What to Ask When Shopping for Assisted Living

According to a recent article in the Sacramento Bee, the holidays are often a good time to begin conversations about long-term care with older relatives. In the article, Betsy Donovan of Eskaton, a CALA member, explains, “When relatives who have only spoken to the senior over the phone for a number of months spend time with them in person at the holidays, they can observe the physical and cognitive changes that have developed.” But decisions may not be made until the new year. “It can take a while to pull together a decision [because] families have to figure out what’s going on” says Stacey Weisz of Atria at Carmichael, another CALA member community quoted in the article.

Assisted Living Consumer Checklist

When touring an Assisted Living community, take along CALA’s checklist to help you find the best fit.

Have you started similar conversations with your family members? Are you preparing to take the next step by touring Assisted Living communities in your area? If so, be sure to take along a checklist of questions to ask and things to look for, like the one found on the CALA website. One of the most important elements of Assisted Living is the variety of Assisted Living communities available. The Assisted Living Consumer Checklist is designed to help consumers choose the community that will be the best fit by asking questions such as:


  • Is the community attractive and homelike?
  • Do staff members call residents by name and interact warmly with them?
  • Do residents socialize with each other and appear happy and comfortable?
  • Are you able to talk with residents about how they like the community and staff?
  • Do the residents seem to be appropriate housemates for you or your loved one?


  • What training and qualifications do staff members have?
  • Are staff and resident interactions positive?
  • Did you receive a warm greeting from staff members welcoming you to the community?
  • Do the staff members treat each other in a professional manner?
  • Are staff members awake and available at night?

Food Service

  • May meals be provided at a time a resident would like or are there set times for meals?
  • Are menus reviewed by a nutritionist?
  • May a resident request special foods?
  • May residents eat meals in their units?

Social & Recreational Activities

  • What activities are included in the community’s program?
  • Do residents participate in activities outside of the community?
  • Do volunteers, including family members, come into the community to help with or conduct programs?
  • Are residents’ pets allowed in the community? Who is responsible for their care?
  • Does the community have its own pets?


  • What services are available, and what is the ’s process for assessing a potential resident’s need?
  • Are additional services available if the resident’s needs change?
  • Are there special programs for memory-impaired residents and those with dementia?
  • Are there fees to provide transportation to doctors’ offices, the hairdresser, shopping, etc.?
  • Can residents arrange for transportation on fairly short notice?

View the complete Assisted Living Consumer Checklist, and print a copy to bring with you to community visits.


3 thoughts on “What to Ask When Shopping for Assisted Living

  1. Pingback: Pew Research Reports on Global Views of Aging | The Hearth

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