How to Evaluate Assisted Living Facilities for Yourself or A Loved One

Are you considering assisted living facilities for a parent or a loved one? Want to know how to accurately evaluate a facility?

According to, “Choosing the wrong option can significantly impact the quality of your loved one’s life on a daily basis.” You don’t want to settle for an option that only looks good on paper but has a poor record of meeting seniors needs. So how does a person evaluate assisted living facilities? Here are the basics:

  1. Look at the range of services offered.

Finding a facility that offers the services that your loved one needs is at the heart of your search. Don’t be afraid to write up a long and detailed wish list of what you hope the facility can provide. Even if you don’t find a place that checks all the boxes, completing a wish list exercise will make it clear to yourself what you are looking for. And aid you in spotting a facility that comes close to fulfilling all your criteria.

Some questions to ask yourself that will help you pin down what you want to include…

  • Does the facility provide social activities or outings?
  • Does the facility provide programs or opportunities to learn a skill?
  • How many meals a day does the facility offer?
  • What kind of transportation arrangements do they make available?
  • How much housekeeping can a senior expect?
  • What type of medication or health management does the facility offer?
  1. Quality of care.

Some facilities are well-staffed and the quality of care is the type that makes seniors feel at home and relaxed. Sadly, this is not the case across the board. While it can be a difficult aspect to measure, here are some ways to see how diligent staff are at meeting the needs of the seniors at their facility.

  • Read reviews on the facility from third-party sites.
  • Research accreditation and what hiring protocols are in place for staff.
  • Ask if the facility has a program in place that helps to measure quality of care given.

One other essential way to determine quality of care is to…

  1. Tour the facilities.

You can evaluate quality of care by visiting the facilities. Doing this allows you to observe how staff interacts with the seniors. Aside from that aspect, here are a couple other points to consider as you tour the premises:

  • How clean is the facility? Are there any strange smells? Staff that take pride in their work will make sure the facility always looks its best.
  • Does the facility smell fresh and look inviting? Your loved one will be spending periods of time in community areas, so are these areas well-kept?
  • How friendly and attentive are staff? Do they make elders feel listened to and understood?
  • What is the ratio between staff members and senior residents?
  • What are daily meals like? If possible, eat a meal at the facility and ask what menu personalization are allowed.
  • Observe the senior residents and how well-groomed they are. Do their nails or hair need a trim? Are they unshaven? Are there stains on their clothing?

As you walk through the facility, trust your gut. If you feel uncertain but can’t put your finger on why you feel that way, follow your instincts. Placing your loved one in an assisted living facility is a huge decision. And you should feel trust in the facility you choose. Feelings of discomfort or uncertainty might be warning signs that something is not right.

  1. Consider the costs.

Because each facility offers different services, fees range wildly and can start at $2,000 per month. But can reach $6,000 a month, depending on location, services needed, and apartment size, etc.

Payment plans range from monthly prices that are all-inclusive, to pricing based on selected services. provides a calculator to determine assisted living costs.

  1. Do your research.

Reading past and current experiences from people living at the facility in question is vital. Along with that, research the area that the facility is in. Is the facility close to your loved one’s physician? Is it a place that is convenient for you or your family to visit? If not, what kind of hotel or short-term stay options are there? Is it located near a mall or a park, or other attractions that provide opportunities for walking or other physical activity? Diligent research will help you turn up any potential issues that should be addressed before your final decision is made.

Photo by Southern Haven