Assisted Living or In-Home Care?

When you or someone you care about can no longer live safely alone, big decisions are in store. The transition from complete independence to having to rely on others for help with things you used to do on your own such as bathing, dressing, grooming, toileting, eating, food preparation, or driving, can be a difficult one.

Once everyone is on the same page about the need for care, then the discussion turns to how and where that care will be provided. In addition to finances, there are other criteria to consider. Here are a few conversation starters:

What matters most?

Most people, given the choice, want to stay in their own home. If this is of the utmost importance to you, then in-home care might be the right option. A caregiver can come to your home for as many hours a day as you need. In-home caregivers can offer companionship, meal preparation, medication reminders, light housekeeping, driving, help with showering and other non-medical care services. A caregiver in your home will be able to keep their eye on you for a change of condition or help reduce the risk of falls.

If socialization, activities, outings, and being with peers is important to you, then a good choice may be living in a community with others at a similar stage of life such as a community offering assisted living or even a smaller care home. Assisted Living communities typically provide three meals a day, housekeeping and laundry service. If you are unable to do these things or are just plain tired of having to do them, this is a good solution. Care is available when you need it and as things change, more care can be added, usually at additional cost.

Where will I be safe?

Depending on your home and your health, modifications may be needed to keep your home safe for you. They may be as simple as grab bars in the bathroom or as expensive as adding a walk-in shower or tub, building a ramp, or widening doorways for wheelchair accessibility. If walking is difficult, stairs are not a good idea.

In an assisting living community or care home, these modifications have likely been addressed as a requirement by licensing (which varies from state-to-state) and can make getting around easier and safer.

What can I afford?

Always a big question. Depending on how much care is required, you will need to calculate the cost of home care and compare that with the cost of living in an assisted living community. Surprisingly enough, the communities are often the less expensive option. That said, if all you need is assistance with, for example, showering three times a week and some grocery shopping, in home care costs may be manageable. There are a lot of factors to consider and a thorough exploration is very important. You will also want to understand what, if any, additional sources of funds are available to you.

Enlist the help of an ElderCare Manager or a Senior Placement Advisor to make sure you have the whole picture.

What is the best location choice?

If you have been living at home up until this juncture, it is likely that your providers – physicians, specialists, physical therapists, labs, etc. are near your home. Your transportation needs to and from appointments have also likely been arranged. Be sure to take into consideration how all of this will work if you decide to move into a community or care home.

Will moving bring you closer or further away from your loved ones? Family visits are important as is accessibility to those you are close to, no matter where you live.

Any way you look at it, this decision is a big one and navigating the transition could require some help from family, friends, or professionals. The goal is for you to be happy, safe, comfortable, and in proximity to the things that matter to you.

If you have any questions or would like to be in touch with a Senior Care Authority Advisor in your area call (888) 854-3910 for a no-cost phone consultation. We have many resources to share with you. You can also find a local advisor on our website at

Marcy Baskin is an Elder Care Manager, and Managing Director of Senior Care Authority. She is also the author ofAssisted Living: Questions I Wish I Had Asked.