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Assisted Living Checklist: 25 Questions to Ask Moving In

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assisted living checklist

Last Updated on July 6, 2022 by ashley.davis


Touring an assisted living community is a great way to get familiar with what life will be like in that setting. You get the chance to meet people, meet the staff, and check the amenities available. That’d allow you to get a feel for the facility’s environment. But remember to go through the Assisted Living Checklist before you choose a facility. These set of assisted living interview questions will help narrow down your search!

There are many things that you should know before making the important decision, apart from cost and availability. So, let’s dig deeper into the things that you should know in advance.

We’ve compiled a comprehensive assisted living checklist to help you ask the right questions. You’ll learn how much assisted living costs for a couple, what an excellent staff-to-resident ratio should be, and so much more.

Assisted Living Checklist: What to Look for?

Care homes should provide these features and services:

  • 24/7 supervision and security
  • Help with Activities of Daily Living(ADLs)
  • Housekeeping and laundry
  • Healthcare management
  • Administering medication and reminders to take them
  • Fun activities and exercise programs
  • Transportation

Assisted Living Checklist: What Questions Should I Ask an Assisted Living Facility?

Because it’s critical to tour an ALF to find the right senior community, it’s crucial to ask the right questions. Besides obvious concerns you might have, you’d need to know if you’ll be happy in the long run.

Here’s a 5-category checklist you need before moving in:

Category 1: Community Layout

1) Should I Rent or Buy a Senior Apartment?

senior drinking tea

You can buy an apartment in senior living communities, but it may entail more costs. Renting a senior care apartment comes with these perks:

  • No worries about a large down payment and real estate taxes.
  • You can leave if you don’t like living there.
  • No maintenance hassles because it’s not your responsibility.

2) What Types of Apartments Are Open Right Now?

Not all apartments are ideal for your needs. You might prefer cooking for yourself or unwilling to share a bathroom. Some elders might have mobility issues and would need a wheelchair or walker.

These are a few things to consider before moving in:

  • Is the space large enough to prepare meals? Should you get a studio apartment, a one-bedroom, or a two-bedroom unit?
  • Does the room have a private bathroom or a shared one?
  • Is the space designed for wheelchairs and walkers?
  • What furnishings are available in the apartment? Can you bring your own?

3) Is the Facility in a Good Location?

Having amenities close by is a big plus, especially if they’re within walking distance. Remaining independent and active is definitely a huge help to reduce cognitive decline.

Things to look out for:

  • Is it too far from friends and family?
  • Is the facility located in an urban setting, a remote area, or the suburbs?
  • Are there other amenities like salons, grocery stores, restaurants, etc.?

4) What Common Spaces Are Available?

Look out for what day-to-day indoor and shared outdoor spaces are available on-site.

Some of the services you could find:

  • Beauty parlor and grooming services
  • Fitness room
  • Therapy pool
  • Gardening
  • Arts & crafts (or other hobbies)

Category 2: Costs and Contracts

5) How Much Does Assisted Living Cost for a Couple?

how much does assisted living cost for a couple?

Genworth’s Cost of Care survey for 2020 shows Assisted Living Facilities cost about $4,300 a month and about $8,821 for a private room (per person). However, ALFs can accommodate elderly couples even if each one has different care needs like a spouse with dementia who needs help administering medication and ADLs. The spouse without extra care needs would only pay for accommodation and services.

6) What’s the Philosophy of Senior Care?

Each care home draws on specific principles such as religious or cultural beliefs. Regardless of the principles, make sure the community emphasizes personal dignity and independence. A stellar community allows freedom of choice, privacy, and autonomy in a home-like setting.

7) What Unique Rules Exist?

All facilities have their own rules they expect residents to follow. Check what limitations they impose and consider whether these would be okay with you.

Some of these limitations include:

  • Specifying how you can decorate your home exterior
  • Set visiting times
  • Restrictions on owning pets or allowing only certain types of animals

8) Is There a Waitlist?

ALFs often have a waitlist for apartment openings. If so, ask how long you’ll wait before moving in. Usually, private rooms have a more extended waiting period.

Keep in mind that AFLs sometimes only have a certain number of beds for people on Medicaid.

9) Can Seniors Visit Before Moving in Permanently?

Care homes often allow seniors and family members to visit before moving in. You could stop by for a meal, join one of the activities, or stay the night. You’d get a feel for what the place is like before moving in.

10) Do You Create a Written Plan According to the Elderly’s Needs?

Considering that the staff could be rotated and that the elderly’s cognitive health could decline, having a written plan makes implementing so much easier. The care plan helps to take the right steps regardless of who is on shift at the time.

11) What Can I Do if I Have a Complaint?

Many AFLs have an open-door policy and address concerns from residents, family, and friends.

Ask how the community handles complaints and who the contact person is. Find out how long it takes to rectify any issues raised.

12) Does the Community Allow You to Speak to References?

Most communities show a list of glowing reviews about their facility. However, you could also look a little further and speak to the people and residents that they mentioned.

13) Who Draws up the Resident Service Plan?

All facilities have a Resident Service Plan that describes the elderly’s health status, cognitive abilities, and behaviors. It includes ADLs and the interests of the resident. Yet, you or your family must be involved in the process.

