Senior Living Communities vs. In-Home Care: How They Differ

Senior Living Communities

Is it possible for your loved one to receive safe and adequate care in their home? Or would a senior living community, like Baxter Senior Living in Anchorage, Alaska, be better suited to meet their long-term needs? As our loved one’s age, these questions and concerns commonly arise. Concerns about health and safety become even more paramount as difficulties making it around town to run errands, getting to doctor’s visits, or attending other essential functions come to light. While advances in technology, the availability of easy to use medical equipment and the use of in-home care attendants makes in-home care possible for some; it is not the best solution for all. To make the best and safest decision for your loved one, it is helpful to understand the differences between senior living communities and in-home care services.

What Are Assisted Living Communities?

Assisted living homes (or communities) are often best for seniors who require very little care daily. Unlike skilled nursing facilities, nursing homes, or memory care units, seniors who live in assisted living communities still maintain a base level of independence. Most senior living communities offer residents some assistance with various tasks such as organizing medications and activities of daily living, but they do not provide “full-care.” Assisted living communities differ from independent senior living communities in that independent communities are designed for residents who are mentally and physically capable of living alone without any assistance with daily activities. The difference between assisted living communities and independent living communities is minor. Still, it is a vital distinction to make when determining which level of care is best for your senior loved one.

Currently, there are more than 30,000 assisted living communities in the United States housing well over one million residents. Again, most of these residents maintain a certain level of independence; however, they require a bit more assistance than in-home care is beneficial for.

Maintaining Independence and Promoting Socialization

Assisted living communities allow residents to maintain their independence in a safe and healthy manner. Often, when relying on in-home care, those with reduced mobility or specific care needs cannot manage their current activities safely. For some activities, they must wait for a care provider to arrive and provide assistance. Also, concerns regarding diet and timely medication administration often arise if a care provider is not present continually. The problem with 24/7 in-home care is that it can be quite cost-prohibitive. Unfortunately, maintaining this level of in-home care often requires skilled care providers or a non-skilled care provider who resides with your loved one. These services often come with an extra fee and can be unaffordable for some seniors. At an assisted living community such as Baxter senior living, residents can maintain their independence for as long as possible while keeping their health and safety in mind. Our caring and compassionate staff are on hand to support your loved one’s privacy, independence, and dignity while encouraging involvement within the senior community. Most assisted living communities also promote the resident’s right to engage in (or abstain from) religious practices, participate in residential activities, maintain and continue to use personal possessions, manage their own finances, and engage in social and community events. Also, many assisted living communities allow pets and visitors to visit at any time of day and, in many cases, stay overnight if the resident’s room is equipped to allow for it.

Services and Living Environment

Residents living in an assisted living community often live in their own private or semi-private apartments. Typically, these residences include a bedroom, bathroom, and a kitchen area; however, specific arrangements or set-up can arrange from one community to the next. Residents receive assistance with daily tasks such as eating, dressing, and bathing to the extent which they require help. Dining programs are also available, which provide three meals each day in a community dining area. Exercise and other group activities are also scheduled each day to allow for a variety of options for residents to choose from.

Depending on the facility, other services provided may include housekeeping, healthcare, off-site activities, hair salons, wellness programs, laundry services, social and religious opportunities, and recreational activities.

What is In-Home Care?

In-home care is currently one of the most requested services related to senior care. Some long-term care insurance policies are also beginning to address in-home care as an option for policyholders. But, despite the appealing surface appearance of in-home care, it is not suitable for all seniors.

Agencies that provide in-home care services offer a wide range of services ranging from simple companionship and supervision to personal care. In-home care providers are appropriate for those who want to remain in their homes but need ongoing care that family members and friends cannot provide. Most in-home care plans provide for a combination of non-medical services and skilled health care services. It is essential to distinguish between home health care (when nursing care is involved) and in-home care (when only non-medical care is required). While these may seem like insignificant distinctions, they are indeed quite important because it helps provide clarity regarding the level of care being offered. These distinctions have an impact (sometimes a major one) on the cost of care and whether sources are available to help pay for these costs.

Non-Medical Care Services

Non-medical care services are also sometimes called companion care services or personal care services. These services include those things that are not nursing or skilled nursing services. A few of the most common include:

  •       Companionship and supervision
  •       Personal care (help with dressing or brushing one’s teeth)
  •       Light housekeeping
  •       Meal preparation
  •       Medication reminders (but not medication administration)
  •       Laundry
  •       Running errands
  •       Transportation services


As mentioned above, some insurance companies will provide coverage or offer add-on policies for in-home care services. In-home care agencies and private insurance companies use an ADL rating (activities of daily living rating) to determine the needs of the individual. ADL ratings are determined by looking at six daily activities to assess the individual’s ability to provide self-care. These activities include walking, bathing, eating, dressing, toileting, and transferring (from chair stand or stand to bed, etc.). These activities are examined to determine if your loved one is eligible for insurance benefits that cover in-home care needs. In-home care agencies also use them to establish the necessary charges for the services required and determine the proper caregiver is assigned to your loved one.

To make the right choices for your senior loved one, it is essential to understand the differences between senior living communities, in-home care, home health care. At Baxter Senior Living, we realize that even if you understand the differences between how in-home care and assisted living works, it is not an easy decision to make for or with your loved one. If in-home care isn’t right or is no longer the best choice for your senior loved one, contact Baxter Senior Living in Anchorage, Alaska.



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