Making decisions for loved ones, a spouse, or even for yourself for long-term care can be a frustrating situation. There are many types of senior care facilities available today. And, with so many terms describing them, it can be hard to know which one is right for your needs. One of the lesser-known options that can provide an excellent opportunity for many seniors is a board and care facility.

When choosing this or any other senior facility, consider the type of environment you are looking for specifically. Some facilities provide more privacy than others. Some offer more medical care than those that are much like an apartment complex. Board and care facilities provide an assisted living community that tends to be a bit smaller and more intimate.

What Is Board and Care?

Board and care facilities should always be licensed by the state. These communities are a type of assisted living location that provides 24-hour staffing – there is always someone available to help. They also provide residents with a room, boarding, and help with most of their needs such as bathing, medication, and physical therapy.

Some of these locations are in smaller home-like settings. Others are in larger senior centers, but typically board and care facilities are smaller. This allows for them to maintain some key advantages such as a lower staff-to-resident ratio. Senior centers like this do range in size and state laws will determine what type of help and service these locations can offer.

Keep in mind that each location is different. It is best to visit the location and tour it first hand to determine if it offers the same level of care desired. Keep in mind that, in most cases, these locations can offer both shared and private rooms. Onsite amenities differ as well.

How Is a Board and Care Facility Different Than Other Senior Care Options?

Senior centers range widely to accommodate the needs of the individual residents there. In board and care facilities, there is not always medical staff available. While the trained assists are always present at the location – your loved one is not left alone – this does not mean the location will have registered nursing staff. This makes these locations significantly different from a nursing home setting.

In addition to this, most board and care locations are smaller. Instead of hundreds of residents living in the location, the location will have 10 to 20. Those that are located within residential homes will have under 10 people living there at any given time. However, this smaller location improves the amount of one-on-one time the individual gets with the staff as well as with the amenities and features of the location.

What Services Do Board and Care Locations Provide?

In most situations, board and care locations will offer the same services as a traditional assisted living community. This means individuals get help with the services they need, often customized to meet their physical or mental needs. This includes help with dressing and grooming, bathing help, using the restroom, and feeding. In addition to this, most of these locations will also offer help with the following services:

  • Housekeeping services including general cleaning of the resident's rooms and bathrooms. They are also provided help with laundry needs.

  • Transportation to and from appointments are often provided. In addition to this, residents may be able to take group outings. Some individuals may also be able to visit shops or religious locations.

  • Meals are often prepared for seniors at board and care centers. Some locations will have in-house chefs. Others offer a family-like setting. However, states determine what type of food and the quality of that food is required in board and care facilities. This will differ from one location to the next.

  • Medication management is a large component of the services board and care facilities offer. Most locations will be able to provide help planning medication. However, anyone handling or dispensing medication must have proper certification to do so. If this is a service you need, be sure to ask if the location is licensed to provide it.

How to Choose a Board and Care Location

Before choosing any location, verify they maintain proper licensing and certification through the state. Your state Department of Health can help you to determine if this is the case. You can also work with the Department of Social Services to both locate board and care facilities in your state and to learn more about any complaints or concerns at any of these locations. Most importantly, visit the location. Stop by unexpectedly to see what is happening. Gather as much information as you can before you make these decisions.

How Much Does Board and Care Cost?

As noted, these locations vary significantly in what types of services they can offer. However, residential care for seniors can range from $2,500 per month up to $5,000 per month or more. Because they are a bit more private, they tend to cost a bit more than larger locations, especially when they provide private rooms. It is not unheard of for costs to be $7,000 or more in some locations.

How Can I Pay for Board and Care?

In some states, Medicaid can help to cover the cost of board and care facilities or cover a portion of it. You will need to determine if this is available to you based on income levels. Medicare does not normally pay for board and care or assisted living facilities. Some individuals may be able to pay for these services through using their Social Security funds or funds from retirement. Medicare does pay for care in a nursing home or when medical assistance is necessary.

Where Can I Find Board and Care Options?

Board and care locations are available in many states. They range significantly in terms of how readily available they are. However, your local doctor or a local senior facility can help you to find the right type of assisted living center for your needs. Work closely with your Medicaid provider, too. He or she may be able to help you to find affordable solutions for assisted living that meets the qualifications for care.