Dear Donna:

Last weekend, my brother and I talked with our mother about moving to an assisted living community. It was just a preliminary conversation to gauge how receptive she would—or wouldn’t—be to this idea.

Mom gave up driving a few months ago and we feel like she is spending too much time alone. We also worry that something might happen to her while she’s by herself, and she won’t be able to call for help.

Much to our surprise, mom was amenable to learning more about assisted living communities and visiting a few. My brother and I created a list of nearby communities and researched them online. Our next step is to call those that seem like a good fit for our mom. We’d like to narrow our list down to four communities to visit in person.

What questions should we ask on our first call to these communities? I want to make sure we don’t forget something important!


Denise in Midland, MI

Questions to Ask to Learn More About Assisted Living

Dear Denise:

How great that your mother is interested in moving! Adult children are often surprised when things go this way. It sounds like you and your brother are very organized and off to a great start. I’m happy to suggest some questions that will help you and your brother make an informed choice.

If I were calling assisted living communities on behalf of a senior loved one, here are a few questions I would make sure to ask:

  • What is the ratio of team members to residents?
  • How long has the average team member worked at the community?
  • Is there a wait list? If so, how long is the anticipated wait?
  • How much is the monthly fee?
  • What services and amenities are included in the base fee? What additional fees should you expect to pay each month?
  • Is the resident required to sign a long-term contract?
  • Can the community’s dining staff accommodate special diets?
  • What types of activities are there for residents to participate in and how often do they occur?
  • Are transportation services available for doctor’s appointments and other outings? Is there a cost involved for utilizing it?
  • Where/how can you access the assisted living community’s most recent state survey? (Note: these are often viewable on the state Department of Health or Department of Aging website.)
  • Are residents able to decorate their apartments with their own belongings?
  • Do apartments have safety features (grab bars, fire suppression system) and an emergency call system?
  • Does the community offer medication assistance under the supervision of a nurse?
  • Are there on-site fitness activities and wellness programs?

While you will likely have your own questions specific to your mother, this should give you a baseline understanding of a community.

Best of luck to your family! I hope this transition goes smoothly.

Kind regards,


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