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Choosing the right accommodations for the senior in your life can be very difficult, particularly because there are so many options to choose from. As seniors get older, they need help with daily tasks and maintaining a healthy routine, so living in a facility that’s designed for their needs can be incredibly beneficial. Board and care homes are one option that works well for seniors who need a bit of extra assistance to get through their day. Here’s everything you need to know about board and care facilities.

What is a board and care home?

Board and care facilities are housing options for seniors that provide assistance with basic daily tasks. While they cannot manage serious medical care, they can help patients with tasks such as eating, grooming, and cleaning, and can help with basic health condition monitoring and medication management as well. Board and care facilities are very similar to local assisted living facilities, but are smaller. Board and care facilities are typically found in residential neighborhoods in converted houses instead of in larger facilities that were specifically built for that purpose. The term board and care is typically used in California, and other states may have different names for the same thing, such as group home or a personal care home. Board and care homes need to be licensed by the state, and they typically have less than six residents, although this is dependent on the licensing in your area.

Is a board and care facility right for me?

Board and care facilities are ideal for seniors who need some assistance with their daily tasks, but still want to maintain some independence and don’t need a skilled medical care facility. Since board and care facilities are small, they are great for seniors who would prefer very personalized care and want to develop friendships with the people around them. Board and care facilities provide a social, community atmosphere without being overwhelming. Board and care facilities are not ideal for a senior who needs advanced medical care, or for a senior that does not need any assistance with daily tasks and wants more independence. Since board and care homes only offer bedrooms, which are sometimes shared with others, they don’t offer the same privacy that some other senior care options do.

How much do board and care homes cost?

Senior care can be very expensive, so it’s important to know how much it’s going to cost before going into a board and care facility. The cost of a board and care facility will vary depending on a few different factors, like what amenities they offer and where the house is located. On average, you can expect to pay about $3,000 per month for a shared bedroom in a board and care facility, and as much as $7,000 for a private bedroom. Some board and care facilities offer payment assistance for those in need. While these rates may seem expensive at first glance, they’re actually cheaper than what you might find at a larger facility, which is why many people prefer board and care facilities over a larger nursing home or assisted living community.

What are the benefits of board and care facilities?

There are many benefits to living in a board and care facility over another form of senior care. One of the biggest ones is that board and care facilities provide an intimate space where seniors can really make themselves at home. Larger facilities often feel very impersonal, which can be very overwhelming for many seniors and make them feel lonely. Board and care homes are great because they feel like you’re staying in a home and not staying in a hospital.

Board and care facilities also allow seniors to get the care they need while still maintaining their independence to whatever extent they are able. Seniors will receive three meals a day, and cleaning and laundry services are offered. Seniors also will receive help with bathing, grooming, and toileting as needed, as well as help with taking medication and basic condition monitoring. Since board and care facilities are so small, they are usually very flexible, so if you have something specific you need help with, the staff are typically happy to incorporate it into their routine.

Additionally, board and care facilities are great because they enable seniors to make friends and build social connections in a very unstructured way. Maintaining social contact is very important for seniors’ mental health, but it can be overwhelming to try to make friends in a large facility. Since there are only a few people staying in a board and care facility, it becomes much easier to make friends with the people around you. As mentioned previously, board and care facilities are also very flexible, so you still have the option to have friends and family come visit you, and you can request transportation to go out and do things you enjoy as needed.

Although board and care homes are still somewhat expensive, they do typically cost less than a larger assisted care facility or even a big independent 55+ senior living community. This small, personalized environment is a good financial solution for those who can’t afford a larger senior care facility. Rates at a board and care facility are often somewhat related to the general cost of rent in the area as well, so if you can’t afford board and care in your city, consider moving to somewhere where the general cost of living is a bit more affordable.

What are the drawbacks of board and care homes?

