8 Things Every Assisted Living Facility Should Offer


Beth W. Orenstein

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An assisted living facility is an option for seniors who need help with activities of daily living—such as personal care, mobility, cleaning, and cooking—that they cannot take care of living on their own. It’s tempting to pick the most accessible or least expensive facility. But, not all assisted living facilities are the same. You need to choose one that fits your preferences and needs. Every assisted living facility should have certain services and amenities. 

1. Accessibility 

The facility must have bathrooms, living areas, doorways, and hallways that work with wheelchairs and walkers. You may not need assistance now, but you could in the future. If the facility is a high-rise, it also must have elevators for those who can’t do stairs. There should be grab bars in the bathroom to help you as well. 

2. Enough staff  

Most facilities will tell you they have staff available 24/7 to help residents with whatever their needs are. However, you want the ratio of staff to residents to be such that you aren’t kept waiting too long for the help you need. A good ratio for facilities where residents are fairly independent is one staffer for every 15 residents. If residents need more assistance, the staff to resident ratio should be larger. 

3. A balanced calendar of activities 

The assisted living facility you choose should offer a variety of activities and entertainment to keep you engaged and active. You may not wish to take part in all of them, but there should be plenty that interest you. Wellness and fitness programs you would enjoy—like yoga, walking or gardening—should be available too. 

4. Menus that meet your diet 

Whatever your diet—low-salt, low-carb, heart-healthy or something else—you should be able to eat foods that taste good. If you can no longer prepare your own food, make sure you can get meals and snacks at times that work for you. You also want your assisted living facility to have a clean, cheery dining area where you can enjoy the company of others. 

5. Housekeeping and laundry facilities 

Assisted living should provide housekeeping in your apartment and common areas so they are kept clean and neat. You may need to do your own laundry, but there should be washers and dryers on site so that you can. If you want help with laundry, you need a facility that offers it. 

6. Safety 

The building where you live should be secure and safe. Entrances and exits must be secure. Hallways should be well-lit at all times. The facility also should have a 24-hour emergency response system you can easily access from wherever you are—in your apartment and in common areas. 

7. Transportation

Some residents keep their cars and some don’t. If you do not have a car, you need a facility that will provide transportation to and from doctors’ appointments, the drugstore, the bank, and wherever else you may need to go. If you do drive, then keep an eye out for safe parking areas and the type of traffic around the facility. 

8. Medical assistance 

Assisted living facilities do not always provide nursing care. If you or your relative needs a lot of medical care, you may want to consider a nursing home. However, if you need only certain types of help, such as with taking your medications, be sure the assisted living facility provides what you need. 

The facility may not have medical services on site, but it should have access to them and help you get what you need. Keep in mind the facility will most likely charge a significant fee for any type of additional care, including medication management.