In-Home vs. Residential Care for Seniors
If you’re reaching the point where you know you need some help with daily living — or a loved one is reaching that point — you may be wondering whether in-home or residential care is a better option.
In-home care is often your first though; surveys of seniors find that most would prefer to stay in their own homes as long as possible. However, there comes a time for many people when it’s clear that they are not able to care for themselves completely in their own home.
Safety is the first concern. Seniors must be able to navigate the home, going up and down stairs if necessary and using the bathroom and kitchen safely. Sometimes remodeling the home or moving into a different house or apartment is necessary to keep people safe as they grow older. Smoke alarms and emergency alert systems can help older people stay safe in their homes longer, as can automated systems that will keep the temperature within a safe range.
Good health is the next concern. Some seniors stop preparing healthy meals for themselves. Many stop exercising because they fear injury — a decision which actually increases the likelihood of a fall, since exercise helps with the strength and balance needed to prevent falls. Some may forget to take medications, or take too much because they’ve forgotten that they already took their pills. Even something as simple as failing to drink enough water can influence the health of a loved one significantly. Regular visits by home health aides, Meals on Wheels services, or having a live-in caregiver can be solutions to these concerns.
Safety and health may be obvious concerns, but quality of life also matters. Elderly people can feel bored and isolated. Those who can no longer drive may be limited in their options for recreation, and social networks may shrink as older adults lose contemporaries to death or illness, give up recreational activities that they enjoyed when they were younger, or lose touch with family members who move away for work or school. Senior day centers, live-in caregivers, or moving in with an adult child or other relative may help with these issues.
While in-home options may be the first thought for seniors and their loved ones, they are often stop-gap measures. An older person may have a number of helpers from different sources, but these helpers may not communicate with one another. Some needs may not be covered, and the senior’s family members may not be aware of the gaps in care until a serious problem makes it obvious.
What’s more, cobbling together a collection of partial solutions at home can be very expensive. The cost of housekeeping, meals, laundry services, cabs, senior day services, home health services, and of course the regular costs of living can add up to more than the cost of residential services in an assisted living facility.
Before deciding between in-home care and a senior care facility, visit a Tutera assisted living community and see what life in a senior care facility is like.