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Home Care vs Nursing Home: Which Is Right for Your Loved One?

Updated
7/8/2024
By Shelley Cartwright

Table of Contents

    Choosing the right care for an aging loved one is a decision that affects entire families, not just individual lives. As we consider the best ways to support our elderly relatives in their later years, two primary options often come to the forefront: home care vs nursing home facilities. While both home care and skilled nursing facilities offer significant benefits, many families are discovering the unique advantages of in-home care. In this guide, we delve into the specifics of both, helping you make a well-informed decision.

    What Is In-Home Care?

    Care at home, also known as non-medical home care, is a service designed to support individuals who need assistance with daily household tasks but prefer to stay in the comfort of their own homes. This type of service is tailored to meet the specific needs of each individual, like basic support with daily activities and independent living skills. The primary goal of in-home care is to enable seniors and others needing assistance to maintain their independence and quality of life as much as possible.

    It differs from home health care, which involves clinical care, skilled nursing care, and therapy.

    In-home care can be categorized into several types, including:

    • Personal care: Assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs), such as bathing, dressing, and grooming.
    • Companionship: Social interaction and engagement to keep the individual mentally active and emotionally supported.
    • Homemaking: Help with household tasks like cleaning, laundry, and meal preparation.

    What Are the Benefits of Home Care?

    In-home care offers numerous benefits that make it an appealing option for families seeking supportive care for their loved ones. This type of care is designed to provide a comfortable, familiar, and personalized care experience within the home environment.

    Here are some key benefits of choosing in-home care:

    • Personalized and flexible care: In-home care is highly adaptable, allowing care plans to be tailored specifically to the individual's needs. Whether it's adjusting the hours of care or changing the type of services provided, in-home care can evolve with the changing needs of the patient. This flexibility ensures that each person receives the right level of support when they need it.
    • Comfort of home: Staying at your own home can significantly enhance the quality of life for many individuals, especially the elderly. The familiar surroundings can help maintain a sense of continuity and comfort, which is particularly beneficial for those suffering from progressive conditions that affect memory, such as Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia.
    • Cost-effectiveness: Compared to skilled nursing facilities or other residential care facilities, in-home care can be a more cost-effective solution. It allows families to pay only for the services they need, which can be particularly economical if the individual does not require round-the-clock assistance.
    • One-on-one attention: The one-on-one nature of receiving services at home ensures that individuals receive the caregiver's full attention and care. This personalized approach means care is more attentive and responsive to the immediate needs of the individual, contributing to better care outcomes.
    • Family involvement and peace of mind: In-home care enables family members to be more involved in the care of their loved ones. Families can work directly with caregivers to ensure that care is consistent with their expectations and values. Additionally, knowing a professional is providing compassionate and competent care can offer significant peace of mind to family members.
    • Reduced exposure to illness: Being cared for at home reduces the risk of infections commonly associated with group facilities. This is particularly important for those who are medically fragile.

    What Is Nursing Home and Assisted Living Facility Care?

    Nursing home care provides residential care for elderly or disabled individuals who require more constant and comprehensive medical attention than can be provided at home. These facilities, also known as skilled nursing or long-term care facilities, are designed to cater to individuals who need 24-hour supervision, medical care, and assistance with everyday activities.

    Nursing homes offer a wide range of health and personal care services. These include:

    • Skilled nursing care: Access to 24-hour nursing services for individuals with severe or complex medical conditions that require regular monitoring and treatment.
    • Rehabilitative services: Physical, occupational, and speech therapies are available to help residents maintain or improve their physical abilities and overall health.
    • Personal care: Assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs), such as bathing, dressing, eating, and mobility.
    • Medication management: Ensuring that residents receive and take their medications correctly, monitoring for side effects and interactions.
    • Social activities: Organized events and activities to keep residents engaged and socially active, which is crucial for mental health.
    • Nutritional support: Meal preparation and dietary planning to meet the specific health needs of each resident.

    Exploring Costs: Home Care vs. Nursing Homes

    Understanding the costs associated with both in-home care and nursing home care is crucial for families planning for the care of elderly or disabled relatives. The costs can vary widely depending on geographical location, the level of care needed, and the frequency of care.

    In-Home Care Average Costs

    According to the 2023 Cost of Long-Term Care and Senior Living report, the median hourly rate for home care services is $30. This rate translates to approximately $5,200 per month for a full-time, in-home caregiver. The expenses associated with in-home care can vary significantly depending on the level of support an aging loved one needs.

    For example, part-time care for about 20 hours a week may cost around $2,600 per month, ideal for families who can manage weekend and overnight care themselves but need assistance during workdays. For those requiring continuous support, 24/7 care can escalate to about $21,840 per month. Such intensive in-home care might prompt families to consider a residential community like a nursing home, especially if round-the-clock supervision is necessary.

    Additionally, it's worth noting that in-home care expenses may be tax deductible under certain circumstances, offering some financial relief.

    Monthly Cost Weekly Hours
    $2,600 20 hours (part-time)
    $5,200 40 hours per week (full-time)
    $21,840 168 hours per week (24/7 care)

    Nursing Home Average Costs

    Nursing home costs typically include an "all-inclusive" monthly rate that covers room and board, meals, and daily assistance, providing a comprehensive care package. The cost can vary depending on the location of the facility and the type of room selected.

