Residential Care: Is It The Right Choice For You?

As we grow older, our needs change. Safety, meeting basic daily needs, taking medications and memory issues can all impact the needs of an aging population. Two of the most common care options for seniors in need of caregiving support are in-home care and residential care. Whether you are weighing the pros and cons of residential care versus in-home care for yourself or a loved one, there are a great deal of factors to consider.

It is crucial that you evaluate your current needs and anticipated future needs well before a long-term care solution might be required, so you can make an informed and pragmatic decision. Things like levels of independence, cost and location are just a few things to consider when investigating whether a residential care facility or in-home care option is right for you.

The Benefits of Long-Term Residential Care

Long-term care facilities provide room and board in addition to medical and/or non-medical care for people who have an on-going illness or disease, or who can no longer live independently in their private homes. The goal of residential care is to provide a healthy environment and supportive care to senior residents.

Most long-term residential care facilities provide resources to help residents meet their daily needs, including:

  • Dressing
  • Bathing
  • Meals
  • Taking medications
  • Bathroom needs

A rotating staff is available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week to meet the on-going needs of residents. Because of the higher staff-to-resident ratio, residential care is often more affordable than in-home care, which offers a 1:1 staff-to-resident ratio. In addition, Medicaid and long-term care insurance plans frequently cover the cost of residential care.

The Advantages of In-Home Care

While the services and costs associate with in-home care vary widely, there are a few fundamentals that apply to just about all home care options. First, most professional in-home care services are for-profit organizations that are run by families or businesses. A trained care provider visits the resident’s home on a regular schedule to provide the needs outlined in the agreement between the resident and the care agency.

The number of hours the care provider spends at the resident’s home varies depending upon the pre-established agreement and level of care required by the resident. While this option frequently offers the resident more independence and ability to stay in their own home, there is also a greater financial cost associated with this type of care.

Checklist for Evaluating Care Needs

Below is a basic checklist to help you determine the level of care (or expected level of care) required by you or your loved one. If you answer No to the following questions, then in-home care might be a viable option for you. If you answer Yes to some or all of the following questions, then residential care might be more preferable.

Question YES NO
Do you have problems safely negotiating your current residence, including up and down stairs?
Do you frequently fall?
Do you have frequent accidents with household items, like the stove or oven?
Do you require additional safety equipment, such as bathroom rails, raised toilets, etc.?
Do you require assistance with daily needs, such as dressing, meal preparation, toileting, grooming, etc.?
Are you easily susceptible to the influence of others or likely to fall prey to malicious persons?
Do you forget your address and/or telephone number?
Do you get lost on familiar routes?
Do you remember to change your clothes on a daily basis?
Do you remember to take the correct doses of your medications on schedule?
Is the cost of long-term care important to you?
Do you require regular physical, occupational or speech therapy?
Do you have a long-term or chronic illness, disease or condition?

Written by senior housing writer Meredith Olson.