Are Adult Foster Homes a Good Long-Term Care Option?

Older adults often become unable to live independently, which means they need help from caregivers with their daily life activities.

Unfortunately, not all seniors can get reliable caregivers, which leaves them vulnerable to neglect and abuse. This is why adult foster care homes are becoming popular; they provide seniors with a small family-like setting where they can access daily basic assistance. 

Most families aren’t aware of this option until their loved one goes through a serious health crisis that renders them unable to live alone. When this happens, they assume that the only options are in-home care or nursing facilities. However, adult foster homes bring several features of these two options together under the roof of a home-like atmosphere. 

Here is what you need to know about adult foster homes, and why this is an option to consider:

A Home-Like Environment

Community Environment

Adult foster homes usually provide care to the elderly in a home-like environment, which feels like a local community. These homes are also commonly called residential homes, adult care homes, as well as board and care homes. They create a family-like setting that is typically part of traditional neighborhoods. 

These facilities have only a small number of individuals, typically six to eight, which is significantly less than those who live in a nursing home. 

Supervised Independence

Adult care homes are for seniors who require help with daily activities but don’t require 24/7 care like those in nursing homes. The clinical type of care isn’t available in adult foster homes because most of the facilities don’t contain all the amenities that traditional homes usually have. 

However, adult foster homes provide all-day supervision to the elderly who live there. Most of the centers are owner-occupied, so a caregiver is living with the adults most of the time. 

The centers provide food to the elderly as well as support assistance. The adults in the foster home also have many social interactions as well as help bathing, getting dressed, managing medications, and follow-up to medical appointments. 

Those who are able and in good health maintain much of their freedom to enjoy activities with others and attend programs in local senior centers. 

Why to Avoid Nursing Homes

The benefit of these foster homes is that they can help keep seniors out of nursing homes for longer. This saves families a lot of money while seniors enjoy more independence and better facilities.

Common in Rural Areas

Adult foster home facilities are most suited for rural areas, where the population is limited and can’t accommodate larger multi-unit housing. The homes also function well in suburban and urban areas, where there are smaller and less overwhelming populations. 

These quiet settings give senior citizens peace of mind and enable them to fit into one neighborhood undisturbed by the outside world. 


So, why are very few people aware of such intimate, community-based alternatives?

Foster homes are naturally integrated into the community, so it isn’t easy to find out about them unless you’ve done really good research or someone has referred you. It is most likely that social workers or discharge planners may suggest this option to a senior struggling to live independently. 

There is less demand from families with elderly loved ones, which means you have a better chance of getting into your local adult foster home. 

Standards and Quality Can Vary

There are more than 30,000 licensed adult foster homes in the United States, many of which have a majority of senior women. The biggest problem associated with these facilities is that standards and quality can vary dramatically. This is because there isn’t any clear law or guidelines on how the homes should be running. 

Even the government is reluctant to pay for personal care meant to help the seniors live longer. Only a few private entities and Medicaid pay for services provided by these homes. 

While most good facilities understand the purpose of an adult foster home, not everybody treats their home as different than a nursing facility. Not every local government has the rules in place to govern poorly managed homes. 

Local Laws

Licensing, training, certification, and oversight of these homes vary by state. Therefore, the variance in these laws brings a risk to the senior population because they don’t know whether the facility they will join is safe, facility-like, and stable, as they expect. 

  • In New York, for instance, a family-like home serves up to 4 residents. The facility must be certified by the Office of Children and Family Services. If the number of seniors in the facility exceeds four, it must have a license as an adult home. 
  • In California, adult family homes can have up to six residents. They must be licensed under the Department of Social Services. 
  • In Michigan, adult foster homeowners receive licenses from the Department of Health and Human Services. The department inspects the adult family homes every two years to ensure they meet basic requirements and standards. 

It is difficult for state agencies to monitor the thousands of smaller foster homes as well as the larger facilities. The lack of oversight and clear laws may often result in inconsistent professionalism from home to home, understaffing of facilities, and lack of nursing care beyond what the facility-owners provide.

Facility Management

Most people don’t understand what older adults need. A lot of eldercare offered to seniors is strictly medical. However, the seniors are not as sick as they are frail. What they need in the long term is more personal care, not medical care. 

Even in adult foster homes, seniors may be vulnerable to neglect and abuse. However, you can avoid these circumstances by researching your local facility and meeting with the staff. 

If you’re trying to find a home for a loved one, it’s good to talk to other residents to determine whether there are specific complaints or violations that raise red flags. 

Another way of finding out about adult foster homes is by contacting the local Area Agency on Aging. The institution can guide you to suitable homes in your area as well as other community services.

Interested in a Quality and Caring Adult Foster Home?

There is a clear need to offer better living facilities for our senior citizens. That’s why we established Golden Life Adult Foster Care in Michigan. Our facilities operate on principles of servant leadership and the drive to make a difference in the lives of our residents.

We not only create home-like environments, but we also fulfill the emotional, physical, and spiritual needs of our elderly residents. We will provide a comfortable life for your loved one that’s different than the average nursing home at our safe center.  Learn more about Golden Life Adult Foster Care and each of our locations by contacting us today! We’ll start a discussion about your loved one and help you decide if one of our Michigan adult foster care facilities are a good fit.

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