5 Traits the Best Assisted Living Facilities Share

Activities for men in Assisted Living are important to staying healthy.

When it’s time to consider senior housing for yourself or a loved one, it’s never a decision you want to make lightly. You want to do your research and be confident that you’re making the right choice, and select the best assisted living facility for your unique situation.

Most people who are making this decision are making it for the first time and may not be sure how to best go about it. Beyond checking out assisted living features and amenities, you may be wondering what else you should be looking for. Understanding some of the traits the best assisted living facilities share is a great place to start. And doing your research and asking a lot of questions can go a long way in reassuring you in your decision.

What is Assisted Living?

If an older adult needs some assistance with daily activities, such as getting dressed, eating and bathing, but does not require the medical support offered at a nursing home or higher level of care, an assisted living facility is one housing alternative to explore. Assisted living can be found in standalone facilities, within retirement communities or attached to nursing homes.

Best assisted living facilities: What to look for

1. The best assisted living facilities exceed minimum requirements

It may seem impressive to learn an assisted living facility offers 24-hour staffing, help with activities of daily living (ADLs), support for health care needs, and housekeeping, laundry and transportation services. However, it’s important to remember these are all minimum requirements, according to the Health in Aging Foundation. These types of services are essential to the purpose of assisted living communities, but they don’t paint the full picture of what a thriving experience in one might look like.

An ideal assisted living environment provides for all of these basic needs and more. When researching potential options, you should ask yourself, “What does assisted living mean in this community?” And then really listen to what features and services go beyond that minimum layer of support. Does the program offer opportunities to pursue new hobbies to nurture creativity and intellect? Is social interaction fostered within the community? Are the needs of residents regularly evaluated and adjusted as appropriate? What steps are taken if a resident is having issues there?

Explore your options, ask questions and make sure the facility you choose matches the level of care, support and amenities needed.

2. The best assisted living facilities employ people who are not just qualified, but who love what they do

Assisted living facilities to employ a wide range of staff members, from health care providers and administrative professionals to support staff and facility maintenance workers. Many people meet the qualifications for these positions, but working in an assisted living facility is more than just a job. The purpose of assisted living facilities is to help those who are unable to fully care for themselves at home to continue to thrive with some additional support, and the top assisted living facilities to employ people who find that work meaningful and have a passion for what they do, whether it’s helping with physical therapy, coordinating game nights or simply engaging in a friendly conversation with a resident while tidying up.

When researching and touring facilities, take time to talk to staff members. Ask them what they love about their jobs. Ask how long employees typically stay in their positions and if they find their jobs fulfilling. Talk to management, too, and don’t hold back from asking about things like employee recruitment practices and retention. Lastly, observe the interactions between staff and residents- do they seem friendly and cordial? Or do interactions seem rushed and forced? The relationships between residents and the individuals who care for them can be indicators of the community culture.

3. The best assisted living facilities tailor services to meet the needs of the individual

Our individual needs become especially important when we entrust our care to someone else. You want a community that will take into account the unique needs of each resident — beyond their health care needs.

While it’s important for assisted living amenities to suit a resident’s health status — such as including physical supports for someone who has balance issues, helping manage medications or offering education for those who are managing health conditions — we are more than just our health status. Top assisted living amenities also appeal to a person’s emotional health, personal interests, need for social interaction and more. Does the facility employ mental health specialists? Are support groups or social clubs offered?

When you are researching assisted living facilities, always keep in mind that you’re looking for a good fit for the whole person — beyond health care needs. Transitioning to assisted living can be challenging, but it can be made easier if you find a place that is a good fit for the person’s personality. It’s also important to keep in mind that people’s needs may change over time, so make sure the facility has practices in place to evaluate the quality of life of each resident and to make adjustments to their physical, social and emotional care plan as needed.

4. The best assisted living facilities nurture relationships

The best assisted living facilities go the extra mile to promote social activities and nurture the bonds between residents and their friends and family members.

Ask about visitation policies, as well as what other options might be available to stay in touch during times when in-person visits aren’t possible. Video conferencing has made it possible for many families to stay connected, even across many long miles. Will family members have a designated contact person they can check in with if they have concerns about a resident? And what types of social activities are offered among residents and within the community? Social relationships are essential to good health, so you’ll want to be sure they’re a priority in whatever setting you choose.

Examples of social activities offered might include group cooking, art or exercise classes, a gardening or social club, weekly game nights or a bridge league. Any activity that encourages residents to interact on a regular basis is likely to benefit the entire group.

5. The best assisted living facilities don’t compromise quality of life

The decision to transition to an assisted living environment is almost always based on there being a need for additional support and care with daily activities, but finding a facility that can meet these needs only paints part of the picture. The best assisted living facilities also promote a significant focus on the overall quality of life of each resident.

