Whether you’re looking into assisted living or another form of residential senior care, it’s important to keep everything organized. Finding the right home for a loved can be stressful but preparation is a good step in the right direction. Seniors and their families have unique needs and preferences, making your own checklist can ensure everyone’s needs are met.


Step One: Starting the Discussion

Talking with your loved one about assisted living can be painful. Some seniors struggle to recognize the need for residential care while others are simply uncomfortable with change. Starting the conversation is the first step but opening lines of communication is actually the most important. Your loved one is the most essential aspect of this decision, it’s important to involve them in every decision.

The planning process can begin by discussing every aspect of home that’s important to them. Having a deep conversation about their interests and hobbies will validate their needs and give you a sense of what they need. Consider asking these questions to help trigger the conversation:

  • What kind of hobbies do you like?
  • Have you ever wanted to try something, like gardening or computer classes?
  • Have you ever been in a club, like book club or camera club?
  • Do you like the outdoors?
  • What are your favorite things to do?
  • Do you have any friends in senior care?
  • Have you ever wanted a roommate?

Although you know your loved one better than anyone, many people have unspoken ideas or desires. Maybe they’ve always wanted to learn to paint or try a new language. Consider any event, groups or hobby that can help your loved one relax and enjoy themselves.  Assisted living doesn’t just provide basic services and housing, they represent an opportunity to try new things while meeting new people.


Step Two: Basic Necessities

The vast majority of seniors that enter into residential care because of a need for basic care. As you make your checklist, consider every need that must be met and any issues for the foreseeable future. Although it’s impossible to predict the future, many caregivers can anticipate the needs of those they care for.  The primary needs listed by assisted living residents include:

  • Activities of Daily Living. Activities of daily living often include cooking, cleaning, hygiene, dressing, transferring, and bathroom assistance. Senior homes provide cleaning and meal services as well as assistance with personal care and home maintenance.
  • Medical/Healthcare Assistance. Chronic conditions are very common amongst the elderly. Residential care can provide medication maintenance and distribution. Seniors can also receive regular health checks and coordinated care with current healthcare providers.
  • Physical Accommodations. Issues with mobility are rarely a problem for most care communities. Make sure to consider any home modifications or mobility assistance products needed.
  • Memory Care. Whether its natural aging or developing dementia, many senior communities are equipped to help care for memory issues. This can include heightened security, special programs, and daily events designed to improve memory.
  • Social Isolation. Residential care automatically solves the issue of isolation by allowing seniors to live as a community. Many go one step further by providing fun outings and transportation for errands.

Step Three: Balance Priorities

Now that you’ve discussed what’s important in terms of preference and need, now it’s time to balance other important factors. The cost of care tends to be the number one concern so it’s important to discuss the different ways to pay for care. There are a number of ways to pay for private care while still protecting assets.

As you research various homes, it becomes easy to focus on your loved ones immediate needs while neglecting what benefits you and other loved ones. As you make your list, make sure to keep yourself (or family, friends, etc.) in mind. Choose a location that makes visits easier or a home with activities that you can join. Location should never be the major deciding factor but it’s important to choose a place that works for everybody.


Step Four: Using Your List to Shop Communities

After collecting information and considering every angle, it’s time to organize your list. Divide your list into categories and assign each item to a category. For example, painting classes and bingo would go under activities; medication maintenance and bathing assistance would be under services; and private bathroom would be under accommodations.

Once you’ve organized each item, you can make a checklist to ensure you ask about each item. There’s a lot to consider when comparing facilities. We recommend taking a look at this Senior Care Facility Tour Checklist to get a better idea of everything to include. Take notes and ask as many questions as needed to ensure you get a full picture.

Shopping communities can start with a simple internet search. There are a number of sites that can help you view thousands of communities no matter where you are. You can find reviews, photos, testimonials, and even virtual tours alongside up-to-date information for everything you need. Although it may be time consuming, you can narrow down your options using your checklist. Those uncomfortable with internet references can consult with their doctor or local senior community center for more personal references.


As you work through each step, try to keep every aspect of their life as well as yours. A personalized checklist means including personal preferences as well as immediate needs.  Make sure to look into more than one community and then closely compare cost, amenities, and programs. The care community checklist answers questions before they’re even asked. Save yourself time and effort by creating your own personalized search tool today!


For additional caregiving information, visit the main page or learn more about senior care options on the main Assisted Living 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.