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Home Health Care Versus Nursing Home Care: Pros and Cons

Home Health Care Versus Nursing Home Care: Pros and ConsMany of our aging parents want to live on their own. According to AARP, more than 95% of seniors want to stay in their home as long as possible, even if they need help with day-to-day activities. After all, home is comfortable and familiar and they are surrounded by memories and circumstances that make them feel safe.

There is no magical age when a senior may need help. There are many 90-year-olds who live at home and need very little help. On the other hand, there are 60 and 70-year olds who find their ability to live independently waning. It’s a hard reality for adult sons and daughters to face:  when is it time to become a caregiver yourself, get help in the home, or move your parents to a nursing home or assisted living facility?

Let’s explore the pros and cons of each living situation so you can make an informed decision about what is best.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Home Care
How often we have heard seniors say: “If you move me to a nursing home I will crawl up and die.”  The major advantage of home health care is that seniors get to “age in place” among their friends and surroundings that make them feel secure and happy. They can maintain their freedom. The main problems with staying at home is they may need help with cleaning, meal preparation, driving, grooming and other tasks.

However, if seniors need a little help, there are various options available:

  • Enlist friends or family. The chore of being a caregiver shouldn’t rest on one person’s shoulders. Enlist family or friends to help with tasks your aging parents find challenging. Many religious communities or organizations have volunteers who can help with driving and preparing nutritious meals. Or you can have meals delivered into the home.
  • Hire inhome care. Home health care agencies such as FirstLight Home Care have compassionate caregivers who can come into the home on a part-time, hourly or 24/7 basis. We provide different levels of care, from companion care to personal care to dementia care. This can provide you with peace of mind knowing that someone is there to pinch hit for you. In some cases the home care costs can be reimbursed by Medicare, Veteran’s aid or other sources.
  • Remote monitoring. Remote devices are now available for both emergency situations or to remind your loved ones to take their medication. Web based tools are often available so you can know your parent’s schedules and communicate with any caregivers.

If your parents want to stay in their home, make sure it is as safe as possible because falls are quite common. Do a home maintenance checklist to make sure any hazards such as loose rugs are removed. Also, it may be easier if grab bars are installed in bathrooms.

Another advantage of home care costs is it is less expensive than nursing home costs.

Other Senior Care Housing Options
According to a study by Clarity, seniors fear moving into a nursing home more than they fear death, mainly because of the institutional feeling and loss of freedom.  However, depending on the level of care that is needed, this may be the only option.

There are many different types of senior homes, all providing different services and levels of care Medicare describes them as follows:

  • Group homes or board and care homes. Adults live in a home with 10 – 12 people their own age and get assistance with bathing, dressing, and using the bathroom.
  • Subsidized senior housing. If your loved one has a very moderate income, there are federal and state programs that help pay for housing. Additionally, there may be help with meals and other activities like housekeeping, shopping, and doing the laundry. Residents usually live in their own apartments in the complex. Rent payments are usually a percentage of your income (a sliding scale).
  • Assisted living facilities generally mean that your loved one has his/her own apartment within a building or a group of buildings, but can get help with meals, transportation, cleaning and social activities. Some of these facilities have health services on site. You pay a monthly fee for rent and utilities and a separate fee for any extras.
  • Retirement Communities.  The beauty of this type of community is they usually have different living options and progressive levels of care. In other words, you can start out in your own home and progress to skilled nursing care when and if you need it. Many retirement communities charge a large fee before you move in plus a monthly maintenance fee.
  • Skilled Nursing Facilities. If your loved one needs 24/7 care, skilled nursing facilities have nurses and doctors on site.
  • Hospice Care. Ordinarily for the terminally ill (who have six months or left to live), these facilities primarily make patient’s comfortable and provide counseling for the family. As part of hospice care, you will have a team of doctors, nurses, home health aides, social workers, counselors and trained volunteers to help you and your family cope with your illness. Depending on your condition, you may get hospice care in a hospice facility, hospital, or nursing home.
  • Program For All Inclusive Care of the Elderly (PACE). PACE manages all of the medical, social, and long-term care services for frail people to remain in their homes and to maintain their quality of life. PACE is available only in states that have chosen to offer it under Medicaid. To qualify for PACE you must be 55 or older, live in the area they have a PACE program, ad receive certification from your physician that you need nursing home care.

