As a senior living administrator, part of your job is helping families in the task of choosing an assisted living community for their loved ones. That can involve helping them know what questions to ask and what red flags they should be on the look-out for. Even if, ultimately, they do not choose your community, you can be a resource in their decision-making process.

We’ve created a checklist of common questions about assisted living communities that you can provide to families who visit your community, to help them keep track of what they learn as they tour potential options.

snapshot of our Choosing a Community checklist

click to download entire checklist

Practical Considerations

  • Are visitors welcome at any time?
  • Does the community offer the levels of care you anticipate your loved one may need in the future?
  • Does the community have experience with the issues or diagnosis your loved one suffers from?
  • How have they fared in recent state inspections? What have been their deficiencies and how were they corrected?


  • What is the staff-to-resident ratio? Does this change overnight, on the weekends, or over holidays?
  • Can staff administer medications?
  • Are there licensed nurses on staff 24 hours a day, as well as weekends and holidays?
  • How does the staff interact with residents or visitors? Are they making eye contact? Using bright voices? Using residents’ names?
  • Does the staff appear composed and workstations organized?
  • Do staff members have clean, neat appearances?

Customer Service

  • Does the community do an initial assessment with each resident prior to admission?
  • Does the community conduct periodic care conferences or wellness meetings with residents and family members?
  • How do they deal with challenging resident behaviors or situations?

Environment & Appearance

  • Does the community feel fresh and clean? Are the common areas and resident rooms free of odors?
  • Is the décor pleasant and home like?
  • Overall, is there a positive ambiance: laughter, music, conversation, lively activity?
  • Are there safety features such as grab bars or call-alerts located throughout?

Daily Care

  • Is there a barber/beautician on site?
  • Are dining hours flexible?
  • Does the menu offer options daily? Do they change often?
  • Does the dining program accommodate special diets?
  • Can residents choose where to eat (in their room, dining room, etc.)?
  • What is the routine for personal care dressing, grooming, and bathing?

Resident Rooms

  • Are there single and double rooms available?
  • Is telephone and cable TV service available?
  • Is there 24-hour emergency response available?
  • Can residents keep food and snacks in their rooms?
  • Are bathrooms private and equipped with safety features?
  • How often are housekeeping and laundry provided?

Programs & Activity

  • Do you see residents engaged in activity or conversation with other residents or staff?
  • Is there an activities schedule you can review?
  • Are there opportunities for daily fitness activities?
  • Are there therapy services on site?
  • Are outdoor areas/walking paths well maintained and safe?
  • Does the community provide scheduled transportation to doctors’ offices, shopping, and other activities desired by residents?


  • What are your billing and payment policies?
  • What is included in the expenses? Is it an all-inclusive rate or a la carte charges?
  • What happens if a resident runs out of money?

To further aid families in choosing an assisted living community for their loved ones, SeniorLivingU also offers the Is It Time to Move? A Family Decision and Moving Into Assisted Living DVDs.