How to Choose an Assisted Living Residence?

Moving to an assisted living residence can be an emotional decision for all concerned. But it is very important to make sure that we approach this emotional decision with a practical framework in mind.

If you are wondering, how to choose an assisted living residence, read on. We provide you the framework to make the right choice. A great assisted living residence can remarkably improve the quality of your golden retirement years.

Choosing an Assisted Living Residence

There are many factors to be considered while choosing an assisted living residence. Below we try to provide you with a framework that can help you in your selection of the right assisted living facility. Let us look at the various assisted living options available.

What Kind of an Assisted Living Residence Should You Choose?

When it comes to assisted living you have to first choose what kind of an assisted living residence will you like to live in. Depending upon the assistance that you are seeking, there may be different options that you have.

You might need assistance in ADLs (Activities of Daily Living). ADLs are basic activities like eating, bathing, dressing, grooming etc that are instrumental to daily living. Or, you might be ok with the ADLs and only need support in the IADLs (Instrumental Activities of Daily Living).

IADLs are a little more complex activities like shopping, managing finances, transport, general house upkeep etc. You can read this article if you want to know more about ADLs, IADLs or what you can do to make yourself less dependent on others.

Now, that we know more about ADLs and IADLs, we briefly list the types of assisted living options available today.

#1. Assisted living retirement homes

Assisted living retirement homes are generally recommended when you want support in activities such as mobility, memory loss, incontinence. Or you have any other problems related to performance of basic Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). Assisted living homes do not provide medical care, but they take care of basic needs and provide comfortable living and company to seniors.

Some situations where it may make sense to consider the option of an assisted living retirement home are:

  • In the event where one spouse needs medical care, the other spouse may want to live in an assisted living community. With their basic needs such as cooking and cleaning are taken care of they can visit their spouse as often as they want.
  • If you are recovering after an accident (like slip and fall) you might want to move into an assisted living home. As you recover, it can be much more convenient when you have help at hand.
  • You may have friends or family members who have already moved to a particular assisted living facility. The place may come highly recommended and you could also do with their company.
Assisted living retirement homes
Assisted living facilities can be a great place to socialize

#2. Nursing homes

Nursing homes are preferable if you need to be under regular medical supervision. They are a step short of being at a hospital. There are several benefits of opting for a nursing home:

  • The provide support for Activities of Daily Living (ADLs).
  • They structure days with scheduled timings for meals, sleep and entertainment to keep you engaged.
  • They also create social support through activities and help reduce isolation.
  • Obviously, medical care at hand at all times is a big plus.
  • Nursing homes provide an overall safe environment for senior living

#3. Respite care

Respite care is like a temporary nursing home, in the event of an accident or temporary illness for seniors. It is an option you may want to consider if you are looking to get back to aging in place at home or to an assisted living facility.

#4. Memory care

In the case of early onset of Alzheimer’s’ disease or dementia, it is preferable to have full time trained medical supervision at hand at all times so that untoward incidents are avoided. Such places are designed to be safe and secure for people suffering from memory issues. Memory care homes may offer secure walking paths, color-coded halls and various dedicated dementia related treatment options.

Memory care homes
Memory care homes are good for people suffering memory issues

Some of the treatment options being used these days include focusing on art, music and other creative activities. Snoezelen therapy  rooms are also used in some cases. Such homes also offer a place where seniors can find others of their own age.

#5. Continuing Care Retirement Facilities

Continuing Care Retirement Facilities (CCRCs) provide support for almost all basic activities as well as medical support for seniors. However, one should choose the right CCRC very carefully, since it is a lifetime contract, and financially a major commitment. Secondly many seniors may not want to live in a society almost entirely composed of geriatrics.

Making the Decision

Once you have decided upon the kind of assisted living facility that you are going to sign up for, you have to decide the particular place that will work for you. Follow the steps below to help you make the right decision.

