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What to Look For in An Assisted Living Facility

Updated on September 7, 2009

What to Look For in An Assisted Living Facility

There may come a time when you, or someone you care for, will need help with day to day activities. This is the purpose of an assisted living facility.

When faced with making that major decision it is important to know what to expect and what questions to ask. This will allow you to better, and more thoroughly, evaluate each residence.

Here are some suggestions that can help you make the choice that is best for you:

The resident agreement - Ask each residence for copies of the facility's 'resident agreement' that outlines its services, prices, staffing, all extra charges, the admission and discharge criteria, and the house rules.

Be sure it is solvent and has credentials - It is reasonable, and extremely important, to request a 'disclosure statement' that shows ownership and the financial solvency of the provider. You will need to know if the residence is licensed by the individual state and is a member of the 'Assisted Living Federation.' These memberships will demonstrate the community's professional development and ethical standard.

It should feel right - The atmosphere must feel right to you from the moment you walk in the door. All outward appearances must satisfy what you are looking for, such as a warm welcoming by a friendly staff. If this is to be your home you should be able to speak to the other residents. Observe if the residents appear happy and comfortable.

Safety and Security - The physical features of the residence should make you feel safe in case of an emergency. Check to see if the floor plan is easy to follow with clearly marked exits. The hallways should be wide enough for wheelchairs and walkers, complete with handrails to aid in walking, and non-skid flooring. The residence should be able to tell you what their means of security are if a resident wanders at any time.

Request every contract - Discuss all contracts, costs and financing. Find out if the contractual agreement will clearly disclose health care and supportive services, all fees, as well as admission and discharge policies.

Find out if there are financial aid programs - To cover the costs of services find out if thereĀ are any government, corporate or private programs available. Should you not be satisfied with this facility at a later date, find out when the contract may be terminated, and the policy that covers a refund.

Determine if your medical needs can be met - Depending on your own medical needs you will need to know to what extent medical services are provided as well as what kind. Be sure there is a staff person who will coordinate home care visits from a nurse, physical therapist, etc. when needed. Check to see if a physician will regularly visit to provide medical checkups. The residence should have a clearly worded procedure for responding to medical emergencies.

Find out about extra services and assistance - Ask for a list of all services provided. This will include assistance with daily activities such as hygiene, dressing, mobility, eating, and housekeeping services in the residents' units. On-site services should be available such as a beautician and a barber. Check to see if you or the facility can arrange for transportation to outside services such as your own doctor, hairdresser, shopping and other activities.

Check out individual units - You should feel comfortable in your own individual unit. Check to see if doors are lockable and if there is a 24-hour emergency response system in the unit. Determine if the unit comes furnished or how much you can bring from home. If there is a telephone and cable TV, now is the time to find out if there is an additional cost.

Look at the activites offered - Check to see what kind of social and recreational activities are available for the residents. You should be able to see a posting of such activities.

Discuss your dietary needs - If you have special dietary needs, find out if the residence will accommodate you. Take a look at the menu to see if it includes three nutritionally balanced meals per day, seven days a week, with snacks included. If you prefer to eat in your unit, see if that is possible with a refrigerator and cook top available in the unit.

Revisit the facilities you are considering - As you assess assisted living residences, be sure to visit a number of communities. To determine which one is right for you, or your loved ones, evaluate each community based on individual needs. When you decide on one, be sure to visit it several more times and at different times of the day and evening. Each subsequent visit should feel as good as the first time.

It is also a good idea to bring along a friend or family member.

See link below: Now is the time to check your bank safe deposit box and make sure all your papers are in order and nothing is missing - including the safe!


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    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      You're welcome! And thanks for the comment!

    • dyesebel10 profile image


      11 years ago from USA

      nice hub.. thanks for sharing and joining my fan club.

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Excellent point The Rope!!!! Nutrition is so important as we age and the food should definitely be nutritious and quality. It should be a lovely time to sit down with staff and other residents. Mealtime is just that important!

      Thanks for adding this to the list!

    • The Rope profile image

      The Rope 

      11 years ago from SE US

      Excellent hub "BK". I've worked with seniors (and many of their family members) for years but the message still seems to keep getting lost so this is terrific! One addition: when you narrow your search down, coordinate with the facility manager to have a meal with the residents at the facility - you get to see "the community" in action and can test the quality of the food as well as the quality of the interaction.

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Hello creativeone59 - it is best to plan ahead. One of my favorite African proverbs is 'on the day you set out is not the day to prepare' - so true.

      Thanks Philipo - glad the hub was informative!

    • Philipo profile image


      11 years ago from Nigeria

      Very informative. Thanks for sharing.

    • creativeone59 profile image

      Benny Faye Ashton Douglass 

      11 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

      Great hub, it's always best to plan a head. Thanks for the info. creativeone59

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      You know fastfreta, I had an elder cousin who got tired of living on her own and by the time she turned 80 - she was living in an assisted living facility in NJ - and it was outstanding! At 80 years old she took a computer class there onsite and we would email regularly.

      There was regular private shuttle bus service into town and to supermarkets.

      She truly did her homework and started shopping around way in advance. She loved the camraderie and I met many of her great neighbors. She was very happy.

      Glad you found the hub useful. I admit I haven't given much thought to when I get older - or I should say much older!

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 

      11 years ago from Southern California

      No matter what we say and how we feel, there comes a time, that even with the best of intentions, we might have to put a loved one in a facility, or we ourselves might have to go in one. So hubs like this is very helpful. I especially appreciate the tip that says, "it must feel right." I agree! Thanks for sharing.

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      What a great idea! Nothing can be better than being on the inside. Thanks justmesuzanne!

    • justmesuzanne profile image


      11 years ago from Texas

      Very good info! I would add to this (having been the life enrichment coordinator at an assisted living) volunteer to help with some activities at the one you are considering the most. Become a fly on the wall to see exactly how residents are really treated and respected day to day before you commit your loved one to any living situation.

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      You're very welcome Hello, Hello!

      Thanks so much Veronica Allen. I think we finally get it - we have to be responsible for absolutely everything we do! Or someone can legally harm us or rob us or sicken us. This is a blame the victim culture. But there is enough info on the internet whereby we can all do research.

      The old saying "Knowledge is power" has never been truer!

      Thank you both for commenting!

    • Veronica Allen profile image

      Veronica Allen 

      11 years ago from Georgia

      Wow! You've done it again. I guess much like healthcare, one must take an active and productive share in the wellfare of their aging parents. What great information. I'm bookmarking this one. You really gave me some pointers to think about that I never considered before.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      11 years ago from London, UK

      Hello and thank you for your information. Well done.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      11 years ago from London, UK

      Hello and thank you for your information. Well done.


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