Tips for Choosing an Assisted Living Program

assisted living programsFour tips to help you sift through assisted living companies and find the right fit.

Once you’ve talked to one of our expert elder care advisors and we’ve helped you develop a short list of your top assisted living companies, it’s time to make the big decision. Here are five things to keep in mind as you consider your options.

Visit Potential Assisted Living Programs at Different Times of the Day

First of all, never ever commit to an assisted living program without making a comprehensive visit to the facility. Come at meal time and try the food. Are the residents enjoying themselves and the meal? Do staff members assist with care and dignity? If there are amenities such as physical therapy rooms or exercise classes that your loved one will utilize, come when classes are in session or therapists are present so you can get an idea of how they are run.

Arrive before your appointment time and walk through the halls to get a feel for the aide to resident ratio, and experience the regular noises, smells and activities. Do you feel like your loved one will receive the care he needs in a pleasant atmosphere, even in the evenings and weekends? Assisted living companies can advertise amenities and services, but take it with a grain of salt until you see them yourself.

Get to Know the Staff at Each Assisted Living Program

An assisted living program is only as good as the staff with whom your loved one will interact day in and day out. The administration sets the tone, so make sure you sit down with the owner or operator for a brief meeting. take care to notice if staff members (aides, nurses, therapists) are friendly and congenial with residents. Do they address the elders by name, and do they seem to enjoy ongoing relationships with them?

Caring, professional staff members can set assisted living companies ahead of the curve and enrich your loved one’s experience daily. It is true that turnover may change the staff makeup several times during your loved one’s stay, but a good staff today indicates good hiring and management practices and increase your chanced of a continuing positive experience.

Check up on Assisted Living Companies’ Reputations

As you enter an assisted living program, look for the facility’s state license to be displayed in a prominent place (perhaps the entryway or lobby). Also keep your eyes peeled for posters that explain residents’ rights, as well as contact information for the state ombudsperson and the department of health hotline.

But don’t stop there! It is your responsibility as well as your loved ones to ensure his safety and well-being in an assisted living program. For your loved one’s good and your own peace of mind, think like a detective for a minute and try to dig up any dirt you can on potential assisted living companies.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides an in-depth comparison of assisted living facilities at their Medicare website, Nursing Home Compare. There, you can see quality ratings, health and safety inspections and more. You can also contact your state’s long-term care ombudsperson directly to inquire about any complaints. Just go to to locate the one in your state. And who knows? Even something as simple as Googling the name of the care facility might turn up some online complaints. Once you’ve noted any negative marks against an assisted living program you’re considering, you may want to address them with the administration or move on to other facilities on your list.

Keep the Care Receiver in the Loop

If your loved one is of sound mind and can manage the trip, take her with you to visit assisted living programs, and take her feedback seriously. Often, a facility can bring out a sense of belonging right away, while another assisted living program might repulse her for no particular reason. She’s the one who will live there, so try to respect her wishes. If she resists the idea of entering assisted living altogether, taking her to a few different facilities and letting her choose her favorite one can help her retain some control and dignity in the process.

Find an Assisted Living Program Today

If you are just beginning your search, get started today by filling out the search form at the top of the page. You will be connected to our partner site, Senior Homes, where you will be able to browse hundreds of assisted living homes in your area. If you would like to speak with someone directly, feel free to call the toll-free number at the top of this page. Our trained elder care advisors are standing by to help match you with assisted living communities that fit your needs and budget. Our services are always free, and we always protect your contact information.