In Home Senior Care vs. a Nursing Home

Your Dad has fallen several times — twice inside his home where he lives by himself and once while outside. He refuses to wear the fall monitoring system that you bought for him because of pride and sheer stubbornness. Knowing whether you need home care vs. nursing home can make a difference in Dad’s standard of living and happiness.


Even though he receives Meals on Wheels, you know he has forgotten to eat lunch several times. His blood pressure pills are left untaken in the pillbox.

He struggles to put on his clothes, but he still manages to complete the job independently. You don’t know how much longer he will manage to do this daily task.

You and your siblings text each other updates after each visit. “Dad couldn’t remember my Jeff’s name today.” “Dad felt dizzy after getting up from the table after dinner.” “Dad let me help him wash his hair today.” Even though they don’t discuss it with each other, each family member wonders how much longer Dad will be able to live on his own.

Making choices about your parents’ care can be one of the most agonizing decisions of your life. While you want your parents to maintain their independence and dignity for as long as possible, you also want them to be safe.

While you want to keep the family home for as long as you can, you also know that the upkeep is beginning to be too much for your loved one. And while you want to spend as much time as possible caring for your parent, you also have other responsibilities in your life including work, children, and spouses. When it is time to decide to get extra help for your parent, how do you choose between in-home senior care and a nursing home?

Benefits of in-home care

Your loved one will be able to live at home

Obviously, this is the most significant advantage of hiring in-home care for your loved one. Although it is an obvious advantage, it should not be overlooked in magnitude. As well-decorated as many modern nursing homes may be, they are still not home.

Even though your Dad’s floor may creak and the furnace may thump, those are comfortable sounds for him. He may have listened to those sounds for sixty years. There is no substitute for his favorite recliner and the comfort he feels from watching the change of seasons out the same front window he has been looking out of for decades.

Quality and Length of Life

Studies have shown that senior citizens who stay at home tend to live longer than those who live in nursing homes. Those who remain at home are not as exposed to illness as much as those who live in a facility.

Studies have also shown that patients heal and recuperate faster from sickness or operations when they are at home as opposed to those who are living in a nursing home. Nursing homes are like mini-hospitals, and those who visit hospitals face a constant risk of infection. The risk of infection drops when a person is able to heal at home.

More Freedom at Home

Senior citizens who stay at home can make their own rules regarding how often they socialize and with whom. When a person doesn’t feel well, he or she may not feel like making small talk. If your loved one is living at home, he or she can choose whether he or she feels like interacting or not.

Improved Food Quality

Most of the time, institutional food is not as good and as healthy as what you can prepare at home. Another benefit of staying at home is that your loved one can be served food he or she chooses instead of eating the same thing that everyone else does.

But what if you are worried that your parent should not be left alone? While most of us want to keep our parents at home for as long as we can, what happens when it is no longer safe? You may consider hiring a home services worker, a CNA, or an RN.

Custom Care Plans

Those who provide in-home senior care can customize the services they provide to meet the individual need of the patient. Perhaps your father can perform most of the daily functions on his own, but he struggles dressing in the morning. You can hire an individual to help your father dress and perform a few simple tasks for maybe two hours a day.

Perhaps your dad’s shower is not designed to accommodate someone with mobility issues. A CNA can come in three times a week to assist your father with bathing. Instead of paying for services and equipment that your father doesn’t need, you can tailor his care, so he remains independent, but receives the exact care he desires.

Lower Cost

In-home senior care can be less expensive than a nursing facility. Those who run nursing facilities have to charge enough to cover the cost of the staff, the building, the electricity, the food, and the equipment. Most of the time, the monthly bill for a nursing home is the same whether or not your parent receives specialized care or not. When you hire in-home senior care, you pay for the services you need.

Benefits of a nursing home

Especially after hospitalization or injury, senior citizens may have a lot of doctors’ visits and healthcare appointments. Depending upon the situation, your parent may need to see an OT, a PT, several different doctors, and specialists, and may even require dialysis. Going to appointments takes a toll on the elderly. Many may feel stress knowing they have to be somewhere at a particular time. Even if he or she isn’t driving, your loved one may feel stress as you navigate the roads and park. Those living in harsh climates may have to worry about taking their loved ones out during inclement weather. Just one outing may exhaust your parent.

Access to Medical Care

Patients staying in skilled nursing homes have access to medical care in the facility. While your loved one still may need to leave the nursing home to see a specialist, follow-up care and trips to the pharmacy are taken care of by the staff.

Social Interaction

Depending upon the disposition and sociability of your parent, he or she may enjoy interacting with others in a nursing facility. Perhaps your loved one is lonely. If your parent doesn’t get out much anymore, he or she may have little to think about throughout the day.

One can only watch so much TV before going crazy. Your parent may enjoy getting to know the other residents in the facility as well as the staff. None of those individuals know your parent’s stories yet, and he or she can hear theirs as well.

Safety and Security

Nursing facilities have all the equipment necessary to keep your family member safe and secure. Showers have benches in nursing homes. Bathrooms have all the essential grab bars. If your loved one falls, someone will be there immediately to assist them. Beds have lifts and toilets are tall. Making a home accessible for someone with mobility issues may be extremely expensive. Nursing homes are already accessible.

Controlled Medication

Medication is monitored and controlled at a nursing home. Even if you fill out your father’s weekly medication containers, chances are he will forget a pill or two or several throughout the week. Health care workers at nursing homes make sure your parent gets the medication that is prescribed.

Making decisions regarding your loved one’s care is difficult. Talk with others who have been through the same process to see what resources are available within your community.

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