Choose Assisted Living Facility Choose an Assisted Living Facility for a Loved One
Select an Assisted Living Facility for a Loved One
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How to Choose the Best Assisted Living Facility
for Yourself or A Loved One!

choose an assisted living facility

The Choose an Assisted Living Facility Checklist is an extensive guide that will help you select an Assisted Living Facilty for yourself or a family member - -
Easy to use Guide and Checklist for Comparing the Benefits of three ALF's.


Assisted Living is an option in living style, offering a residence, housekeeping, and personal care services, as well as safety, companionship, and medication management. It stresses independence, dignity, individuality, and privacy while offering 24-hour assistance if needed. Assisted Living is not an institution and is not appropriate for those who need Skilled Nursing Care.

There are a lot of words on this page, and that is by design. Selecting an Assisted Living Facility for yourself or a loved one is an important decision as it will greatly influence the quality of daily living for the latter part of one's life. This is not a decision to be taken lightly. The My Story section is the basis for all the information within this checklist and is the result of our experiences with an Assisted Living Facility of which most were good, while some experiences were not so good. The Words of Wisdom section we hope will give you some unique insight for your search for the best ALF, regardless of whether you purchase this checklist.

There are many facilities available, some are excellent, and unfortunately some are poor. Because this decision is so important, it is often an emotional and stressful one. This checklist is designed to help take some of the emotion out of the decision making process by focusing on many of the important factors that need to be considered. For ONLY a small investment of $24.95, this workbook will enable you to easily compare facilities, prioritize your needs, and assist you in choosing the Assisted Living Facility that best suits your expected lifestyle.

If you are a family member placing a loved one with Alzheimer's Disease or Dementia in an Assisted Living Facility, your needs and concerns are unique and are addressed in the Alzheimer's and Dementia Section of the Checklist. However, most of the items discussed in the Checklist apply to all residents, regardless of cognitive or physical impairment.

dining at an assisted living facility


This checklist is intended as a guide and has over 650 items to be considered. There is no facility that could possibly offer all the options contained in this checklist. Moreover, all of the items in this list are not appropriate for all people. Prioritize your needs, compare facilities, and use this checklist to help you make the decision that best suits your needs or the needs of a loved one.

This Checklist was developed based on my personal experience selecting an Assisted Living facility for my mother and helping her adjust to the Assisted Living lifestyle. I hope it serves you well.


Assisted Living residents make up a diverse population. They range from those who are nearly self-sufficient and independent, with active social lives to those who need assistance with even minimal daily tasks. In my case, my widowed mother had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease two years earlier and was no longer safe at home. She needed a "special care" or Alzheimer's/Dementia secured unit.

I had no prior experience with elder care and very little information when I began my search for a home for my mother. I was determined to find a very special place for a very special lady. Over the course of a month I visited fifteen facilities, rejected some immediately, revisited others, and became overwhelmed trying to sort out all the information. Trying to remember all the differences in policies, amenities, and services made it very difficult to compare facilities. This checklist will help minimize those difficulties.

Eventually, I narrowed my list to three facilities and asked other family members to make visits and offer their opinions. This process eliminated one facility. My final choice was based on three key considerations I thought were very important; location, the activity program, and the staff. My mother moved into her new home and began to adjust to her new surroundings.

Things were going well until a medical emergency occurred a few months after her move and she was rushed to the emergency room by ambulance. No medical information was sent to the hospital by the facility despite all the initial promises that a packet of emergency medical information would be sent in an emergency situation. Emergency care was delayed in a very serious situation until I could be located by phone to provide critical information. I addressed this discrepancy with facility management in two meetings and through two letters with no satisfaction. Finally, I filed a complaint of unsafe medical practices with the Office of Elder Affairs. An investigation was conducted and the finding was in our favor. The facility was required to provide medical information in the event of an emergency for all residents. Shortly thereafter, the management team at this facility was replaced.

