When an aging loved one transitions from living independently to long-term care, it’s often a choice between an assisted living community or a board and care home.
There’s no accepted, nationwide definition for board and care homes, but the basic difference is size. Assisted living communities have more residents, and board and care homes have fewer residents. Both living options provide similar services, but your loved one may be better suited to one option over the other.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these types of senior living.
Assisted living is ideal for seniors who need help with some activities of daily living (ADLs) but are interested in leading a social, active lifestyle.
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More like inclusive hotels for retirees, assisted living communities may offer:
It’s important to remember that assisted living communities often have health standards for admitting new residents. This means that for a resident to join, they’d perhaps have to be able to feed themselves independently or move from a bed to a wheelchair without assistance.
Assisted living may be the right choice for seniors who:
The median cost of assisted living was $4,051 a month in the United States in 2019.
Assisted living costs depend on a number of factors:
Assisted living communities often charge a flat rate that covers many basic services, with additional fees for special services.
Board and care homes are houses in residential neighborhoods that are equipped, adapted, and staffed to care for a small number of residents, usually between two and 10.
These homes provide comparable care to what’s offered at assisted living communities but usually less than what a nursing home provides. This means board and care homes can help with daily routines but typically don’t provide 24-hour skilled nursing assistance.
Caregivers at board and care homes prepare two or three home-cooked meals a day for residents and typically help with activities such as:
Like assisted living, board and care homes are licensed by individual states.
People use several other terms to refer to the board and care concept, including:
In some regions, one of these terms is more popular than the others. In California, “board and care home” is a common term, while in North Carolina you may hear “group home.” But don’t let all these names confuse you — they’re essentially the same concept.
Board and care homes may be a better fit for elderly loved ones who:
The cost of living in a board and care home depends largely on location. Because the homes are private residences, cost is tied to real estate value.
Prices vary vastly, so a board and care home could cost anywhere from $1,500 to $4,500 a month. In a more expensive state like California, the monthly cost might be as much as $10,000.
Cost also depends on:
Senior living choices have expanded as the needs and expectations of older adults have changed over the past several decades. Figuring out the best option for your loved one’s needs is crucial for keeping them healthy, active, and safe. At no cost, our Senior Living Advisors can guide you through all the senior living options and help you find the right fit for your family.
Danny Szlauderbach is an editor and content writer at A Place for Mom. Since 2010, his work in strategic communications has spanned across several industries, including education, technology, and financial services. He’s a member of ACES: The Society for Editing and a graduate of the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Kansas.