There are some drawbacks to board and care homes that you should be aware of before moving into one. The biggest drawback is that medical services are not provided in board and care homes, so if you need medical care frequently or think you may need it in the near future, a board and care home probably isn’t the right choice for you. Moreover, if your loved one is a later state of dementia, board and care facilities may not be the best fit for them – they would be better off in a dedicated dementia care facility. Also, because board and care facilities are quite small, they typically don’t have as many amenities as larger facilities do. For many seniors, that’s okay, but if you’re looking for access to tons of activities and things to do in your free time, a board and care facility isn’t going to provide that for you, and you may have to go off-site to find what you’re looking for. If you’re very social, board and care facilities also can be limiting, because there are usually less than six residents in one board and care facility. If you are particularly social, you may prefer larger retirement communities in your area, or you may need to look to community centers and other resources to fill that need for social interaction.

The other big drawback to a board and care facility for seniors is that they don’t typically offer as much privacy as you would get in a larger facility. Because board and care facilities are converted homes, they usually only allow seniors to have their own bedroom instead of having a full converted suite of amenities available. Some board and care facilities only offer shared bedrooms, which can be frustrating for seniors who want more privacy. Seniors who like a lot of time to themselves may want to opt for a different type of facility where they have more space to themselves.

What should I look for in a board and care facility?

There are many things to consider when picking out a board and care facility for your loved one. It’s important to take your time when looking for a board and care home so you can find one that’s a perfect fit for your senior. Luckily, the small size and intimate, cozy nature of a board and care facility makes it easy for you to tour them and get a good idea of the culture of the facility. The first thing to do is look into the licensing of the board and care home you are interested in. Licensing requirements differ by state, but most states do require that board and care homes be licensed, so you’ll want to check with your state’s licensing board to make sure they are legitimate.

After you’ve confirmed that your board and care home is licensed, the next step will be to talk to the staff at the board and care facility. They should be friendly and knowledgeable about caring for seniors, and they should make your senior feel comfortable and at ease. They should also be very available throughout the day and night to ensure that your senior has the care they need. It also may be helpful to talk to other seniors that live in the facility if you can. This will give you an idea of their experiences there and what you can expect while living there. It’s also helpful to observe the way that the seniors in the board and care home interact with each other. Ideally, you’ll want to look for a facility where the culture is friendly and welcoming, without any internal strife or drama.

Another factor to consider is the amenities available at the board and care facility. Management staff at board and care facilities are traditionally very open-minded and will make an effort to cater to their residents’ specific needs, whatever they may be. Many board and care providers will work to organize regular outings that the seniors are interested in, and may even bring people into the facility who can provide services or entertainment for the seniors. These services typically happen on a more flexible basis with board and care facilities than they would with a larger facility, and the residents have more of a choice of what activities they want to partake in. Most board and care facilities do not have extra amenities like gyms or pools, but if they do, that’s another added plus.

The comfort level of the bedrooms and living spaces is also very important. There should be enough space for your senior to really relax and enjoy themselves, and the house should feel comfortable and homey. Ideally, there should be lots of light and some outdoor space accessible, as this is very important for seniors’ mental health. The space should also be safe for seniors, and there shouldn’t be any facilities in need of repair. Finally, it’s helpful to look for a board and care home that’s close to family and friends, so the senior can maintain important relationships they already have in their life.

How do I talk to my loved one about board and care facilities?

Many seniors are understandably wary about transitioning into a board and care facility. They may be worried they’ll lose their independence or that they won’t see their family as often. Luckily, board and care facilities provide lots of flexibility for seniors, and they’re able to live independently while still getting the assistance they need. Reassure your senior that they’ll still be able to enjoy their favorite activities and spend time with you, but that they’ll be more comfortable and get the assistance they need from a professional. Presenting the positives of board and care facilities is a good way to help your senior adjust to the idea of receiving assistance, board and care. It’s also very important that they’re present for all of the interviews and tours you complete of potential board and care homes, and that they get to decide which one they think would be the best fit.

How do I find board and care facilities near me?

There are a few different ways to go about finding a good board and care facility for your loved one. Since board and care facilities are smaller than assisted living or nursing homes, they can be a bit more under the radar, but there are online directories where you can search for board and care facilities in your area. You can also call your state’s certifying body that provides licenses to board and care homes and ask them for a list - this way, you’ll know for certain that the home you choose is certified. You can also call local community centers and ask them for help finding a good board and care facility for your loved one - many of them have a list of resources available.



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