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Factors to Consider in Selecting the Best Assisted Living Facility

Published: Dec 30, 2022. Last Updated: Jan 8, 2023.

The journey to finding the best assisted living for you is a challenging task, especially considering that what you’re looking at are prospective communities where your loved one will spend the next stage of their life in. As the National Institute for Aging[1] defines, assisted living is intended for people who need help with daily care, but it does not provide as much help as nursing homes provide. Residents in an assisted living can have access to a set of services, including the provision of three meals a day; assistance with personal care; help with medications; housekeeping and laundry; 24-hour security; and social and recreational activities.

There are a variety of assisted living options that may suit the needs and preference of your loved one. In fact, according to the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living, an organization that represents more than 14,000 non-profit and proprietary assisted living communities and long-term care services, there are approximately 28,900 assisted living communities with nearly 1 million licensed beds today in the U.S.

Considering the statistics of existing assisted living communities, you have to be prepared to navigate it to be able to make the best possible decision. While the options can seem overwhelming, it’s possible to have a smooth-sailing searching process with the right information and resources. For a start, let’s take a look at these fundamental factors to consider when choosing the right assisted living facility for your loved one:


Among the critical factors to account in choosing the right assisted living facility is its geographical location. While most seniors prefer moving to a facility within a particular place or community that they are already familiar with, there are more reasons that can affect this particular point of detail in their decision.

Is the facility proximate to medical facilities?

An assisted living facility provides a certain level of medical care to their residents, however, it is not as capable as a nursing home or a medical facility. Doctors may visit their patients in an assisted living facility, but most facilities don’t have a doctor on duty 24/7. This is one important thing to note because as people age, they are more likely to need professional medical attention. If your loved one has an existing chronic medical condition, you should check if the assisted living facility you’re looking at is close to a hospital or medical facility.

Is the facility close to their loved ones?

While seniors have the chance to make new friends and engage with their peers in an assisted living facility, it’s still different when their loved ones check in on them and make time for meaningful visits every once in a while. This can help them ward off feelings of stress and social isolation. Choosing a facility that is at least less than a hour ride away from your home would be a convenient option for you and your loved one if regular in-person visits are your priority.

Services/ Amenities Offered

More than the assistance provided in managing your loved one’s personal care and ADLs, an assisted living facility brings forth a soothing ambiance and comfortable spaces that lift the residents’ mood and overall well-being. It provides them many outlets for relaxation, pampering, and leisure. When choosing a prospective assisted living facility, look for one that has a wholesome and dedicated programming that suits your loved one’s preferences for amenities and services.

Most assisted living facilities can include a variety of on-site amenities that may include some of the following:

  • Fitness Centers

  • Movie Theaters

  • Salon and Barbershop

  • Game room

  • Gardens

  • Cafes

  • Library

  • Communal Courtyard

  • Chapel

  • Art Studio

  • Porches, patios, and sunrooms

    Assisted living facilities also provide a number of services, which include:

  • Three meals a day

  • Monitoring and medication management

  • Personal care and assistance with ADLs such as bathing, dressing, grooming, toileting, walking, etc.

  • Housekeeping services

  • Transportation services

  • Round-the-clock security

  • Emergency call systems in each residents’ living space

  • Exercise and wellness programs

  • Laundry

  • Social and and recreational activities

  • Staff available to help with the residents’ needs

Size and Style of Apartment/Room

When contemplating about the size of a residential apartment in an assisted living facility, your loved one’s comfort should come first before anything else. Ask them if a smaller, cozier environment would feel more homey to them, or maybe a large and bustling place with wide areas for outdoor activities is what they prefer. No matter their choice, their personal preference should determine this point of detail in their selection process.

Now, in terms of style and floorplan of the apartments or rooms, think of which design works best for your loved one’s lifestyle. For example, if your mom loves cooking, look for a facility with apartments that hold enough space for the kitchen. If your dad likes to entertain guests, then consider looking for a floor plan design with a dedicated space for a living room or maybe a porch. Take these details into consideration to end up choosing a comfortable and pleasant place that your loved one can call home. 

