Assisted Living or Home Care: Which Is the Best Fit for a Senior?

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caregiver and resident

Many people believe it’s more budget-friendly to age in place at home than move to an assisted living community. When a home mortgage is paid, it’s easy to overlook how much it really costs to live there. And home is usually where people want to stay.

But is it the best decision for an older adult, especially one who lives alone?

Here’s what seniors and their families should know before making a decision.

Comparing Costs of Assisted Living and Home Care

If a loved one doesn’t have to pay a mortgage, the monthly fees associated with an assisted living community might seem excessive. Families often fail to consider the added expenses a senior will likely incur as they grow older, such as:

  • housekeeping
  • lawn care
  • utilities
  • mortgage insurance
  • security system
  • snow removal
  • appliance repair
  • private duty caregivers

If a senior only needs a few hours of support each week, family members might be able to pitch in. Most will eventually need to hire a home care agency to assist with tasks such as transportation, grocery shopping, housekeeping, and personal care.

As the senior requires greater assistance and their care is more episodic (e.g., needing help going to and from the bathroom at night), around-the-clock care might be necessary. Those expenses can add up quickly. The national average for home care in 2019 was $22.50 per hour. Costs are considerably higher in larger cities and urban areas.

Added to caregiver expenses are necessities many older adults living alone incur, such as:

  • Home remodeling and modification costs (building a ramp, installing a step-free shower, and adding bedside and bathroom grab bars)
  • Transportation costs, whether a private car or transportation service
  • Medical alert systems

When you determine the true cost for a senior loved one to age at home, it’s easy to see it’s not always the most cost-effective solution.

How Much Does an Assisted Living Community Cost?

Assisted living is a solution for seniors who need some help each day to safely maintain their independence. Two services residents benefit from are medication assistance and personal care support.

In 2019, the national monthly median cost for an assisted living community was $4,051 per month. This is based on a one-bedroom assisted living apartment. While that might cause sticker shock initially, breaking down what is included in the price makes it easier to understand the value:

  • A private apartment or suite designed with safety features such as grab bars, a step-in shower, an emergency call system, and an accessible floor plan
  • Amenities and services to make daily life easier, including housekeeping, laundry, maintenance, and all repairs
  • Licensed caregivers onsite around the clock to assist with toileting, grooming, dressing, and personal care
  • Nutritious meals and snacks, often prepared by or under the direction of a chef
  • Utilities, cable, and local phone service (and sometimes basic internet)
  • Transportation for resident outings and individual resident appointments
  • An onsite beauty salon/barbershop for convenience
  • Concierge services for tasks like delivery signing, transportation arrangements, and more

Many assisted living communities have a base monthly fee with individual level of care charges based on resident needs. This means the senior pays only for the care and support they require.

Benefits of Assisted Living Communities

If you think moving to an assisted living community might be a good option for yourself or a senior loved one, we encourage you to visit Resident Stories. You can watch and listen to firsthand accounts of how Five Star Senior Living communities make a difference in residents’ and team members’ lives.