How to Choose an Assisted Living Facility

Assisted living communities are a level of care for an individual that is not completely independent with all their needs yet not ready to the 24 hour round the clock services a nursing home provides. An assisted living facility can stay as independent for as long as possible. When an aging senior begins to require assistance with basic activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, managing medications or toileting, this is a time to consider assisted living.

assisted living
Choosing the right assisted living begins with reviewing the financial situation of the aging senior. It is important to understand how much money is available for future care. Many have long term care insurance and policies need to be reviewed to see what will be paid, as well. Assisted living facilities have very limited to no financial assistance available from the government. The money for assisted living, for the most part is private pay, meaning the aging seniors and their families pay for the services provided.

The cost of assisted living facilities can vary greatly. There is generally an entrance fee and a flat monthly fee. The average cost of assisted living is approximately $2, 500 a month. But there are facilities that vary from $800 to $6,000 a month.

Many assisted living facilities charge extra for such things as seeing the nursing or having a sick tray sent to the room, if you are unable to come out for a meal.

Questions to ask when touring an assisted living facility:

  • Ask if there are charges for particular services or an increase in the level care needed by the aging senior.
  • what have the cost of living increases been over the last few years
  • Does the facility insure the personal property of each resident or do you need to purchase renter insurance?
  • Is there a policy in place for disclosing the fees for the various levels of care and what those levels of service entail?
  • Is there a policy for refunds and transfers?
  • What is the procedure for payment of additional services, even temporary nursing services?
  • What are the billing and payment policies for the facility?
  • If the aging senior is presently able to handle their own finances, is the expectation that a staff .family member or attorney oversee those finances?
  • Is there a refund of your funds, if you change your mind about the facility?

Once you have determined the financial aspect, it is time to consider the right assisted living facility for you or your aging senior. Location can be a very important contributing factor to finding an assisted living. Many aging seniors want to be near their family or friends. Some aging seniors still drive, so they prefer to be in a familiar community.

Once you have a location decided, it is time to tour the facility. Take time to visit several facilities in your area. If you or your aging senior has friends in an assisted living facility, try to arrange a visit with them. The best times to visit are during meal times. Don’t hesitate to ask those in the facility about their experiences.

Questions to ask the facility when touring:

  • Does the facility develop a plan of care for each resident?
  • Is there an ongoing process in place to re assess the needs of each resident and who is responsible for that assessment? Are the resident, family and physician included in the plan of care?
  • Are additional services available in the facility, should another level of care be required by the resident?
  • Are there services to assist the resident 24 hours a day? Are there emergency call bells in every room?
  • Are housekeeping services available to the resident? Is there an extra cost for that service?
  • Does the facility provide transportation to doctors, hairdresser or barber, or shopping if necessary?
  • Are residents able to take their own medications?  If they are unable to take their own medications, who is responsible for storing medications, recording and maintaining refills?
  • Ask about scheduled activities. Look for an activities announcement board. Notice if the residents living at the assisted living are interacting or are they sitting around looking bored.
  • Are there opportunities for activities outside the facility?
  • If you or your loved one has a pet, ask if the pet is welcome to live at the facility.
  • Take time to review the weekly menu. Ask if substitutions are available.
  • Is the assisted living facility located conveniently to shopping, medical services, and entertainment areas?
  • Ask for a copy of the residents rights
  • Ask for a copy of the grievance policy and procedure
  • Ask for the name of an individual that would be available to contact in case of a problem or concern.

Assisted living facilities vary in atmosphere and environment. It is important, when choosing a facility to choose the one where you feel safe, welcome and comfortable. Choosing an assisted living is helping your aging senior to not only remain independent for as long as possible, but to have them in a home like environment. They are able to bring some the things that still remind them of home and give them comfort. In assisted living they can still maintain their privacy and dignity and have support services available to meet their needs as their level of care increases.


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