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Home Care for Seniors: How Much Can You Save Over Assisted Living?

While a short answer to the question of cost savings when comparing home care for seniors among assisted living, retirement homes and other group living options would be ideal, the fact is that a variety of questions makes this impossible to answer concretely.  In other words, it's like comparing apples to grapefruit.

If you are trying to decide which is the more cost effective option- to keep a loved one at home or start the transition to a community based care setting- there are several factors to consider.

Home care for seniors
Understanding the senior living market and its options can help with the decision-making process.

A Very General Rule of Thumb

The number one factor in determining which is the more economical answer is simple: how much care — in terms of hours per week — is needed. One industry rule of thumb is that if more than 40 hours of paid home care is a requirement, then assisted living is most likely the more affordable option.

Conversely, seniors who require less than 40 hours per week of paid home care may find home care to be the more economical choice.

Delving Deeper Into the Costs of Assisted Living and Home Care for Seniors

The number of hands-on care hours is a good place to start, but there are many other factors that come into play, including everything from where you live to whether you rent or own.

And then there's the type of care needed: memory care, for example, costs significantly more than assisted living communities. In some states and elder care markets, nursing home care still costs less than around-the-clock in-home care.

ALSO READ: 6 Ways to Reduce Assisted Living Prices

It's also important to factor in hidden or extra fees. For example, most assisted living facilities do not offer personal care as part of their room and board (or base rate) fee. Rather, these services are provided in-house for an additional cost.

Another cost many older adults and their caregivers fail to factor in when evaluating home care for seniors? An incidental and yet potentially steep expense associated with aging in place: the cost of home maintenance. Other often underreported costs of home care include everything from transportation services to food — all of which are built into assisted living tabs.

One area where in-home care may clearly come out on top? Healthcare.  One study on the “Value of Caregiving at Home” reveals that homecare for seniors may lead to 25 percent fewer doctor visits and correspondingly smaller medical bills.

And while the almighty dollar provides its fair share of incentive, an unquantifiable cost is also worth considering: the preference of older adults. One AARP survey of Americans over the age of 60 reveals that approximately 90 percent of seniors intend to continue living in their homes for the next five to 10 years.

While in some cases this may be rendered impossible due to physical and cognitive changes, in other cases aging in place can help seniors hold onto feelings of independence — and the quality of life boost that goes along with them.

Home care for seniors vs assisted living
Senior living savings rely on a number of factors.

The takeaways for caregivers and older adults planning for their future housing? While comparing senior living costs is anything but simple, doing your research, taking your time, and understanding the varied inputs and outputs of all of your options can help you come up with a more realistic picture of what you can expect to pay.

And while the process can be overwhelming, there's good news, too: with baby boomers retiring at the staggering rate of 8,000 a day for the near future, both in home care and assisted living senior housing options will continue to evolve to meet demand and get in on the massive purchasing power of this massive — and aging — generation.

25 Comments

  1. I like that you mention that because of the growing number of baby boomer retiring every day, the options for senior care will expand. It really depends on personal experience and preference when deciding if home care is better than assisted living facilities. My grandpa needs to be looked after, but he doesn’t want to leave the comfort of his home. Home care may be the best option for him because of that.

  2. This is some really good information about how to care for seniors at home. My grandmother is getting pretty old and she will need some help soon. So, I liked that you talked about how figuring out the cost of help will factor into how many hours on in home care she will need per-day.

  3. I had no idea that demand for senior health care has risen these past few years. My wife’s parents have gotten to be old and very sick over the past few years. I definitely think that we should find a living facility that could help them to be healthy and comfortable.

  4. Thank you for talking about the importance of taking into account home maintenance when considering home care services. It makes sense that taking the time to carefully consider your options and the costs can help you come up with the most accurate budget to work with. My dad is getting to that age where he needs help at home and since we are not close to where he lives we need to find someone who can take care of him, so I’m glad I found your post.

  5. You mentioned that one study reveals that homecare for seniors may lead to 25 percent fewer doctor visits and correspondingly smaller medical bills. My mother has been having a lot of problems taking care of herself ever since she fell at our family reunion. Do most home health care companies offer different levels of care depending on the health of the patient? Hiring a home health care aide to come and assist her might be a good idea.

