Choosing between in-home care and assisted living? 4 key things to know

Being a family caregiver means you’ll have to make many decisions about your parent’s care. One of these decisions is what to do when they need more help than you can give. There’s a lot of information out there about senior care, and it can be overwhelming to compare your choices with so many factors to consider. 

If your parent doesn’t have serious medical needs, then it’s likely you’ve narrowed the options down to either in-home care or an assisted living facility. In a previous article, we discussed how the two options are different, most notably that assisted living requires moving out of the home. In this post, we’ll cover four things you may not know about assisted living and in-home care so you can be better equipped to make the best decision possible for your family. 

You’ll get the same type of assistance with both options (but with different levels of personal attention)

The term assisted living is often synonymous with a nursing home, and as such people think that medical care is performed at assisted living facilities. Although some assisted living facilities offer progressive levels of care that include skilled nursing, most simply assist with the activities of daily life (ADLs). Staff members at many assisted living facilities aren’t required to have nursing degrees, so their training and education level is similar to that of what an in-home care provider would have. 

One thing to consider is the level of personal attention you’ll want for your loved one. Staff members at assisted living facilities are helping many residents at once – up to 7 on average. Having a caregiver in your parent’s home means that they’ll focus exclusively on them, offering more personalization and one-on-one interaction. Because of this, some families choose to do a combination of the two care options: hiring a caregiver to go to their loved one’s assisted living facility to supplement care. 

The total costs can be less or similar to in-home care 

Budget can be a huge factor in determining which route you take. And although the “all-inclusive” flat rate of assisted living can seem like a good value, it really depends on how much help your parent needs. If they only need a caregiver on a part-time basis, in-home care can be the more affordable option. Especially when you factor in the personal attention factor. At the end of the day, you don’t want to pay more per month than you must. 

It’s also important to note that neither assisted living nor in-home care is covered by Medicare/Medicaid. 

Both assisted living and in-home care provide socialization & companionship

Many people don’t realize how important socialization and companionship are for seniors. Whether you go with an assisted living facility or an in-home caregiver, your loved one will have plenty of opportunities to socialize and develop friendships. This may come a bit easier in an assisted living facility, simply because of access. Your parent will be surrounded by peers and won’t have to travel for group activities. 

That said, an in-home caregiver can provide transportation to any activity your parent or loved one wants to attend. And because of the personalized nature of in-home care, a caregiver can tailor the daily schedule to include activities that your parent enjoys, which can widen the choices for social opportunities considerably. 

Because one-on-one in-home caregiving is so personal, our caregivers and clients often develop deep bonds and friendships. Many family caregivers consider their parent’s caregiver an extended member of the family. At an assisted living facility, staff workload and turnover can make it more challenging to create those types of bonds. 

It’s easier to start with in-home care then move to assisted living

Perhaps the most important thing to know is that you’re not forever stuck with your decision either way. However – it’s much easier to start with care in the home and then transition to assisted living later down the road. Obviously, going from assisted living back to in-home care means a big move, but there are a couple of additional reasons why it makes sense to start with an in-home caregiver. 

First, it introduces the idea of having some help to your parent. Many seniors are resistant to outside assistance for fear of losing their independence. Going straight to assisted living can be an extreme change for them, and they may not handle it well. Stress is linked to health declines, so try to avoid stressful situations for your parent whenever possible.   

Secondly, starting with an in-home caregiver gives you as the family caregiver an adjustment period. Moving your parent to an assisted living facility will require a lot of time and effort on your part. Selling the home and its contents and searching for the right facility are just a few of the tasks that will likely fall on your plate – all of which prolong the process. If you bring in a caregiver using an in-home care agency, you could have help in as quickly as a couple of days with little interruption to your life. It can give you the time you need to go through the necessary steps to move your parent to an assisted living facility (and give you a break in the meantime!).


In-home care and assisted living are similar in many ways, so ultimately it comes down to whether your parent is willing to move. But even if they are willing, consider starting out with in-home care first and seeing how it goes. You can read more about how to determine if it’s right for your family in this post

Since most in-home care agencies don’t require long-term commitments, there isn’t much risk to trying it out. Plus, it will be less stressful for everyone and less of a transition for your parent or loved one. If it turns out that assisted living is a better fit, working with a caregiver in the home will have provided time to prepare for that bigger life change. 

Still unsure? We’d love to learn more about your situation and answer any questions you may have. We offer a no-obligation discovery call to help determine if we’d be fit. Our knowledgeable client service specialists can give you a ring at a time that’s convenient for you. Simply fill out this form to get started today!


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