In fact, the best things about assisted living are often the aspects that enhance quality of life, including inspiring social interaction, encouraging physical activity, nurturing spirituality and fostering independence and a sense of purpose in life. These things are hard to measure but important to talk about, so do your research and ask questions: What options are available for faith-based services and outreach? How does the staff encourage independence? What programs are available to help nurture a sense of purpose?

Sometimes these needs can be met through community involvement, mentoring opportunities and volunteering. Finding an assisted living community that offers the right level of support and amenities can make a real difference when evaluating the overall quality of life a resident can expect.

The Bottom Line

Making the choice to transition to assisted living can feel overwhelming, and it’s natural to have a lot of concerns. Knowing what to look for in a facility and asking the right questions can help give you peace of mind. Doing your research and setting aside time to tour your top choices will make finding the right assisted living facility much easier. And there’s no reason you should stop asking questions. Staying involved and engaged in a loved one’s care can be a meaningful experience for you, too.

42 Comments

  1. I like how you point out that it’s important to look at the overall cleanliness of an assisted living facility before choosing it. My mother-in-law is likely going to be needing to live in an assisted living facility in the near future, so this is good to know. We’ll make sure to look at the overall cleanliness of the facility before helping our mother-in-law decide if it’s right for her.
  2. My grandmother now wishes to live in an assisted living community. These practical tips were helpful in determining on where we should take her. Thank you for this wonderful article.
  3. Something that I never took into consideration when it comes to finding a roofing contractor is that we want a company that has a permanent place of business. It’s good to know that this will help us to determine if they are people that can be trusted and that they are legit. Our roof is in need of some repairs and it will be great to know that the people we hire will work well for us.
  4. Finding good senior care is on my list of things to do. My dad is getting too old to try and take care of himself for everything. When we go looking for a facility, I’ll remember the traits you have here, especially the one about finding a place that feels like home.
  5. My great uncle is having a hard time looking after himself and we think that an assisted living center could highly benefit him. It is helpful to know that one should select a center that allows residents to pursue things that feed their soul. I like the example of providing individual yard space for the avid gardener. We will have to present this option to my great uncle.
  6. My grandmother has been fighting the idea of moving to a senior home for a long time now. One of her problems is that she thinks it won’t feel like home. So, I liked that one thing you talked about was how they are made to feel like a real home.
  7. I appreciate the information on assisted living facilities and what to look for in them. I agree that it is important that the assisted living home is designed to feel like a real home, this can really help to comfort those who are living there. My mom is looking for an assisted living home for my grandpa, I will be sure to share these tips with her.
  8. I really like your comment about the importance of ensuring that an assisted living facility will allow their residents access to kind and compassionate care regardless of what level of assistance they require. I would think that it would be a good idea to look into what sorts of medical care options are provided (and how they are provided) at various homes before choosing one for your parent to move into. It could b e a good idea to read up on reviews left by the families of other residents when trying to find a home that you think will take good care of your parent.
  9. You mentioned that niche assisted living communities exist to cater to the cultural backgrounds, aesthetic sensibilities, and preferred lifestyles of residents. My mom just celebrated her 75th birthday and has been having a hard time getting around her house. Do they offer different options for people depending on their current condition?
  10. My family has been taking care of my father for a while now and we’ve been considering moving him to an assisted living facility. I absolutely love what you said about making sure that the facility provides individualized health care to our loved ones. Dad has some complicated health issues and knowing that he was being carefully assisted with those would bring lots of comfort to our family. Loved the post.
  11. This is definitely worth a read! I think the most important factor is ensuring that the resident feels like home, you want your loved ones to be living in comfortable and pleasant environment.
  12. A facility that understand the importance of family and allows family visits is really important. You don’t want a place that is going to feel like a prison.
  13. I think it is nice how these facilities allow visitors at any time to come and visit. I also love how they are getting taken care of 24/7. I also like how they are regularly cleaned for them. I appreciate the reassurance.
  14. Assisted living can be great for some people. It can be difficult to make the transition. I agree with you live in a place that feels like home because it would be more comfortable.
  15. Thanks for this helpful post on the 5 traits that the best assisted living facilities share. My family is getting to the point of deciding where we are going to have our father live. I really like what you said about how a good facility is designed to feel like home. I want my father to feel comfortable in his new house. I also like what you said about making sure that they are allowed to have visitors. Thanks for the help!
  16. My grandmother’s assisted living home was great because they were very open about families visiting their loved ones. It was also a great environment; deep into the countryside with plenty of space for the residents to explore their own interests. I think places like that are the best. Thank you for sharing these traits.
  17. My grandpa is having a hard time living on his own. Thanks for the advice about how the best assisted living facilities are designed to feel like home and welcome family and friends. I’ll have to be sure that we find a good assisted living facility that also has great medical help.
