Living independently can become increasingly difficult as we age. Physical limitations, health concerns and memory problems are some of the issues that affect our ability to perform everyday activities from cooking and cleaning to personal care and taking medications.

Understandably, staying at home for as long as possible is a priority for most seniors and their families. A 2013 poll conducted by RBC found that 83% of retired Canadian baby boomers wanted to stay in their homes and pay for home care as needed.

Home support services can make independent living possible for many seniors. According to a 2017 report by the Canadian Institute for Health Information, 22% — or about one in five – of Canadian seniors admitted to residential care might have been able to remain at home with appropriate supports.

There are many things to consider when deciding between home care services and facility-based care, such as a retirement residence or long-term care facility. Each person’s situation must be assessed and carefully monitored, especially if they have a progressive illness like dementia.

For those who are weighing the benefits of home care versus residential care, here are some things to consider.

The pros and cons of home care

Using quality home care services to support seniors in their own homes allows them to retain control in their daily lives. This can positively impact their sense of well-being, dignity and quality of life.

Pros of home care include:

  • Ability to maintain your independence
  • Staying in a familiar, comfortable environment where family and friends have easy access to visit
  • Maintaining a routine schedule with added support to complete activities of daily living
  • Having someone accompany you to shopping, outings or medical appointments
  • Companionship and building relationships with regular caregivers
  • Relief for family caregivers
  • Flexibility in the amount and type of care/assistance required
  • In-home clinical care such as nursing, physiotherapy and occupational therapy if required
  • Privacy and solitude for those who are not “joiners”

Cons of home care include:

  • Facility-based care offers seniors interaction with people of the same age while those living at home may have less opportunity for socialization
  • It may be necessary to incur costs to install ramps, railings or chair lifts to improve accessibility at home
  • You may need to re-locate door locks, install fences and gates, purchase alarms and/or electronic locating devices, and register with an emergency service to prevent seniors with dementia from wandering

The pros and cons of facility-based care (retirement residence or long-term care home)

Pros of facility-based care:

  • Medical and non-medical care is available 24/7
  • Staff are available to ensure medications are taken appropriately and at the scheduled time
  • Personal care needs are taken care of
  • Meals and housekeeping are provided
  • Most care facilities offer activities and outings
  • Living in a retirement residence or long-term care home provides opportunities for social stimulation
  • The physical environment is accessible and includes safeguards for wandering

Cons of facility-based care:

  • Loss of independence
  • Difficulty adapting to a new environment and adjusting to group living
  • Many residents have dietary restrictions so food may be bland and there is less control over meal choices
  • Long distances to the facility may prevent frequent visits from family and friends
  • Staffing changes may make it difficult to build ongoing relationships with caregivers

If home care services are right for you, contact a local home care provider and ask if they can complete an in-home consultation to help determine you care needs. “At Bayshore, our care managers will discuss your lifestyle and health needs, answer your questions and develop a fully customized care plan”, says Jodi Marrin, Director of Marketing at Bayshore HealthCare. “We can also provide personal care to people living in residential facilities who would benefit from additional assistance”.

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