When At-Home Care Is and Isn’t a Good Choice for Seniors

When an older adult living at home needs extra care to remain safe and healthy, it often triggers the discussion about whether to stay home or move to a senior living community. But making the right decision at the right time requires a thorough look at the pros and cons of at-home care versus senior living. To evaluate the situation here are several aspects to consider.

Type of care needed: The need for at-home care can be gradual or sudden so an honest assessment of the type of care required is essential. For example, a senior may at first only need help with tasks like housekeeping and laundry every week. Over time that need may grow to include assistance with personal hygiene, dressing, medication management, and meal preparation. These at-home care services can often be provided by family and friends or through a paid caregiver who comes by on a schedule. For many seniors and their families this is doable and up to a point, affordable.

Often, however, the best solution is to move to a senior living community where different types of care are available 24/7/365 and residents can enjoy a safe yet independent lifestyle in luxury. In addition to daily assistance that can grow with need, senior living residents are free to take advantage of amenities like a full calendar of planned activities and events, eat wonderful nutritious meals, and enjoy the companionship of friends and family. When estimating a senior’s at-home care needs, check out our blog, “5 Signs It’s Time to Have ‘The Talk’ About Senior Living Options.”

Amount of care needed: A few hours a week of at-home care is all many seniors need, but some will require more. For example, a senior with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease or one who is suffering from a chronic condition, may need at-home care around-the clock to ensure their health and safety. These circumstances can quickly overwhelm even the most loving and dedicated family members who may themselves become impacted by the associated stress.

When this happens, the costs of at-home care increase and choices are limited to hiring full-time, live-in caregivers or considering a move to a senior living community with assisted living or memory care where skilled and compassionate team members are available 24/7/365. Learn more in our blog, “Comparing the Cost of Senior Living with Staying at Home.”

Level of socialization: Often underestimated are the impacts of isolation on seniors living at home. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention article, “Loneliness and Social Isolation Linked to Serious Health Conditions,” the health risks for isolated seniors include dementia, heart disease, stroke, heart failure, depression, and anxiety. In short, older adults benefit greatly from having friends nearby, making new friendships and enjoying time spent with others.

Some families take on isolation by setting up visiting schedules so their loved one gets plenty of at-home companionship several times a week. For families who don’t have the numbers, the time or who don’t live close by, this is much more difficult.

Many older adults benefit from paid at-home care companions who stop by regularly to assist and spend time together. For others, it’s more satisfying to move to a senior living community where they are only alone when they choose to be and there are always places to go, things to do and friends to do them with. This is especially true for seniors with dementia who benefit even more from the expert care and stimulation of living in a community. More about the link between socialization and health can be found in our blog, “Combatting Senior Loneliness: Connectedness and Health Effects.”

Nutritional needs: It may not be noticeable at first, but one concern about seniors living at home is proper nutrition. Many simply don’t eat the right foods, eat regular meals, or don’t enjoy eating due to problems like difficulty swallowing or chewing, medications that impact the taste or reduce appetite, or an inability to safely prepare their own meals.

Families can help by providing daily meals and handling grocery shopping or by hiring someone to come in each day at mealtime. Many seniors, however, prefer the freedom of a senior living community where delicious and nutritious meals are served every day, even for those with special dietary needs. And they have the added benefit of sharing meals with friends rather than eating alone. Learn more about the challenges of eating well in the aging.com blog, “Elderly Nutrition 101: 10 Foods to Keep You Healthy.”

Thrive Senior Living offers communities with caring team members and residents who want to enjoy life, not just exist. Every day offers new opportunities to be active, learn new things and meet new friends. To find out more about what Thrive has to offer, contact us today and schedule a tour. For more about choosing the right senior living community, download our Family Decision Guide.

Thrive Family Decision Toolkit Guide