The problem with the services listed above is that unless it’s a government program or you have long-term insurance, this type of care can get expensive.

The most important questions are: How much care do my loved one’s need and how can we meet these needs considering out budget and lifestyles?  Then you as a group can best determine what type of long term care would be the best!

Learn more about how FirstLight’s care services can work as an alternative to nursing homes or other senior living facilities.


47 responses to “Home Health Care Versus Nursing Home Care: Pros and Cons”

  1. Christopher Montario says:

    I had a tough time convincing my aged parents to go to an elderly home rather than staying alone. They did not heed to my words and continued to stay alone supported by a number of personal and emergency medical alarm systems. But after my mother died 3 years back my father himself came to me saying that he is ready to move to elderly care home. I guess after my mother passed away that house had started to suffocate him. He lives at a elder home now. He complains snow and then about the food and the noise but I knoe that he is happy there.

  2. I like how you said that the major advantage of in-home care is that get to grow old in a place where they are surrounded by their friends and family and a place where they feel secure and happy. My grandmother has been relying on us for her care since she lost the ability to walk last year. My parents are planning to take her away, but I don’t want them to because I know she’ll be lonely. Seeing this article proved that I’m right. I’ll convince them to hire in-home care instead. Thanks!

    • cmlewis says:

      Thank you for taking the time to comment. Aging in the place you call home and being comfortable, secure and happy there is very important. Home care can definitely be a valuable solution.

  3. Marc says:

    I loved when you mentioned how choosing in-home nursing services allow seniors to age in place and among friends. It is important to remember that choosing carefully can help your loved ones have a good time and rest assured knowing they will be cared for. Personally, I would also want to take the time to understand the needs of my parents in order to find thebe st in-home care for them.

  4. Edward says:

    I agree elderly people in my family would rather have inhome care than go to a nursing home,it seems to be good for the spirit as they experience the process of aging which should be lived with compassion.

  5. Thank you for suggesting we make the individuals home as safe as possible. My husbands’ grandmother is becoming less and less independent due to her age. Despite her daily struggles she refuses to move into a nursing home. I think we are going to have to look into in-home care to keep her as healthy and happy as possible.

  6. Freida says:

    My 84 year old Mom moved to Florida at age 80.
    She lives in a senior residence where she receives a lot of support and has many friends, activities, helpers and so on. She moved there for the warm weather as she has a neurological condition and is in much less pain in the warm climate. However NONE of our family lives near there – all are an airplane ride away (at least 1,000 miles). None of us has any plans to move to Florida any time soon (all working, not retiring).
    Now she misses her family (predictably) and is trying to figure out how to “come back”. None of us is equipped to have here move in (no space) plus she would need caregivers to come in anyway.
    Personally I begged her not to leave NY, but she left anyway. Now I think it is best she stays where she has many friend and she will be in comfortable surroundings. This is very difficult for my family members to understand, but I think it is best. Bringing her back up north and placing her in an institution would be terrible for her. She does not realize it, but she will be very lonely and isolated. Our family members can visit Florida from time to time. At least she has the constant companionship of her peers (all older and retired) and lives in a comfortable and supportive environment. She is not isolated. Just family is far away (her choice). She gave up her apartment here and it is VERY expensive to get another one. She would have to go to some sort of insitutional living and I think she would hate it there. She’s far away but in the care and company of now familiar surroundings in Florida. It is not an easy solution, but better than an institution nearby family, where she would be more alone an disoriented than she realizes.

  7. PapayaCare says:

    Palliative caring for a patient is looking after those people who have a terminal disease and no course of treatment will make them get better.
    It is advised for elderly people who cannot look after themselves and need help. It is also the solution for people with terminal diseases and people who need end-of-life care.
    These palliative care homes are nothing but Elderly care or senior care homes where such people live together in a warm and carefully monitored environment.
    Also read : Palliative Care for Senior Citizens and the benefits of Nurse Prescribing.

  8. It’s good to learn all about care options for seniors. My mom is getting old enough that she can’t really take care of herself. To be honest, I think a nursing home would be best because she can get 24/7 care when she needs it.