    For instance, the average monthly cost for a private room in a nursing home is approximately $9,034, while a semi-private room averages around $7,908. It’s important to note that some nursing homes also offer customizable add-ons to these monthly rates, such as salon services, special activity packages, and other amenities, which can affect the overall cost.

    Nursing Home Monthly Cost
    Private Room $9,034
    Semi-Private Room $7,908

    How to Pay for Home Care vs. Nursing Home Costs

    Navigating the financial aspects of home care and nursing home costs can be challenging for families. Understanding the various payment options available can help ease the financial burden and ensure that your loved one receives the care they need. Here are some common methods for financing both home care and nursing home expenses:

    Paying for Home Care

    • Private pay: Many families use personal savings or assets to directly pay for home care services.
    • Long-term care insurance: This type of insurance can cover part or all of the costs of home care, depending on the policy details.
    • Medicare: Generally, Medicare does not cover long-term home care services but may cover short-term care for specific medical needs or conditions.
    • Medicaid: For those who qualify, Medicaid can provide funding for home care. The eligibility and benefits vary by state.
    • Veterans benefits: Veterans and their spouses may be eligible for benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs that can help cover home care costs.

    Paying for Nursing Home Costs

    • Medicare: Medicare typically covers limited stays in nursing homes for rehabilitation after a hospitalization but does not fund long-term nursing home care.
    • Medicaid: Medicaid is the primary source of payment for most long-term care in nursing homes, especially for those who have exhausted their finances.
    • Long-term care insurance: Like home care, this insurance can significantly offset the costs of nursing home care if the policy includes such coverage.
    • Private pay: Families often use savings, retirement accounts, or sell assets to cover nursing home costs.
    • Life insurance conversions: Some life insurance policies can be converted into a long-term care benefit to pay for nursing home care.
    Private and Public Pay Options Home Care Nursing Home
    Personal Retirement Funds V V
    Home Equity V V
    Health Savings Account (HSA) V V
    Long-Term Care Insurance V V
    Life Insurance V V
    Medicare V V
    Veterans Benefits V V
    Medicaid V V

    Side-by-Side Comparison of In-Home Care and Nursing Homes

    Home Care Nursing Home
    Average Monthly Costs $2,600-$5,200 $7,908-$9,034
    Private Pay Yes (most common) Yes
    Medicaid Limited Limited
    Medicare Limited Limited
    SSI/Disability Yes Yes
    Veterans Benefits Yes Yes
    Long-Term Care Insurance Yes Yes
    Grants Yes Yes
    Activities of Daily Living Yes Yes
    Medication Management Yes Yes
    Physical/Occupational Therapy Varies Yes
    Skilled Nursing Varies Yes
    Meal Preparation Yes Yes
    Transportation Varies Yes
    Social Activities Limited Yes
    Housekeeping Yes Yes
    Personal Hygiene Yes Yes
    Continence Yes Yes
    Mobility Yes, but varies based on needs Yes
    Eating/Feeding Yes Yes

    Why Choose Home Care Instead of Nursing Home Care?

    Home care and nursing homes both offer numerous advantages, and it’s important to choose what’s best for your loved one. One of the primary benefits is the ability for seniors to stay in the familiar surroundings of their own homes, which can significantly boost their emotional and psychological well-being. The care provided is highly personalized and can be adjusted to meet changing needs, ensuring that each individual receives the most appropriate support. Additionally, the one-on-one nature of home care ensures that care is both attentive and tailored specifically to the individual, fostering a nurturing environment that promotes better health outcomes.

    Key benefits of choosing home care include:

    • Personalized care: Tailored specifically to the individual's needs and preferences.
    • Comfort and familiarity: Seniors can remain in their own homes, surrounded by memories and possessions they cherish.
    • Cost-effective: Often more affordable than nursing home care, especially for those who do not require 24/7 supervision.
    • Focused attention: One-on-one caregiving enhances the quality of care and allows for immediate responsiveness.
    • Reduced health risks: Lower risk of exposure to infections prevalent in communal living environments.
    • Preserved independence: Seniors maintain a greater level of autonomy and control over their daily activities.
    • Emotional stability: Remaining at home can alleviate feelings of displacement and anxiety that often accompany moving to a nursing facility.

    These advantages highlight why home care is a great choice for ensuring the safety, comfort, and dignity of elderly individuals.

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    Choose What’s Right for You

    While nursing homes provide essential services for those requiring intensive medical care and supervision, in-home care offers a compelling alternative for families seeking flexible, personalized, and cost-effective solutions. It maintains the dignity and independence of seniors while providing them with the necessary support in the comfort and safety of their own homes. For many, in-home care is not just a service — it's a way to enhance the quality of life for their loved ones.

    If you are uncertain about the best path forward, consider reaching out to APEX Health Services. Our team of experienced care advisors can help guide you through the options and support you in making the best decision for your family's unique situation. Contact us today!

    By
    Shelley Cartwright

    Mrs. Cartwright was hired in 2014 as a Business Development Consultant and named Hospice Administrator in 2015. In January 2023 Mrs. Cartwright was promoted to the company’s Chief Executive Officer position. During her tenure as the Hospice Administrator, APEX experienced remarkable growth and success in the hospice and palliative care industry, leading the company to the first accredited in Palliative care in the state of Illinois. With more than 30 years in leading healthcare organizations, Shelley is a proven leader in healthcare operations, organization, leadership, business development and market expansion.

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