Get the Family Onboard

Before taking a major decision such as moving into an assisted living home, it is important that everyone in the family is on board. While you may think this only impacts the immediate caregiver and the person or people moving into the assisted living facility, in reality this means getting many people involved. The stakeholders may involve siblings, the extended family members and even friends. It may be a good idea to take different opinions. Typically a family united by the common concern for a senior will do a much better job making the right decision for the future.

At the same time, while decision making may involve everyone, one person will typically emerge as the leader, who can rally around everyone and pull together the time and resources to get the job done.

Identify the Location of Your Assisted Living Home

Location of Your Assisted Living Home
Where do you want your retirement home to be?

Where do you want to spend the golden years of your life? You may want to answer the following questions:

  • Do you want to be in a particular city or town?
  • Do you want to be close to family or that is not a big criteria?
  • Do you want to move to a place with a particular kind of weather?
  • As we discuss below, the location of the assisted living facility is a determinant in its cost. So do you want to consider moving to the suburbs or farther afield to save on costs?

There might be several things that you may be missing in your current home. They can be friends of a similar age group, parks and green trails to walk around, shopping facilities, access to banking and recreational facilities among others. Think through which of these you should have in your new assisted living home and select one accordingly.

Figure Out the Finances

Depending on the facilities you need, assisted living can start at $2000 per month for an individual. Sky is the limit as far as the upper end of the cost spectrum is concerned. This cost depends upon:

  • The location of the assisted living community.
  • Kind of accommodation availed.
  • The services required. Services include housekeeping, laundry, meals, bathing and other activities of daily living (ADLs).

To keep a tab on the costs, you might want to have a clear understanding of what are the “must-haves” and what are “good-to-haves”. It will be a good idea to have them sorted in an order of preference. It is important to also consider what kind of facilities you need now vis-a-is what facilities you might need in the future.

Facilities in some retirement homes
Facilities in some retirement homes can rival upscale hotels

Create a Pros and Cons List!

By this time you should start listing out the facilities within your consideration set. Once you have shortlisted a few assisted living facilities, it is time to create a pros and cons list. Write down your wishlist of features, put the names of each of the facilities you have shortlisted and start discussing which facility provides what features.

This will create a final shortlist of communities which you should then visit and see for yourself. Try to tour all the communities in your shortlist. And certainly be prepared to change your mind when you see the actual facilities. If you value someone’s advice in your decision making, it might be a good idea to request them to accompany you.

Some communities also provide a trial stay option which should definitely be explored to get an inside view about the facilities. These trial stays have another benefit. They might help you to clear any doubts or apprehensions that you may have about moving into an assisted living home.

A week or two of living separate from your family or caregiver with all major daily tasks taken care of can give you a taste of life ahead. It can be really uplifting for some seniors to experience an independent environment among similar aged and like minded people.

Ask Questions and Clear All Doubts

To have a comfortable transition into assisted living, it is very important to clarify all doubts. Based on the pointers above, ask yourself what is important for you. That will help you to determine the questions to ask. Use your priority list effectively and figure out if the most important items you care for are being taken care of or not.

Also, do not forget the subjective part of decision making – especially if you get to do a trial stay. It is very important that you have a “good feeling” about the assisted living facility you are considering moving into. Many times that feeling trumps all pros and cons lists and objectivity in decision making.

Move Ahead!

Once you have finally chosen your assisted living home, it is time to look ahead and plan your golden years! You can start planning on the movement and how you will personalize your new home. Start making lists of what all you are going to take with you to make your life comfortable and your transition easy.

Once you move, mix into the new community, make new friends, get to know the assistants and helpers, try on new facilities like a gym or spa, and in general move on with life. It is the time for you to enjoy everything that you had planned and work for all this while!


Moving to an assisted living facility is a big life decision. It should be taken with all the seriousness it merits. If you are thinking of moving to such a facility, identify the kind of facility that you want. Think in terms of the services, location, cost and the company that you will have. A well made decision can add a lot of joy to your golden years!