The Essential Assisted Living Checklist: Factors to Consider when Choosing a Home

Moving your loved one from their own home to an assisted living facility is a daunting task. There are many factors to consider and the pressure to make the right choice can be overwhelming. A smart preliminary step to the search is to sit down and identify the nonnegotiables or deal breakers. These are the services and features that are absolutely necessary. To initiate the process, have your loved one think about their most essential needs and desires in a new home. Once they have had time to process on their own, discuss and write down the identified criteria, adding anything they may have forgotten. It may be helpful to organize the list into the following categories.

Type of Care Needed

Think through all the assistance that your loved one will need. Some questions to ask are:

  • What daily activities will he/she need help with?
  • Does my loved one need specialized care i.e. Alzheimer’s, Dementia?
  • Are there staff on call 24 hours a day?
  • What is the staff to resident ratio?
  • How is medication stored and handled?
  • What are the procedures for emergencies?
  • Are housekeeping and laundry services available?

Physical Appearance and Layout

Some factors to consider regarding the physical structure and interior are:

  • Location
  • Ease of getting from place to place
  • Cleanliness
  • Security
  • Common areas
  • Dining hall
  • Décor
  • Size of the individual rooms
  • Emergency call system in each room

Activities and Freedoms

A senior’s greatest fear during this transition is loss of independence. It is important for them to feel that they are not losing anything and are still able to be themselves. Evaluating the amount of freedom and opportunity for involvement and leisure such as the following is crucial.

  • Access to transportation
  • Organized activities for residents
  • Opportunity to participate in clubs or committees
  • Access to a cooking facility
  • Allowance of pets
  • Flexibility in eating times
  • Visitor restrictions


Intangibles are harder to cross off on a checklist, but are just as important in making sure your loved one feels at home. Consider the following:

  • Friendliness of staff
  • Culture and personality of facility
  • “At-home” feeling
  • Perceived mood of current residents
  • Food quality and variety

We hope that the above tips and checklists are helpful in beginning the search process for the home that is the best fit for your loved one’s needs and personality! When you are ready, take the next step and check out INALA’s interactive member database.