Foster Care for Older Adults

Nearly a third of adults between 45 and 63 are single, according to a 2012 study published in the journal The Gerontologist, many of whom never married or are currently divorced.  This marks a 50 percent increase since 1980. 

Aging without a spouse or children to care for you in old age can be a worry and many seniors may become an “elder orphan” without a nearby family to help should they become ill or injured.  For some, adult foster care may fill the need for caregiving in a home-like setting that provides assistance with transportation, meal preparation and daily living tasks while encouraging social interaction.  Foster homes for adults with special needs including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are sometimes called adult residential care homes and the home must be managed by someone licensed and approved to work in a foster care setting.

Each state and province has its own regulations but it is common for an adult foster home to have a maximum of six residents, each with a private room, sharing a common living room and dining room. Some homes may have visiting nursing staff but generally residents do not require a high level of care.  This type of senior housing may also provide social and recreational activities for residents.  Foster care can be a less expensive alternative to long-term care for seniors who want to maintain some control over their daily life while having the support of a live-in caregiver.

There are a number of strategies to help single older adults create a support system should they need help as they age. For many, a close group of friends become chosen family, people they can count on for emotional support, as well as caregiving, should the need arise.  But there may come a time as friends age or become caregivers to others, that single seniors will require more paid help; saving for this likelihood is a key component to making a successful plan to age alone.

Staying socially engaged is also important to age well, whether single or coupled.  Continuing to make new friends while nurturing long-time relationships not only makes life more enjoyable and helps prevent isolation and depression, having a larger circle of friends can pay dividends down the road.

Learn more about senior foster homes with your local Department of Family Services or check online at for senior living facilities near you.