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Nursing Home vs Home Care: What’s the Difference?

Dealing with aging parents or family members can be difficult. Aging is inevitable, but we aren't always prepared to see the people we've looked up to our whole lives become less independent. It may be a gradual decline where we find ourselves having to help more frequently with household upkeep or assist with meals and transportation.

For some, it could be more sudden, such as realizing on a visit that your parent is no longer keeping up with basic personal hygiene, regular meals or household cleanliness. Whether it was gradual or sudden, there comes a time when you know that it is no longer safe for your loved ones to live independently.

The next step for the family is to decide what level of care they need. Is it time for long term care? Should you consider in-home care? How do you know which is the right choice between a nursing home and home care? Here are a few factors that can help you narrow down the right option for your loved ones.

Type of Care Needed

The level of independence and the kind of care needed are a significant determinant in the decision between choosing a nursing home or bringing in-home providers to your family member for care. If there is an urgent need, like post-operative care or monitoring and rehab after an injury, short term care in a nursing home may be an excellent option to start.

Once they are released to go home, part-time care in the home may be all that is needed for an additional level of assistance and oversight for the foreseeable future. The combination could be a perfect option for many seniors.

It may come down to how much risk the patient is to him or herself during the times no one is around. If there is a degenerative or chronic cognitive issue where there is a risk of the person wandering off or needing constant monitoring to be sure they don't accidentally leave the stove on or a fire burning, a nursing home with a specialty care unit may be the best answer.

If the patient only needs supplemental care during certain hours of the day to assist with meals, bathing or household chores for around 40 hours per week, in-home care may be sufficient. However, it is up to the family members to be diligent in assessing whether the services provided in-home are adequate to meet the needs of the patient.


The disruption to families with an aging or special needs family member cannot be ignored. For the family members who act as caregivers, it can impact their personal, social and professional lives. In some cases, it can negatively affect their health. For the family that chooses in-home care, there must still be some oversight to determine if the care of the provider is meeting their needs.

In the case of an illness of the caregiver, is there someone else that can easily step in to provide care? If the patient's needs are growing, there are more decisions to be made by the family and possible disruption to the patient to change their caregivers and environment by moving them to a care facility if home care is no longer feasible.

What Is The Different In The Price?

Cost is also an essential factor in deciding what type of care your family member needs. Basically, the more care needed, the more it costs. While on the surface, home care may appear less expensive, it can become cost-prohibitive if the hours the caregiver is required are extended. You should consider that the budget needed for in-home care could far exceed that of nursing home care.

If you need help deciding the right options for your loved one, contact the trusted nursing home in Florence, AL. The caring and knowledgeable staff at Mitchell Hollingsworth Nursing and Rehab can answer all your questions about how nursing home care can benefit your family.

Image Credit: Shutterstock/Lighthunter



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