Assisted Living vs Group Home Living Options Analyzed

How to Decide between Assisted Living vs A Group Home

As you contemplate an upcoming relocation for you or for a loved one, you may be exploring residential options that also offer additional support for your health and daily living needs. Most likely, you have already discovered that assisted living and group homes are two of your choices. To help you in this process, the following highlights these types of senior living communities as well as shares some questions to think about as you explore these options and other senior living opportunities.

Group Homes Features

  • These living facilities tend to be substantially smaller than assisted living facilities. Although the number of residents in a group home may vary by state, the population of these alternatives to larger facilities is usually between 5-20 people.
  • Depending on where you live, these types of residences may also enable you to be closer to your previous address than the nearest assisted living facility and may provide a more familiar, family feel than other living arrangements. For example, residents may enjoy meals together or more frequently share common areas.
  • Typically, the smaller staff in group homes provides meal and medication management in accordance with the provided care plans, as well as support with activities like bathroom use, dressing, and emergency care arrangement if needed. Some homes do offer additional amenities and health services, so explore if add-ons or tiers of support are available at any potential home.
  • Staff in group homes may or may not have advanced medical training. Staff may or may not live on site. However, due to the smaller setting and fewer number of individuals in these homes, the caregivers may develop stronger relationships with those in the home, and engagement and support might be more personalized.
  • Group home costs tend to be lower, but that reduced monthly costs generally means a reduction in residential experiences, amenities and care services offered, as well as location.
  • These senior living locations may have a target audience or cater to a particular area of need. For example, some group home facilities may focus on memory care or particular disabilities. However, they typically will not be able to provide the same level of care as a nursing home.

Assisted Living Features

  • Although these senior living communities are generally larger in population and building size than group homes, each assisted living location can vary substantially from another. For example, some locations are only slightly bigger than the typical group home, where there are approximately 30-50 residents, but other communities are home to more than 100-200 people.
  • With additional space and capacity, assisted living communities may enable a more timely transition.
  • The staff at assisted living facilities typically includes trained medical professionals who are able to manage medications and provide some medical care or support. There also tend to be more staff members on site.
  • While the comforts of home, well-trained and high quality staff members, and basic daily services can distinguish both a group home and an assisted living facility, the amenities at assisted living facilities usually exceed those available at group homes. For example, assisted living communities often have a community calendar with a host of on-site activities, like game nights or exercise classes, transport to local events and entertainment opportunities, such as the movies or shopping, and access to a beauty shop or barber care.
  • Many assisted living communities offer more comprehensive care, and in some residences, the assisted living services are just one tier in the available continuum of care, which allows individuals to start with the greatest independence and increase support and services as needed while staying in the same community.
  • With the greater offerings available in the assisted living spaces, costs can be higher than other senior housing options, but are aligned with additional services. For example, in a facility that offers different tiers of care, such as services that move beyond the standard level of assisted living support to daily care and medical monitoring associated with more serious health conditions or mobility challenges.

6 Questions to Consider as You Explore Assisted Living and Group Home Options

questions to ask when evaluating assisted living or group home senior housing options

  1. Since both assisted living locations and group homes provide support with emergency needs and basic daily support, like meal preparation and cleaning, what level of care is needed? Think about medical needs, mobility, and cognitive functioning.
  2. How close is the location to friends and family and to medical facilities? If they have taken the occasional fall, for example, it may be more imperative that a certified medical professional is always on site, even if they are otherwise independent. If their family members don’t live in the area, it may be especially helpful to be close to other supporters like friends or to have the option of increased personalized attention or social interaction, as may be more readily available in a group home.
  3. What is the available budget both for now and in the years ahead? For example, most people don’t enjoy moving to begin with, but it can become an even greater task with age and increasing health and wellness needs. Financial planning for your care in addition to any existing healthcare coverage is key.
  4. What training, certifications, or medical specialties do the staff members have? What level of attention is the staff able to provide? You might start by finding out the ratio of staff to residents. You also want to ensure that the facility itself is licensed and accredited. Although quality is not necessarily guaranteed by any certifications, it is a helpful starting point for sourcing the best senior living options possible.
  5. Can you visit the facility? A virtual or live tour can reveal a substantial amount of insight, such as how the staff interacts with its community members, how clean and secure the residences and community spaces are, the overall environment and features in the individual homes and shared areas, and available outdoor space, not to mention amenities and programming.
  6. Have you been able to interact with current residents or read reviews or testimonials from other clients and families? Especially if you are unable to visit the facility in person before making a decision, this information is essential, particularly in your consideration of a group home that is, by nature, a more intimate setting on a daily basis.


Overall, assisted living may be the better choice if individuals are mostly independent, mainly require support with daily needs, like food preparation or medication management, and enjoy many opportunities to socialize. Group homes may be better suited to seniors who require greater supervision, need specialized behavioral or cognitive support, and may benefit from a smaller, more family-like setting and relationship building. As you consider these choices or other senior living community formats, like the continuum of care and assorted residential opportunities available in one location as found at Arbors of Hop Brook, take time to carefully consider your needs and preferences or those of your loved one, as well as financial resources. After this personal reflection and initial research, be sure to arrange a tour of your top choices by contacting the Arbors team to schedule a visit.