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How to Choose the Right Assisted Living Community for a Loved One

How to Choose the Right Assisted Living Community for a Loved One

<!–[CDATA[When an aging loved one decides they want to move to an assisted living community, adult children often wonder how and where to begin the search. It can be a time-consuming and intimidating process, especially for families who aren’t familiar with senior housing.


To help make your search a little easier, we created this quick guide. It will walk you through the process so you can make an informed decision.

How to Make an Informed Choice in the Search for Assisted Living

1. Word of mouth: Once you let friends, colleagues, and family know you are searching for assisted living, you’ll probably be surprised to discover how many have already been through it. Ask for their suggestions, especially if their loved one is an assisted living resident. Most family members who have been through this process understand how stressful it can be and will be happy to share their feedback.

2. Online research: The internet and social media have made searching for assisted living much easier than it used to be. A few quick tips to get started include:

  • Visit each assisted living community’s website. You’ll be surprised by how many resources you find, including photo tours and floor plans. Some also publish a monthly life enrichment calendar on their site to give you a look at the activities and events that are a part of daily life.
  • Check out the community’s Facebook page or corporate Facebook page. Many post photos of activities and programs, along with a list of community events that are open to the public. These glimpses can be a great, low-pressure way to get to know the community.
  • Don’t forget to look for online reviews about the community. You’ll find them in places ranging from Angie’s List to Facebook. While you never want to rely on reviews alone, they can be one helpful factor in deciding which communities to visit in person.

3. Call potential communities: Once you create an initial list of communities to consider, set aside time to call each one of them. Your goal should be to determine which communities are worth visiting and which ones you can eliminate. A few general questions you should ask include:

  • Do they have any apartments or suites available? If not, how long is the expected wait?
  • What is the monthly fee? (Keep in mind they may only be able to give you a range until they learn more about how much care your loved one needs.)
  • Clarify what services and amenities are included in the base fee. Some communities use an all-inclusive pricing model, while others have a base fee with care charges assessed separately.
  • Ask what other fees you will be responsible for at the time your loved one moves in and the months after. There may be charges such as a security deposit, long-distance phone charges, transportation fees, or a charge for a spot in the parking garage.
  • If your loved one has unique needs or special considerations for moving, be sure to ask about those. For example, if a parent won’t move without bringing their dog, find out about the community’s pet policies and fees.

4. Schedule personal visits: This is the most important step for making an informed decision. In some families, adult children will make the first round of community visits and narrow down the choices. Then they bring their senior loved one back to see the ones they think will be a good fit. Other families bring their loved one on all of the visits and encourage them to spend time with other residents or stay for lunch or dinner. When you tour, be sure to take a pen and paper with you to take detailed notes. What to Ask If You Visit Assisted Living will give you some ideas on questions to ask during your tour.

5. Visit again: Once you have completed your first round of visits, review your notes. You will likely be able to eliminate some of the communities right away, and make follow-up calls to others. For communities you are seriously considering, plan to visit again during evening or weekend hours. This helps give you more insight about how well the community functions during nonbusiness hours.

We hope this information gives you the confidence you need to make an informed decision.

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With 270 locations across the country, you’ll likely find a Five Star community near you. Call us at (853) 457-8271 to schedule a private tour today!

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