Group Home and Assisted Living Compared

Perhaps the most significant difference between a group home and an assisted living facility is the layout of the environment.

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When a senior decides they don't want to live at home anymore, the options can seem overwhelming. One of the most common reasons a senior decides to no longer live at home is because living alone can be socially isolating. There are nursing homes to accommodate seniors with medical problems. But not all seniors who don't want to live at home anymore have those medical needs to qualify for a nursing home.

Some of the other reasons that lead seniors to look into other living options are that they are no longer physically or financially able to manage a home and property independently. It helps to know that seniors have a variety of choices available to them to help them choose a new living environment that suits their needs. In order to find the best place to live, these options need to be explored. They are known as group homes and assisted living facilities.

There are many similarities between a group home and an assisted living facility for seniors. The most significant similarity is that they are both options for seniors who need little medical assistance but no longer wish to live independently. Both options provide access to some professional help while being able to have regular socialization with their peers.

Perhaps the most significant difference between a group home and an assisted living facility is the layout of the environment. In a group home, the residents live together in a family home environment with their rooms and many common areas. In comparison, an assisted living facility provides each senior with their apartment with less homelike common areas.

Table of Contents

What is a Group Home?

Group homes are an option that is often overlooked by families when they are looking for a living alternative for a senior. When people hear the term group home, they often think of homes for troubled youth or those who have intellectual disabilities. However, group homes are also an excellent option for some seniors. Group homes provide a comfortable living environment for seniors that allows them to maintain their independence while getting some much needed social interaction.

Residents of a group home are expected to take care of their personal needs, including bathing, self-feeding, dressing, and taking their medications, although reminders are given. 

Services Provided in a Group Home

Although many group homes do not provide hands-on care with feeding, dressing, and bathing, some states allow for more hands-on care than others. Group homes do offer many other services to create a nurturing, homelike environment. In a group home, meals are served to the residents, and the staff does laundry. This allows the residents more freedom to enjoy spending their time how they want.

Group homes also provide activities to their residents, though they have the freedom to choose whether or not they are going to participate. Some of these activities will occur in the home, while some will be away from the house. If residents want to participate in events, they are responsible for signing up. A group home aims to promote the independence of every resident in the home. Group homes employ staff that is available to the residents twenty-four hours a day. Constant staff in the home means that the seniors are never alone. Typically, there are five to ten residents in a group home, which allows for more personalized care plans to be created. Often people who choose group homes need a little more supervision than those who live in an assisted living facility. 

Pros and Cons to Group Home Living

Aside from the family-oriented setting that defines the group home, there are other advantages to living in a group home. Some of these advantages include:

  • With fewer residents in the home, care can be more personalized. Continuity of care is also more natural to establish. Staff is also more likely to notice any physical or emotional changes in the residents as the relationship between staff and residents tends to be more personal.
  • Meals are home cooked, making it easier to customize meals and meet more dietary needs.
  • The homelike environment is better for people with the beginning stages of dementia. It also better facilitates friendships with other residents and staff.
  • Having other residents around all the time encourages socialization, enhancing wellbeing, and decreasing the risks of isolation and loneliness.
  • The monthly fee that group homes require is often lower than other options.

Group homes also come with the ability to be able to serve the needs of the client. Some of the disadvantages of this choice include:

  • A smaller environment typically comes with fewer opportunities. In group homes, this can mean struggling to connect with the others in the group home. Residents may also have less variety of activities to participate in, which often leads to a lack of stimulation.
  • Because the only space that residents have to call their own in their room, they have less privacy than they would in their apartments.
  • While group homes are staffed, they rarely have a nurse on staff. Though some do have contracts with a medical professional allowing for home visits to be made to the group home when necessary.

What is an Assisted Living Facility?

An assisted living facility is often the right choice for seniors capable of living on their own but is missing out on the socially active lifestyle they once had. As seniors age, they usually have a harder time getting out and interacting with their peers. People who live in an assisted living facility often have their own apartments that they furnish with their personal belongings giving them a real sense of home.

Services Provided in an assisted living facility

Assisted living facilities don't offer personal care services, such as bathing, feeding, or dressing the residents. However, they offer the option for seniors to make their meals in their apartments or join other residents in a dining room that provides restaurant-style meals. Assisted living facilities also provide weekly or daily housekeeping services to their residents. This reduces the stress on seniors and allows them to enjoy more of their retirement. There is also a linen and laundry service that will enable residents to have someone else care for their laundry needs.

Assisted living facilities also offer many different types of activities and regularly scheduled outings to their residents. This allows residents to explore different interests and provides a change of scenery and access to the local community, such as museums, zoos, and shopping centers.

Pros and Cons to Assisted Living Facilities

As with group homes, there are advantages and disadvantages to living in an assisted living facility. Some of the pros of choosing this type of environment are as follows.

  • Many seniors report feeling rejuvenated after moving into an assisted living facility. The environment is designed with seniors in mind, ensuring there are no stairs and accessibility for everyone.
  • Residents are often surprised at the level of opportunities that come with moving into an assisted living facility. Not only are they able to meet new people and build new friendships, but they can also participate in new activities that they may not have otherwise tried.
  • The convenience of living in an assisted living home is incredible. Seniors no longer have to worry about cooking their meals, laundry, or maintaining their homes. Instead, they can enjoy their retirement and their freedom.
  • In many assisted living communities, there is twenty-four-hour access to nurses and security. Many assisted living options also have a doctor on staff that is available to residents during the day.
  • Seniors in an assisted living home are more independent because everything is designed to be accessible and comfortable. When seniors don't need to ask for help from others, they are more able to relax and enjoy their golden years.
  • Many residents report that their relationships with their families improve after moving into an assisted living facility. This happens because they are no longer dependent on their families to meet their needs.

In contrast, there are some downsides to living in an assisted living home, though, for many seniors, the benefits outweigh the risks.

  • For some people, the move into an assisted living community isn't by choice. Instead, it is necessitated by the fact that they are no longer able to care for themselves and their homes. Some seniors have just lost their spouse and are adapting to many different changes all at once. While this isn't a direct reflection of the assisted living center, the stress of moving can influence the first impressions of the assisted living home.
  • The costs of living in an assisted living home often come as a shock to families. The expenses seem higher as everything is built into it. This includes rent, maintenance, yard work, meals, cleaning services, access to nurses, pharmacy services, and activities.
  • For some seniors, a larger assisted living facility can be overwhelming as there are so many people and so many potential connections to make. For seniors who have become accustomed to living on their own, this can be shocking and hard to adjust to.

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