For two and a half years everything was fine and then, due to personnel promotions, management changed again. Under new leadership, the focus of the facility changed from providing the best possible quality of life to being solely profit based. Long time employees resigned, staff was cut to a bare bones level, and the quality of care decreased significantly. I expressed my concern to management. The response was to assure me that these problems were transitional and would be worked out for the benefit of all. It took many meetings over a year long period before there were positive signs of a return to high quality care.

The facility was then sold to a group of investors and there was an even stronger focus on making a profit at the expense of providing quality care. Once again, more employees resigned, staffing was cut further, and the quality of care decreased. I initiated dialog with families of other residents and jointly formed a Family Council. This was met with resistance by the new owners; however, we were determined to settle for nothing less than the high level of care we had become accustomed to - and were paying for. Small changes started to occur just before my Mother's condition deteriorated and she passed away.

Overall, I was content with my choice of facility in spite of all the management difficulties. My mother's apartment suited her needs, allowed her to keep her cherished personal belongings, and gave her privacy when she wanted it. Most of the staff was exceptional and her care generally was excellent. There was a photo album in a common room on her floor ... it contained pictures of my smiling mother at cookouts, on field trips, in the garden, dining out, at musical programs, craft classes, visiting with children, and engaging in the many activities that occurred each day. She liked the staff and although she couldn't remember their names, she knew their faces and smiled when she saw them. Additionally, I had peace of mind knowing she was safe, well cared for, engaged in pleasant activities on a daily basis, and her quality of life was the best I could provide for her.

Select an Assisted Living Facility for a Loved One

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an Assisted Living Facility Checklist for Yourself or a Loved One

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(Learned the hard way)

Your first personal contact at a facility will typically be a Marketing Associate (translate to salesperson). Their paycheck depends on getting contracts signed. They are friendly, likable people who are trained to nurture a sense of trust and also to represent their facility in the best possible light. Omission is not lying. No need for paranoia, most are honest and professional. Your job is to listen carefully and fill in the blanks. Figure out what was left out and ask questions, ask repeatedly, if necessary. Be sure all your questions are answered clearly before you sign a contract. I hope the following "Words of Wisdom" help with the selection of an Assisted Living Facility that best suits your needs:
  • Never assume anything! Ask the questions you think you shouldn't have to ask.

  • Never sign a contract until you take it home and read it very carefully. Have a friend or family member read it, and if possible have an attorney read it. Despite verbal promises, a facility is only required by law to provide the services specifically stated in the contract. If the contract does not match either the promotional literature or promises made by any staff member, address your concerns immediately and insist the contract be changed to include the services you were led to believe were offered. Honest mistakes are made, however, if a facility balks at changing a contract, leave and go elsewhere. If they have misled you once, they will do it again in the future. Once again, never sign a contract until you completely understand it and are completely satisfied!

  • Do not judge the level of day-to-day services by your relationship with the Marketing Associate. They are involved solely in marketing and once you have signed a contract you will likely never interact with them again.

  • An attractive building, lobby, dining room, etc. is not indicative of the level of services provided. If some areas of the building look too perfect and untouched, they probably are. Sometimes rooms are kept in perfect order for the purpose of appearance or "show and tell". Observe carefully to determine if these areas are accessible to residents or if their use is discouraged.

  • The cost of a room or apartment is not indicative of the level of personal care services provided.

  • The attitude of the staff directly correlates to the resident's quality of life. Observe carefully and frequently before making a decision.

  • Talk to the residents themselves, or the families of residents, to determine the actual quality of care being given. These people will be very honest with you. Ask what problems they have encountered. The best question to ask is "What is the best and worst thing about living in this facility?" Ask this question often, and ask it of many different people. Their feedback is invaluable.

  • After your initial visit, make several unannounced visits; at meal times, scheduled activity times, and just to walk through the building and observe the "every day routine". With each visit you will notice more and get a better feel for the quality of life offered.

