Board and Care Homes: Your Definitive Guide for 2022 (2023)

Board and care home definition

By Grace Matleich, last updated August 8 2022

Board and care homes, also known as residential care homes, group homes, or adult foster care homes, are a type of assisted living facility that offers personal assistance with basic daily tasks. This small and intimate community allows residents to live in their own private room or share a room with one other resident. They often tend to be set up in a home-like setting in a single-family home with around 6 beds and public areas for everyone to share.

Board and care homes are beneficial for people who need help with typical day-to-day activities but want to maintain their independence, as they can still prepare their own meals and go about their lives as they see fit. Medical care is typically not provided in these communities.

Because of their small size, usually less than 10 occupants, these residential care communities typically enjoy a better staff-to-resident ratio, so residents get more personalized care by staffing. Senior residents choose board and care homes when they want to live in a place that feels like a home rather than a medical care facility. They often find personal freedom and lack of structure appealing. They may be attracted by the personal nature of living in a small house with like-minded people they can get to know well.

Board and care homes also provide housekeeping services such as laundry, cooking, cleaning, shopping for groceries, doing the dishes, and more so residents don't have to worry about doing these types of chores.

In addition, people with dementia, Alzheimer's disease, and depression often choose residential care homes because of the personalized attention and support received from caregivers. Some have called this “The X Factor for Dementia Care.

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What are the benefits of living in a board and care home?

Residential care homes offer some unique benefits to their residents. With a smaller size and more hands-on approach, these facilities can provide the best of both worlds: they can give each resident one-on-one time while also being large enough for activities with other residents or visitors. Of course, it’s not always easy when it comes down to deciding what type of facility is right for your loved ones. We'll go over all the benefits in detail below so you have a better understanding before making that final decision.

Board and Care Homes: Your Definitive Guide for 2022 (1)

Photo: The Cottages of New Lenox, New Lenox IL

  • Safety: Since board and care homes have a smaller community with more personalized care it is easier for the employees to spot an emergency. Having extra measures in place such as alarms and alert systems make it safer to live in this community as opposed to aging in place.
  • Personal Care: Residents in board and care homes receive more one-on-one attention than those at assisted living facilities. Though there are fewer employees, there are also fewer residents. The staff has the opportunity to give each resident even more time and energy because of their smaller workload. This reduces the risk that a health change or illness will go unnoticed.
  • Family Engagement: Having a more intimate staff size and fewer residents in the home can provide families with easy access to their loved one’s care. This direct relationship between family members and managers will allow for peace of mind while ensuring that your parents are being taken good care of as they age.
  • Independence: Board and care homes provide the independence seniors want while giving them the assistance they need to live their lives on their own terms. Board and care homes are also less restrictive than other types of communities for any resident who wants the freedom to pursue what interests them without feeling like they’re limited by day-long activity schedules.
  • Location: Board and care homes provide an environment that's more welcoming to seniors who are used to living in rural and suburban neighborhoods. Residents of these care homes typically live the lifestyle they're accustomed to, as their surroundings don't feel too foreign compared with what they already know so well.
  • Transportation: Transportation is always available to and from appointments. Transportation is also available for group outings, social activities, shopping, and religious services.

What services are provided at a board and care home?

The services provided at a board and care home are similar to those provided at an assisted living community, but in a home setting. Staff in a residential care home help with a wide variety of personal services. The owner or manager of the home often lives there with the residents, though there's no requirement for staff to be available to residents 24/7. The exact services can vary, but some of the most common amenities include:

  • Assistance with the Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). These daily activities may include bathing, dressing, grooming, eating, helping with medical equipment, and transferring, depending on the medical needs of the resident.
  • Medication Management. Many senior residents have complex medication regimens. Typically, the staff helps with the storage and dispensing of medication, though in some states, the non-certified staff is only allowed to give residents reminders to take their medications.
  • Meals. Senior residents don't have to prepare their own meals. Most residential care homes are willing and able to accommodate any special dietary needs you or your loved one might have. They often plan menus based on the preferences of the residents.
  • Social Activities. Board and care homes are far less likely to offer a wide menu of activities than other types of senior living options. They may encourage residents to enjoy movies or games together, or they may take residents to nearby senior centers for activities.
  • Transportation. Board and care homes typically provide transportation to medical appointments. They may also provide transportation for errands and group outings.
  • Housekeeping. Included in the monthly cost for room and board is also housekeeping services. These include cleaning both the common areas and residents' private rooms and bathrooms.

