Moving into an assisted living community is just one of many important decisions that need to be made regarding senior care. The next challenge is choosing the right facility for you or your loved one.

A personalized checklist will help you to make an informed decision, as well as an equal evaluation of every facility that you visit. Remember to make note of the facility name, address, phone number, main point of contact, website and email.

Below are some items you will want to include in your assisted living facility checklist

Initial ‘Over the Phone’ Questions

All of these questions can be taken care of over the phone. This will save the cost and time spent taking a trip and can eliminate a facility before you visit a community.

  • How many residents live at the facility?
  • Are the rooms private?
  • Do the rooms/units have kitchens?
  • Are different size units available?
  • Are there special units for special needs patients?
  • Are additional services available if the resident’s needs change over time?
  • Can residents use their own health care providers/pharmacists?
  • How do they bill residents?
  • Under what condition would a resident leave?

Questions to Ask During Your Visit

The next sets of questions are those that can be answered while visiting the facility. You’ll also want to note whether this is the first visit to the facility, what day it is, and what time you visited. These details can provide important information when making a decision. The questions to ask or take note of should consist of questions similar to the following:

  • What was your initial reaction to the facility?
  • Is the facility clean and organized?
  • Are the staff and patients cheerful?
  • Are the stairs and walkways well lit?
  • Are the exits marked appropriately?
  • Do the rooms and bathrooms have hand rails?
  • Are there safety locks on the windows?
  • Is there a backup power generator?
  • Is the floor plan easy to follow?
  • Are the rooms or units large enough?
  • Are there plenty of common areas for residents to use such as:
    • Game room
    • Library
    • Chapel
    • Computer area
    • TV area
    • Living room
    • Cafeteria
    • Special services such as a bank, café, beauty salon?

    Questions to Reflect On After Your Visit

    Contract and Expenses

    The preceding questions will help you note what your visit was like. After visiting more than one location all of the details can begin to blend together and it is very east to get facilities mixed up. The next portion of the checklist should note details of the contract and expenses. Sample questions include:

    • Is the contract easy to follow?
    • Does the contract contain a lot of fine print?
    • Do you understand all of the provisions of the contract?
    • What are the entrance fees?
    • What is the monthly rental charge?
    • How much is the security deposit?
    • Is the deposit refundable?
    • What utilities are included?
      • Heat
      • Electricity
      • Phone
      • Internet
    • Are there rate increases and how are they announced?
    • What if a payment is late?
    • What specific services are provided?
    • How often are services rendered?
    • What meals are served?
    • Are meals served seven days a week?
    • What times are the meals served?
    • Who determines the level of care patients receive?
    • What level of care is provided at the facility?


    Next you’ll want to ask about the specific amenities. Amenities are an important factor in determining whether or not you or your loved one will enjoy their stay. Questions to ask include:

    • Can residents bring their own furniture?
    • Is laundry provided?
    • Can residents come and go as they choose?
    • Can residents have a pet?
    • Is transportation provided?
    • When are visitors allowed?
    • Does the facility have a worship service?
    • Is transportation to places of worship provided?
    • Are residents charged parking?
    • Are visitors charged parking?
    • Do residents have storage space?

    Lastly, ask friends neighbors, and relatives who have experience with some of the facilities you’re visiting. Word of mouth travels fast and chances are if a facility has an overwhelmingly good or bad reputation, it is likely true. Also check internet chat rooms and forums to get information from real people. By following these steps you are much more likely to make a sound decision and avoid choosing the wrong assisted living facility.

    A checklist allows you to perform a much more detailed and accurate assessment for you or your loved one to make a decision. It’s also good to note the human element when visiting. Take note of your gut reaction to the facility, residents, and staff. The staff will most likely put their best foot forward so be extra aware of the feeling you get when walking in as well as during your tour.