  9. Joy Butler says:

    Age is just a number, yes, but eventually, we’ll all end up there. At the moment, I’m quite thinking if it would be better for my Mom to just stay at home and let me just some help for her. Hiring someone who will be nursing for her health care at home seems to be much comfortable on my end.

  10. I appreciate your comments on how home care can be hands-on or hands-off, allowing the person to have some more agency and independence. I also like how you mention that it can be a lot of effort for one person to be a caregiver. My grandma is living alone right now, and as she gets older, it might be a good idea to have someone to help her out around the house or even with personal care. It seems like a good idea to look into this sooner rather than later so that we could make a plan with her, so I will look into services offered in her area.

  11. Rhonda McFadden says:

    Working with the senior population for many years in a nursing home, assisted living facility, and with adult protective services is a heart-wrenching experience sometimes. These seniors would like to stay in their familiar environments as long as possible and it is good if you can afford the in home care, but when finances don’t allow this choice, make sure that you check out the facility and stay close in touch to assure the proper care and satisfaction of your loved one.

    I intend to become an adviser for the aging to prepare early for the senior years, because illness is devastating and unpredictable making it impossible to put avenues in place after the fact.

    I am a very compassionate human services professional and would like to help every senior that I encounter, but the truth is that there are so many cases where the senior does not have a choice in the matter after illness strikes.

    Preparedness is key.

    • cmlewis says:

      Rhonda, thank you for commenting. You are spot-on when you talk about illness being so devastating and sometimes so sudden. It can affect the entire family unit and preparedness is definitely key. Thanks for the work that you do with seniors. It is so important. The world needs more people like you!

  12. Thank you for sharing the things to know in between home health care and nursing home care.

  13. It would be nice for my grandma to get some help with transportation and cleaning. That is something that has been really hard for her to do lately since she’s been getting old. Maybe we should look into putting her in an assisted living facility.

  14. I like what you said that they are surrounded by their friends and family where they feel secure and happy. My wife is planning to take her father to a senior care facility since he can’t rely on himself. I’ll suggest her to hire in-home care instead.

  15. Thanks for explaining that home health care helps keep seniors comfortable because they feel secure and happy in their own surroundings. My mother in law has been getting more and more forgetful, and we think it’s time that we either find a home for her or hire a home nursing service. I’m glad I read your article because you helped me realize that home care would be the best option to keep her both happy and cared for.

  16. In home health and nursing home care, I saw every thing very nice and beautiful.
    Thank you
    first light home care.

  17. Ron Booker says:

    I like that you said that one of the major advantages of home health care is how seniors get to age in a place among friends and surroundings that makes them feel secure. My grandfather likes to chat with his friends, he says it keeps him busy to get rid of the pain. It would be nice if he can have somebody to help him with his task once in a while.

  18. Fay says:

    It was interesting to learn about the differences between each type of senior care, and I really liked that you mentioned that if your loved one needs constant care, you can find a skilled nursing facility. My dad had a stroke a few months ago, and the doctors said that he will need care all the time after this incident. I do not have the time for the responsibility, so I am thinking about finding a nursing home where he can e comfortable and well take care of.

  19. Thank you for helping me learn more about the advantages of home health care. My grandparents are needing more help at home. Maybe they should look into getting some in home care.

    • cmlewis says:

      Thank you for the feedback! Home care can be a huge help to aging seniors at home and much peace of mind to the family members who are caring for them.

  20. Jane Burt says:

    Thank you for explaining the benefits of home health care. My grandmother is starting to get old and she is needing some assistance living in her home. Maybe we will look into getting her home health care.

  21. We are looking for some caregiver services for our grandma. She is to the age where she needs help at most times. As you said here, we should look into what exact type of treatment she’ll need first. That way, we can get what is best for her.

  22. I found it very helpful that you say in-home caregivers can help provide peace of mind. Do these caregivers come from a hospital or a nurse staffing agency? I have heard nurses are an amazing help in these kinds of situations.

  23. Katy says:

    When the time comes to decide how to help an elderly loved one through those difficult days when they aren’t physically able to care for themselves, the decision can be a difficult one. How do you know what’s right for the senior in your life? By understanding the benefits and drawbacks of both home care and nursing homes, we can make a wiser decision.

