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.
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.
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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.
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.