In addition, often a staff member will handle all laundry, including linens. Basic supplies, such as toilet paper, are also included, although incontinence supplies may not be.

Read More: What Are Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)?

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Read More: How To Evaluate a Board and Care Home

Board and Care Homes: Your Definitive Guide for 2022 (2)

Seniors have many choices when looking at senior living options. There are many questions to be answered and many options to choose from. Take a look at some of the different residences to understand which option is best for you or your loved one.

Both board and care homes and assisted living generally offer everyday activities such as:

  • Shared rooms
  • Help with ADLs
  • Medication management
  • Meals
  • Housekeeping

Assisted living generally also offers:

  • Private rooms
  • Social activities
  • Exercise facilities

The services and level of care provided to residents at the board and care homes are very similar to those provided at assisted living communities. The most significant difference between these senior living options is the size of the community. Board and care homes are much smaller than most assisted living facilities, so they appeal to seniors who prefer a cozier, more homelike, and supportive environment that's more relaxed and less structured.

In addition, monthly rent, including care costs, is usually more affordable here than at an assisted living facility. This makes finding long-term care within reach for many seniors. Because of this, board and care homes care for a larger number of Medicaid recipients than assisted living communities do.

Seniors looking for more in the way of amenities and recreational activities are likely to prefer an assisted living community to a board and care home. And seniors who are outgoing and socially inclined may feel constricted in the small, intimate community of a board and care home.

Read More: What Is Assisted Living?

Read More: What Is Medicaid?

Board and care homes vs. independent living communities

Unlike board and care homes, independent living communities do not typically offer:

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  • Help with ADLs
  • Medication management
  • Medical care
  • Meals
  • Housekeeping

However, an independent living community does often provide

  • Exercise facilities
  • Social activities
  • Private rooms, apartments, or homes

While both board and care homes and independent living communities foster a sense of independence in their senior residents, most seniors in independent living don't require any help with the activities of daily living (ADLs). Seniors often live in their own apartments in independent living communities, while in board and care homes, they have a private or shared bedroom within a traditional single-family home. Many independent living communities also offer a wide range of activities, unlike board and care homes. One example is a CCRC (continuing care retirement community).

Board and care homes vs. skilled nursing facility/nursing home

Both board and care home and skilled nursing facilities will often provide:

  • Shared rooms
  • Help with ADLs
  • Medication management
  • Meals
  • Housekeeping

However, skilled nursing facilities' primary purpose is to provide medical care. In skilled nursing facilities (SNF) senior residents have access to 24/7 medical care, with medical professionals on duty around the clock. These facilities are intended for seniors who need nursing care daily, perhaps while recovering from illness, surgery, or injury.

If a board and care home resident begins to require a higher level of skilled nursing care, they usually transfer to a skilled nursing facility. In some states, arrangements can be made to provide nursing care to residents of board and care homes, sometimes through assisted living programs funded by Medicaid assistance programs or the Veterans Administration.

Read More: Assisted Living Benefits for Veterans

How much does a board and care home cost?

The monthly fees for a board and care home can run anywhere from $1,500 to $6,000 for your out of pocket care costs. This depends largely on where you live. While areas with a higher cost of living are likely to see higher fees, in general, most costs run between $3,500 and $4,500 per month.

You can reduce those costs a bit by sharing a bedroom with a roommate. As you explore the price of a board and care home note that additional senior care services, such as dementia care or incontinence supplies, can raise the rates.

Read More: How Much Does A Board And Care Home Cost?

How do I pay for a board and care home?

Medicaid can help cover the cost of board and care facilities in some states. Medicare does not normally pay for these services, so you'll need to determine if this is available based on your income levels. Some individuals may be able to use their Social Security Income (SSI) funds or retirement savings towards paying for these costs as well. Most seniors are able to pay with their own savings or retirement accounts.

Read More: What Is Medicare?

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What questions to ask when touring a board and care home

If you're looking for the right board and care home, or even if you're just considering it as a possible senior living option, you probably have a lot of questions. We want to help you answer them. As you research and visit board and care homes in your area, it can be helpful to take along a comprehensive list of questions so you get all the detailed information you need.

