Guidelines for choosing a residential assisted living facility

If you are considering turning the care of an elderly relative over to someone else, cost, quality of care, safety standards and other concerns will undoubtedly influence your decision. You will want someone who can provide sensitive, safe, and reasonably priced care. This checklist is intended to provide a quick reference which covers important areas. Remember, plan to spend some time, don’t be rushed into a decision, and ask for help from the community professionals.

First, assess the needs of your relative – how independent is the person? Residential Assisted Living Facilities are designed for people who have some limitations; some memory loss or difficulty completing routine tasks on their own. They may, for example, forget to eat regularly or to take medication as prescribed. Ask for a comprehensive assessment from your family physician or the elderly services information and assistance program.

There might be another way: Visiting nurses, homemakers, chore workers, home health aides, meals on wheels, speech therapist, physical therapist, or social worker may be able to come into the home. An appliance such as a walker, wheelchair, cane, or hospital bed may help keep your loved home longer.

Always ask, “What does your loved one want?” Their wishes and desires are paramount and should play the central role in the decision making process, but do not feel guilty about making the decision when it is the proper thing to do.

Once you find the right home, make sure your relative can bring “reference points” – special furniture, photographs, books, etc. – to the new residence. Personal mementos help ease the transition.

Expect a two to six week adjustment period once the move is made. There may be a sleeping problem, anger, confusion, or homesickness. Visit your relative regularly to give support and gently reinforce the fact that this is his or her new home.

After a reasonable adjustment time, follow up with the new caregivers and your relative. Consider: Is it working? Your relative may require some adjustments in routine, medication, or diet. Trust the same instincts that led you to this particular home in the first place, and communicate with the home managers or administrator if you think changes are in order.

REMEMBER you are never alone. In each community there are several agencies and dedicated professional who work with the elderly and handicapped – they can be of great assistance, just ask.

What is assisted living?

Assisted living is often viewed as the best of both worlds. Residents have as much independence as they want with the knowledge that personal care and support services are available if they need them. Assisted living communities are designed to provide residents with the basic daily assistance they need.


  • Consider wishes of the person being placed
  • Consider a facility close to home
  • Consider more than one
  • Consider spending time and effort choosing
  • Consider the cost and how it will be paid
  • Explore the reputation of the Facility. Use several sources
  • Ask the local licenser for references regarding complaints
  • ls a current monthly charges list available?- ls there a copy of the Admission Policy, Resident’s Rights, and Services available? Can you live with them?


  • ls the home free from unusual (urine) odors?
  • Does the home meet reasonable standards of cleanliness?
  • What is the general atmosphere of the home?
  • What is the appearance of the residents?
  • Do the staff treat the residents with respect and dignity?
  • Does it appear there will be adequate supervision and qualified care?
  • ls the home free from obvious hazards?
  • Are the rooms in the building clean, safe and adequate for the resident’s needs. Do the residents use them?


  • Medical – are the doctors, nurses, and emergency assistance readily available?
  • Food – is the food pleasing, nutritious, adequate and attractively served?
  • Therapy program – are there physical therapy, occupational therapy, recreational therapy, and other specialized services available?
  • Activity program – what activities are available?
  • Religious Observances – is the resident’s preference available?
  • What services are available and provided in the home? Are there extra costs?