Category 3: Services and needs

14) What Does My Monthly Service Fee Cover?

assisted living checklist

Not all communities offer the same amenities and services to residents. Sometimes, your monthly service fee covers utilities, telephone, and cable TV. You’d also have to buy a meal plan to cover a certain amount of meals a day.

Besides these, a service fee could cover:

  • Linen, laundry, and housekeeping service
  • Planned activities
  • Internet charges

15)  Does the Facility Offer Activities and Events?

Most assisted living facilities offer a variety of activities that benefit the residents. But first, check if the activities are to your liking.

Here are a few key points to look out for:

  • Find out if the activity professional is certified.
  • Look out if activities happen on-site or if regular outings are part of the schedule.
  • Is the community pet-friendly? Do they provide pet therapy or allow your pets to live in the community?

16) Does the Facility Offer Transportation?

There could be a bus service to take you to grocery stores, banks, and doctor’s offices (among others).

Some communities provide transportation vouchers. These vouchers help when you need to go somewhere not on the regular bus route.

Even if you’re still capable of driving when you move in, access to transport helps when the weather is terrible or if in case your health declines.

assisted living checklist
Assisted Living Checklist

17) Will the New Resident Get Along With Neighbors?

Staying in an assisted living community means spending a lot of time with other seniors. Before moving, speak to your neighbors to gauge if you’ll get along.

While you’re at it, find out what they like (or dislike) about being in the community.

18) What Do You Do to Keep the Elderly Safe?

Safety issues figure prominently for seniors. Find out how the staff handles emergencies and if they are available 24/7.

Other things to consider:

  • Will you have access to emergency alert buttons that notify staff about your location?
  • Does the apartment have a pull cord?
  • Is the condo equipped with grab bars and non-slip surfaces for bath safety?
  • Does the community perform safety or fire drills?
  • Is there a generator or a backup power supply?

19) Will the Facility Continue to Care for the Seniors as Their Needs Change?

Even if you moved to a community with good health, it could change over time. It’s important to know that you will still be taken care of by qualified people.

Find out if the nursing home is connected to a skilled nursing facility or provides memory care services. Better yet, do they provide these services themselves?

20) What Happens if There’s an Emergency?

Every care home has a specific hospital they use for emergencies. Knowing which hospital the nursing home uses eliminates confusion for families.

Besides health emergencies, ask how prepared the AFL is for power outages, fire & flood safety, and burglaries.

Category 4: Food and Meal Options

21) Are There Various Meal Options Available?

Ask to see the menu to find out if you’d like the meals they offer. Can you choose between dining with other residents or have your meals in your apartment?

Consider your dietary needs like:

  • Do they serve vegetarian, gluten-free, low-sodium diet, or paleo options?
  • How do they handle meals for elders with food allergies?
  • Does the community provide Halal or Kosher variations?
  • Are there snacks served in-between meals?
  • Are meals served in your apartment?

Category 5: Staff and Medical Practitioners

22) How Well-Trained Are the Staff?

questions for assisted living interviews

Every staff member should have basic training in senior care for extensive elderly needs. Learn what types of training they have and verify their credentials. Also, ask if the care home does criminal and other background checks.

23) What’s the Staff-to-Resident Ratio and Staff Turnover Rate?

Having a high staff turnover is not a good sign. Studies show that almost 75% of nursing homes in the US don’t provide enough staff to care for residents’ needs. The unique challenges impact the staff members that are left behind and the quality of care provided to the elderly.

There are no regulations related to staff-to-resident ratios. However, you still need to know about it before deciding to move in. An outstanding staff-to-resident ratio is 1:4 (1 caregiver for every 4 residents). Clarify which number represents the residents and get it in writing.

24) Are There On-Site Health Facilities at the Nursing Home?

Many assisted living facilities have medical practitioners on the premises. You’ll find General Practitioners, Podiatrists, and Dentists available a few times each month. Many communities have on-site Registered Nurses or Licensed Professional Nurses as well.

25) Do You Offer End-of-Life or Hospice Care?

Few nursing homes offer end-of-life care because they’re not skilled or equipped to do so. Research shows about 25% of cancer patients in nursing homes were diagnosed around a month before they passed away. The same study says that 40% of the diagnosed residents didn’t receive any pain medication. They’re transferred to an acute setting in the last weeks of their lives, which is too late.

Uprooting an elder, later on, isn’t ideal either. Look out for care homes that would see you through to the end.

Make sure your senior community emphasizes personal dignity and independence. A stellar community allows freedom of choice, privacy, and autonomy in a home-like setting.

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Top 3 Points

1. Touring an assisted living community before moving in helps you get a feel of the environment.

2. Before making a decision, consider the community layout, costs and contracts, services and needs, and food and meal options.

3. Refer to this 5-category assisted living interview checklist so you can ask the right questions.


These questions for assisted living interviews help in decision-making. You no longer have to ask yourself, “How much does assisted living cost for a couple?” and “How does a care home handle emergencies?”

Bookmark our assisted living checklist so that you don’t miss out on discovering important information.

Read our previous article on choosing the right assisted living facility

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