AFH vs Assisted Living: What’s the Difference?

Senior woman doing puzzles at the table during her free time at the nursing house

Are you searching for your next step after retirement?

If you’re getting older, you’ll want to start thinking about the kind of residential community that you want to call home. But, with so many options out there, it’s hard to know what’s right for you. Should you choose a self-catered estate? Or would an assisted living community suit your needs better?

There are two major options available. These are known as AFHs and senior living communities. The AFH vs senior living comparison will help you to understand the major differences between the two.

What Is Adult Family Home (AFH)

Adult Family Home Care is a residential care facility that provides medical or personal care for one to three elderly or disabled residents in a home-like environment. It is owned and operated by a caregiver who lives on the premises and provides 24-hour supervision. It is designed for elderly residents who are unable to care for themselves but are still able to enjoy a community atmosphere by living in a small, supportive setting.

There are able to benefit from personal care provided by the AFH, typically including:

  • housekeeping
  • personal hygiene services
  • meals
  • medication management
  • medical monitoring
  • companionship

It may also provide any type of transportation, outings, and activities. This personalized approach to care provides residents with the comfort of being taken care of while remaining in a secure and safe housing environment. If you or a loved one are considering a supportive living option, adult family homes found here provide a local senior care expert to explore all of your available options.

What Is Assisted Living

Assisted living is a type of housing arrangement that combines the independence of living in one’s own residence with help from staff for activities of daily living. Assisted living offers residents a variety of services, such as assistance with daily personal care needs such as dressing, bathing, medication reminders, and help with meal preparation. It provides:

  • 24-hour monitoring
  • safe and secure environments
  • access to organized activities 
  • social events

They often provide different types of transportation for medical appointments and other activities. It also gives residents the opportunity to socialize and make friends with other residents, helping to maintain healthy social and emotional well-being. They allow seniors to remain independent while ensuring they receive the support they need to age gracefully and safely.

AFH vs Assisted Living: What’s the Difference?

Adult Family Homes (AFHs) and Assisted Living facilities are both healthcare facilities that provide assistance to elderly individuals, but there are distinct differences between the two. Here are some:

Size and Capacity

AFHs are generally smaller, with six or fewer resident beds, while a memory care services facility can range from 20-50 beds and sometimes more. There are typically able to offer a more intimate setting and individualized care as the staff-to-resident ratio is significantly lower than that of AL.

An adult care home can also be specialized to a certain condition or age group, whereas the AL will likely accept a variety of adults with different needs and disorders. Furthermore, the features contained within the AFH and AL will vary greatly as AFHs generally include more homelike amenities while AL centers provide more communal and recreational activities.


In an AFH, the resident is typically cared for by a single owner/provider, usually a family member. This owner/provider is responsible for managing the home and providing all of the care services to the residents. In an assisted living facility, there are many staff members, including:

  • nurses
  • social workers
  • administrators
  • activity directors

They are all responsible for providing care and services tailored to the individual needs of each resident. These facilities will often have an on-site physician or available physician services. AFHs may have the same personnel but at a less frequent level as their classes are smaller than that of Assisted Living.

Both AFHs and Assisted Living have engaging activities and socialization opportunities for residents, making it easier to build relationships with other residents and staff. 


AFHs are typically less expensive than Assisted Living, as they tend to provide fewer services and amenities than Assisted Living. Depending on the state, costs are typically based on the facility, the subsidies available, the services required, and the resources of the individual.

AFH is generally considered to be more cost-effective in comparison to Assisted Living due to its personalized services and lower costs. Generally, Assisted Living can cost more due to the wide range of services and amenities available, such as housekeeping, meals, medication management, and exercise programs. 

Regulations and Licensing

AFHs provide personalized in-home care for up to six residents and are often family owned and operated. They must meet stringent requirements for background checks and inspections and must be licensed by the state. Assisted Living facilities are licensed and provide support for up to sixteen residencies.

These facilities must meet requirements for staffing, fire safety, food preparation, medication management, and recreation, in addition to providing assistance with activities of daily living. Both types of residences require a license and must adhere to their regulations which are enforced by DSHS staff.

Independence and Privacy

AFHs offer more freedom and autonomy for adult care or disabled residents, while assisted living provides more of a group living experience. It provides more private and home-like settings with fewer restrictions on activity and more individualized care. Residents can maintain their own independence and privacy as they share living space with fewer other people, such as a couple or individuals.

Assisted living communities, on the other hand, provide a communal setting with more regulated activities, more staff support, and safety measures to accommodate group living. While privacy and independence may be slightly compromised due to the communal lifestyle, the benefit of having more social opportunities and activities available is often preferred by those looking for a more active and engaging lifestyle.

Is AFH Right For Your Needs?

Assisted living and AFHs each offer residents unique services and amenities, so individuals should carefully research the differences between the two to ensure they choose the best option for their needs. Consider talking to a medical professional or care manager to help walk you through the pros and cons.

With the right information and care, you can make an informed decision for yourself or someone you care about.

Did you find this article helpful? If so, be sure to visit our blog for more informative ideas.

Written by Patricia

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