Here's a starter list of questions to ask at board and care homes to help you make a wise decision for yourself or your loved one:

  • How do you handle billing and payment?
  • What happens if my loved one is unable to pay the fees any given month?
  • Is your staff permitted to administer medications? Or can they only store them?
  • How do you handle medical emergencies?
  • What happens if the care needs of a resident should change?
  • Are additional services available, or does the resident need to look for a new place to live?
  • What happens if a resident is unhappy in the board and care home?
  • Are any upfront fees refunded?
  • How are residents' care needs assessed?
  • Who participates in that assessment? Can family be part of any care plan decisions?
  • What happens if a resident is temporarily hospitalized?
  • How long have your staff members worked at the board and care home?
  • What does the home's owner do to retain them?
  • What training does the staff have? Is ongoing training required?
  • Are there visiting hours for family and friends? Can family or friends spend the night?
  • What security measures are in place?
  • How does the home handle residents with a tendency to wander?
  • May residents bring their own furniture to the board and care home?
  • Can the kitchen accommodate special dietary needs?
  • What would cause you to discharge a resident?

Is there medical care at a board and care home?

<p>Board and care homes don't provide nursing or medical care. Seniors who need daily medical care beyond medication management may not be good candidates for these residential care homes. However, in most cases, the staff at a board and care home will be happy to drive residents to doctors' or therapy appointments.</p>

Are board and care homes licensed?

<p>Not all states license board and care homes, which are sometimes also called residential care homes, residential personal care homes, or residential care facilities for the elderly. Check with your state's Department of Aging to understand whether licenses are required.</p>

What is a residential care home for the elderly?

<p>The name "board and care home" is primarily used in California. In other states, this type of senior living can be called a residential care home or a residential personal care home or some variation of that. Use your preferred online search engine to find the right term or ask one of our Seniorly Partner Agents in your region. Or reach out to your state’s Department of Aging for details. Regardless of the name, this type of senior housing is different from others because of its home-like, intimate setting.</p>

Does insurance pay for board and care?

<p>No, they do not. Low-income residents may be eligible for financial help from Medicaid or the Veterans Administration in some cases. While traditional health insurance doesn't cover the costs of a board and care home, long-term care insurance policies typically do cover them.</p>


Are pets allowed in board and care homes?

<p>Some board and care homes only accept cats, accept cats or dogs, or have a communal pet that all the residents can enjoy. If you or your loved one wants to bring a pet, make sure to ask who takes care of the pet and whether there's a surcharge.</p>

What is a care plan in a residential care home?

<p>In addition to their room and three meals a day, senior residents in a residential care home receive the customized help they need with the activities of daily living (ADLs), which include bathing, dressing, and grooming, as well as help with medication management. Housekeeping services, linen, and laundry are also provided. The goal is always to help senior residents maintain as much independence as possible. Some residential care homes also provide transportation to medical appointments, shopping, and entertainment. Because these homes are small, they don't offer a great variety of planned activities. However, many are known to welcome residents who all have something in common, like a shared passion for an activity or culture.</p>

Find board and care homes near you

Grace Matelich is Growth Operations Manager at Seniorly and holds an MA in Gerontology from USC

Learn more about Grace and our other authors qualifications

Seniorly authors and publishing guidelinesAll articles written by Grace

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Do dementia sufferers have to pay care home fees? ›

In most cases, the person with dementia will be expected to pay towards the cost. Social services can also provide a list of care homes that should meet the needs identified during the assessment.

What is the average cost of a care home per week UK? ›

The average weekly cost for a UK residential care home is around £704 and the average monthly cost is £2,816. However, you'll find that costs vary greatly across countries and regions.

How much can you keep before paying for care in England? ›

The savings threshold for care homes or receiving support from local authorities will also change, and if you have capital between £20,000 and £100,000 you will receive some form of support. If you have less than £20,000, you will not have to pay for care from their assets but may have to contribute from their income.

What is the life expectancy with someone with dementia? ›

The average life expectancy figures for the most common types of dementia are as follows: Alzheimer's disease – around eight to 10 years. Life expectancy is less if the person is diagnosed in their 80s or 90s. A few people with Alzheimer's live for longer, sometimes for 15 or even 20 years.

