The decision to move a loved one into an assisted living facility is never easy. It often entails giving up some independence and saying goodbye to one’s home. Once you and your loved one have come to an agreement that an assisted living facility (ALF) is the best next step, it’s time to find the right one for your family member’s financial, health and lifestyle situations.

If you and your family member live far apart from each other, the first consideration may be the location of the ALF. Will your loved one move closer to you or stay near their current home? After you’ve chosen the vicinity, you can start searching for a facility.

How to Find Facilities

  • Ask for recommendations from friends or other family members who have experience with ALFs.
  • Consult your local or state Area Agency on Aging. You can find your nearest agency on the federally supported Eldercare Locator website.
  • Inquire with your loved one’s doctor for preferred nearby facilities, if staying in the same area.

Questions to Ask

When you call the facilities, you will likely speak to a salesperson who should be able to answer the following questions. Ask as many as are relevant to your situation. Use these as a guide and feel free to add more specific questions about the activities and amenities, special care your loved one may need or other preferences.

  • How many units or beds does the ALF have? Are there units with private bathrooms and kitchens?
  • Are the units furnished? Can residents bring their own furniture?
  • What amenities are on-site?
  • Is the facility pet-friendly?
  • What forms of payment or insurance programs are accepted?
  • How does the facility bill for additional services rendered?
  • Does each resident have a personalized care plan?
  • Who is on staff to tend to the residents? Staff can include nurses, physical therapists and pharmacists, as well as housekeepers, cooks and activity directors.
  • How does the ALF hire staff? Does it require a certain level of training? Does it conduct background checks?
  • If a resident needs more medical attention after moving in, can the facility accommodate a change in circumstances?
  • Can residents continue to be treated by their own physicians?
  • When a resident who needs to spend an extended period of time in a hospital or a rehabilitation center, will his or her unit be held until he or she returns?

What to Observe during Visits

After you’ve narrowed your choices down to a few ALFs, make plans to visit each one more than once. This way, you can see how the facility is run, observe the interaction between the residents and staff and speak to those who live and work there. Bring your loved one with you, if possible. Try to go during the day and in the evening so that you see two different shifts of employees. When you’re at the ALF, look for qualities and amenities such as:

  • Condition and cleanliness of the property
  • Emergency power source
  • Safety features, including fire alarms, sprinklers, call buttons and window and door locks
  • Clearly marked exits
  • Ample common areas
  • Friendliness of staff
  • Healthiness and happiness of residents

How to Read the Contract

Before you sign the contract of the ALF you’ve chosen, review it carefully. You might want to enlist an attorney or a financial adviser to take a look at it as well. Here are a few items to take note of:

  • Pay close attention to the fees, including any security deposit, so there are no surprises on your bill.
  • Look for language regarding your right to file a lawsuit. Some ALFs discourage cases against them by requiring arbitration to settle any claims of negligence or injury.
  • What is the ALF’s policy when it comes to termination of a resident’s contract? If the facility requests the resident to leave, how much notice will be given? What are the reasons that could lead to this discharge?
  • What happens if you’re no longer able to pay the monthly rent?

These guidelines are just a start to how to assess which ALF is best for you and your family member. Find trusted resources to help you make your decision, and visit often to ensure your loved one is getting the care he or she deserves.

  • Erika Brady
    6:04 PM, 9 January 2020

    Thanks for the advice to talk to friends and family in order to get their recommendations. Before you talk to them, it might be a good idea to create a list of the requirements you have, such as your budget and the location you want to live in. Having a list would make it easier for you to tell them what you want so they can help you find the exact type of assisted living facility you’re searching for.

  • Andrew Hales
    7:48 AM, 3 July 2020

    Assisted living facility is one of the most important things that a senior needs mostly. But choosing the right assisted living facility is a tough job. In this article, I got the complete and essential information regarding how to select an assisted living facility. This article is very informative.

  • Franklin White
    3:36 PM, 23 July 2020

    I like the idea of talking to your loved one’s doctor about finding a nice assisted living facility. I feel like they’d have tons of information about different facilities. They might have a lot of clients in each one so they could hopefully give you a great recommendation.

  • Kate Hansen
    3:46 PM, 5 August 2020

    It was really helpful when you said to observe its cleanliness when you visit. My grandpa has been having a rough time living on his own this past couple of months due to his old age, and my mom and I want to look into finding an assisted living facility for him to stay in for help. We’ll make sure to keep these tips in mind as we search for one for him to stay in!

  • Zachary Tomlinson
    6:21 AM, 11 August 2020

    Great advice. My friend’s uncle is getting older, and he’s expressing his intent to leave his house because he doesn’t want to become a burden for him. I find it interesting to learn that an assisted living facility usually has a fully furnished area where a senior can live, and they’ll be assisted with their chores and daily needs. I’ll suggest this to him so he’d consider this for his uncle.

  • Ocean
    4:05 AM, 8 September 2020

    Nice blog. I am glad to see your post on assisted living facilities Oceanside CA. Keep up the good work !!!

  • Charlotte Fleet
    2:18 PM, 22 October 2021

    My mother and father-in-law are hoping to find a great assisted living facility for my husband’s grandmother. You make a great point about how recommendations from friends can be helpful. I’ll have my in-laws get referrals from the friends they trust.

  • Eli Richardson
    1:58 PM, 29 March 2022

    It’s so thoughtful that you explained what we should ask an assisted living facility before we choose one. My mom thinks it’s time to find a place for her sister’s needs, but she doesn’t know where to start looking. I believe my mom wants to start touring assisted living facilities in a few weeks, so I’ll share your tips with her right now. I appreciate your advice on checking an assisted living facility’s amenities and activities.

  • Olivia Smart
    2:29 PM, 15 April 2022

    Thank you for explaining that you should check to see that the facility has lots of common areas when you visit. My siblings and I have been talking about arranging for our mom to stay in assisted living, but we want to make sure that she stays in the best place possible. We’ll keep an eye out for these while we search so that we can find a place that she’ll really enjoy.

  • Taylor Hicken
    8:19 PM, 15 April 2022

    You made a good point when you shared that it is crucial to inquire about the amenities that are available at the assisted living facility. My friend just mentioned the other day that she is planning to send her mother to an assisted living facility since she has been too lonely ever since her father passes away a few weeks ago. I will suggest to her find one that has good amenities for her mother.

  • facilities management system philippines
    4:20 AM, 6 September 2022

    I always look forward to reading your articles. You obviously put a lot of effort into this post, and I appreciate that.

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