  18. I think that your third point is really important. It must be unsettling to be in a completely different environment, and the right facilities understand that and act accordingly. I think that the faculty is very instrumental in this aspect. These people of the power to determine whether the patient feels welcome and at home or not. Thank you for an interesting article!
  19. I like how you said that the best assisted-living communities invest in property maintenance. This is a great clue to how your loved one will be treated at that facility. By having a nicely kept landscape and building, they are saying that this is a place for happy and cared for people. Thanks for the tips.
  20. My mother is losing her memory and can no longer live on her own. Thanks for the advice about how good care communities are designed to feel like home and allow residents to pursue their passions. Hopefully, we can find a good place for my mom to live where we can visit her a lot.
  21. A common problem, people probably faced, they don’t know which sort of assisted living facility are they in need of. They need care specialist services to choose the best option for them. Last year i hired a care specialist for my mother and after discussing matters with my MOM, we choose right assisted living for her. She is now very happy in her new home.
  22. Providing individualized care for their patrons is something I would really look for too. There really isn’t a one size fits all solution to keep people engaged and cared for, so you need to figure out what makes each person happy. I’m on the process of looking for an assisted living facility, so I’ll have to take a tour and see what exactly they do to help keep everyone comfortable. Thanks for the awesome info!
  23. These are great things to look for. I used to volunteer at an assisted living center and it was great. It was always welcoming to guests and family which was great for the residents.
  24. I think it’s a great idea for assisted living facilities to allow residents to continue their passions. Whether it be gardening, exercise, or painting, they should be able to pursue those passions. I will definitely keep that in mind when looking for a place with my dad. Thank you for the information!
  25. Being able to have “…opportunities for older adults to pursue their passions” while in assisted living does seem to be a good trait. My grandparents are getting to that age where they need extra help for daily tasks. I think it would be a good idea for them to look into services like this. However, we want to make sure they are happy, you know? Thanks for explaining the good things that quality facilities.
  26. I think one of the first things to look for in an assisted living home is how personalized it is to their residents. Second is how well they encourage family to visit. This is probably not something you would find at every assisted living home, but I know that my grandpas let me bring my dog with me to visits. It definitely meant I visited more often, and my grandpa loved seeing my dog.
  27. I really liked the insight you gave about the assisted living home being designed to feel like home. As you say, moving out of their home could be a very traumatic experience for these seniors, so making sure that the community is welcoming and easy going will help make this transition that much easier, and I completely agree. Plus, it will ensure that these people are able to comfortably live the rest of their lives and ensure that they continually have a above average quality of life. Thanks for sharing!
  28. what a fantastic work you have to done. It’s looking so cool and fabulous. You had done it on budget was really great stuffs.
  29. Most of the senior living facilities that I go to are a little sad to see. Most of the time its the staff that brings me down, most caregivers are very unmotivated and resentful of the job. If it was up to me, I would do all I could to help the caregivers love their job and care for the residents as best they could.
  30. These are great things to follow while looking for a place for a loved one to live in when the time has come. I really like the last trait you have given. Allowing someone to pursue their hobbies will make a resident feel at home and that is something a family member should be looking for in their search.
  31. Thanks for this helpful post on good traits for an assisted living facility. It will really come in handy because I am trying to find a place for my father. I like what you put about them being designed to feel like home. it would really mean a lot to me for my father to feel comfortable and at home. Thanks for the help!
  32. I agree that a great nursing home needs to welcome family and friends. If it is not open to visitors it raises concern. I think it is important to visit the elderly often.
  33. I agree that it’s important to make sure that assisted living facilities have enough staff, but I don’t know what a good resident-to-staff ratio looks like. Are there any guidelines out there (beyond state minimum staffing levels)? I feel like 1 staff member for every 2-5 residents would probably be a good ratio but I don’t know because I’ve never been in an assisted living facility or had family members who have had to be in one until now.
  34. My grandma just moved into an assisted living facility and she really enjoys it. She really likes the range of amenities that the facility provides, because they allow her to live a somewhat normal lifestyle. She also loves the friends that she is making there and is always introducing them to us whenever we go and visit her. I really think that the best quality of any assisted living place is that it is a place that is comfortable and doesn’t feel like a hospital as some do.
  35. That time for us to put my grandma into assisted living has come. It wasn’t an easy choice, but she is at point where we can’t properly take care of her and can’t always be there to make sure she doesn’t hurt herself. But I feel that if we can find an assisted living facility that is clean and provides individualized care for her, it won’t be as bad as we think it will.
  36. These are some really good tips about good things to look for in an assisted living facility. My grandmother had a really bad fall a few weeks ago, and my family is thinking it is time to put her in a nursing home. So, I liked what you said that the best places will offer individual care for their patients. My family is going to have to be on the look out for places like that during our search.
    1. I have learned so much about places for our moms/grandparents after having my Mom is one. I would love to share what I have learned. Pat
  37. I think it’s good they are designed to feel like home. My grandparents didn’t want to leave their home, at first. Now they love their new place in assisted living. They have also made friends and they didn’t have too many when they were at their old home. So I think assisted living has been great for them.
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