Many families are faced with an important decision as their elderly loved ones age: is assisted living or at-home care the better option? While there are many different factors that will influence this decision, one of the most important ones is cost. Of course, the level of care needed is also a big consideration. Assisted living facilities provide a safe environment for seniors 24/7, but a home care nurse can vary their hours according to what’s required.
In order to make an informed decision, most people start by comparing local options for assisted living with hourly rates for home care nurses. Someone could research costs by state or if in a particular region like southern California they could look for assisted living options in San Diego on Seniorly. By comparing those with the costs of area nurses who provide home care, it’ll be easier to determine which is the best choice.
Comparing the costs of assisted living facilities vs. home care nurses
In areas like San Diego, San Francisco, and Chicago, you’ll see the same patterns as in the rest of the country. Assisted living facilities can vary in cost depending on how many extra amenities they offer, but there can be even more variation in the cost of home care. Why is this? It isn’t because nurses charge vastly different hourly rates; it’s because some people may only need a few hours of care per day, while others need round-the-clock care. Here are some examples of what these services cost in 2022, according to a survey by Genworth.
- Average cost of assisted living in San Diego: $5,408 per month
- Average cost of home health care in San Diego: $32.96 per hour
To hire a nurse for 5 hours of home health care per day, it would cost $4,944 per month. For 12 hours per day, the cost would be $11,865. For 24-hour care, the cost would be $23,731.
- Average cost of assisted living in San Francisco: $5,408 per month
- Average cost of home health care in San Francisco: $32.96 per hour
Just like with San Diego, the costs for a home health care nurse would be about the same: $4,944 per month for 5 hours a day, $$11,865 per month for 12 hours a day, and $23,731 per month for 24 hours a day.
- Average cost of assisted living in Chicago: $4,623 per month
- Average cost of home health care in Chicago: $28.84 per hour
If a nurse were hired for 5 hours a day, that would add up to $4,326 per month. For 12 hours a day, that would be $10,382 per month. For round-the-clock care, it would be $20,764 per month.
The differences between assisted living facilities and home health care nurses
Price isn’t the only difference between the two options; there can also be a significant variation in the level of skill in the carers, the amenities that are provided, and the overall level of comfort that your loved one enjoys.
- Assisted living facilities
This option is best for people who aren’t quite able to handle standard daily activities on their own, but don’t necessarily need 24/7 care either. These facilities offer safety, privacy, independence, and a sense of community for their residents. Some of them are fairly basic – modestly furnished apartments, a dining room, and a common area. There are usually a few planned weekly activities, and the menu is satisfying but not that exciting. Then there are the luxury assisted living facilities – the apartments are spacious and extravagant, and the dining room and common areas could rival those in top-notch hotels. There could also be a chauffeur service, Olympic-sized pools, fitness centers, restaurants, bars, and more.
Another feature that some (not all) assisted living facilities offer is a staff of registered nurses. For people who are still fairly independent and healthy, this may not be much of a priority. However, some people move to assisted living facilities after a fall, or when deteriorating health makes some assistance necessary. If health is a factor in switching to assisted living, having trained nurses available on-site could be a big plus.
- Home care by a nurse
There are different types of home care that can be provided for the elderly. In many cases, it’s simply someone who can assist with daily tasks and companionship without providing more advanced medical care. This type of service typically costs about half of what a trained nurse would be paid. If skilled home care is needed, this would require a nurse who could provide things like support with catheters or injections, wound care for pressure sores, or physical therapy.
If someone needs skilled medical care but doesn’t want to leave their home, this is definitely the best option. Costs aside, most people would prefer to stay in familiar surroundings, even if they can’t navigate them as well as before.
Another key aspect of skilled home care is the fact that a nurse will be able to recognize the onset of new illnesses, or the worsening of an existing one. In an assisted living facility, untreated conditions could result in medical emergencies and hospitalizations. With home care from a nurse, on the other hand, early detection could prevent medical crises and ER visits.
Are assisted living facilities covered by insurance?
The majority of assisted living facilities are paid for without insurance. The exception to this would be some medical services that are provided on-site, such as injections or physical therapy; these may be covered by Medicare. However, the cost of general custodial care – like assistance with daily activities – is rarely covered by insurance.
Is home care covered by insurance?
Just like with assisted living facilities, Medicare differentiates between medical services and assistance with daily activities. This will differ by state, but it’s usually possible to pay for at least part of these services with insurance.
Making sure that elderly loved ones are well taken care of takes some careful consideration. Fortunately there are plenty of options, no matter the budget or required level of care.