How to Find Information on Assisted-Living Facilities - dummies

How to Find Information on Assisted-Living Facilities

By Carol Levine

Copyright © 2014 AARP. All rights reserved.

Your long-term care goal might finding the right assisted-living situation, one that offers the right balance of independence and privacy with the kinds of assistance you need now and may need later. If you know that assisted living is what you want, you can begin your fact-finding process.

You can get information about specific assisted-living facilities from many sources. A lot of marketing information stresses the living aspect of assisted living and glosses over the assisted part.

It’s hard to find out how friendly the staff is, whether management is responsive to concerns, and all the other quality-of-life questions that matter so much. You have to ask about and observe these aspects for yourself. But you can learn a lot from some basic resources, including the following:

  • Eldercare Locator: This federal resource is a good place to start. It directs you to your nearest Agency on Aging for assistance.

  • State websites: State websites are important because you can generally find which assisted-living facilities have a lot of health and safety violations or don’t offer what you are looking for. You can then eliminate these from consideration.

    Some states also have good consumer information, specific to that state, on their Office of Aging or Health and Human Services websites. Note, though, that these agencies have different names in different states.

  • Your state’s long-term care ombudsman: This individual looks into complaints about assisted-living facilities and nursing homes. Check with that office, usually located in the State’s Office on Aging, to find out about any complaints about a specific facility and how they have been addressed.

  • The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities: This nonprofit organization lists continuing-care retirement communities that meet its survey standards about business practices, philosophy and physical environment, and some aspects of assisted living.

  • The Assisted Living Federation of America: A membership organization of assisted-living providers, this group has a website where you can search for its members in your area.

  • Internet sites: When you search on the Internet for “assisted living,” you can find ads for specific facilities as well as companies that offer to help you find a facility in your area. Sometimes these companies are endorsed by celebrities, which is not a guarantee of quality.

    Personal assistance from “care” or “family” advisors may be available. Facilities on these lists typically pay to be included, so not all options may be offered to you.

  • Friends or relatives: People you know who are currently in or have lived in assisted-living facilities are a good resource for information on local facilities. Remember, though, that one person’s good or bad experience may not convey the whole picture.

  • Doctors and other healthcare professionals: Talk to doctors and nurses with experience in providing care to assisted-living facility residents.

Use more than one resource, because no single one is likely to have all the options. Be aware of the criteria for including the assisted-living facilities and the sponsorship of the list. And none of these resources can tell you what it’s really like to live there. You should address questions about quality of life in your visits to various facilities.