The Cottages Blog

Home Care vs. Assisted Living Case Study

Posted by Lisa Chapman on Jan 13, 2016 9:00:00 AM


Does your senior or loved one need in-home care or an assisted living community? Finding the right place and the right type of care for a loved one can be difficult. In order to discover what type of care fits your loved one, your family, and your situation’s particular needs, you should know the differences between home care and living in an assisted living community. What is home care? What is assisted living? What do both of these options cost? What are the benefits of one over the other? Likewise, what are the disadvantages of one versus the other? We will explore all of these questions.

Home Care

Home care is daily care for seniors who want help with performing daily tasks while remaining in the comfort of their own home. With home care, housekeeping, certain medical needs, and other personal assistances are provided. Sometimes, married couples will opt for a home care aide when one of the partners needs care but the other one does not, so as to avoid an unnecessary move. With home care, there are less provided schedules and your loved one has more personal freedom to do as they wish. Because of the freedom that comes with home care, choosing this option may be a burden on other family members, because sometimes it is what a senior wants but not what they need. Some seniors need round-the-clock supervision, which is not something that home care provides.

Assisted Living

Assisted living is senior care for loved ones who need assistance with daily tasks and may or may not need daily medical assistance. In an assisted living community, loved ones can participate in and be a part of the assisted living community. Residents live in separate or shared spaces, surrounded by other residents. Assisted living communities provide meals, transportation, housekeeping, such as laundry and cleaning, and some health care services on site. These communities are cost-efficient and designed to focus on residents’ safety and on any other assistance that the residents may need.


Home care and assisted living are usually paid for in different ways. Home care is usually billed by the hour and by the type of care that your loved one needs. The amount that you will pay for home care can vary, depending on the amount and the level of help required. Assisted living is usually one monthly fee that factors in the starting rate and any additional services that you choose to add to your loved one’s contract.

According to the Genworth 2014 Cost of Care Survey, the median hourly cost of a home aide is about $20 per hour. At eight hours a day, seven days a week, that makes the median monthly cost of home care come to about $4900 a month. Of course, costs with home care will vary, based on how many hours a day and how many days a week are needed to assist your loved one.

The starting monthly cost of Columbia Cottage in Florence, Alabama is $2489, considerably less than the median monthly cost of home care. Other monthly services are also available for additional fees. These other available services include options like adding a second occupant to a living space, cable tv, and phone and internet services.


The following chart lists and compares concerns that you might have when trying to decide between home care and an assisted living community for your loved one.



Home Care

Assisted Living


median cost of $4900/month

starting cost of $2489/month

Payment Type

hourly, based on type of care needed

monthly + additional services

Payment Flexibility

because paid hourly, can be changed to less hours and less days a week to cut down on cost

base price does not change; additional services can be added for extra fees; only one monthly charge

Medicare and Medicaid

Medicare will not cover personal home care; Medicaid coverages vary by state

Medicare will not cover long-term care in an assisted living community; Medicaid coverages vary by state

Location of Care

loved one stays at home with family; more privacy

separation from home and moving to a new place can cause anxiety and depression; less privacy

Support and Supervision

hours limited



loved one remains independent, has more freedom to choose routine

loved one has little control over schedule and routine

Health Care and Other Services

will supply medication supervision and certain other needs if contracted to do so

nutrition, fitness, and limited on-site health care available; housekeeping, meal preparation, and transportation provided


loved one can talk to family members and others who visit home

loved one can talk to family members who visit and to other residents in the assisted living community

Family Life

can be a burden on the rest of the family if it is not the right type of care for your loved one; can provide peace of mind if loved one needs limited daily care

opportunity to let trained caregivers in a safe environment look after a loved one; can provide peace of mind if loved one needs 24-hour daily care


Every person is different. Your loved one’s needs are not the same as someone else’s needs. Finding care for a senior or a loved one is a very big decision that should not be taken lightly. Do your research and choose what you feel is best for your loved one and for the rest of the family. You may have to adjust your contract later to better suit your loved one’s daily needs, but making sure that your senior ends up in the right place with the right amount of care and supervision is what is most important.


Caregiver's Field Guide to Assisted Living

Topics: Senior Care Resources

Lisa Chapman

Written by: Lisa Chapman

Lisa has 18 years of nursing experience, and a big heart for caring for and helping the elderly in her community. When she’s at home, she enjoys spending time with her family, husband of over 20 years, James, and their twins, Alex and Alicia.