One of the hardest decisions most adult children will have to make in their lifetimes eventually is whether to continue home care for their aging parents or transition them to an assisted living facility. While advancements in technology make it possible for older individuals to comfortably age in place, in-home care is not always the best choice for the caregiver or the parent. It’s important that, in addition to weighing the pros and cons of each option, you carefully assess your available support network and capabilities so that you can make a decision that is best for everyone.
In-Home Care Vs. Assisted Living
In-home caregiving is an increasingly popular option that allows seniors to age in the comfort of their own homes and with minor adjustments. For example, you may remodel your parents’ house so that it contains more age-friendly features, such as a walk-in tub, wider doorways, and non-slip flooring. You may also hire an agency to provide various services, such as grocery shopping, cleaning, cooking, and companionship. If your parent needs extensive medical services, he or she may also require home health care.
Assisted living involves transitioning your elderly loved one out of their home and into a community for seniors. These communities offer private and semi-private living quarters that typically include all the desired amenities of an apartment. Though staff help with daily activities such as dressing, meal preparation and dining, medication management, and bathing, residents live independently for the most part. Services vary from facility to facility but may include laundry services, housekeeping, recreational activities, transportation services, wellness programs, and security.
The Pros and Cons of Each Option
Aside from the fact that one type of care occurs in-home and the other occurs at a separate facility, there are a few key differences between both options.
|In-Home Services||Assisted Living Facilities|
|Seniors can stay in their homes as they age||Modifications to the home or caregivers’ schedules are not necessary|
|Seniors get one-on-one care that is tailored to their unique needs and preferences||The family can increase the senior’s level of care as needed|
|The family can choose the caregiver and monitor interactions||The family does not have to worry about hiring, scheduling, and managing caregivers|
|Seniors and caregiver are given the opportunity to establish a bond||The family can focus on their bond with their loved ones rather than caregiving responsibilities|
|All families enjoy ample flexibility||The elderly have ample opportunity to socialize with other residents|
|In-Home Services||Assisted Living Facilities|
|The level of responsibility could lead to resentment and strained relationships between caregiver and loved one||Your loved one may not want to leave the home that they’ve lived in for many years|
|Home modifications are often necessary||Residents may feel uncomfortable in their new environments and take time to adjust|
|The risk for social isolation increases, which can result in anxiety, depression, and cognitive decline||It can limit the privacy seniors feel, depending on the facility space|
|In addition to caregiving, caregivers are responsible for household chores, errands, and other tasks||The cost can vary depending on the facility and amenities offered.|
|Managing caregivers and monitoring your loved one’s health requires ongoing involvement||A risk of insufficient healthcare for patients with specific medical conditions|
Signs It’s Time To Make the Transition
When it comes to moving a loved one into an assisted living facility, many people look for obvious signs that it’s time. More standard and telling signs to look for are:
- Your loved one’s safety and health concerns have surpassed your abilities to care for him or her.
- The responsibility as a caregiver has become too difficult or has negatively impacted the relationship between you and your loved one.
- Your loved one is beginning to act aggressively.
- Your loved one is prone to wandering or sundowning, which refers to agitated behavior that becomes more pronounced as the night progresses.
- Your loved one’s needs are quickly escalating.
One of the most telling signs to look for, however, is caregiver stress. Caregiver stress is a genuine phenomenon that occurs among populations who provide help or are “on-call” nearly all hours of the day. Caregiver stress symptoms include anxiety, depression, feelings of being overwhelmed, feelings of isolation, and anger, especially toward the person they’re caring for.
It is important to be aware of the stress caregivers experience and acknowledge limits. How much of the in-home care responsibilities can you handle on your own? Do you have other people who can step in and help? Does your family have the means to hire an agency, or is your loved one eligible for financial assistance programs? While you should keep your loved one’s needs and wishes at the top of your mind, you should not prioritize theirs at the expense of your own.
Although the task of deciding your elderly loved one’s future feels stressful now, take comfort in the fact that you’ve taken a big first step in conducting this research. Choosing between keeping your loved ones at home and transitioning to a retirement community is never easy, but with time, research, and help, you can make the best decision for you and your loved one.