Baby Boomers are seeking practical and enjoyable living solutions as they contemplate the future. One often-overlooked option that makes sense for many seniors interested in maintaining their independence while enjoying the companionship of peers is a group home. This niche type of property is the perfect answer for seniors who need some help with basic tasks but don’t require ongoing daily medical care.
What Is a Group Home?
Group homes are all different, offering a variety of services. Typically, this mode of living provides residents with a carefree lifestyle free from tiresome tasks such as housekeeping, transportation and laundry. Meals are also usually provided too. Many seniors living alone find that they prefer cohabitating with people their own age in this type of homey environment.
Since group homes are located in residential neighborhoods, the adjustment of moving from a personal residency to a group home is not as difficult as other living options in larger facilities. Private individuals own these homes in the majority of cases, offering housing to five or ten seniors.
Pets are allowed in some group homes. Private and shared rooms are also offered in some cases with seniors paying more for a private room. Getting a detailed list of rules is critical to ensure that you fully understand what services are included.
Why Group Homes Make Sense for Many Boomers
Affordable living option
SeniorLiving.org reports that the average monthly cost of living in a group home is about $3000 per month. Considering that this payment covers rent, utilities, WIFI, food and laundry services, the monthly outlay is modest, comparatively.
While health insurance does not pay for rent in a senior group home, many individuals can use long-term care insurance to pay.
Favorable staff-to-client ratio
Since there are only five to ten seniors in most homes, the staff members can easily identify emotional or health challenges and provide more personal attention to residents. Larger residential senior communities can’t provide the same level of personal attention.
Preparing healthy meals to meet the dietary needs of the residents is something seniors appreciate. Boomers reap the many benefits associated with healthy eating habits that are often sacrificed when seniors live alone.
Promotes friendship and companionship
One of the major benefits of this type of living is that residents can forge friendships with their peers by sharing meals, activities and other simple joys of life. Since loneliness has been proven to harm both physical and mental health, lonely seniors are more likely to thrive living with others.
The Downside of Group Home Living
Fewer people and less chance for compatible friends
Since there is a limited number of residents in each home, there are fewer people to befriend. Comparatively, larger residential communities make it more likely for seniors to find like-minded friends.
Smaller group homes with lower budgets for activities offer less than larger senior communities.
Seniors often share a room with another resident or have only a single room that is their own as compared to an entire apartment. Even if seniors pay more for a private bedroom, they share the rest of the home with others. Finding a space for some quality alone time can be difficult.
No medical professionals on-site
Due to the size and affordability of group homes, there are no full-time professional medical professionals on staff. Larger senior communities can often afford to keep a staff member on-site.
Residents must pay with personal funds in most cases
While there are exceptions, most residents can’t rely on their insurance or Medicare to pay for group home living. In some cases, long-term insurance plans or Medicaid will pay.
Selection Criteria for Making the Best Choice
Like any major decision, it is important to carefully evaluate group home options. Prospective residents and family members should visit any potential home and ask as many questions as possible to make it easier to contrast and compare the different homes.
Before you waste time on a visit, be sure to do your homework first. Check the website or search Google for any registered complaints. Also, be sure the home is licensed if your state requires it. Complaints might be registered with the department of elder services or health and social services, depending on the state.
If the home looks legitimate online without any major red flags, then it’s time to go see the house. AARP recommends stopping by on different days and at different times to ensure that your evaluation is based on consistently meeting high standards. When you’re there, try to talk to the residents. Ask them about their experience.
Do the residents seem happy? Are they social? Are staff members friendly or strained and rushing about with too much to do?
Finally, ask yourself or your relative if they can imagine living there. If the answer is “no,” then mark that home off the list.
Finding a Suitable Group Home
Since most group homes are privately owned, there is a chance they aren’t being advertised in places where you can easily find them. You have to know where to look to get names and contact information.
Try calling the Area Agency on Aging, Aging Life Care Association and Green House Project to get started.
Finding an affordable and comfortable place to live with amenities that you want and need is always a top priority when it is time to move. Active seniors who are looking for an easier way of life without keeping up a home should consider the benefits of living with their peers in a group home. While this lifestyle isn’t perfect for all seniors, it can be an excellent way to spend quality time with new friends in a relaxing home setting.