Home Care vs. Adult Family Homes: Which Is Right For You?

Most people need long-term care at some point in their lifetimes. However, not all long-term care options are the same. Some are designed for situations that may not apply to you. You need to know which care option makes the most sense in your case.

Home care and adult family homes are common care choices for people who are aging or living with disabilities. Each option comes with its own advantages and limitations depending on the person’s abilities, finances, preferences, and medical needs.

Here’s what you need to know about home care and adult family homes to decide what kind of care to seek.

What Is Home Care?

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Home care, also called “aging in place,” is a caregiving option where someone lives in their existing home while receiving help with daily living tasks. It can include both medical and non-medical care services like housework, meal preparation, laundry, shopping, medication reminders, and transportation.

Home care is a common choice for people who are aging, disabled, chronically ill, or recovering from surgery. This option lets the person stay comfortable in their existing home and receive more personal care. It works best when the person doesn’t need highly specialized or round-the-clock care.

Home care is often the most affordable care choice if the person needs less frequent care. The caregiver may be able to combine different forms of care and lower the overall cost. However, costs can quickly rise if the home needs to be modified for accessibility or the person needs care throughout the day. It may also be hard for the person to socialize if they depend on the caregiver for transportation.

With home care, the person and their family can choose who provides the care. However, the flip side is that the person or family must manage caregivers and provide backup care options. Some families find this responsibility challenging in the long term.

Home care is a good option for many people who need more care than their family and friends can provide. If you only need assistance a few times a week or for a few months, home care likely makes the most sense.

People who need 24/7 or more intensive care may need to look into other care options, such as an adult family home.

What Is an Adult Family Home?

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Adult Family Homes (AFHs), also called Adult Care Homes (ACHs), Adult Foster Homes, and Residential Care, are homes that offer caregiving for a small number of residents. They provide a living space where seniors and people with disabilities can get care in their daily lives.

AFHs offer room and board with personal care, laundry, and access to social services. Residents can get help from trained caregivers with daily activities like grooming, bathing, dressing, toileting, and medications. Many AFHs also offer social activities, which can be a large advantage over home care.

In Washington state, AFHs must be licensed through the Department of Social and Health Services. The home is usually operated by a caregiver, medical professional, or para-professional such as a certified nursing assistant. All staff at an AFH must be certified in caregiving, CPR, and first aid.

Some AFHs offer specialty services for certain populations, such as people who have memory loss or who are dependent on insulin. In Washington, there are three specialty certifications that are noted on a provider’s license: Developmental Disabilities, Dementia, and Mental Health. You will need to check with the individual home provider to find out what services they offer.

One of the advantages of an AFH is that it provides a home setting that feels familiar, comfortable, and secure. Some AFHs are set up in luxury homes, while others are in regular houses. Depending on your budget and area, you may be able to find an AFH with either private rooms, rooms with baths, or shared rooms.

Since AFHs can only care for up to six seniors, they are a good option for people who need one-on-one attention. Some homes also offer round-the-clock care. We often recommend AFHs for people who have less predictable care needs.

AFHs are usually not a good fit for people who tend to be aggressive, noisy, or otherwise disruptive. However, some AFHs specialize in this kind of care and can provide accommodations.

Like home care, AFHs are limited in the care they can provide. If you or your loved one has more complex medical issues, you will need a home operated by a registered or licensed practical nurse (RN or LPN) provider with extra training and staff. People who pose a safety risk to others or themselves need more intensive care than the typical AFH can provide.

Which Option Is Right For You?

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Home care and adult family homes can both be good choices, but the best option depends on your situation. These are the main factors you need to consider:

  • How much care do you need? If you or your loved one just needs help with grocery shopping, cooking, and remembering to take medications, home care makes a lot of sense. If you need specialized healthcare or 24/7 access to care, you likely need an adult family home.
  • How much help will you get from family members or friends? Some people have a network of family and friends who can provide long-term care for years. However, many people do not have this kind of support or find that their relatives need to work or care for other family members. Your family’s ability to help may affect how much care you need to seek.
  • Are you willing to move? Adult family homes provide a homey environment, but they’re still different from a person’s existing home. Some people may feel more comfortable staying in the same house or apartment they’ve been living in for decades.
  • What will each option mean for socializing? Some people with care needs are often homebound and may have trouble getting out into the community. Home care can provide some companionship, but an adult family home may provide more social interaction in some cases.

At Sunrise Services, we can help you find the best care option for you or your loved one. We offer home care, assistance with adult family home placement, and other care options. Our goal is to help people find services tailored to their needs so they can live a full life.

We have over 45 years of experience in care. Contact us today for assistance finding a home caregiver or adult family home.

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