Finding the Best Assisted Living Community

Ken Teegardin Written by Ken Teegardin
SeniorLiving.Org Expert on Chief Editor | Caregiver

To see a list of assisted living facilities, enter your desired area (zip, city, or full address) in the search bar above and then click on the 'Assisted Living' button at the top to see only assisted living facilties in your area.

Finding the best assisted living community isn’t easy. And it shouldn’t be. This is a new and important chapter in your life. The decision to leave your old life and start new is an emotional one. It’s a financial one and for many seniors, a necessary one. But it is a process that can be made easier with some guidance.

What is an Assisted Living Community?
Assisted living communities are for those seniors who want an independent lifestyle but who may need assistance for their individual needs. In these communities, you should feel like your independent and have the peace of mind knowing that your specific daily needs are met. These needs include daily meals, dressing, bathing, help with medication, transportation and personal mobility.

Most assisted living communities also provide (at extra cost) housekeeping, access to health services, Alzheimer’s care, staff available for personal needs, 24-hour security, an emergency call system, exercise programs, medication management, personal laundry service, and social and recreational activities.

Communities typically consist of apartments of 25 to 120 units from single rooms to full apartments. Some are even in subdivided houses with live-in staff.

They can be operated by non-profits or for-profit companies.

How to Select the Right Community?
The best way to find the right community is to visit one. Then another. Then another until you find one that is just right. And how do you know if it’s right? Before you visit, think about these different aspects and questions. These questions will get you thinking about other questions.

Does the facility feel home-like? Do you like the décor? What are the apartment and room choices? Do you have a full apartment with kitchen? Do you have a private bath? Will you share an apartment? Are there grab bars in the bathroom? Is there a separate thermostat in your room? Is there plenty of natural lighting? What is the view like? Is there enough closet and storage space? Are kitchen cabinets easy to reach?

Talk to the residents and staff? Does the staff seem to genuinely care? Would you enjoy sharing meals with the residents? Do you share common interests? Are the residents somewhat independent? Is there social activity in the common areas? Do the residents seem happy?

Is staff there around the clock? Are all entrances and exits secured? Is there a fire sprinkler system? Smoke detectors? Emergency call system in the rooms? Are the halls and grounds well lit? Are there handrails in the hallways? Are the hallways and doorways wide sufficient for walkers and wheelchairs? Are there walk-in showers?

Is there a monthly events calendar posted? Are the spiritual services on-site? Are there transportation schedules for shopping? Workout facility? Crafts room? Computers and printers? Massage therapy?

Is the community near a beauty salon and barber? Library? Grocery store? Movies? Mall?

Other Considerations
Is there a meal menu and can choose when to eat? Ask to sample the facility’s food.

Ask to see the facility’s licensing and certification reports. These show any patterns of neglect and medication errors.

Ask to see a copy of the resident agreement which spells out the facility’s obligations. And it will list the charge of items that are extra like laundry service.

How close are you to friends and relatives? Are they allowed to stay overnight?

What is the staff to patient ratio? A good ratio for fairly independent residents is 1-to-15. In some smaller facilities, the staff will perform all the duties while in larger communities there is a separation. What is the staff turnover rate? Rates in the double digits could indicate a problem.

If a resident becomes more disabled can the facility accommodate those needs?

Who dispenses medication and how much training have they had? States have training requirements.

According to a Genworth Financial survey on the cost of senior care, the median rate for a private one-bedroom apartment in an assisted living residence is $3,300 per month. Of course this is only a mid-point. There are many options below and above this price.

Medicaid in many states does cover some assisted living services. If your annual income is below $12,000 you may qualify for U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development 202 and Section 8 senior housing. This provides rent subsidies for assisted living facilities.

Updated: Feb 14, 2011


[22] Comments... Read them below.
keith On Jan 1, 2015
my parents are both86 and are considered "tweeners". That is amybe a little bit of assistance with medicine. what options do I have for independent living with maybe ala cart for assistance?

Vic dellaripa On Nov 7, 2014
I took in my father inlaw who now has demencia. According to the doctor He cannot be on his own. We need a place for him to live. My job I travel a lot. He is a danger to us himself and the house. He is on social security and Medicare. Where can he live?

Pat R On Nov 3, 2014
I am doing research for a family friend find a assisted living facility for his dad. I believe he is in his 80's and has dementia. He is determined to have his dad in a assisted living facility outside the US and his SSI is what would be used as payment, is this unreasonable?

