An image of an elderly woman holding a walker in a room with some plants.

Adult Foster Care: What Is Foster Care For Adults

As parents age, it can become difficult to balance the desire to care for them properly with all the other responsibilities in your life. For many, it becomes nearly impossible to weigh options, costs, and quality for the care of aging parents.

Many people in this predicament find that adult foster care can be a good, balanced alternative to full-time care. It can allow you to juggle the rest of your responsibilities while still ensuring your aging parent is provided with the care and supervision they need at this stage of life.

Today, we’ll look at adult foster care and explain what it is, what it entails, and how it’s provided. You’ll learn about generalized associated costs and other important things to remember when considering adult foster care for an aging relative. 

Ultimately, you’ll be able to decide whether adult foster care is the best long-term or short-term option for your loved one’s care. 

A picture of an elderly woman holding onto a walker in a room with some plants. Picture is used to depict an adult foster care home.

What is Adult Foster Care?

Adult foster care is daytime care for adults that utilizes a home-like environment for comfort and casualness. Traditionally, adult foster care has been aimed toward adults who cannot take care of themselves daily due to developmental or intellectual disabilities.

However, in recent years, adult foster care has become an appealing option for families faced with the predicament of providing good care for aging parents and relatives. In this scenario, the environment is much the same as a traditional nursing or assisted care facility.

In an adult foster care home, where most residents are likely able to tend to their own most basic needs, assisted care staff is available during waking hours to care for and assist residents. However, in many cases, adult foster care situations are very flexible in caring for different needs and conditions of patients.

Generally, adult foster care homes cater to residents whose activities of daily living are illness- or disability-impacted to some extent. Mostly, residents can still complete these daily activities with assistance and supervision, which adult foster care specializes in. 

While many adult foster care situations involve a home into which the resident moves and after that resides, in some instances, relatives can step in to provide the same care for loved ones. However, this is rarer because there are laws and compliances to be met that vary based on the state.

What Does Adult Foster Care Entail

Typically, the staff at an adult foster care home are available during day time to assist residents with any of the normal activities that one might encounter throughout a normal day. 

Staff members might help residents with more complex things like meal preparation and eating; dressing, bathing, grooming, and laundry tasks; and errands and traveling to and from appointments. The staff is also available for assistance for the more basic tasks, including mobility obstacles like going up and downstairs and managing medications. 

In many instances, adult foster care is equipped to help adults with progressive conditions such as Alzheimer’s. Because there is usually less of a corporate structure surrounding adult foster care facilities, staff members can be more oriented toward intentional care assessment and planning

For this reason, adult foster care is an excellent option for adults whose needs and assistance levels will most certainly change over time.

How Does Adult Foster Care Compare to Assisted Living and Nursing Homes

The major difference between adult foster care and nursing home environments is that adult foster care is usually not equipped to address particular medical needs. For that reason, adult foster care is a better situation for an aging relative who simply needs more focused supervision and assistance rather than intense medical care. 

Things to Remember

While it may be easy to draw the distinction between whether your loved one is better suited to a nursing home, an assisted living facility, or an adult foster care home, knowing the details is still an important part of the decision process.

Many families find that an adult foster care home is the less expensive, more convenient, and less jarring approach to aging adult care when compared to other traditional options. 


Many of the same expense-provision programs for the elderly that allow for nursing home or other assistance stipends apply as well for adult foster care. However, there are some differences.

While state Medicaid will pay for the monthly care-associated fees of an adult foster care home, neither Medicaid nor Medicare makes allowances for the other associated costs, such as room and board or rent fees. Many homes will accept this payment as the full amount owed each month. 

Still, since Medicaid rules and allowances differ from state to state, there are many variances for what is available to policyholders regarding adult foster care. Through their Medicaid policies, many states support adult foster care over other types of care and allow for assistance.

Even if you find that your loved one’s Medicaid or Medicare leaves some adult foster care costs uncovered, this method of care is often nearly only half as expensive as other types of care. 

Like with most other things, prices will vary based on the location and area of the home. 

Generally, one can expect to pay an average of $2000–$4000 a month for combined care and room and board fees.

Related: How to Pay for Adult Foster Care

Adult Foster Care Availability 

Even though it is the far less expensive option, not everyone will have access to a conveniently located adult foster care home. Facilities like these are much more prevalent in rural settings, where they provide the most comfort and convenience for residents and their families alike.

Depending on your area, the availability of adult foster care can vary wildly. If you are in an area with many homes available, your chances of procuring a spot for your loved one will, of course, be higher. 

However, it’s important to note that even if there are adult foster care opportunities near you, there is often a long waiting list associated with them through state Medicaid. Therefore, it’s important to check your area-specific Medicaid Waivers as well as availability.

Adult Foster Care Quality 

One of the most important boxes to check in your search for a good care arrangement for your loved one is a facility with standards and a good reputation for quality of care.

As with many other care facilities, quality and standards will vary from specific home to specific home. Licensing and certifications for adult foster care homes vary from state to state.

Depending on your state of residence, requirements for maximum resident numbers, frequency of inspections, and governmental oversight will vary.

Choosing the Right Adult Foster Care For Your Loved One

If you believe that adult foster care is the right way to go in providing care for your loved one, then don’t be overwhelmed by the details. You can use many methods to make sure that you choose a clean, competent, and compassionate environment that will honor and respect your loved one.

Visit the home, talk to current residents, and speak with a representative of the governmental agency which oversees it can go a long way in determining its quality.

Final Thoughts

After you’ve weighed all the options, solidified your specific cost strategy, done your homework on your chosen adult foster care home, and moved your loved one in, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that they are being looked after well. 

Although it’s always difficult to entrust someone else with the care of someone close to you, it’s often necessary and in the best interest of your loved one. Considering an adult foster care home can bring you one step closer to providing your loved one with what they need in a comfortable and convenient way for you both.

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