Assisted Living Quick Tips

Almost one million people live in assisted living now and 74% of them are women whose average age is almost 87-years-old.* But as the economy improves it’s expected that many who put off selling their homes will look to independent living as a retirement solution. So how do you find the right place?

Larissa Kostal a gerontologist with Atria Senior Living suggests, “Go through an elder law attorney or geriatric care manager who can guide you,” You can find a geriatric care manager in your area through the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers. Ask friends and look online. Use recommendations to make a list and visit each facility. I learned that the marketing people are always happy to see you, take you on a tour and answer questions.

If you’re shopping for a parent or relative, narrow your choices to the top three and then consult other family members. Once you all have a few options that you like, bring your parent or relative for a visit. Let them choose the one they like best, even if they are reluctant. It’s important for them to feel as though they have options.


Make sure that you meet the staff that runs the facility and that you feel comfortable with them. It’s essential to have a clear line of communication with one person who can answer your questions and offer help when it’s needed. This is a partnership between your family and the facility and you need to know that they take the relationship seriously and are willing to work with you. Conversely, it works best if you designate one person in your family to deal with the staff at the facility.


It’s also important to consider the financial aspect. Assisted living is expensive and residences charge fees for extra levels of service. Find out exactly what the charges will be before you sign up. I like facilities that operate on the “all inclusive,” model, although they rarely include everything.


  • Rent, utilities, three meals, house keeping, laundry and some personal assistance are generally part of the all inclusive
  • Most in-house activities and local trips to supermarkets, shopping malls, religious institutions, libraries and doctors are generally included.


  • Trips to see shows, or events that charge a fee generally require payment for that ticket.
  • Beauty parlor and grooming services
  • Some create care plans with levels that graduated according to the medication and the assistance needed.
  • At a level one, they may charge to administer two medications a day. The more you need, the more they will charge.
  • If help is needed to shower, or dress you are charged extra.

These fees add up. You might pay more than $1,000 a month in extra fees.