Senior Housing

What To Look For; What To Ask

Senior Housing 3

The Property

  • Are the grounds attractive? Is the building well kept?
  • Is it handicap accessible—are hallways and doors large enough for wheelchairs and walkers? Are there handrails in the hallways? Are there elevators as well as stairs?
  • Is it well lit?
  • Does it have a pleasant smell?
  • Do you like the facility’s layout?
    Is it easy to find your way around?
  • Is there security on the grounds 24/7?
  • If you a placing a loved one there, how far is it from your home?

The Staff

  • Is everyone at every post (front desk, maintenance, housekeeping, healthcare, dining room) appropriately dressed, pleasant and attentive?
  • Is the front-desk staff friendly on the phone and when greeting you?
  • Are your phone calls and emails responded to promptly?
  • Is it easy to reach someone by phone? Is it easy to leave a message?
  • Do staff members know the residents and address them appropriately?

The Residents

  • Are the common areas active?
  • Do residents look well, happy, and are they socializing?
  • Feel free to ask residents about life in their community and their satisfaction with the community’s services.
  • If the property has a newsletter and/or monthly calendar of events, be sure to get several issues.

The Food

  • What dining options are available? Is their more than one dining room? Can you have meals to-go or delivered? Is there an extra charge for that?
  • Which meals does the dining room serve? How many meals are included in your monthly fee?
  • Is the dining room full at dinner?
  • What foods are available every day? (Salad, hamburger, grilled chicken, baked potato, etc.
  • Ask for sample monthly menus
  • Plan to dine in the dining room at least once, if not more
  • Does the food taste good? Is it presented with pride? Are portions to your liking?
  • Is there a private dining room should you wish to host a special event?


  • What services are available? Laundry?Housekeeping? Transportation to shopping and special events?
  • Is there transportation to private appointments?How often? How far will they take you?
    Is there an extra charge?
  • Are there on-site recreational facilities?
  • What activities are available daily? What special events are offered? (Get a calendar.)
  • Is there on-site hair care?
  • Newspaper delivery?
  • TV/Cable/Internet?
  • Are their accommodations for overnight guests?
  • Do assisted living and skilled nursing offer assistance with Skype or Face Time so out-of-town relatives and friends can visit with resi-dents?

Costs & Contracts

  • What exactly is included in your monthly fee?
  • Which utilities and services are extra?
  • When and how much can fees be raised?
  • What happens if your funds run out?
  • Do you need renter’s insurance?
  • What can result in termination of your lease/contract? What are your rights as a resident?
  • What is their grievance procedure?
  • If buying into a CCRC, be sure you receive a contract and a financial disclosure
  • Read your contract and understand everything in it. If you don’t understand something, consult an attorney.

Your Living Space
In Independent Living:

  • What floor plans are available?
  • Are their pull cords throughout the residence in case of accident or emergency? Is 24-hour emergency response available?
  • Can you control your own heat and air?
  • Is the bathroom wheelchair and walker accessible?
  • Can you open your windows?
  • Can you have a washer/dryer in the apartment or do you use a common laundry?
  • Who has access to your apartment or home?
  • If the campus has assisted living and/or skilled nursing, how does the transition work?
  • Can you arrange to stay in an apartment overnight or longer to try the place?
  • Are pets allowed? What are the restrictions?Is there a place to walk dogs? Is there a dog walker available?

In Assisted Living & Skilled Nursing

  • Can you lock your windows and doors? Who else has access to your room?
  • Can couples live together in assisted living and/or skilled nursing rooms?
  • Are rooms private or doubles? If doubles, can you request a private room—if so, what is the charge?
  • Are pets allowed? What are the restrictions?

Healthcare Services
For Independent Living:

  • Is there medical staff on site?  What are their hours?
  • What healthcare services are offered onsite? (Medication management, care during illness, physical therapy, etc.) What is the cost?
  • Can you hire home care if needed and remain in your independent living apartment?
  • At what point of care does a resident need to move from independent living to assisted living and who makes that decision?
  • What are your rights should you disagree with that decision?

For Assisted Living

  • Is this a licensed assisted-living facility or multi-unit assisted housing (MAHS) with services?
  • What healthcare and daily-living support services are available?
  • Are services all inclusive or offered as levels of care?
  • What is the staff-to-resident ratio?
  • At what point of care does a resident need to move from assisted living to skilled nursing and who makes that decision?
  • Is there a dementia care unit? How is their staff trained? What special services are offered?
  • What are the daily scheduled activities?
  • What is the staff turnover rate in this unit

For Skilled Nursing

  • Are they licensed by the state? Does this facility have any violations?
  • Can you choose your own doctor?
  • What healthcare and daily-living support services are included in the fee? What is extra?
  • What is the staff-to-resident ratio?
  • What is the staff turnover rate in this unit?


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Brett Hulsey

Joanie Fischer
Executive Editor

Katie Cornwell
Business Development