Assisted Living

Assisted Living is housing for elderly people that provides many services and amenities including housekeeping, social activities, and prepared meals as needed. An assisted living residence or assisted living facility is a housing community. These communities provide supervision or assistance with activities of daily living; coordination of services by outside health care providers; and monitoring of resident activities to help to ensure their health, safety, and well-being.

Assistance may include the administration or supervision of medication, or personal care services provided by a trained staff person.

Assisted living as it exists today emerged in the 1990s as an eldercare alternative on the continuum of care for people, for whom independent living is not appropriate but who do not need the 24-hour medical care provided by a nursing home and are too young to live in a retirement home. Assisted living is a philosophy of care and services promoting independence and dignity.

Assisted Living Community Checklist:

Assisted Living Location

  • As you arrive at the community, do you like its location and appearance?
  • As you enter the lobby and tour the community, is the décor attractive and homelike?
  • Do you receive a warm greeting from staff welcoming you to the community?
  • Does the director call residents by name and interact warmly with them as you tour the community?
  • Do residents socialize with each other and appear happy and comfortable?
  • Are you able to talk with residents about how they like the community and staff?
  • Do the residents seem to be appropriate housemates for you or your loved one?
  • Are staff members appropriately dressed, personable, and outgoing?
  • Do the staff members treat each other in a professional manner?
  • Are the staff members that you pass during your tour friendly to you?
  • Are visits with the resident welcome at any time?

Physical Features of the Assisted Living Community

  • Is the community well-designed for your needs?
  • Are doorways, hallways, and rooms accommodating to wheelchairs & walkers?
  • Are elevators available for those unable to use stairways?
  • Are handrails available to aid in walking?
  • Are cupboards and shelves easy to reach?
  • Are floors of a non-skid material and carpets firm to ease walking?
  • Does the community have good natural and artificial lighting?
  • Is the community clean, free of odors, and appropriately heated/cooled?
  • Does the community have sprinklers, smoke detectors, and clearly marked exits?
  • Does the community have a means of security if a resident wanders?

Needs Assessments, Residency Agreements, Assisted Living Costs & Finances

  • Is a residency agreement available that discloses personal care and supportive services, all fees, as well as move-in and move-out provisions? What are the policies for refunds and transfers?
  • Is there a written plan of care for each resident? How frequently is it reviewed and updated?
  • Does the community have a process for assessing a resident’s need for services, and are those needs addressed periodically?
  • Does this periodic assessment process include the resident, his or her family, and community staff, along with the resident’s physician?
  • Are there any government, private, or corporate programs available to help cover the cost of services to the resident?
  • Are additional services available if the resident’s needs change?
  • Are there different costs for various levels or categories of personal care?
  • Do billing, payment, and credit policies seem fair and reasonable?
  • Are residents required to purchase renters’ insurance for personal property in their units?

Medication & Health Care

  • Does the community have specific policies regarding storage of medication, assistance with medications, training and supervision of staff, and record keeping?
  • Is self-administration of medication allowed?
  • Is there a staff person to coordinate home healthcare visits from a nurse, physical therapist, occupational therapist, etc., if needed?
  • Does the community have a clearly stated procedure for responding to a resident’s medical emergency?

Assisted Living Community Services & Amenities

  • Can the community provide a list of personal care services available?
  • Is staff available to provide 24-hour assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) if needed?  ADLs include dressing, eating, mobility, hygiene and grooming, bathing, and toileting.
  • Does the community provide housekeeping services in personal living spaces?
  • Can residents arrange for transportation on fairly short notice?
  • Are barber/beautician services offered on-site?
  • Does the community provide scheduled transportation to doctors’ offices, the hairdresser, shopping, and other activities desired by residents?

Individual Assisted Living Apartment Features

  • Are different sizes and types of apartments available?
  • Are apartments for single and double occupancy available?
  • Is a 24-hour emergency response system accessible from the apartment?
  • Are bathrooms private and designed to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers?
  • Are residents able to bring their own furnishings for their apartment? What may they bring?  What is provided?
  • Do all apartments have a telephone, cable or satellite TV, and internet access? How is billing handled?
  • Is a kitchen area provided with a refrigerator, sink, and cooking appliance?
  • May residents keep food in their apartments?
  • Are there no-smoking apartments and public spaces?
  • May residents decorate their own apartments?

Social & Recreational Activities

  • Is there information available for organized activities, such as a posted daily schedule, events in progress, reading materials, visitors, etc.?
  • Do residents participate in activities outside of the community in the neighboring community?
  • Does the community have its own pets?
  • Are residents’ pets allowed in the community? Who is responsible for their care?
  • Do volunteers, including family members, come into the community to help with or to conduct programs?
  • Does the community create a sense of inclusion by encouraging residents to participate in activities?

Assisted Living Food Service

  • Do dining room menus vary from day to day and meal to meal?
  • Does the community provide three nutritionally balanced meals a day, seven days a week?
  • Are snacks available?
  • May a resident request special foods, and can the community accommodate special dietary needs?
  • Are common dining areas available?
  • May residents eat meals in their apartment or suite?
  • May meals be provided at a time a resident would like, or are there set times for meals?

Additional Questions on Assisted Living

  • Does the community conduct criminal background checks on employees?
  • Does the community train staff on elder abuse prevention?
  • Is there a policy for reporting suspected abuse?
  • Does the community have a special wing or floor for residents with cognitive impairments such as Alzheimer’s disease?  If so, is it secured?
  • Does the community allow hospice to come in and care for residents?
  • Does the community accept long-term care insurance?