Elderly Home Care – The Advantages and Disadvantages


Advantages and Disadvantagesby Bob Kohut

In many ways we are now experiencing a “perfect storm” which is making elderly home care the only viable choice for taking care of many our seniors.  With declining incomes coupled with rising expenses and a rapidly aging population, retirement communities and assisted living centers are being priced beyond the reach of many.

There are many ways to provide elderly home care – from retrofitting the home for safety to hiring professional in-home care givers.  As with many things in life there is both an upside and a downside to elderly home care.  Let’s first look at the major advantages:

  1. Allows seniors to maintain their independence.
  2. Fosters a sense of continuity of living.
  3. Preserves social networks.


To many seniors nothing is more important than maintaining their independence.  They chafe at any suggestion they may need help taking care of themselves and adamantly refuse to consider any options other than staying where they are.  Proper elderly home care lets them hang on to that all important sense of independence.  They don’t want to be a bother to their children and living at home lets them feel better about themselves and their situation.

Continuity of Living

Familiarity with their surroundings – from the home itself to the neighborhood parks, stores, and other amenities – actually promotes better mental health and a general sense of well-being.  Adapting to a changed environment can be difficult at any stage in life and it is even more of a challenge for seniors.

In addition, there is evidence that allowing seniors to relive pleasant memories of their past is a healthy thing.  It is far easier for Mom or Dad or Grandma or Grandpa to engage in pleasant reveries of Christmases past in the rooms where the events actually took place.

Social Network

Many seniors remain engaged with their neighbors and participate in community activities long after their own children have fled the nest.  If your seniors love to sit on their front porch and engage in friendly conversation with the neighborhood children as they walk by, losing that sense of social belonging can be a stressful event.

While these advantages are significant and substantial enough to justify elderly home care in most cases, there are some disadvantages that should not be ignored.

First, many existing homes are replete with built in barriers that become increasingly relevant with age.  Stairs can be a major problem and while it is possible to install electric staircases, they can be expensive.

Second, some seniors will strongly resist any attempts to modify their homes.  Doing so can be seen as an admission of physical limitations they are not yet prepared to acknowledge.  Cost is often used as a rationalization for leaving things as they are.

Third, if proper modifications are not made, seniors are exposed to potentially serious injuries due to falls and other circumstances.  If cost savings are the major reason for choosing elderly home care you should not ignore the expense involved with “senior-proofing” the home.


2 Responses

  1. It's nice to see a balanced article on the pros and cons of staying in the home for the elderly, Bob. Too often lately I've seen the experts emphasizing how lonely and isolated seniors are at home. Not necessarily so and even less so with organizations like the virtual retirement villages springing up all over the country. Some of their popular services include home visits from other retired volunteers, transportation to the store, and social activities for the membership. I write about our take on this service at http://www.desperatecaregivers.com/the-intentional-community-model-of-aging-in-place Carol Inside Aging Parent Care
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  4. I am so glad to see you point out the potential hazards of not "senior proofing" a home for an elderly person in order for him/her to continue living at home safely. Rarely is this discussed, but is an important thing to factor if deciding to keep mom or dad at home. While some things like stairs are obvious (and expensive) to fix, there are a number of things that can be done that are far less complicated or expensive, like removing rugs that are trip hazards and installing grab bars in bathrooms. Thanks for pointing out the importance of budgeting for this!
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