Critter Corner: How Do I Know if Assisted Living is Right for My Dad?

Dear Ernie and Jannette,

My father is considering assisted living. He wants me to help him choose a facility. I honestly don’t know where to begin or if assisted living is even right for him. How can I know?

Anita Knowmore

Dear Anita,

Determining if assisted living is right and choosing an assisted living community for a loved one can be a stressful decision for some people. Here some tips to help you navigate the process:

What is Assisted Living?

First, it’s important to know what Assisted Living is and is not.

Assisted Living is a long-term care option that offers seniors a comprehensive combination of housing, support services, social opportunities, and access to certain round-the-clock staffing. Assisted Living addresses the needs of those who require help with daily activities, but not as much assistance as someone who may be considering a nursing facility.

The goal of assisted living is to help residents maintain as much choice and independence as possible while providing assistance with the basics—such as meals, housekeeping, laundry, medication management, bathing, and dressing. Beyond addressing resident’s care needs, assisted living offers social, educational, and wellness activities to help promote engagement and interaction.

Always Visit

The best way to determine if an Assisted Living community is right for your father is to take a personal tour. You will get to meet staff members and likely some of the community’s residents. You will want to pay close attention and evaluate the community’s environment, physical features, access to health care, services and amenities, dining program, lifestyle offerings, and more. Here are some questions you can ask:


Who will be my main contact at the community?
How do you keep family members updated on dad’s care and condition?
How do you keep family members updated on the community’s activities and events?
Who makes up the team of caregivers at the community?
Does your staff have any special training and/or certification?
How will dad be billed for his apartment and care; will the room and board be broken out from any health care services provided?
What is your community’s philosophy of care?
What happens if dad has a medical emergency?
How long do most residents live at the community?
When and why would my dad have to leave the community?


How will you conduct my dad’s initial assessment to determine his care needs? How many minutes a day will dad receive hands-on care?
How would you proactively care for my loved ones needs?
What exactly do you mean by housekeeping and laundry services? What is included and what is an additional charge?
What menu options are available in the dining room?
Be sure to taste the food when you visit an assisted living community!
Can family members share a meal with dad in the dining room?
What level of care service is included in the base rate, and when would he be charged additional for services?


What is the security system at the community?
What amenities do residents use most often and for what activities?
What key medical services are conveniently available on-site? Doctor’s office? Wellness Center? Therapy? Pharmacy services? Hospice? Ancillary physicians?

How will you help my dad transition to the community?
What does a typical resident day look like?
What are the guidelines regarding resident attire?
Can dad keep his own sleeping and waking schedule?
What are some of the residents’ favorite things to do?
Are pets allowed at the community? If so, who is responsible for pet care?
How is the community’s lifestyle program different from other lifestyle programs?
What is your activity department’s programming philosophy and how do they come up with new ideas?
Ask to see a photo album of past activities or a newsletter that describes lifestyle highlights.

A comprehensive Community Checklist is available in the Assisted Living Federation of America’s “Guide to Choosing an Assisted Living Community.” (Scroll to the bottom of the page)

If assisted living is not the right fit for your father, or if he needs more care in the future, please contact the Farr Law Firm to set up an appointment for a no cost initial consultation to discuss planning for long-term care.

Hop this is helpful,

Ernie and Janette

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About Renee Eder

Renee Eder is the Director of Public Relations for the Farr Law Firm, and gives the voice to the Critters of Critter Corner. Renee’s poodle, Penny, is an official comfort dog who she and her children bring to visit with seniors who are in the early stages of dementia at a local senior home once a month.

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