Making care decisions for elderly parents or loved ones can be difficult, especially since so many factors influence care — from personal preference to location to health requirements.

Professional caregivers provide a wide range of services, including 24-hour care and live-in care, which bring experienced caregivers into the client’s home. But how do you know it’s time to hire this type of caregiver?

To determine the best type of care for each client, family members and caregivers need to consider personality, family dynamic, health needs and budget, among other factors. If you’re considering live-in care or 24-hour care for an elderly patient, here’s what you need to know about these similar but distinct services.

What Is 24-Hour Care?

24-hour care sounds like what it is. With this service, a carer is available to the elderly client every hour of the day and night. They may assist the client with household chores and activities while also providing company and help with medical needs and personal hygiene.

Because 24-hour home care requires someone to be attentive around the clock, caregivers do not live with the client. Instead, agencies providing this service usually split up the day into two or three shifts covered by different caregivers.

So, while 24-hour care provides constant availability, a rotating cast of caregivers may become expensive and emotionally taxing in some cases, as some clients prefer to establish long-term relationships. 24-hour care makes a good solution for care-intensive patients, though, and can still be rewarding for clients.

What Is Live-In Care?

Live-in care is similar to 24-hour care, though it comes with different advantages. A live-in caregiver stays in the client’s home and helps with everything from bathing to running errands.

Sometimes, family members try to take on the role of a live-in caregiver by moving into a loved one’s house when they require more attention. Though this may work for some families, becoming a full-time caregiver can put a strain on some people’s sanity and well-being, especially when emergency moving is required. Managing other responsibilities, like work or kids, may get in the way of prioritizing a loved one’s needs, as well.

Though live-in caregivers technically don’t reside in the client’s home, they may stay there for multiple days at a time, so they require adequate breaks to sleep and relax. With a live-in caregiver, a person will be on the premises most of the time, but they won’t always be awake in the night to assist. Though they can’t provide as much care as a 24-hour provider, live-in caregivers can form close bonds with clients, since they get to know each other well.

When Is a Live-In or 24-Hour Caregiver Necessary?

Choosing to hire a full-time caregiver is a big decision. Some older adults may feel hesitant to bring a new person into the home or insist they can take care of themselves. Sometimes, hiring a live-in or 24-hour caregiver becomes necessary, though. Here are four signs you may need to consider bringing a professional on board.

1. An Unpaid Caregiver Is Experiencing Burnout

When an older adult becomes ill or requires more care, a loved one often takes on the role of unpaid caregiver. In some cases, these carers cannot provide all necessary help, as with a partner in a living apart together relationship. When unpaid caregivers overextend themselves looking after a loved one, they may experience burnout, which could leave them unhappy and incapable of providing care. In this case, a live-in caregiver or another aide may help relieve stress and improve the caregiver’s quality of life.

2. The Client Has Dementia or Another Memory-Related Illness

Caring for a person with dementia takes knowledge and energy. A live-in caregiver can take care of someone with dementia using specialized education and training. Furthermore, live-in caregivers can reduce the chance of loneliness associated with dementia.

3. The Client Has Care Needs 24/7

When a person has pressing care needs at all hours of the day, hiring 24-hour caregivers is the best choice. These caregivers can assist around the clock, ensuring the client is never left alone without someone looking out for them.

4. The Client Risks Becoming Isolated

Older adults living alone don’t always have friends or family members close by to say hello and help around the house. If health and mobility struggles keep the elderly person from getting out of the house, a live-in carer may improve quality of life. These caregivers can improve health by reducing isolation and assist in getting the client to and from appointments and social activities.

Making the Best Decision for Everyone

Making care decisions can be difficult, but live-in caregivers can provide helpful assistance to clients and their loved ones. By weighing options carefully, you can help make the best decision for everyone involved.

Written by Kayla Matthews
Kayla Matthews writes about medical technologies and news developments for publications like The Week, BioMed Central and Kareo's Go Practice Blog. To read more posts by Kayla, visit her on Twitter @KaylaEMatthews or check out her website:

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