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Senior Moments: Selecting an assisted living community

Selecting an assisted living community
Connie Pizarro

When selecting an assisted living community for an older family member, don’t count on first impressions. Many facilities make great first impressions with beautiful chandeliers, pretty landscaping, and calm environments, but the true character of a facility will only be revealed through frequent visits. Family members do well to talk to the professionals there about every aspect of the care provided, the facilities available, and how the residents get along. Conversations like these should leave no stone unturned. This is vital to the well-being of a cherished older member of the family.

Here are some tips to help you along the journey of selecting an assisted living community.


Be sure to tour at least three (3) communities.

Schedule a tour. This will allow you time to speak with the Community Relations Director and see the accommodations. Ask as many questions as you need to understand what they have to offer your family member.

Show up unannounced. Visit the community again without calling ahead for a scheduled tour. An unscheduled visit allows you to see the community in its normal state.

Visit in the evening. Stop by in the evening to see how the night shift functions and how after hours visits are handled. Is there extra security? Are the doors secured?


Be sure to understand the full cost of joining the community. Elements of the cost may include the room, level of care, medication management, and a community fee. Sometimes medication management is included within the level of care.


When choosing a location, consider these things among others:

  • Should mom/dad move from their hometown to be closer to you? If mom/dad is at a point where they are not aware of their surroundings, then it is okay to move them closer for ease of visitation. However, if mom/dad is aware or has friends nearby that might visit, it might be best for them to stay in their hometown and for you travel to visit them.
  • When parents reside in another state, you want to consider any benefits one state may have over another, i.e. Medicaid eligibility.

Levels of Care

Understand the levels of care that the community offers. As time passes, your family member’s condition is likely to decline. Ensure that the community can still service your family member as they age, as you don’t want to move them several times.


Be sure to taste the food during one of your tours. Make note if special diets can be accommodated.

Medicaid Policy

What is their Medicaid policy? Do they have a spend down? What happens when funds have been depleted?

Connie Pizarro is a Certified Senior Advisor who owns Oasis Senior Advisors, a senior referral placement service. Oasis Senior Advisors offers its services at no cost to seniors and their families.