Finding Long-Term Care: Facility or Home Care?

Finding Long-Term Care: Assisted Living Facility or Home Care?

There is no question that we are living longer. Data suggests that if we live to 65, we are likely to reach 85. With an extra 20+ years, we are discovering an entire new developmental phase of life beyond adulthood. One of the great challenges of this new found longevity is how we will meet the needs of aging adults on a long-term basis. We used to think of elder care as a short-term need provided at the very end of life, often in institutional settings such as hospitals and nursing homes. However, particularly with the baby boomer generation, more and more people are resistant to the idea of long-term institutionalized care. With assistance being needed for longer periods of time, long-term care at home has become part of the vision of aging well.  

While each person is different, our needs look similar as we age. They usually include a variety of assistance with personal care, medications, housekeeping, transportation, socialization, meals, etc. Assisted living facilities and in-home care address these needs from two different angles and it is important to understand the differences between the two when making choices for long-term care. One of the great myths is that Medicare pays for long-term care, and the truth is that aging individuals and their families are responsible for the costs of on-going care like assisted living facilities and home care services. Depending on the plan coverage, if individuals have long-term care insurance this can help off-set some of the costs. What is striking is that, according to, someone turning age 65 today has almost a 70% chance of needing some type of long-term care services and support in their remaining years. 69% of people use long-term care services of some kind for an average of 3 years. Given those statistics, it is important that we engage our choices for help and shape our unique vision for aging well. 

Assisted Living Facility Care

Assisted living facilities provide nursing services from RNs or LPNs and they can help with personal care needs and medication management. While it looks like a retirement home it adds in the personal care services. They balance individuality and community by providing a private apartment as well as social activities. It is important to note that they are rarely able to manage complex medical conditions as the staff is caring for multiple individuals. Most assisted living facilities accept only private-pay or long-term care insurance; however, some facilities will take Medicaid.

Home Care

As human beings, the spaces we live in and communities we are a part of have a huge impact on our quality of life and general well-being. Our familiar surroundings, life rhythms, and landscapes shape our sense of home. For many aging adults, remaining safe and independent means receiving needed assistance and care at home instead of moving to a facility. In-home care services are extremely adaptable and can increase and decrease with the changing needs. Professional caregivers provide for housekeeping, basic personal care needs like dressing, toileting, bathing and meal prep, and also provide that touch of socialization within the home. While keeping up with a home may not be as easy as it once was, private home care services can help care for a loved one’s dwelling as well as their physical needs. One of the other great advantages of in-home care is the personalized one-on-one attention that is lacking in facility care.      

Nurse Delegation

It is important to note that Certified Nursing Assistants (caregivers) must be professionally trained and supervised by a Registered Nurse on a task-by-task basis in order to assist with a higher level of care. This includes tasks like administering medications, insulin shots, colostomy care, catheter care, simple wound dressing, tube feedings etc. This process is referred to as “nurse delegation”. Most home care agencies do not employ nurses for this process and are not able to provide this higher level of care. When a higher level of care is needed to help manage chronic diseases, Sound Options is a unique agency that has compiled an elite team to address this gap in home care.     

Sound Options at Home | Care Management & Home Care  

Since 1989, Sound Options has been providing professional Geriatric Care Management from Registered Nurses and Masters of Social Work and we remain the largest care management firm in Washington State. While this service isn’t as well known, Care Management has played a huge role in helping families shape customized long-term care solutions for their aging loved ones. Sound Options combines Geriatric Care Managers with Certified Nursing Assistants to provide a home care option that extends to meet the needs of a higher level of care, making it a well-rounded alternative to an assisted living facility. As we age, it is common for our healthcare to become more and more complex. Care Managers also act as advocates and liaisons between the many doctors, service providers, and professionals, saving families in the Puget Sound region hours of time and headache. With a professional in elder care at the helm, families can trust their Care Manager to guide and adapt care with a proactive approach that ensures a high level of safety and quality of life within the home for their loved ones. For more information about Care Management and Home Care services visit or give us a call at 800.628.7649. A live person is available 24-hours a day.    

Published on March 24, 2014.