24-Hour vs Live-In Care

By Rachelle Ehlert

If an aging loved one requires constant companionship and assistance, you may be considering around-the-clock care. Both 24-hour care and live-in care provide the level of support that a senior may need. So what’s the difference between these care services? And which one is best for the senior?

In this post, we will discuss the pros and cons of each of these types of care and help you identify the best option. 

What Is the Difference between 24-Hour and Live-In Care? 

At a glance, here are the main differences between 24-hour and live-in care.  

  24-Hour Care Live-In Care
Number of primary caregivers involved 2+ caregivers 1 caregiver
Hours per day that a caregiver works 8 to 12 hours 24 hours
Breaks Optional as per the family's instructions 8-hour sleeping break & 4-hour break mid shift
Cost Billed hourly Billed daily


24-Hour Care 

24-hour care is round-the-clock care provided by multiple caregivers. A 24-hour shift could be divided into two 12-hour shifts, three 3-hour shifts, or even shorter shifts as needed. As a result, a senior will have multiple caregivers as part of their care team. Care is billed hourly, and at Caring Senior Service, we charge a flat, hourly rate — regardless of weekends or overnight.  

With 24-hour care, a caregiver can be allowed to sleep as long as it’s okay with the family and the senior. However, families are not required to give caregivers a sleeping break.  

PROS of 24-Hour Care: 

  • Maximum alertness and supervision from caregivers 
  • Variety of social interaction 
  • Multiple caregivers who know the client and their preferences in case a caregiver can’t make their shift 

CONS of 24-Hour Care: 

  • Cost could be higher than live-in care 
  • Less consistency due to multiple caregivers providing services 

RELATED CONTENT: 7 Not-So-Obvious Benefits of Senior Home Care 

Live-In Care 

Hiring a live-in caregiver means hiring caregiver that lives on the premises with the client to provide personal care and assist with tasks of daily living. They could live in a separate room in the same home or live in a separate area on the property.  

With this type of care, a senior of their family must arrange sleeping accommodations and cover meals. The caregiver works 24 hours a day, but the family is required to give the caregiver an 8-hour break for sleeping and a 4-hour break during the daytime. Typically, the caregiver works 4 to 5 days a week, so a senior may require one caregiver during the week and another on weekends. Live-in caregivers are charged by the day. 

PROS of Live-In Care: 

  • High consistency of care due to fewer caregivers 
  • Strong relationship between caregiver and client 

CONS of Live-In Care: 

  • Lapses in care due to breaks 
  • Family must arrange additional care if the caregiver becomes sick, quits, takes a vacation, etc. 
  • Must prepare a space in the home for the caregiver 

Which Option Is Best? 

Both 24-hour and live-in care can be great options for seniors. These types of caregivers can both be sourced through a trustworthy home care agency. Agencies run background checks and assist with scheduling, administration, and other caregiver management tasks.

So determining the right fit will depend on the senior’s needs and the family’s preferences and desired outcomes. Here are some considerations to keep in mind when deciding which option is best.  

  • Care needs. If a senior is well enough to be left unattended during a stretch of a few hours or at night, then a live-in caregiver can be a great option. However, if a senior cannot be left on their own, then 24-hour care would be a better fit because the senior can receive constant monitoring. For example, a senior with dementia may not be safe if left alone during breaks, so 24-hour care would be best. 
  • Socialization. Seniors may benefit from having multiple caregivers or do better with a single caregiver. Consider how well a senior does with socialization and how much interaction they need when making your decision. For example, a senior with severe anxiety may struggle with multiple caregivers in their home. Other seniors, however, may enjoy having interaction from several caregivers to help break up the day. 
  • Sleeping arrangements. Some seniors may not have suitable space in their home to provide sleeping arrangements for a caregiver. Typically, a live-in caregiver has a separate room and bathroom — but this could be within a senior’s home or in a separate building on the property. However, some live-in caregivers may agree to sleeping in the same room as a senior. Ultimately, a senior’s home may be too small or run down for a caregiver to agree to the arrangement. 
  • Cost. A live-in caregiver is often a cheaper option than 24-hour care. However, these savings could be offset some by the cost of room and board. And if a senior requires additional caregivers during break periods, 24-hour care may actually be a cheaper option. When considering costs, remember to check long-term care policies
  • Doctor’s recommendation. A physician can help families make the decision between 24-hour and live-in care. Talk to your loved one’s healthcare provider to determine which is the better fit to help maintain safety and well-being.  

If you, a loved one, or a patient would benefit from around-the-clock care, reach out to your local Caring team. We can help determine what type of care would be best for a senior and provide a tailored care plan to meet the senior’s needs. Our professional caregivers are ready to assist 24/7. 

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Tags: Home Care, Senior Living