top of page

Looking for senior care? Here are the questions to ask

ASC staff can answer your questions about care.

Families of seniors often begin the search for assisted living at the start of the new year. A visit to an older loved one’s home may have revealed that they need the support and safety of one of these communities.

If you aren’t familiar with the different types of senior housing, however, the process might feel overwhelming.

The first step for many people is spending time researching local options online. Assisted living communities often have informative websites, so that can be a good way to begin your search. But personal contact and in-person visits are essential, too.

Once you narrow down your options, you’ll likely want to make phone calls to get more specific information about each community. Better understanding the details, pricing and availability will make it easier to prioritize which communities to visit. The key is to make sure you ask the right questions on your first call.

A few suggestions for questions you’ll want to ask:

  • Care: While you’ll be able to zero in on care-related questions in more detail when you visit in person, it’s a good idea to ask a few questions up front on your first call. Ask how the team performed during their last evaluation by regulators. Assisted living communities must follow both federal and state rules, and surveyors visit periodically to ensure the community is in compliance. Also ask how long team members have been employed there on average. And finally, ask about the ratio of staff members to residents, which affects the quality of care.

  • Availability: If you have an urgent need to quickly transition your parent to a safer environment, ask about availability early in your call. Some of the best assisted living communities are full and have a waitlist. If there is a waitlist, ask whether they have an idea of how long it might be before there is an opening. Communities can sometimes project when availability might change if they know in advance of current residents who might be moving to a smaller apartment or a different level of care. Also inquire about the process to get on the waitlist. You might need to complete an application and put down a deposit. Adding your name to the waitlist doesn’t mean you have to move when a space opens up. People often add their name long before they actually plan to move.

  • Affordability: If your senior loved one is like most of us, their budget will likely be a factor in deciding which assisted living community is the best fit. Before you start making phone calls, try to get an idea of how much they can afford to pay in monthly fees. Keep in mind, there are options for financing care that could help defray the cost. For example, if your family member is a veteran, they might qualify for some financial assistance. Or if they purchased long-term care insurance, the policy may include assisted living coverage. Some assisted living expenses might even be tax deductible.

  • More questions: Finally, on your initial screening call, think about factors that may impact whether your senior family member would consider a particular community. For example, if they have a pet, will their furry friend be welcome? Another concern might be transportation. If you live far from the older adult or have an inflexible work schedule, finding an assisted living community that offers transportation or can make arrangements for getting the senior to and from appointments might be important. Also, make sure the community can assist with all the medications prescribed for your family member. While this is uncommon, a community might not be able to administer certain medications to residents.

As you try to figure out which communities you’d like to tour in person, you may find the ASC Assisted Living Decision Toolkit of interest. It contains resources designed to simplify the process of finding a community that fits your needs.

For more info, visit


bottom of page