According to the Administration for Community Living’s 2021 Profile of Older Americans, 18% of adults 65 and older reported they could not function at all or had difficulty functioning in at least one of six areas: hearing, vision, cognitive function, mobility, self-care, and communication. In this same report, 39% of older adults reported trouble with mobility, such as walking or climbing stairs.
Staying in your home as you age may require supportive services and assistive products. For example, some older adults will need in-home care and/or home modifications, such as ramps or improved lighting. Some may need assistive technology, such as a medical alert system with fall detection.
Aging in place vs. other senior housing options
If you or someone you care for is considering aging at home, it’s a good idea to weigh home care against other types of senior living.
In-home care vs. independent living
In an independent living community, older adults live in their own apartments and may benefit from communal meals, transportation to grocery stores, doctor’s appointments, and daily social activities. Independent living is ideal if you don’t need daily personal or medical care, but no longer feel safe driving and don’t want to be entirely responsible for meal preparation and home maintenance.
In-home care recipients can hire companion services to provide many of the services provided in independent living, including light housekeeping, meal preparation, laundry, and transportation to errands and appointments. Both in-home care recipients and residents of independent living communities can contract with third-party agencies or individual service providers to receive personal care assistance, like help with bathing. Unlike in-home care, independent living communities offer a built-in community of active older adults, and many offer planned activities.
In-home care vs. assisted living
In an assisted living community, residents live in a private or shared apartment and have access to communal meals, daily social activities, and as-needed 24/7 care for medication management and help with ADLs, such as bathing and dressing.
Older adults at home can receive most of the same services as those received by residents of assisted living facilities. CNAs and other non-licensed caregivers hired independently or through agencies, can help with activities like bathing, dressing, meal preparation, and housekeeping. The number of hours a caregiver spends in the home will depend on the older adult’s needs and budget. Unlike an assisted living facility, in-home care does not provide built-in social activities or a single, all-inclusive monthly bill.
In-home care vs. nursing homes
Nursing homes offer both short-term and long-term residential care for older adults requiring ongoing medical attention and assistance with most or all ADLs, such as bathing and getting in and out of bed. Nursing homes offer skilled care for chronic diseases and significant physical or cognitive decline.
Many of the same services offered in nursing homes can be provided by home health aides. But older adults with continuous and complex medical needs, including those with dementia, may need more care than what is provided by skilled home health aides. Friends, family members, or private nurses may need to step in to provide care at home. Sometimes older adults move to a nursing facility when their needs become too challenging or costly to manage at home. Additionally, some older adults may require a combination of home health and in-home care to meet both their personal and medical needs.