Assisted Living and In-Home Care: What are the Differences

The benefits of in-home care vs. assisted living

As a loved one ages they may develop conditions that prevent them from performing basic tasks.

Family members may recognize that the person that they love isn’t able to take care of themselves and requires more assistance than the family can provide.

This may be the time to consider hiring an in-home care agency or moving the loved one into an assisted living facility.

Benefits of In-Home Care

The benefits of in-home care can include support services that allow a person to live safely and comfortably in their home. Caregivers, who are fully trained to competently address the needs of an elderly person, can help with preparing meals, dressing and grooming, light housework and laundry, trips to the bathroom, as well as offering companionship and transportation to and from errands and appointments.

Researching the services that a senior could most benefit from, and then figuring out how to pay for them, can be a time-intensive process. provides a guide that outlines common care options as well as information about payment complexities that can prove helpful as a family helps a senior navigate the transition from independent living to receiving in-home care.

Other Benefits of In-Home Care Include:

  • Helps avoid unnecessary hospitalization while recovering after an injury or hospital stay.
  • Assistance with meal preparation ensures that a loved one is receiving nutritious meals prepared for their dietary requirements and preferences.
  • A caregiver can administer medication to prevent missed or duplicated doses.
  • The AARP reported on the the danger of loneliness to our health: in-home caregivers provide valuable social interaction that prevents, or lessens, feelings of loneliness.

Benefits of Assisted Living

Assisted living is a choice some make for their loved one if they need meals prepared for them, housekeeping, laundry, recreational activities, transportation to appointments, and wellness programs. In addition, assisted living can also provide help with activities like bathing, getting dressed, using the bathroom, and some medical assistance. Unlike in-home care, in an assisted living community seniors live in small apartments and there are often several living options based on the resident’s required level of care.

Assisted living has the benefits of being affordable and offering social interaction with other residents. Family members don’t have to worry about hiring or managing individual caregivers, or finding an agency, to care for their loved one.

Additional Benefits of Assisted Living:

  • Seniors have 24/7 access to nursing care to address more urgent conditions.
  • As the senior ages assisted living facilities are trained to adapt to changing needs.
  • Less stress on the senior as they no longer have to worry about maintaining a home.
  • Social opportunities with scheduled activities on a daily basis.
  • Meals are provided and most facilities personalize menu offerings for individual tastes, medical conditions, and dietary restrictions, ensuring that a senior’s nutritional needs are met.
  • Social activities, gaming rooms, and visiting performers provide entertainment.

Things To Do Before Making A Decision

Before deciding if the benefits of in-home care outweigh those for assisted living, it’s important to identify how much support a loved one needs, the availability of their support network to provide the care required, as well as their financial situation.

Draw up a list of the challenges a senior is facing day to day and then consider the less frequent difficulties they may encounter like grocery shopping, communicating with a doctor, driving, etc. It may be helpful to think about how well they’re taking care of their personal hygiene, if their eating habits or diet have changed in ways that aren’t preferable, the cleanliness of their home, and their ability to manage their medical conditions.

There are many assessment tools available online, like the Lawton Instrumental Activities of Daily Living Scale, to aid in determining what level of care an elderly person requires. In-home care meets individual needs and accommodates specific preferences, is provided in the clients’ home, and may be less expensive than an assisted living community. Assisted living, while more expensive, is best suited for a loved one with rapidly increasing care needs or someone without access to social gatherings.

Whether assisted living or in-home care is decided on for a loved one, make sure to carefully interview anyone that will be providing services to ensure that they’re trained to meet the right needs and if assisted living is the best choice, tour the entire community to assess how well it has been maintained, how healthy and social the residents are, and determine which possessions will make the move to the new home.

A change to receiving in-home care or moving into an assisted living facility is an emotionally complicated one that requires support. When initially broaching the subject with a loved one be sure to do so lightly, stick to the facts, and validate their likely tender emotions.

When a senior is in need of additional help with daily activities it may be time to consider in-home care or a move to an assisted living community but this isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. With careful consideration, respectful communication, and research into a senior’s needs and the services available, the right decision will become clear.

About Emily Smith

Emily Smith is a professional freelance writer with a passion for elder care born from a close relationship with her grandmother. She’s a frequent contributor to and can often be found trail hiking in her native Utah.