How much money can you keep in a care home? ›

You are allowed to keep a minimum of £25.65 each week for your own personal use. People who receive pension credit (savings credit) could be entitled to a further £5.90 personal allowance per week.

What happens to your pension when you go into a care home? ›

You will still get your Basic State Pension or your New State Pension if you move to live in a care home. However, if your care home fees are paid in full or part by the local authority, NHS or out of other public funds, you may have to use your State Retirement Pension to pay a contribution to the cost of care.

What happens when you run out of money in a care home UK? ›

Ask for a care needs assessment

If your savings are now below or close to the level where you might get help with funding, contact your local authority (or Health and Social Care Trust). Ask for a care needs assessment. This is the first step to finding out if you now qualify for local authority or NHS support.

What benefits do you lose when you go into a care home? ›

When you enter a care home permanently, you can no longer receive Housing Benefit for your home in the community. Someone else who lives there may be able to claim Housing Benefit instead. For temporary stays Housing Benefit can be received for up to 13 weeks of the initial period and for the four weeks' notice period.

What happens when an elderly person runs out of money? ›

Exactly what happens to elderly adults with no money? In most states, Medicaid will pay for a nursing home for up to 100 days. But the grim reality is that elderly folks who run out of funding in an assisted living facility will get evicted. That's a common experience and a potentially traumatic one.

What is the 12 week disregard for care home fees? ›

There is a 12-week disregard from the day you first become a permanent care home resident, giving you time to decide how to use your property to pay care fees. In other circumstances, the local authority has a discretion to disregard property.

How do I protect my inheritance from a nursing home UK? ›

Set up an asset protection trust

This is the best way to protect your assets from care home fees to preserve your loved ones' inheritance. You will need to appoint trustees (usually family members) to manage the trust and carefully explore the different kinds of trusts available.

What is the most common patient complaint? ›

Studies have found that the vast majority of hospital patient complaints are related to the customer service they receive, specifically in the areas of:
  • Staff/Patient Communication: 53 percent.
  • Long Wait Times: 35 percent.
  • Practice Staff Behavior: 12 percent.
  • Billing Discrepencies: 2 percent.
16 Sept 2016

What is the second most common cause of death in aged care facilities? ›

Coronary heart disease (14%) was the leading underlying cause of death for people who had used aged care, followed by Dementia (11%).

What is classed as neglect in a care home? ›

Neglect includes not being provided with enough food or with the right kind of food, or not being taken proper care of. Leaving you without help to wash or change dirty or wet clothes, not getting you to a doctor when you need one or not making sure you have the right medicines all count as neglect.

What is the most common cause of death in dementia patients? ›

One of the most common causes of death for people with dementia is pneumonia caused by an infection. A person in the later stages of dementia may have symptoms that suggest that they are close to death, but can sometimes live with these symptoms for many months.

What are signs that dementia is getting worse? ›

increasing confusion or poor judgment. greater memory loss, including a loss of events in the more distant past. needing assistance with tasks, such as getting dressed, bathing, and grooming. significant personality and behavior changes, often caused by agitation and unfounded suspicion.

At what stage of dementia does death occur? ›

It's important to know that late-stage dementia is a terminal illness and can lead to death. In these cases, the death certificate may list dementia as the cause of death.

How much can I have in the bank before I have to pay for care? ›

When the council might pay for your care. You might be eligible for the local council to pay towards the cost of your social care if you have less than £23,250 in savings (called the upper capital limit, or UCL). From October 2023 this will rise to £100,000 in savings.

Do I have to sell my house to pay for care 2022? ›

You can sell your home but there are stringent rules about claiming money to pay for your care. In most cases, if you gift or sell your home then apply for help with care fees, there needs to be a gap of 8 years between selling your property and the funding of your care.

At what age do most people go into a care home? ›

If they are to continue, the average age of someone going into a care home in 2025 will be 80 and by 2030 it will be just 75. Get in touch to see how we can help you...

Can you be kicked out of a care home? ›

There are situations where a care home can ask a resident to leave. The home should do whatever it reasonably can to meet a resident's care needs. However, if it can't provide the right care, then the person might be asked to move somewhere that can.

Is a CARE pension for life? ›

you'll have a guaranteed income for life once you retire; you can exchange some of your CARE pension into a tax-free lump sum which you can take at retirement; you'll be covered for valuable life cover and dependants benefits which means your loved ones will be taken care of when you die.

