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Home Care, Home Health or Assisted Living?

Respite Icon.jpgUnderstanding Which  Types of Respite Care is Right for You

The constant demands of caregiving can quickly lead to burnout if you're not careful. Scheduling time for breaks is essential for maintaining your well-being over the long haul. Remember, it's a marathon, not a spring. 'Respite care' means short-term relief for primary caregivers. It can be arranged for just an afternoon or for several days or weeks.

Care can be provided at home, in a healthcare facility, or at an adult day care center. 

Respite care is a natural progression when your loved ones requires assistance with certain tasks and you are no longer able to leave them alone.  ​​​​​​​Choosing between assisted living and in-home care can be a difficult decision when your parent or spouse needs assistance in their daily life, but it can be a lifeline for those providing care. 

Choosing between assisted living and home care involves many factors, both personal and financial. It’s a complex decision and the answer depends on your older adult’s specific situation. When getting care, there are three essential factors to consider: how much help they need, key differences between assisted living vs home care, and their financial situation.

1.)  Figure out how much help they need.

Before making any decisions, it’s necessary to find out how much help your older adult needs and compare that with how much help is already available. Make a list of everything your older adult needs help with on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Being able to see the whole picture helps you choose the correct level of care. Next, be realistic about how much help you, family, or friends and neighbors will provide. It’s important to think about this in terms of long-term, ongoing help – a few weeks or months isn’t going to be enough.  In some cases, looking at this list makes it obvious that in home care will work best. In other cases, assisted living might be the clear choice.

2.)  Understand key differences between in home care, home health, and assisted living.

Before you can choose between in home care and assisted living, it’s important to understand how they work. Here are the basics and key pros and cons for each.

Home Care

With in-home care, you typically hire a caregiver to come into the home to interact with your loved one or assist him/her with activities of daily living. This enables your older adult to continue living safely at home. The specific help provided depends on the older adult’s needs and could include meal preparation, getting around the house, light housekeeping, transportation, bathing, dressing, using the toilet, companionship, running errands, etc.

You can hire someone you know or go through a professional company - the choice is yours.  The main advantage of using someone you know is a reduced cost. However, benefits of hiring a company is liability coverage in case of an accident, background checks, drug screenings, and training.  Consider your situation and what is best for you and your loved one. 

Keep in mind that Medicare does not pay for home care.  Home care options include private pay, Medicaid, long-term care insturance, or veteran's benefits.  Rates can vary from $15 - 35 per hour. 

Benefits of home care:

  • You get a break! 

  • Senior gets one-on-one care tailored to their needs and preferences

  • Senior can stay in their home or a relative’s home as they age

  • Costs can be lower depending on hours of care needed and caregiver skill level

  • Flexibility in care arrangements: different types of care could be combined to lower costs

  • increase social interaction

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Home Health

Home health is different from home care.  If your loved one requires additional medical assistance (e.g., wound care, intravenious care, pain management), physical occupation, rehabilitation, or speech therapy, then home health could be an answer.  Home health requires a doctor's order and is typically covered by insurance. 

Assisted Living 

An assisted living community is a place where many seniors live, in rooms or small apartments. Most communities offer a wide range of care options, from seniors who are mostly independent to those who need a high level of care. Services like meals, transportation, group activities, and housekeeping are typically included in the monthly fee.

Benefits of assisted living:

  • More affordable way to get 24/7 supervision and care

  • Family can focus more on the relationship rather than on care needs

  • Senior has plenty of opportunities for social interaction with other residents

  • Family doesn’t need to worry about hiring, scheduling, or managing caregivers

  • Level of care can be ramped up as needed because staff is already in place

3.)  Understand the financial situation.

Before you can make a choice about assisted living or in home care, you need to know how each choice would work with your older adult’s budget.

Figuring out assisted living and in-home care costs isn’t easy and is specific to each person’s needs, location, and how much family help they have. This takes some work, but it’s worth the effort, because it helps you plan for the future and avoid unpleasant scenarios like your older adult suddenly running out of money.  One of the best things to do is to call around to get actual pricing information from assisted living communities you’d consider and in home care providers you might use. This way, you’ll know the cost of getting the level of care your older adult needs in the city they live in.

Respite Care Resources

National Respite Locator Service

Well Spouse Association
800-838-0879 (toll-free)

Eldercare Locator
800-677-1116 (toll-free)

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
800-633-4227 (toll-free)
877-486-2048 (TTY/toll-free)

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