Home Care vs. Retirement Homes

by John Philip Green

Elder care is a vital and necessary part of looking after our loved ones. We are an aging population and hope that we can grow old independently, maintaining good health, dignity, and adequate care.



The home care objective is to offer services that will help seniors age in their own homes with independence and dignity.


Home care agencies offer different levels of service. Choose an agency that can offer more than basic homemaker services since eventually your aging elder will require assistance with personal care.

  • A registered nurse who can deal with almost any medical situation
  • A personal aide worker who helps with activities of daily living
    • meal preparation
    • light housework including laundry and changing linens
    • shopping for groceries and supplies
    • transportation to medical appointments
    • personal care such as bathing, dressing and grooming
    • pet care
    • medication reminders
  • A home care companion who can offer a helping hand and an observant eye..


Seniors thrive when they remain in their own homes or familiar surroundings.

Some Things to Think About

  • Full service agencies usually are more expensive, but they provide prescreened applicants who have had background checks
  • If a caregiver quits or is not satisfactory, a replacement can be provided quickly, and coverage may be provided if the regular caregiver calls in sick.
  • The agency you choose should be bonded, insured and licensed (not all states require home care licensing)
  • Their employees should be experienced and screened including a criminal background check
  • You and/or your loved one should be able to meet with the candidate before you agree to services
  • Be specific about the tasks that you need, and that the person you are hiring is comfortable with these tasks
  • Ask about their experience and competence with these tasks.
  • Involve your senior in decision-making, and ask what home care services might help bridge the gap for them
  • If you feel that home care isn’t enough, investigate what other options are available


(Also known as Independent Living Facilities)


These homes provide a setting designed for seniors who don’t need medical care and who want to maintain their lifestyle in an active senior environment.

Older adults who want to live in a smaller space will often opt for a retirement home option, and many seniors move to a retirement home when their own homes become too much for them to look after.


  • These homes are usually apartment buildings for seniors
  • Varied amenities and activities from basic meal services and activities to “full service” retirement residences
  • These can include 24-hour security, health care monitoring, wellness centers, housekeeping and laundry services
  • Charge a monthly rental fee depending on the services offered
  • Can be connected with more advanced levels of assisted living and nursing homes as the need arises


The objective of a good retirement home is to make life better for older adults who are in relatively good health.

Some Things to Think About

Before making any long-term commitment, be sure to check out the facilities and bring your loved one with you to ensure they like the atmosphere and can “feel at home”.

Long Distance Care for the Elderly


  • Often elderly parents wanting more temperate weather retire to resort communities
  • New job opportunities force their adult children who have been helping with their care to move away from home
  • At some point, your aging parents or grandparents will become unable to properly care for themselves


  • The best approach to dealing with long distance care giving is to prepare ahead of time
  • Discuss future care needs with your loved one and family members
  • Prepare the necessary legal and medical documents that may be necessary should an emergency arise
  • Create a list of local medical-related numbers: medical professionals, hospitals, pharmacies…
  • Think about working with a local geriatric manager or certified senior advisor
  • Use your networking skills and ask family, friends, neighbours, your doctor or health care professional to recommend a good home care provider
  • Utilize older adult resources such as your local area agency on Aging, Elder Care resources, or senior centers


  • More than half of seniors resist asking for help even from their adult children, because they feel they could end up in a nursing home
  • If seniors admit they need help, they worry about losing their independence and/or control over their financial affairs
  • A great source of conflict is having someone in their home, i.e. in-home caregivers who they don’t know and were arranged for against their will
  • Previously, when seniors were dealing with their own aging parents, the only options available were their own home or a nursing home, with their greatest fear being that they would be forced out of their home
  • It is important for aging parents to feel like they are in control of the situation, so ensure that they are involved whenever possible
  • Baby boomers try to parent their parents, and they fear for the safety of their aging relatives who can be so reluctant to accept help.

Some Things to Think About

Registries and independent providers are less costly but require more work on your part. Ensure you check all references carefully, do thorough criminal background checks and identity verification, and you can also check with your local police department.

Remember that you will be responsible for backup coverage in case of illness or termination.

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