  6. “Understanding the varied inputs and outputs of all of your options can help you come up with a more realistic picture of what you can expect to pay.” I couldn’t agree more on this. I worked in home health care and there were so many times I heard the question, “Is it more than assisted living?”. Great information here!

    K. Thiessen, BS

  7. Thank you for mentioning the 40-hour rule! My grandma is getting older and it is becoming harder for her to take care of herself. My family has been debating over assisted living or a retirement home. I think assisted living might be the better option. I will pass this information to my parents and see what they think. Thanks!

  8. My grandmother made the transition to assisted living when her husband passed away, and it definitely helped her cope because she made friends and was an active part of the community. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Thank you for sharing, My aunt is getting to the point where her family can no longer take care of her. I find it interesting that 90% of seniors want to live at home. I wonder if they can make a home care option for her. I do like the idea of her being in a home a little more because they have more staff and help available.

  10. I really like the way you talked about the need to consider extra fees. I can imagine that not every single cost is automatically included in a home health care estimate, so it’s good to know what all exactly you can count on. Thanks for sharing!

  11. What better thing than to have your grandparent saving money and be taken care of. I know that I am interested when you said that it can boost their quality of their life. I appreciate the great tips.

  12. I am impressed that you can actually save a lot of money at an assisted living center. I am sure that I need need to get my grandmother into an assisted living center. I will be taking this into consideration.

  13. My grandma is at the point in her life where she either needs to move into a senior home or get home health care. I don’t know if she can make it on only 40 hours of care per week. She’s pretty weak at the moment, but I know she wants to stay home. Do you think it’s still smart to get assisted living?

  14. I think that the rule of thumb is nice to go by. It sounds like a lot of people think about this when they are looking for the right type of nursing care. Most people that ask for home care don’t need too much help in my opinion. If they are at home they should be able to take care of themselves.

  15. Thank you for the great article, it really is important for people to take this kind of information into consideration when helping to plan out the future for our elderly loved ones. I didn’t actually know that most assisted living communities didn’t include personal care as part of their base price, but that’s something I’ll definitely have to think about. I also like that you bring up how in home care is an option that allows senior loved ones to stay in their home, I know that’s something that my mother and father have been worrying about as they get older.

  16. It is interesting for me to learn about different options when it comes to senior care. I did not realize that in-home care could be cheaper than retirement homes if they need more than 40 hours a week of care. This is really interesting for me to learn about.

  17. I think that home care is a good way to help your loved ones. It’s a much smaller change than putting them in an assisted living center, that’s for sure. With home care they can feel like they’re still doing what they’ve always done, but with someone there to help them. Thanks for sharing!

  18. My grandma recently moved into an assisted living home. Up until this point, she has been living at home with the help of a few home health assistants that came regularly. For our family, it made the most sense until recently after she had a stroke. I like your rule of thumb in determining whether home health or assisted living is better. Thanks for posting!

  19. It helps that you explained some of these factors that affect the cost of home care and assisted living. I should take into consideration the number of hands-on care hours that my mother needs. She’s been having trouble doing the most basic day to day tasks, so I should calculate just how much attention she needs into how much I’ll have to pay a caretaker to look after her. Thanks for posting this!

  20. A facility for the elderly is not a cheap place to live in, many people have either started saving for it, or rather not stay in one. If I was an elderly and was given a choice, I would for sure stay and live in my own home. I would feel more comfortable, and secure knowing I was in my home. I also would have the peace of mind that the house i spent most of my life paying off was still in my hands.

  21. My grandma is still a pretty healthy woman that doesn’t need much care. She is at a point though where does need a little bit, and we can’t always be there to give it to her. This article has some great points about senior living that I think would help my family make the correct choice in putting my grandma is the best spot for her to receive the care she needs.

  22. My family is trying to figure out what we should do to best help our grandmother right now. I really liked your general rule of thumb about if more than 40 hours of home care are required, then an assisted living home is probably best. Thanks for sharing this post, as this should help us in making a decision.

  23. I am looking into in-home care or assisted living for my grandpa. He doesn’t need 24/7 care just maybe like the max would be 12 hours per day some days depending on what he would need. I will look more into in-home health care for him, so he can stay at home.

    1. Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you writing this write-up and also the rest of the site is also really good.

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