Life-Changing Decisions: Home Care or Assisted Living?



As individuals age, family members are often faced with choosing whether to hire an in-home professional caregiver or moving to an assisted living facility. What questions need to be asked to reach the best decision?


Aging seniors have a strong desire to remain independent and in control of their own lives for as long as possible in their own home – wouldn’t you feel the same way? At the same time, the last thing any senior wants is to feel like they are a burden on their children. Sometimes it takes a “wake up call,” such as surgery or a serious injury or accident, to consider in-home care or an assisted living facility.


So the lingering question is when will you know when your elderly parents need help?


Your parents could be having difficulty with or are incapable of performing routine activities of daily living (ADLs) such as:


  • Bathing
  • Dressing and grooming
  • Toileting
  • Transferring or moving from place to place (e.g., moving from the bed to a chair)
  • Walking
  • Eating
  • Providing their own transportation


Other noticeable changes within their physical appearance may indicate they need assistance:


  • Noticeable weight loss, or seeming more frail (difficulty cooking, eating, shopping for food, etc.)
  • Sloppy appearance and/or poor hygiene (difficulty bathing, dressing, and grooming)
  • Bruises on the body could indicate they’ve fallen and are having trouble walking
  • Noticeable burns on the skin could indicate they are experiencing some issues with cooking


It’s also a good idea to think realistically about the person’s social connections. Social circles tend to shrink with age, which can have health and safety implications. Always look for signs of active friendships: does your loved one still get together for lunches or outings with friends or visits with neighbors, or participate in religious activities or other group events? Lack of companionship is associated with depression and heart problems in older adults.


Certain situations make it more obvious that it’s wise to start thinking about alternate living arrangements:


  • Your loved one may be having too many accidents, or tend to have a slow recovery from an illness, cold, flu, etc
  • There might be a worsening chronic health condition
  • Progressive problems such as COPD, dementia, and congestive heart failure can decline gradually or precipitously, but either way, their presence means your loved one will increasingly need help

One thing is certain: your parents won’t be the ones who tell you they need help!


Having a professional caregiver provide in-home care, whether it is hourly, live-in, respite, or strictly transportation services, can be a huge help. Keeping the comforts of being at home is a huge benefit for an individual who isn’t quite 100% ready to be in a facility. A caregiver provides one-on-one care: once your caregiver arrives at your loved one’s door, their only purpose is to ensure that your loved one gets their full attention and receives quality care. Private duty caregivers can provide families support, love and participation.


To ensure you are searching for the right caregiver for your loved one, make sure that you select an agency that allows your family to select their own caregiver and that the agency is licensed, bonded, and insured.


Private care duty agencies and assisted living facilities are very similar in many ways. You, the family, will have to review your options and select the best one for your loved one.