11 Tips For Choosing The Right Assisted Living Facility for a Loved One

Assisted living facilities (ALFs) provide long-term housing and care for seniors who can no longer live independently. Those who may need assisted living are generally active individuals, but they may need support with activities of daily living (ADLs) such as using the toilet, dressing or bathing. Seniors in assisted living can expect personalized care, prepared meals, social activities to cater to a variety of interests, and a sense of community in a safe, residential setting.

Choosing the right assisted living facility for your loved one may seem like a daunting task with so many options and lots of questions. If you don’t know where to start, check out these tips.

  1. Identify You Loved One’s Needs.

Be realistic about what needs you or your loved one has, and what they might need in the future. Make a list of priority needs and concerns.

2. Talk Financials and Be Prepared.

For some families, the cost of assisted living facilities becomes a major factor in the decision-making process. Determine whether the community you’re touring uses all-inclusive pricing, tiered pricing based on levels of care, a la carte pricing, or another model. Additionally, avoid sticker shock by asking about move-in fees and contract terms. Generally, a business office manager can answer these questions and address related concerns. Make sure to ask what documentation is needed for accurate pricing. 

3. What Location Makes Sense for Your Family?

Frequent visits from family members can help with the transition from independent living to assisted living. If this is important to you, consider the drive and commute the facility would be from family members who will be visiting often.

4. Tour Multiple Locations

Visiting multiple facilities in person is a great way to get a better feel for which facility is right for your loved one. You can see the facilities up close, meet staff members and visualize if you could see your loved one being comfortable with his or her surroundings.

5. Identify Amenities

While each community is different, assisted living facilities offers services and amenities to focus on important aspects of senior wellness, including physical health, intellectual stimulation, and social connection. According to A Place For Mom, these three foundational pillars help slow cognitive decline and keep seniors healthier and happier longer.

Some amenities to think about are beauty salons and barbershops, chapel, library, outdoor space, garden or courtyard, pool/spa, fitness center, club/bar, and an event space.

6. What Activities Are Offered?

It is important to keep in mind the activities your loved ones enjoyed during independent living and see what is offered at the assisted living facility of your choice. 

7. What Are the Dining Options?

When you can no longer cook for yourself, having options of food you enjoy is important. Make sure the facility you are looking at can accommodate the food choices your loved one wants.

Sit down at the dining hall and order a variety of items to see the quality fo food prepared by the kitchen.

8. Pay attention to overall cleanliness and safety measures.

No one likes a dirty home, especially if you’re unable to clean it yourself. Living in an untidy, unorganized and not well-maintained home can have a damper on overall mental health and wellness. Note your first impressions of how well the front yard and communal courtyards are kept as well as overall cleanliness of the common areas inside.

Cleaning and laundry are services that are typically included at assisted living communities. Ask about the housekeeping schedule and what is provided as part of the routine services. Also be sure to ask about any add-on cleaning services that may cost more.

In addition, take note of safety measures such as handrails, grab bars, and zero-threshold showers. Accessibility features, like elevators, widened doors, stairlifts, and wheelchair ramps are also something to consider.

9. Look for Uplifting décor.

Chances are, your loved one will be spending the majority of the rest of their life here. You want to make sure it provides comfortable, inviting atmosphere. For instance, porch benches and lounge areas signal a social atmosphere. Uplifting colors can benefit overall health and wellness, while dark or plain white can hinder it.

Ask if there are opportunities for personalization. Adding pictures and decorations from their previous home can help bring a sense of joy and comfort.

10. Get to Know the Caregivers.

It’s important to form a relationship with the those responsible for your loved one’s daily care. If possible, observe interactions between your loved one and their caregivers. Above all else, you and your loved one needs to know the caregivers have your family’s best interest in mind.

Questions to ask assisted living staff:

  • Do you conduct background checks for all staff members?
  • What is the ratio between staff and residents?
  • What training is required for your staff?
  • Are residents involved in developing their individualized service plan so it is based on their needs and preferences?
  • Do you have a registered nurse, licensed vocational nurse, or certified nursing assistant on staff 24/7?
  • Do staff members administer medicine or manage medicine for residents?
  • In case of a medical emergency, what is your protocol?
  • For those residents needing personal care, is the same caregiver consistently assigned to them?

11. Bring a List of Questions.

Think of as many questions as you can before your visit, and bring a list with you to make sure you don’t forget anything. Also, take notes to the questions and other important decision-making factors during the tour.


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Written by Kaitlyn Fusco

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