Adult Family Home vs Assisted Living: Key Differences

Learn about Adult Family Homes in Washington State including regulations, services, costs and how to find one. Get answers to frequently asked questions.
Female caregiver assisting a senior citizen

As we get older, finding the right long-term care option can become increasingly important. There are a variety of options to consider, including adult family homes and assisted living facilities. Although they may seem similar at first glance, there are distinct differences between the two. Let’s explore some of the differences to help you make a more informed decision about which option is right for you or your loved one.


What is an Adult Family Home?

An adult family home is a type of residential care that provides a home-like atmosphere for a small number of residents. It typically has a capacity of six or fewer residents, which allows for a more personalized approach to care. The staff in adult family homes are trained to provide personal care, such as assistance with activities of daily living, as well as meals and housekeeping services. Adult family homes are typically smaller than assisted living facilities, and they usually have a more homey atmosphere.


What is Assisted Living?

Assisted living facilities are designed to provide a higher level of care and support for seniors who may need more assistance with their daily needs. They typically have a larger capacity and provide a range of services, such as assistance with activities of daily living, meals, medication management, and recreational activities. The staff in assisted living facilities are trained to provide a higher level of care and support, including medical care and rehabilitation services. Assisted living facilities usually have a more institutional feel than an adult family home.


Key Differences


When it comes to cost, assisted living facilities are generally more expensive than adult family homes. This can be due to the level of care and services provided by assisted living facilities, as well as the amenities and recreational activities offered. However, it’s important to note that the cost of adult family homes can vary depending on the location and the level of care provided. Additionally, the cost of care can be covered by private funds, long-term care insurance, or government programs such as Medicaid.


Level of Care

Another notable difference between adult family homes and assisted living facilities is the level of independence and autonomy that residents have. Adult family homes may offer more freedom and flexibility for residents, while assisted living facilities may have more strict rules and regulations. It’s important to consider the individual’s needs and preferences, as well as their current and future care needs.


Bottom Line

Adult family homes and assisted living facilities are both viable options for long-term care for seniors, and choosing the right one can be challenging. It’s crucial to take into account your or your loved one’s specific needs and preferences, as well as the level of care required and the costs involved. It is always recommended to visit the homes in person and talk to the staff and residents to get a sense of the quality of care provided. Remember to take your time and ask questions, so that you can make an informed decision that gives you peace of mind and ensures the best possible quality of life.

Are you working to become a licensed adult family home?

Benefits of AFHC Membership:

Resource Library + Advocacy + Marketing

  1. Support for staff hiring and training
  2. WAC/RCW clarification
  3. Medicaid questions
  4. Regulatory assistance
  5. And much much more

Learn more about the benefits of joining the Adult Family Home Council.