Do you get heating allowance if you are in a care home? ›

You'll usually get a smaller payment if you live in a care home or nursing home and don't get one of the following benefits: Pension Credit. income-based Jobseeker's Allowance. income-related Employment and Support Allowance.

Can you gift money before going into a nursing home UK? ›

The simple answer to this is you cannot simply give your money away. HOWEVER, there are some circumstances where it may be possible to give away your assets. This means that they are not included, by your local authority, in any calculation to determine the value of your capital when assessing nursing home costs.

What is the average length of stay in a care home UK? ›

The average number of years people aged 65 years and over who are living in care homes are expected to live beyond their current age in England and Wales.
Download this chart.
Age groupCare home residentNon-care home resident
65 to 69 years6.519.7
95 years and over2.14.2
4 more rows
2 Jun 2021

What assets are taken into account for care home fees? ›

As part of the means test, assets taken into account for care home fees include savings, investments, property (including property that you own overseas) and business assets.

Is a live-in carer cheaper than a care home? ›

The average cost of living in a residential care home is £704 a week, or £888 a week in a nursing home. Therefore, a care home is usually cheaper than having a live-in carer, but there are variables that can mean this is not necessarily the case for your individual circumstances.

Is live-in care better than a care home? ›

Although you will have someone there to help around the clock, should you need it, live-in care offers a greater opportunity to live an independent life than living in a nursing home or residential care home. Our professional carers can tailor your care package around you, offering a better quality of care.

What are the signs that elderly are on the decline? ›

9 Warning Signs of Deteriorating Health in Aging Adults
  • Changes in Personality. Is there something just different about your aging loved one? ...
  • Forgetfulness. ...
  • Difficulty Going Up Stairs. ...
  • Loss of Appetite. ...
  • Unexplained Bruising. ...
  • Inordinately Disorganized House. ...
  • Bad Hygiene. ...
  • Not Making Sound Decisions.
10 Feb 2020

How much should a retired person have in cash? ›

Emergency Funds for Retirees

Despite the ability to access retirement accounts, many experts recommend that retirees keep enough cash on hand to cover between six and twelve months of daily living expenses. Some even suggest keeping up to three years' worth of living expenses in cash.

How much money does the average elderly person have? ›

Household net worth by age
Age of head of familyMedian net worthAverage net worth
2 more rows
3 Jun 2021

Does next of kin have to pay care home fees? ›

When someone dies, their care home will issue an invoice for any outstanding care home fees. Next of kin will not have to pay this, but instead it will be taken from the person's estate.

How can I avoid paying for my care? ›

There are multiple behaviours that could be classed as a way of intentionally reducing your money to avoid care fees: Giving away of a large lump sum of money to a loved one. Gambling away your money. Suddenly making lots of purchases in an uncharacteristic way, either as gifts or for yourself.

Is it better to gift or inherit property? ›

Capital Gains Tax Considerations

It's generally better to receive real estate as an inheritance rather than as an outright gift because of capital gains implications.

How far back does a financial assessment go? ›

They can go as far back as they like. There is no limit. Obviously the further back they go the more work it entails so I would imagine they would only do it in exceptional circumstances. For my Mom it was 12 months of bank statements.

What is the most difficult type of patients? ›

Ten challenging patients (and how to tackle them)
  • Angry patient. There are many reasons why a patient may be angry. ...
  • Patient in pain. ...
  • Patient armed with a 'shopping list' ...
  • Complex comorbidity patient. ...
  • The 'gimme' patient. ...
  • Self-destructive patient. ...
  • Patient with medically unexplained symptoms.
9 May 2016

Which patient need has the highest priority? ›

On nursing exams, there will often be questions regarding the prioritization of patients. Often these questions will ask, “Which patient is a priority?” Patients with problems regarding airway, breathing and circulation should always be the priority, and it should always be in that order.

What are the top three causes of death for elderly people? ›

The major cause of death in the 55-64 age group is cancer followed by heart disease and injury. In the 75+ age group, the leading cause shifts to heart disease, and injury drops below Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), cerebrovascular diseases, and pneumonia.

What are the top 3 caused of death for adults? ›

These causes of death include: heart disease. stroke. lower respiratory infections.

