Home care, home health and assisted living: What’s the difference?

*Editor’s note, the 2020 Discovery Alzheimer’s Regional Conference has been rescheduled to June 25, 2020. Please see note below article. 

By: CarePartners 


The Value of Home Care Report, published by the Home Care Association of America, states that nine out of 10 Americans aged 65 and older want to stay in their own homes; however, 40% need daily assistance and over 70% will need assistance at some point in their lives. A family may be faced with a few considerations to provide assistance for loved ones such as home care, home health and assisted living. In this blog, we will help to define each category so that families can make an educated decision on the type of care that their loved one needs. 

To begin, this list of questions may help you target the key areas which need to be addressed and help you decipher if home care, home health or assisted living is the right solution for your situation.

Things to think about when considering types of care:
• Is your loved one feeling isolated?
• Is your loved one able to manage their own hygiene?
• Have they been losing weight?
• Is your loved one often missing medications?
• Have they had any bad falls?
• Are they falling behind on their bills?
• Have they been missing appointments?
• Have they experienced any confusion?
• Has their home gotten too big and/or are they living in just one part of their home?
• What resources does your family have and what can you afford?

Did you know that up to 75% of seniors have admitted to making some kind of medication mistake? Over 43% have reported feeling lonely.

So what are the differences between assisted living, home health and home care?

Assisted Living
Assisted living is a residential care option for individuals who typically can no longer live independently. It provides services to meet residents’ individualized needs in ways that promote their independence and reflect their personal choices. Both independent and assisted living usually include housekeeping, meals, transportation and activities for people over the age of 65. Assisted living will include assistance with medication and personal care needs such as bathing, incontinence and dressing. Communities usually have 60 to 120 residents and social activities that can help prevent isolation. Assisted living communities have trained caregivers on site 24 hours a day in case a resident needs them. Additional care can be added if needed and can be temporary. Assisted living can range from $2,600-$8,500 per month depending on apartment size and care needs. By comparison, skilled nursing can cost $10,000-$18,000 per month.

Home Health
Home health is physician-ordered treatment by a nurse and/or therapist for a period of 60 days. It is not a long-term solution. Home health is typically covered by Medicare Part A and B. You can ask your provider about other insurance options. 

Some of these services include:
• Skilled nursing
• Physical therapy
• Occupational therapy
• Speech & swallow therapy
• Social services
• Ostomy care
• Wound care

Home Care
Home Care can be contracted by a family and does not require physician approval. The Home Care agency will assess your loved one and develop a customized care plan that meets the specific needs of a person and their situation. It may include, but is not limited to, the following elements:

• Personal hygiene care
• Transportation
• Medication assistance
• Meal preparation
• Light housekeeping
• Transferring and positioning
• Companionship
• Nurse delegated care
• Respite care
• Bathing, toileting and incontinence care

Home Care costs can range from $25.00 to $45.00 an hour. Some of the services may be covered by long-term care insurance.

Sometimes, people use a combination of these services simultaneously to get the best care for their loved one. For example, home health services can be provided at an assisted living community. Many people start home care and speak to their physician about a home health physical therapy referral, especially after a fall or injury. 

Choosing the right services for your loved one can be difficult, but having a list of things to consider and knowing the differences between assisted living, home health and home care is a great way to begin considering options.

CarePartners is a locally owned and operated assisted-living management company that serves western Washington. They are the Gold Sponsor for our Journey Dementia Family Caregiver Conferences and the Platinum Sponsor for the Discovery Alzheimer’s Regional Conference for healthcare professionals. The Discovery Alzheimer’s Regional Conference has been rescheduled for Thursday, June 25, 2020. We’re working diligently to ensure the event is very similar to what we had originally planned, and will continue to update you with new information as it becomes available. We are very glad we were able to reschedule this event and are hopeful you will be able to join us! Learn more here. 

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