Staff-Resident Ratio

One essential aspect to assess when checking out a potential assisted living facility is the sufficiency and the competency of their care staff. Particularly, the staff-resident ratio should be a point of inquiry when considering a facility primarily because this has a great impact in ensuring that your loved one’s needs are met aseffectively. Thetendencyforafacilitywithinadequatestaffingisthatoftentimes, the needs of their residents are poorly responded. As stated in the Compendium of Residential Care and Assisted Living Regulations and Policy: 2015 Edition[2], states use two basic approaches to staffing levels:
  • flexible, or as-needed staffing

  • minimum ratios based on either the number of staff to the number of residents, or a specified number of staff hours per resident per day or week.

    Most assisted facilities implement minimum ratios of staff to residents,[3] and on average, there is at least one staff member for every six to eight residents. Otherwise, you might as well as ask about how the staff manages to accommodate and attend to the needs of every resident. On the other hand, if the facility utilizes a flexible or as-needed staffing, you will want to ask about the average time duration before a care staff can respond to a resident’s call for assistance. A reasonable timeframe should be about ten minutes during the day, and slightly longer at night. If the response time exceeds this, you might want to reconsider.

Safety Measures

Another major factor to consider when selecting an assisted living facility is its security measures. It is an important aspect that tells of how much a potential resident relies on the community, safety-wise. While an assisted living facility has a 24/7 onsite staff, it’s always a good move to check if the facility is well-equipped with a reputable security and access control systems, including the following:
  • Marked exits
  • Wheelchair ramps
  • Wide doorways
  • Handrails and grab-bars
  • Non-skid floors
  • Zero-threshold showers
  • Perimeter access control
  • Fire alarm and detection
  • Emergency alarms

If possible, look for an assisted living facility that balances safety, comfort, and convenience. The good thing about modern assisted living facilities is that they implement a person-centered care to improve the quality of life of the residents and at the same time, creating a security system that provides them peace of mind as well.

Payment Option

Another point of inquiry is the available options for payment. Having a clear picture on payment or funding will help you compare your options better. To get started, here are some of the ways to pay for assisted living:

Private Pay with Personal Fund

This is possible if you prefer to pay upfront using the personal savings or personal income of your loved one or perhaps their pension or retirement fund.

Long-term Care Insurance

You can check whether the existing insurance policy of your loved one covers long-term care funding. This option can help preserve savings and other assets that are otherwise at expense when you choose to pay upfront.

Reverse mortgage

This payment term allows you to borrow money on the equity of the home you or your loved one owns. A reverse mortgage is often an option when you don’t have any other financial sources to fund for long-term care.

Medicare or Medicaid

Medicare doesn’t cover the cost of assisted living or any other long-term care, but it can help supplement its funding for an assisted living facility for people with chronic medical conditions such as stroke, Alzheimer’s, sclerosis, Parkinson’s, among others. Medicaid, however, is available to those who have an income low enough to qualify for government aid.

Life Within/ Culture/ Belongingness

Finally, have a look at the way of life within your prospective assisted living community, assess whether it radiates a vibrant atmosphere or a wholesome culture. Check for available social activities or social clubs which your loved one can participate in. If your loved one prefers a quiet, relaxed atmosphere, look for communities that are more reserved and individualized. Depending on your loved one’s choice, the best community matters mostly on the things or the set-up that they are most comfortable in.

Select Facilities to Visit and Check it for yourself

When you have narrowed the list according to the priorities, preferences, and personal likings of your loved one, the next step is to pay a visit and check the facility for yourself. Take a scheduled tour, and if possible, take your loved one with you asyouviewthecommunityandtheresidentialspaceitself. Firstimpressionslast, so they say. During your visit, take note of what you see, hear, smell, and just the overall feeling and vibe of the facility. You can also have a small talk with some of the residents and the care staff about how life is inside the community. A personal, physical visit goes a long way in choosing the best assisted living facility that would serve asthenexthomeforyourlovedone. 



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About the Author

JM Guiang

Writer & Researcher

Elder Guide LLC

Inspired by fresh ideas and wise words, JM Guiang, Communications degree-holder, and Elder Guide writer, finds profound joy in writing quality content and insightful articles that redefine seniors' perspective on aging with grace and confidence.