For many seniors, there comes a time when they need a little extra help and have to decide whether to stay in their own home vs. moving into an independent or assisted living community. There are benefits to both so it’s important to determine what you need and then weigh the cost benefits and your personal lifestyle preferences. Here are the main things to consider:


  1. Requirements for assistance


The first consideration is deciding on the type of services that you need. Do you simply require some help with household chores and/or meals or do you need full-time assistance because of medical needs? Is your home still manageable or has it become too much to handle because of size, layout or accessibility to doctors, stores, family, etc.? Make a complete list of your priorities and rank them in order based on importance. At this stage, don’t worry yet about cost. You are simply determining what you require based on your health and activity levels.


  1. Lifestyle considerations


The second consideration concerns quality of life and what will provide you with the most happiness. Are you a homebody who loves nesting and being in one place or do you like to socialize and meet new people? Do you believe “there is no place like home” or do you love the idea of a new adventure? How active are you? Depending on your answers to these questions, it may be an easy decision. If you are the “home sweet home” type, then there are many services available that can help you stay in your home and still provide additional support for day-to-day household chores, meal planning, medication management, doctor visits, etc. If you are the type of person that loves activity and thrives on socializing, then there are many independent and assisted living communities that can provide you with the stimulus that you crave.


  1. Cost comparison


The third thing to consider are your options for paying for either home healthcare or moving to a home in an assisted or independent living community. The costs will vary by state and by level of care required. However, there are often ways to pay for either option through veteran’s benefits, or long-term health insurance. There are many tools to research your options on your own such as AARP and the National Council on Aging. However, there are also referral services for independent and assisted living services as well as home healthcare providers that can guide you through your options at no cost. They will help you determine costs, schedule trips to the communities or meetings with potential caregivers and help you choose what is right for you.


If you choose private duty home healthcare, there are different types of caregivers that can provide services in the home Including:


Home Health Aides (HHAs) and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs)


These aides provide personal care services for seniors that exclude any medical treatment or activities that require any medical training. They provide services required for activities for daily living (ADL) including:


  • Light housekeeping
  • Bathing, dressing
  • Meal preparation
  • Laundry
  • Companionship
  • Transportation


CNAs and HHAs are required to complete similar training, which varies by state, but typically includes a training course and a written and practical exam.



The distinction between a personal caregiver and a companion is that a personal caregiver has formal training to provide more direct personal care services for an aging senior. Companions are not allowed to provide hands-on assistance to their clients and are more restricted to household duties and transporting seniors to doctor appointments, grocery shopping, etc.


If a loved one is more in need of supervision and friendship than physical support, than a companion would be best for them. Otherwise, a personal caregiver can perform the same duties as a companion, as well as long-term personal care services such as bathing and grooming.

Skilled Nurses


Also known as Licensed Practice Nurses (LPNs) and Registered Nurses (RNs), nurses fulfill the widest range of care and provide all of the services of a certified aide, as well as:


  • Prefilling medication boxes
  • Administering insulin
  • Intravenous medications
  • Wound care
  • Changing catheters


Nurses must complete a college program to obtain their nursing licenses. LPNs work under the supervision of an RN or physician. Nurses would be the best fit for an aging senior who is dealing with an illness or injury that requires constant care while still wanting to stay at home.


Once you decide which type of service is best for you or your loved one, the next step is deciding if you want someone overnight, during the day, on an hourly basis, every weeknight or weekend, and so forth.


The final step is choosing a full-service home healthcare organization that can provide the right level of care from nurses, home health aides, or companions, and determine the appropriate type of care.   Also, if you want to change your level of care, you can do so within one organization.


In summary, deciding on the best living environment is a very personal choice, and it requires ample knowledge of all your options. Taking advantage of free services that are available to you allows you to weigh all the choices and decide what will make this next phase of your life as fulfilling as possible.


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