Planning Ahead

Planning Ahead — How to Research Assisted Living, Nursing Homes and Other Options


Planning Ahead — How to Research Assisted Living, Nursing Homes and Other Options

Deciding that it’s time to research senior care facilities is never easy. Going from considering such a move to actually taking action is a big step. Fortunately, there are many resources available to help you find the right fit whether you’re researching options for yourself or for a parent. 

When it comes time for you or a loved one to move into an assisted living or skilled nursing facility, options should be thoroughly researched before making a decision. There are many factors to consider, including the level of assistance or care needed, future potential needs, costs, and of course, the quality of care provided. Begin your search by talking to people in your community and gathering referrals. 

There are many non-profit and government agencies that can also help with your search. 

If you need help, seek advice from professionals. This may be especially helpful if you’re looking for living arrangements for one or more of your parents and you live in a different city or state. Geriatric care managers can help you evaluate the situation and suggest appropriate options and professionals.

If you’re familiar with using the Internet, collect information from the many online resources that are available, including websites for the various residences that you’re considering. There are many non-profit and government agencies that can also help with your search. The national Eldercare Locator is a public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging (800.677.1116). You can locate your local area on aging online at

Once you’ve identified possible options, call each to request a packet of information. Ask for the list of services offered, costs, extra charges, and admission and discharge criteria. Costs vary widely, so it’s important to gather detailed financial information at the beginning of your search — this may help you narrow the field.

Next, make arrangements to visit in person. The Assisted Living Federation of America offers a consumer checklist for things to look for during your site visit. Before making a final decision, it’s a good idea to also check with the government-funded agencies in your area that can provide information about safety records and any complaints that may have been filed. Finally, carefully review the contract before signing.


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