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Senior man opening his front door to a female healthcare worker making a home health visit
December 30, 2019

Assisted Living Vs Home Health Care: What's the Difference?

As you begin looking for supportive care for your loved one, you will have many options to choose from, including home health care and assisted living communities. Each type of care meets the unique needs of its seniors and offers varying benefits. To help you decide, we've developed a guide on the similarities and differences between assisted living and home health care.

How is the care provided in home health care different than in assisted living?

You’ll find that seniors consider home health care a favorable option because care is administered from the comfort of their home and the services can be considered just as good as those in a skilled nursing facility. Common services include physical therapy, checking blood pressure, coordinating care, providing health education, and making sure the senior is taking their medications in the appropriate way.

Typically, the need for home health care arises out of a medical complication and is recommended by a physician. The physician’s office will connect a senior with a home health care agency to coordinate services. It’s important to understand that “home health care” is different from “home care services.” Eldercare Locator writes, “Although home health care may include some home care services, it is medical in nature. Home care services include chores and house cleaning, whereas home health care usually involves helping someone to recover from an illness or injury.”

In assisted living, you’ll find seniors become residents for many reasons, including the need to downsize, social stimulation, and assistance with activities of daily living (personal hygiene, like bathing and grooming; dressing; feeding; ambulating, which is the ability to change from one position to the other; and continence management). Assisted living communities can be a great option for someone transitioning to a retirement lifestyle, where everyday tasks such as housekeeping, meal preparation, and utilities are included. Residents in assisted living communities traditionally stay longer. 

In some assisted living communities, there may be supportive rehabilitation services, such as physical therapy and exercise programs. Additionally, some offer memory care services for residents with Alzheimer’s and dementia. These communities have trained medical professionals such as registered nurses on-site, and they have visiting medical staff. However, residents are able to keep their usual doctors, and the community will transport them to their appointments.

Differences in Dining and Nutrition 

With home health care, seniors are primarily responsible for creating their own meals. However, if the senior finds they need additional assistance with activities of daily living, they may bring in a home care agency for support. The caregiver and senior must ensure that the prepared meals meet all dietary needs and requirements. 

Overview of Activities and Socialization

If a senior uses home health care, the opportunities for socialization are often limited to the medical professionals, home caregivers, and family and friends. It can be difficult for seniors to have different activities, since they are home bound. The caregiver may bring games or activities, or depending on the health of the senior, he/she may choose to go to a community center to connect with others.

Due to the majority of the residents having increased mobility, assisted living communities can offer an expanded activity calendar, which may include field trips to local attractions such as the zoo, movies, or parks. Additional activities may include happy hours, movie nights, and shopping excursions.

Is the pricing different for assisted living versus home health care? 

The cost of home health care services varies depending on the needs of the senior and the agency providing services. Referring to Genworth, the average cost of one “In-Home Care - Skilled Nursing” visit is $87.50. If the senior needs a licensed Home Health Aide, the average monthly cost is $4,385. 

As reported by Medicare.gov, Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and/or Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) cover eligible home health services. However, the plan does not cover 24 hour/day care at home, meals delivered to your home, or support with activities of daily living. 

Some assisted living communities require out-of-pocket payment and don’t accept Medicare or Medicaid. Whereyoulivematters.org states, “The Genworth Cost of Care Survey 2018 says that the national median cost for assisted living per month is $4,000, which breaks down to around $133 per day (and adds up to $48,000 per year).” 

Pricing can differ based on the location and services offered in the communities. Nonetheless, assisted living communities often accept payouts from benefits such as the Veteran’s Administration. As explained by VeteranAid.org, the Aid and Attendance (A&A) Pension can provide up to $1,794 per month to a veteran, $1,153 per month to a surviving spouse, or $2,127 per month to a couple. A veteran filing with a sick spouse is eligible for up to $1,410 per month. Residents can also cash out whole life insurance policies or use the funds from long-term care policies. 

If you decide to move your loved one to an assisted living community or home health care, it’s important to plan ahead and not wait until the need arises.

Finding the right home as your loved one enters the next chapter of their life can be overwhelming. Whether you need someone to answer questions about the transition process or you’re interested in learning more about our communities at Provision Living, we’re here to help you every step of the way. We encourage you to reach out to one of our care consultants today or join our monthly newsletter which provides tips and advice on navigating the senior living journey. 

References

https://www.medicare.gov/what-medicare-covers/whats-home-health-care

https://eldercare.acl.gov/Public/Resources/Factsheets/Home_Health_Care.aspx

https://www.whereyoulivematters.org/how-much-does-assisted-living-cost/

https://www.genworth.com/aging-and-you/finances/cost-of-care.html

About the Author 

Aleshia serves as the digital and social media manager for Provision Living Senior Communities. Her strength is in developing digital marketing strategies, streamlining content, and enhancing digital engagement. She holds a bachelor's degree in communications from the University of Missouri-Saint Louis and a master's degree in communication arts from Webster University.