  • If you are told that it is a common industry problem for an Assisted Living facility to be short staffed, that it is difficult to find or keep workers, under no circumstances should you lower your expectations for quality care. Do not fall into the trap of sympathizing with overworked care giving staff. Facilities can attract and keep good workers by offering good working conditions, training, benefits and competitive wages. It is the responsibility of the facility managers to hire and retain enough qualified staff members to provide the level of care promised. Understaffed facilities equal poor care.

  • If at any time you observe any staff member treat a resident with disrespect or in a rough manner please report the incident to the facility Director and be sure it is addressed.

  • If at any time you hear staff members complaining about how hard their jobs are, how unfairly they are treated, what they have to put up with, how tired they are, or how they can't wait to go home, choose another facility. There are serious staffing issues, which will directly affect quality of life for the residents.

  • If at any time you hear a staff member complaining publicly about an individual resident, report it to the facility Director. All staff members should be required to follow confidentiality guidelines. Problems with individual residents should be addressed in staff meetings, not publicly.

  • Scheduled activities on a published weekly or monthly calendar may seem impressive, but they don't always take place, and at times don't meet even minimal expectations. One Assisted Living facility I evaluated scheduled three different activities on three separate occasions, however, residents were sitting in front of a television set each time. These activities were still listed on the calendar and had not been canceled or rescheduled. The staff had no explanation. Be sure to observe activities in progress.

  • If you will be using the facility Medication Management service, it is critical that you determine what the procedure is and how it is managed. How are prescription changes made and how rapidly are they made? Who dispenses the medication and what training have they had? Where are the medications kept? Are they in a locked area? Is there a medication log kept and signed each time a medication is given? Does the staff member watch until the resident has actually ingested the medication? Check this very carefully, some facilities do a thorough job in this area, others are quite lax. I have found my mother's medication under the cushions of her chair and on the floor. Don't wait for an emergency situation to discover the proper medication was not actually ingested.

  • Emergency procedures are critical. Ask to be walked through the procedure in the event 911 needs to be called. It is extremely important that medical information accompany each resident to the hospital in the event of an emergency. Patients in crisis are often unable to speak for themselves, they may be confused, or they may give incorrect information. Emergency Room personnel will be delayed in responding quickly and appropriately without a list of medical conditions and medications. If necessary, create your own packet of emergency medical information and gain agreement from the facility that this packet will be sent with the resident to the hospital in case of an emergency (An example of a packet of medical emergency information is in Section XVII of the Checklist).

  • Every Senior Citizen is disrupted by a move to different living quarters. Make this decision carefully, so another move will not be required. Also be advised that it will take at least six months to feel at home in new surroundings. Keep your attitude positive and be patient.
This is only a small sampling of the information contained in the Choose an Assisted Living Facility Checklist.

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This checklist is designed for use as an assessment tool for selecting an Assisted Living Facility for yourself or for a loved one. The evaluation process is quite thorough. However, your investment in time for conducting this analysis will reap high rewards. All too often during an evaluation process it becomes too easy to confuse what you have seen in each of the facilities you have visited. This checklist will help to minimize any confusion. A comprehensive assessment process, such as this one, will help keep you focused on the mission of finding the most appropriate facility to suit the needs of your unique living style.

It is envisioned this checklist can be used in one of three ways:
  1. You could utilize this tool to personally conduct an assessment of three different Assisted Living Facilities.
  2. You could assign several different relatives to conduct evaluations and use this document to compare the differences.
  3. You could utilize an unbiased third party to conduct this assessment. Identify the characteristics that are most important to you or your family member and let the unbiased third party do the rest. Then visit the facility yourself to make certain you feel comfortable with the analysis.
While many of the topics described herein may be considered important for many people, all of them may not apply to you or your family member. Some, obviously, will be more important than others depending upon your likes and dislikes, your interests, and your personal lifestyle. However, all of these topics merit your consideration as you begin to search for the best Assisted Living Facility. Included in Section XIII of the Checklist is a table with 20 blank spaces for you to add items that you consider to be of primary importance in your selection process.

Satisfaction Guaranteed - 100% Risk Free: Still not sure this Checklist will help you select the best Assisted Living Facility for yourself or a loved one? Well, I want you to feel completely comfortable before you order.

