

Qualification for senior assisted living is largely dependent on the level of care a resident needs. You or a loved one may qualify if assistance with daily living facilities like personal care, hygiene assistance, mobility, meals, and medication management is needed.

Those who require daily nursing services from extensive medical needs may not qualify. The application process is the same regardless if you or a loved one lives in a private residence, rehabilitation center, nursing facility, or a hospital. The typical application process includes facility admission paperwork, medical history, physical, and tuberculosis (TB) test or chest x-ray.

Role of Medicare and Medicaid

Medicare only covers the third type of home care services: home health care. The only cost you may have is 20% of the Medicare-approved amount for durable medical equipment. Medicare typically does not cover the costs of senior assisted living. However, Medicare may cover qualified healthcare costs while living in the facility. This includes doctor visits, lab tests, certain preventive services, physical therapy, and medical supplies.

Medicaid may cover some of the costs of home care services, but the coverage will vary by state. In some cases, Medicaid can be used to pay for some assisted living costs through a Medicaid waiver, but there is often a waiting list.

Making a Decision

Home care services and senior assisted living are two options that could greatly impact you or a loved one’s quality of life. There is an abundance of information available which can make finzaling a decision difficult. Are you a caregiver and looking to help a loved one? Our Ultimate Aging Parents Checklist can help you prepare for what is often a tough decision and discussion.

Medicare and Medicaid may only cover a small amount of the total costs. However, Medicare Advantage plans may provide additional coverage beyond Original Medicare and include benefits like hearing, dental, or vision coverage.

At Medicare Plan Finder, our goal is to make sure you have the coverage and benefits that enable you to live the healthiest lifestyle possible. Plus, we make sure you are informed on important information like the Medicaid look-back period and how Medicare and Medicaid work together. Our licensed agents can help answer any questions you may have about Medicare Advantage, prescription drug coverage, and Medicare supplements. If you’re interested in arranging a no-cost, no-obligation appointment, call us today at 844-431-1832 or fill out this form.

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