These days, more operators are wondering whether home care is likely to become a friend or foe. Here’s the answer: It depends.

Truth be told, this option has ingredients that could play to either outcome. Which may help explain why opinions on this matter cut a wide swath.

Some operators have embraced the view that home care is basically a different kind of animal. It delivers a lower-end type of care and always will, they insist.

At the other end are those who feel a growing need to either partner with home care operators or offer it themselves. The most prudent perspective might lie somewhere in between.

To be sure, senior living and home care certainly have their differences. And yet, many of those differences seem to be narrowing. One big reason is technology. Sure, telehealth is the belle of the ball right now — and for good reason. But plenty of other tech-related developments also have helped level the proverbial playing field.

Take dialysis, for example. That can now be performed in a person’s home. Then there’s video, which means the adult children of the old or infirm can observer their parents’ movements — or lack of movements — from pretty much any place on the planet. Nor should we overlook wearable devices, which can provide instant information related to a person’s vitals, movements and more.

Yet there are some things that only a senior living setting can provide. For starters, there’s immediate assistance from a trained professional, should the need arise. Another is the opportunity to socialize with others in the same building. Still, we do seem to be moving toward the day when the big differentiator will be individual preference.

I find it interesting that many senior living operators seem worried that as choice gains prominence, they automatically will lose residents. It’s a legitimate concern — and one that in some places may occur.

But look at what actually is happening. All across the nation, we are seeing a ton of senior living construction being built for a very specific kind of customer: One with the means to pay $8,000 or more per month.

That’s one reason I’m not convinced choice is going to be the trump card going forward. Frankly, economics may rule. In other words, many of those with the means likely will opt for congregate living.

As for those with fewer resources? Well, they may simply have to stay home.

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