Deciding the right senior care facility can be a difficult decision that requires a lot of research and consideration.  There are certain points that should be covered when touring facilities in order to ensure you choose somewhere that is exactly right for you.


What is the staff-to-resident ratio day and night and what is their training?

Depending on the type of facility, assisted living typically provides 2-4 caregivers per resident however knowing what types of caregivers are staffed is important. How friendly is the staff and how alert do they appear?  Many facilities staff certified nurse assistants (CNA), food service workers, maintenance personnel, registered nurses (RN), and personal care attendants, as well as many different contracted services.


How does the staff administer medication?

Often times, these facilities not only offer medication maintenance services. They often consolidate the medication by ordering, storing, administering, and monitoring all medication as well as maintaining communication with doctors.  Make sure to ask about medication administration fees as some may charge a standard fee while others charge according to how often it is distributed.


What size options are there for which prices?

The size and location of the room is important, as a studio is significantly less expensive compared to a two bedroom.  Prices also differ according to factors, such as view or location to elevator, access to public areas, or access to private kitchens, patios, or balconies.  When deciding on a location, be sure to consider mobility concerns, such as distance, number of steps, and the space between rooms.  Seniors should also realize that some facilities may charge a refundable deposit or a one-time fee that can range from $1000-$5000; facilities may also charge a second person fee for couples or a pet fee for any animal.


What outdoor areas or activities are offered?

It’s a good idea to try and visit during a time where there is an activity or a meal being served to get a sense of the happiness and sociability of the other residents. Some facilities offer spa days, yoga, dancing classes, or book groups while others may schedule regular events and outings, such as cookouts or movie nights.  Some places may also allow seniors to bring their pets so outdoor areas may require extra special attention.


Are there any leasing contracts or discharge policies to know about?

Assisted living facilities are not like typical housing arrangements.  Assisted living facilities very rarely require leasing contacts or time commitments, although some may require a move-out notice.  Seniors pay month-to-month and can choose to relocate any time if unsatisfied or their medical needs change however some may have certain move-out criteria to be aware of.


What are the billing and payment options and what is included?

In the Unites States, the average annual cost of assisted living is $43,539.00 (or $3,628.25 a month) and appears to be increasing 1-2% each year.  In truth, assisted living facilities actually range from $730 to $11,250 per month.  Remaining aware of what the base price includes and the detailed cost of any options that are not included will help prevent unexpected costs.  Facilities may also allow seniors to hold an account for personal spending on extra services, such as the beauty salon or movie outings.


What personal care services are offered?

Make sure to ask about their bathing options and dressing practices and take the time to address any preferences.  Also, be sure to pay attention to the cleanliness of the floors, windows, and personal living spaces and ask how often maintenance, laundry, cleaning services occurs and if that is an additional cost.  Additionally, some places offer barber and beauty services. Remember to ask if they have any experience with any special medical, emotional, or physical concerns and don’t be afraid to talk to the current residents.



Learn more about assisted living and other healthcare options at the main Assisted Living page or the main Caregiving page.

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About the Author: Victoria K. Stickley is a copywriter, editor, and senior content manager based in the Dallas area. Her graduate education in counseling and research has helped immensely in her writing as well as the care she provides for her grandparents. She currently provides support and resources to senior care websites as she learns and experiences senior care first-hand.