Why is choking common in care homes? ›

The causes include poor care plans, care plans which are not followed, unsuitable diets, as well as staff being unaware of residents' needs, or who do not understand what is required, as well as staff not knowing how to react when someone is choking. This is a serious and often overlooked risk.

What are the 4 types of neglect? ›

  • Physical Neglect. The failure to provide necessary food, clothing, and shelter; inappropriate or lack of supervision.
  • Medical Neglect. The failure to provide necessary medical or mental health treatment.
  • Educational Neglect. ...
  • Emotional Neglect.
27 Dec 2018

Can I be held responsible for my parent's care home fees? ›

When Can I be Forced to Pay for Care Home Fees. You're not obligated under any law to pay for any family member's fee. This applies to your parents, wife, husband, or relatives by law. Unless you append your signature with the care provider promising to pay the fees, you're not legally obliged to pay.

How can I avoid paying for dementia care? ›

AVOIDING CARE HOME FEES IN 2022 | Tips on what to do!
  1. Care Annuity. Deferred Payment Schemes. Widow's Pensions and the Bereavement Allowance. Defined Benefit Pension Scheme. Pension Transfer Advice. Defined Contribution Pension Schemes. Defined Contribution Pension Schemes. ...
  2. Protective Property Trust.
  3. Paying for Care.

Do dementia patients qualify for continuing care? ›

Does dementia qualify for NHS continuing healthcare? If you are living with dementia and have complex health and care needs, you may be eligible for NHS continuing healthcare. Being diagnosed with dementia does not automatically make you qualify as it depends on the severity and complexity of your health needs.

Do dementia patients need a care home or a nursing home? ›

A person with dementia will need more care and support as their condition progresses, and there may come a time when they will need to move into full-time or residential care. This could be because a care home may be able to meet the needs of the person better.

Can I put my house in my children's name? ›

As a homeowner, you are permitted to give your property to your children at any time, even if you live in it. But there are a few things you should be aware of being signing over the family home.

Can you put someone in a care home against their will? ›

Can you force someone to move to a care home? You cannot force someone who is deemed to be of sound mind and able to care for themselves to move into a care home if they don't want to. It is vital that, throughout discussions regarding care, the person's wants and needs are addressed at all times.

Where is the best place for someone with dementia? ›

Where is the best place for someone with dementia?
  • In-home care. Most dementia patients prefer to stay in their own home as long as possible. ...
  • Adult day care programs. ...
  • Adult family homes. ...
  • Continuing care retirement communities. ...
  • Nursing home facilities. ...
  • Memory care units.
30 Apr 2021

How can you tell when an elderly person can't live alone? ›

Some of the clear signs that an elderly person can't live alone are insomnia, frequent falls, confusion, weight loss, trouble completing daily tasks, and any other condition that results in physical or mental decline.

How long can dementia patients live independently? ›

Everyone experiences dementia differently and the rate at which symptoms become worse varies from person to person. But with the right support when you need it, many people live independently for several years.

What is the difference between dementia and vascular dementia? ›

Vascular dementia is a common type of dementia caused by reduced blood flow to the brain. It's estimated to affect around 150,000 people in the UK. Dementia is the name for problems with mental abilities caused by gradual changes and damage in the brain.

Do you get council tax relief if you have dementia? ›

Some people affected by dementia are eligible for a discount on their council tax bill. We look at who needs to pay council tax, and the reductions, discounts and exemptions available.

Does a person with dementia know they are confused? ›

In the earlier stages, memory loss and confusion may be mild. The person with dementia may be aware of — and frustrated by — the changes taking place, such as difficulty recalling recent events, making decisions or processing what was said by others. In the later stages, memory loss becomes far more severe.

What are the last stages of dementia before death? ›

It can be difficult to know when a person with dementia is nearing the end of their life.
During this time they will usually:
  • become more frail.
  • have more frequent falls or infections.
  • have problems eating, drinking and swallowing.
  • be more likely to need urgent medical care.
  • become less mobile.
  • sleep more.
  • talk less often.
3 Sept 2021

Is it better for someone with dementia to be in a home? ›

However, every family and situation is different, so permanent home care may not always be possible. Research shows keeping a loved one with dementia at home helps them be happier and live longer; however, it is most impactful when introduced early.


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