Home Care vs. Assisted Living vs. Retirement Communities: Which Option Is Right for Your Future?

by: Cynthia Madison

Understanding senior care and housing services can sound complicated, considering the many options that exist in the United States, but it’s something that you need to navigate if you want to secure a safe and happy future for your retirement years.

When thinking about elder care, nursing homes automatically come to mind, but they are just one of several options you have at your disposal. Here’s how to choose the best one depending on your lifestyle, personal preferences, and health state:

Home careElderly man image

What is it?

Also known as assisted living, home care means that you will still be living at home, but you will be looked after by a professional caregiver. Depending on the case, this caregiver can either live with you full time or only be present at mutually established hours.

Who is it for?

Home care is becoming a popular option among seniors and their families because it still provides a sense of comfort and intimacy to seniors, while at the same time giving their families peace of mind. Home care is a viable solution in these situations:

  • As need supervision and care because you have sustained an injury, or you are recovering after an accident/surgery.
  • You live alone and your relatives are unable to offer you continuous care.
  • You suffer from a locomotor disorder or have a high risk of slip and fall accidents.
  • You don’t have a severe health condition that requires professional medical supervision, but you need someone to help you take your medicine, cooking, personal hygiene, or getting around.

Because you will still be living in the comfort of your home, home care involves no lifestyle changes and requires no getting used to. You will still be living the same independent life, you can go out whenever you like and you can practice your hobbies. The only difference is that someone will be around you when you need them and, if something happens, they will alert the family immediately.

Things to consider:

Home care is a great option for seniors and their families, but your experience with it greatly depends on the professionalism, expertise and approach of the hired caregiver.

The safest option is to contact a certified company that offers senior home care services, because their staff is well aware of the needs and special requirements of senior citizen. They know how to interact, how to provide basic medical care and first aid measures and how to make aging a little easier.

However, many families prefer hiring an independent caregiver, either because they don’t have access to professional caregiving services or because they think this is more cost-effective. In this case, a thorough people search is absolutely mandatory. If possible, work only with caregivers recommended by friends and family, and, if not, do a thorough background search. After all, that person will be inside your hours for hours on end and your safety will depend on them.

Elderly woman imageNursing homes

What is it?

A nursing home is a professional accredited facility that provides permanent residence for seniors. Nursing home staff have more advanced medical skills and provide round-the-clock surveillance for residents.

Who is it for?

Compared to home care, nursing homes offer long term supervision and care for seniors who can no longer look after themselves. In most cases, nursing home residents are over the age of 70 or they are younger, but suffer from a severe health condition. Nursing homes are a great option if:

  • Your health state is not bad enough to be admitted to hospital, but you need something more than home care.
  • You suffer from a serious health condition that requires constant surveillance, such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, dementia or cancer.
  • Your home environment is not safe for your medical condition and you need a place with a high level of security.
  • You must be surrounded by highly skilled nursing staff who can help you take your daily prescription meds, monitor your health and administer emergency services if necessary.

Things to consider:

Nursing homes are currently undergoing a culture change and are no longer the stark, austere places people imagine them to be. On the contrary, quality standards have been raised and now not only can you find a reliable nursing home, but also enjoy more variety in terms of lifestyle options. Many nursing facilities offer their residents opportunities for socializing, practicing their hobbies and getting involved in the community, so keep that mind when making a decision.

Retirement communities

Elderly playing chess imageWhat is it?

Retirement communities are large housing complexes designed exclusively for senior residents who can look after themselves, but need services and amenities matching their needs and interests. Residential communities are usually located in warm regions in the United States (Florida, California, Arizona, Texas) and in some of them healthcare services are also provided.

Who is it for?

Retirement communities are an excellent option for financially stable seniors who want to live their retirement years in a peaceful setting, having access to services and events that meet their needs. Choose this option if:

  • You are retired, but in good health and can look after yourself.
  • You want to live with your spouse and be surrounded by a friendly like-minded community.
  • You don’t want to worry about home maintenance issues such as lawn care, snow shoveling or chimney repairs.

Things to consider:

When choosing your retirement community, consider your small term as well as long term needs. Some communities also have healthcare services available, so you might to invest in those if you want to continue living there as you get older, instead of moving to a nursing home.