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What to Look for in an Assisted Living Residence

Assisted Living, Housing with Services, Catered Living, & Service Rich housing are all names that describe a type of housing that helps people with some of the activities of daily living. The service can be as simple as lunch five times a week or it can be a full array of services from a menu of options. As a consumer you need to have a full understanding of your own needs as well as a full understanding of what the residence has to offer. We recommend that you call ahead to set up a tour. You may want to make more than one visit at different times of the day. Make sure to indicate that you would like to meet with certain staff members to learn more about the building. If you are helping someone try to include them in the decision making process as much as possible; it will increase their satisfaction level. For more information visit the website for the Assisted Living Federation of America.

Where to Start

Be honest with yourself—what are your needs?
Try to anticipate your future needs.
Call & set up tours of places that interest you.

Atmosphere & First Impressions

Is the building well-kept, in good repair?
Grounds well maintained?
Are the common areas attractive?
Does it look like a place you would like to live?
As you tour, does the building smell clean, fresh?
Does the staff treat the residents in a warm, friendly manner & call them by name?
Is staff appropriately dressed & open to questions?

The Overall Building

Does the building make sense? Is the floor plan easy to follow?
Can you find the exits easily?
Can you control the heat/air in your own apartment?
Is the building accessible for wheelchairs & walkers?
Are cupboards & shelves easy to reach?
Is there enough storage?
Are floors easy to walk on? Are floors non-skid?
Are handrails available?
Does the residence have sprinklers?
Is the building well-lit? Is there enough natural light?
What type of security system do they have?
What type of response system do they have; pull chords, pendants, both?
Is a wearing a pendant mandatory in order to live there?

Building Amenities

Community, Guest, Craft, Game, Computer & Television, & Exercise Rooms, Chapel, Meditation, Library, Patio, Porch, 3 Season Room, Solarium, Garden, Greenhouse, Plant Room, Whirlpool, Pool, Wellness Center, Fitness Trainer, Exercise Programs, Post Office, Convenience Store, Pharmacy, Beauty Barber Shop, Coffee Shop, Garages &/or Off Site Parking, Car Wash

The Individual Apartments & Suites

Do all units have cable TV, telephones, & internet lines? How is the billing done?
Can you lock you own door?
Can you bring you own furnishings & what furnishings are provided?
Are bathrooms private; will they accommodate a walker or wheelchair?
Is a full kitchen available?

Social & Recreational Opportunities

Do the residents appear to be compatible neighbors/friends for you?
Are pets allowed? Does the residence have its own pets?
Are there any social activities/outings?
Is there a monthly calendar of events, newsletter?
Are there certain hours family and friends may visit?
Do the residents socialize & appear contented & comfortable?


Ask for list of services.
What services are provided & in what capacity? For example do costs include meals 7 days a week or 5 days a week?
Can purchase services as you need them or do you need to purchase a package of services?
Type of transportation available & is it available on short notice?
Is there a pharmacy, post office, convenience store on site? If not, are arrangements made for delivery?
Is there a beauty salon/barber shop on site? If not do they offer the service at certain times?

Meals & Dining

Do the meals look appetizing?
Does the menu vary from day to day?
Are snacks available?
May residents request special foods?
May your family, friends join you for meals?
Can you eat in your apartment?
Is meal time set or can you eat when you wish?
Is there a common dining area?

Health Care

Will the staff arrange for health care or is up to you to arrange for your own?
If there are health services in place, can you purchase it in increments?
Is there visiting physician available for residents that have difficulty getting to a clinic?
Is there a 24 hour emergency response system?
Are additional services available if my needs change?
Is there a written plan of care for each resident?
Is a contractual agreement available that discloses healthcare, supportive services, all fees, admission & discharge provisions?
What staff is available to assist residents who need memory care?
What procedures & equipment are in place for medical emergencies?
Are nursing services available 24 hours/day?
Is there a nurse on-site 24 hours/day?
Is there an appeals process for residents that are dissatisfied?


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