Since I know from personal experience that the information contained in this Checklist is so valuable, I will personally guarantee your satisfaction!

The Choose an Assisted Living Facility Checklist comes with a No-Questions-Asked, No-Hassle, ONE MONTH MONEY BACK GUARANTEE. If you honestly feel that if after using this Checklist it hasn't helped improve your knowledge about how to choose an Assisted Living Facility and hasn't saved you time or money, then email me anytime within the next 30 days and I will refund the full amount you paid (Note: This guarantee applies ONLY to an individual who is evaluating senior home living and NOT to an Assisted Living Facility owner, manager or staff persons, consultants, students, educators, or curiosity seekers). Satisfaction Guaranteed!

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Quantity Discounts: Volume pricing at substantially reduced discounts off the retail price based on print quantities is available if you an Assisted Living Facility with multiple locations and would like to conduct a self-assessment of your facilities, or are part of an organization that provides goods or services to this industry and would like to use the checklist as a marketing/business development tool. Additionally, the opportunity to "brand" the Choose an Assisted Living Facility Checklist with your company's cover page, letter of introduction, and your logo is available for you to distribute to potential clients.


Choose an Assisted Living Facility
for Yourself or a Loved One


Location of the Facility.


20 Considerations.



Facility Exterior.


30 Considerations.



Building Interior.


A. Lobby, Hallways, and Common Areas.


52 Considerations.


B. Dining Room.


16 Considerations.


C. Resident Rooms or Apartments.


23 Considerations.


D. Bathrooms.


13 Considerations.


E. Activity Rooms.


12 Considerations.



Safety and Emergencies.


30 Considerations.





43 Considerations.





42 Considerations.





63 Considerations.



Food Services.


22 Considerations.





10 Considerations.



Services Offered.


19 Considerations.



Resident Agreement, Contracts, and Policies.


118 Considerations.



Helpful Hints and Questios to Ask.


50 Considerations.



Considerations Important to You.


20 Fill-in the Blanks.





Intro Alzheimer's/Dementia Section



Alzheimer's/Dementia Unit.


48 Considerations.



Taking Care of Your Most Valuable Asset – Yourself.


25 Considerations.



Important Family Documents.


32 Items.



Sample - Medical Emergency Information Packet



Helpful Resources.



Author Bio. - Marjorie J. O'Donnell.



Bio. - Jim O'Donnell.



Other Checklists Currently Available.


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select an assisted living facility for a loved one checklist

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Click here to view Words of Wisdom for selecting an Assisted Living Facility

Click here to view the Outline for the Choose an Assisted Liviving Facility for Yourself or a Loved One

Click here to view eight (8) sample pages of the Choose an Assisted Living Facility Checklist for Yourself or a Loved One

"The author obviously has a lot of personal experience with selecting services in an Assisted Living Facility and identifying very important and critical issues that the average person wouldn't think of. The information contained in this checklist helped me provide a better lifestyle for my Grandmother in the latter years of her life."

Joy Bartlett

"This is the most extensive checklist that I have seen on this subject & it is an invaluable tool! I have recommended this checklist to everyone I know who is considering an Assisted Living lifestyle for themselves or a loved one."

Arthur Kohler
Former Executive Director
New Hampshire Long Term
Care Institute

Assisted Living Facility

"I wish I had this checklist a few years ago when I was searching for a facility for my Grandfather, but, thankfully, when I was looking for a Senior Living Facility for my Grandmother this checklist was invaluable with determining the best and safest place for her."

Mark Manuel

Assisted Living FacilityHelps you to find the BEST Assisted Living Facility

"I watched my Mother fight, and win, many battles and improvements with an Assisted Living Facility when she was caring for my Grandmother. As a result of her experiences, some negative, but most positive, she created this valuable guide to assist you with the care of your loved ones. This checklist defines the standard for how an ALF should provide care for their residents."

Dan O'Donnell
Eagle, ID,

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