    Thanks for sharing this great post and I am looking forward to your next post!

  24. I like that you said that one of the benefits of in-home care is that whoever is receiving the care does not have to go to a home and can retain their freedom. My sister’s daughter has a medical condition that makes it so that she can’t be left alone, and my sister is trying to see what her options are so that she can still get out of the house a couple of times a week. I think it would be smart for her to look into hiring a nursing care provider that can help make sure that her daughter can still live at home but can also get the help that she needs when my sister is not there.

    • cmlewis says:

      Thanks for your comments. Yes, staying in the comfort of your own home when possible is so important. We do provide companion and personal care services to those who are 18 and older, so that might be an option. Respite care for the family is vital as well!

  25. It’s a well written blog, which is easy to understand and interesting to read.

  26. Arifin says:

    Home care has the touch of love and care. Nursing care is professional is this can be advantage for busy families.

  27. Excellent post! Everything is clearly explained. Thank you for sharing!

  28. Zoe Campos says:

    Thank you for reminding me that choosing in-home care over other options for my parents will ensure that they will age among their friends and will feel happy and secured in a familiar environment. Now I understand why my mother made me promise years ago, when she’s still young, that I should never leave her in a senior living community where she doesn’t know anyone. If I were in her place, I’d also let my remaining days pass by in the comfort of my own home and in the presence of my relatives.

  29. It’s good that you point out that home health care is great for seniors who want to continue living in their own homes. My mother needs a lot of daily help due to her advanced age, so I’m considering hiring an in-home caregiver for her so she can stay in her house. I’m going to look for a good provider of in-home health care services in my area to hire.

  30. It’s good that you point out that hiring an in-home caregiver can be very beneficial to seniors who need extra help in their daily life. My mother is getting too old to care for herself properly, so I’m considering hiring an in-home caregiver for her. I’m going to look for a good provider of in-home care services in my area to hire.

  31. I agree you can take of your health by staying at home. It’s better than eating medicines. Thanks for the great and useful information. I’ll let my mom know about this ideas to take care of health

  32. Thanks for laying out the pros and cons of home health care and nursing home care. This will help a lot of families with elderly parents decide on what type of care to choose.I myself would want to know what would best suit the needs of my parents.

  33. Very well written blog which includes every useful information related to nursing care. Keep it up. Thanks for sharing.

  34. Caregiving, in general, can be exhausting. Especially for solo caregivers, the demands of caregiving can sometimes become too overwhelming that it leads to physical, mental, and emotional stress. When caregiving becomes too demanding of a responsibility, it can possibly result to caregiver burnout.

    Taking care of elderly family members is no piece of cake. Old people tend to have more needs and demands compared to children and young adults. To carry out their responsibility effectively and healthily, without leading towards burnout, family caregivers need to know how to take care of themselves too. Self-care is an essential thing in caregiving. Before taking full responsibility of taking care of elderly family members, family caregivers first need to assess whether or not they are able to take care of themselves around the same time that they are taking care of others.

  35. It’s interesting to know the difference between nursing and home health care. One of my friends recently recommended me to hire a nurse service to assist me while going through my fertility treatment. I will start looking for the specific system she talked to me about so I can hire it.

  36. Abu Saleh says:

    I also agree with you. Your information is great for everyone. Your blog is very informative and helpful for us. So many many thanks for the good information and suggestions.

  37. Thanks for sharing this great article!
    A caregiver’s job can be fun, as long as you have the right prerequisites of being one.
    Please read my blog Reasons Why Caregiving Is the Perfect Career Choice for You
    Hope this will help. Thank you!

  38. Martin says:

    I m agree with you that at one time our parents need the care of our beloved ones and home care I think is a better idea. I really like it.

  39. Jesse Ford says:

    Thanks for explaining the different options for senior care housing. My dad needs to go to a nursing home since he’s alone and can’t take care of himself like he used to. We’ll be sure to ask people what they recommend for nursing homes.

  40. It really stood out when you explained that home care allows seniors to maintain their freedom and feel secure while they are aging. Being able to maintain independence seems like it would be important for seniors because it can help them be positive. As far as I know, being positive can help your body be healthier.

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