Randall Hart On Sep 26, 2014
I have a Mother who will be 87 in November 2014. She has dementia; however, she does pretty well except for her short term memory. She's got a cat that she loves, and would want to take it if we put her in an assisted living arrangement. She would need meals provided, help with bathing and medications, laundry and those type of things. We live in Midwest City, OK and she's currently living in her home in Kansas and she has a care provider there that helps her with all things listed above as well as just visiting and friendship things which are very important as well... What would care like that run her in a Midwest City facility. Right now she has Social Security (roughly $1530.00 per month)and a small oil ie (Working Interest only -- which average's probably around $700.00 a month after her monthly production expenses. currently has approximately $54,000.00 in liquid assets e.g., savings and CD. Only has normal living expenses, no credit card bills, etc. Also, she has no house payment or car payments either. Is the cat thing doable? What about costs based on what I've told you? Please advise.

Georgia Patton On Aug 25, 2014
I am looking for a place for my Dad. He is retired from the National Guard and is on a fixed ie that is far less than what I have found is the going costs. He is 76yrs old and on oxygen 24hrs. He will need help with bathing, meals and medication. Any suggestions for the Independence Missouri area?

Cyril Levine On Aug 22, 2014
I am looking for a gay or LGBT assisted living facility in Chelsea, NY. Can you please let me know who to contact or if you have any information about LGBT assisted living facilities in Cheslea. Your response via email is greatly appreciated.

Ann staley On Aug 2, 2014
My friend visited an assisted living facility in Washington state, expecting to soon select where she will live. She arrived independently at the entrance in her power chair. She was greeted with "We don't take power chairs." Is this legal? Does ADA consider such rules discriminatory?

Perla Suasi On Jun 21, 2014
I have one room open for a senior male or female client but I did not find anyone of the above seniors looking for a place like an Adult Family Home because they live quite far. If there is one might be interested here in Shoreline Washington, I would be more than happy to amodate them.

Denise Mewes On May 18, 2014
I live in a modest condo and am 71 years old and would like to get into an assisted living place. I live on social security.

Laura Mullins On Apr 7, 2014
I am currently looking for home health care. I live in Hixson and would like to wk in Hixson also. I can sit with and assist I am a nursing assistant and am currently awaiting my state board to be certified. Please email me if you need a home health sitter. 1st shift only!

Jeanne Duval On Jan 15, 2014
I am 74 yrs old,& am looking for myself. I am mentiallyptitant. Last July I fell & broke my hip. As of now I live in Hendersonville,NC. I would like to move to the RICEVILLE, NC area to be closer to my family.

Jose Mendez On Oct 23, 2013
I'm looking for senior assisted living for a couples of 84-83 years old and lives only with Social Securityaround$2,000.dollars a month. Can you help? Thanks

mommy lover On Oct 18, 2013
I m 25yr old looking for residential care for my mother its going to be hard but i can no longer do it on my own i have two small kids plus school and job i love my mom but im n over drive. we live in chattanooga tn help

Judy Nathanson On Oct 13, 2013
I am 70, confined to a wheelchair with a monthly ie of $730 from SS SSI, and looking for an assisted living facility in the Mobile, Alabama area. Does anyone know of a place for me?

Nelida On Oct 8, 2013
I am looking for senior assited living for my mom she is 76 years old has a number of health issues including diabetes. Her English is limited she primarly speaks Spanish. Shes on a fixed ie.

Elba On Aug 18, 2013
My parents in their 85+ with section 8 plus SS granted are looking for a senior assisted placement since I can only offer them is my living room of my one bedroom apartment here and it is very ufortable for us all in here. I'll prefer for them an assisted living setting if possible. You may reach me at 203-217-0562 9am - 9pm. Thanks for your consideration.

parentsfirst On Feb 9, 2013
Whitewood Assisted Living in Grasonville Maryland is the best. Newly renovated, single rooms with bathrooms, great staff, activities, terrific food.

Julie On Jan 3, 2013
Do these options help "younger" seniors? I have seen that the term senior seems to change depending on where you are and I worry about finding a good home for my mother in law. She is 55 but really ill, needs 24 hr assistance, and I have already faced the problem that nursing homes won't take her because she's too young. She is already getting kicked out of the one place that took her. If any one has any suggestions or ideas, I'd appreciate it. I am currently searching places in MN (she is out of state) but any bit of info helps.

rae On Nov 28, 2012
I have a 77 year old male, with diabetes and double leg amputy in a wheel chair who is lossing his housing he is independently renting. he is pretty independent, rides on the city bus to town 4 x weekly. makes own meals, although he may need to call some one if he ever falls or something. He does shower himself too. He lives on social security of $1050 a month. He lives on the island of Ohau in Hawaii. Do you have any suggestions for housing for him.

Lisa On Nov 26, 2012
I am looking for senior assisted living for a woman 68 that has diabetes and lives on 830 per month in social security. Can you help? Thank you

john On Oct 14, 2012
how do i apply for assistance in order to affored the monthly coast i receive ssdi about 860 a month i am currently living in a nursing home

Peg Hoffman On Aug 24, 2012
I'm looking for senior assisted living for a woman who is 80+ and lives only on social security. Can you help?