Live-In Caregivers as an Alternative to Assisted Living
Seniors who need help with daily living activities and find it difficult to do household chores may consider moving to an assisted living facility (ALF). These residential communities offer a variety of private housing choices, from a room to an apartment or even a cottage. Seniors who live alone and those who do not have family members nearby may see an ALF as an opportunity to create new friendships, explore new interests, and not have to worry about cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry. Rather than an ALF, some seniors choose to live in residential care homes. This type of housing is located in regular neighborhoods and has anywhere from two to six residents per home. While staff members can provide more personalized care, they do not handle complex medical care, such as feeding tubes or treating certain medical conditions.
While living in an ALF or residential care home has some advantages, not all seniors want to give up their homes and live among strangers in an unfamiliar environment. But, because of a chronic illness or having no one to help them manage their day-to-day activities, older adults may feel they have no other choice but to move.
As an alternative to a residential care home or an ALF, live-in caregiving is available for seniors committed to aging in place in their own homes.
What is Live-In Care?
Live-in care means having a trained, professional caregiver reside in an older adult’s home. The live-in caregiver could be a personal care assistant (PCA), a home health aide (HHA), a certified nursing assistant (CNA), or other skilled nursing providers. A PCA offers non-medical, personal care services, while nursing providers offer personal care and skilled medical services.
With a live-in caregiver, seniors can continue their daily routines, keep their same doctors, and avoid the drastic change of moving away from a familiar setting to a new location.
Most of all, live-in caregivers allow seniors to maintain a sense of independence by living in the security of their own home with someone who manages daily chores and provides constant companionship.
Assisted Living and Live-In Care, What’s the Difference?
There are certainly advantages to both live-in care and assisted living, but the choice depends on the needs and circumstances of older adults. The following are only a few of the differences seniors should take into account when considering live-in care as an alternative to assisted living:
1. Caregiving. ALFs are good for people who can pretty much care for themselves, and only need help in specific instances, such as after a surgical procedure that requires bed rest. Some ALFS have on-site caregiving staff, but staff must divide their time and attention between multiple residents. A live-in caregiver, on the other hand, focuses only on one person rather than on many people who need help at the same time.
2. Medical Care. ALFs do not have medical doctors on staff, but some assisted living communities have nurses on staff or on call to take care of emergencies. Live-in caregivers, except for PCAs, have some medical training and certification and work under the supervision of a nurse. Live-in caregivers with medical training can assist their client in some instances and immediately call for help if the person is in serious medical distress.
3. Meals. ALFs provide dining programs that include meals scheduled at certain times. Unlike assisted living communities, seniors with live-in care are not limited to eating at scheduled times. Caregivers prepare nutritious meals for seniors and help them follow a dietician’s plan when necessary.
Live-in caregivers and ALF staff both help older adults with personal services, such as:
- Maintaining hygiene
- Medication reminders
Fortunately, seniors with live-in caregivers do not have to wait their turn to get help like those in ALFs. For instance, a live-in caregiver is there when seniors with mobility problems need help getting out of bed and going to the bathroom at night to use the toilet.
Besides that, live-in caregivers run errands, provide transportation to medical appointments, do light housekeeping, laundry, and other tasks that seniors may not have the stamina or physical ability to do on their own.
The Costs of Live-In Care and ALFs
In most cases, many ALFs are private pay and costs depend on whether residents choose a package that includes room and board, and services such as meals, transportation, and housekeeping. Care services are usually paid separately and costs are determined based on the amount of care needed. Many ALFs have a move-in fee.
By comparison, in-home care agencies charge a flat rate for caregiver services, and seniors do not pay rent since they live in their own homes.
When it comes to skilled medical care, Medicare pays for certain health care services, whether a senior lives independently or in an ALF. Medicare does not pay for personal care services nor does it pay for room and board at an ALF. Medicaid or certain Veteran’s Affairs benefit programs may pay in certain instances for personal care services.
By weighing the pros and cons of assisted living communities, seniors may find live-in care more convenient and beneficial, especially for those wanting to live independently in the safety of their homes.