Assisted Living Checklist

Help to research and evaluate assisted living facilities.


Assisted Living Checklist

Quality of Care and Service
  • Do residents appear well cared for?
  • Are residents up, clean, and dressed by 10 AM?
  • Are the residents well groomed, e.g., (shaved, clean clothes, nails trimmed and hair done)?
  • Is there a written plan of care for each resident? How often is the care plan reviewed and changed? By whom?
  • Does the facility offer programs and/or services which meet your particular care needs, e.g., dementia unit, etc.?
  • What is the system for distribution of medication? Who does it? What is their level of training?
  • Does the facility have access to doctors, hospitals, home health agencies and adult day health care services?
  • Does facility provide transportation to medical services? Charges?
  • Are there clear procedures for responding to medical emergencies?
Quality of Food
  • Does the food appear and smell appealing? Are fresh ingredients used?
  • Do residents seem to be enjoying the food?
  • Are residents receiving the assistance needed in eating?
  • Are meals served at appropriate temperatures?
  • Do menus offer choice? How often are menus changed? (Ask to see a copy of the week’s menu.)
  • Can the facility meet special dietary needs? Ethnic preferences?
  • Are nutritious snacks available?
  • Is fresh drinking water available?
  • Can residents prepare meals in apartments?
  • Does the facility make provisions to serve residents in rooms? Costs?
Quality of Social Interaction
  • Are residents interacting with staff and/or each other?
  • Are residents occupied in meaningful activities?
  • Does the facility have a planned activities program? Are activity calendars posted? On weekends?
  • Is there a designated staff who coordinates activities? Are activities individualized or only done in large groups?
  • Do volunteers and outside groups regularly visit the facility?
  • Are there planned trips outside the facility?
  • Is transportation provided for shopping and personal errands? Charges?
  • Are pets allowed? Does the facility have pets?
  • Are religious services offered at the facility?
Quality of Participation
  • Are residents and family members involved in assessment and care planning?
  • Are residents and family members involved in roommate selection?
  • Do residents have an opportunity to provide input into menu and activity planning?
  • Are there procedures for responding to requests for information and complaints?
  • Is the Ombudsman Program’s poster and telephone number posted?
  • Does the facility have a residents’ council? Does the facility have a family council or support group?
Quality of Staff
  • How long have the current owner/s been operating the facility?
  • How long has the key staff been working at the facility, i.e., administrator and assistant administrator, activities coordinator, cook, and nurse consultant?
  • Has there been a recent turnover in key staff?
  • How many direct care staff are there for each shift?
  • What is the staff to resident ratio? What is the ratio on the night shift? Weekends?
  • What is the turnover rate among direct care staff?
  • Does direct care staff understand and speak English?
  • What special training do staff receive in working with persons with dementia?
  • Do the administration and staff know the residents by name?
  • Does staff take time to talk with residents?
  • Do administration and staff interact with residents in a respectful way?
  • How long does it take for staff to respond to a resident’s request for help or to a call bell?
  • Does staff respect residents’ privacy by knocking on doors or announcing themselves before entering rooms?
  • Does the staff wear name badges?
Quality of Environment
  • Is the overall décor pleasant and homelike?
  • Is the environment clean and odor free?
  • Is the facility quiet or noisy?
  • Is the temperature comfortable?
  • Does the building seem safe and free from dangerous hazards? Cluttered?
  • Are the residents’ rooms, hallways, and common areas well lighted?
  • Are floors of non-skid material and are carpets firm to ease walking and to prevent falls?
  • Is the dining room pleasant and inviting?
  • Are common areas, bedrooms and bathrooms accessible to wheelchairs and walkers?
  • Are bathrooms conveniently located?
  • How many residents share a bathroom?
  • Do all bathrooms, showers and bathtubs have handgrips or rails?
  • Are call bells accessible to residents? By bed? In bathrooms?
  • Is there privacy in residents’ rooms, especially in shared rooms?
  • Is there any place to have a private conversation?
  • Are residents encouraged to bring in some of their own furnishings?
  • Is there a bedside table, reading light, chest of drawers and at least one comfortable chair for each resident?
  • Is there a locked drawer to store valuables? If not, does facility make provisions to store valuables?
  • Is there adequate space for clothing and personal belongings in each room?
  • Does the facility have extra storage space for residents’ belongings?
  • Are there outside sitting and walking areas for residents? Are any covered to protect from sun or rain?
  • Is there a fenced yard? Locked?
  • Are there enough fire and carbon monoxide detectors?
  • Is there a designated smoking area? Inside? Outside?
  • Is there a disaster plan posted? How often does the facility hold drills?

Practical Dimensions

  • Is the facility close to family and friends who will be visiting most frequently?
  • Is the facility near public transportation?
  • Is there adequate parking for residents that drive, and residents’ family and friends?
  • Is the facility in an area where it would be safe to visit at night?
  • Is the facility convenient to the resident’s doctor? Home health agency?
  • Is the facility close to a hospital?
  • Are family and friends welcome at any time or are there strict visiting hours?
  • Does the facility have a good reputation in the community?
  • Will they give you a list of references?
  • Are residents and/or family members willing to talk with you about the facility?
  • How did the administrator and staff treat you when showing you around?
  • Did they answer all your questions to your satisfaction?
  • Did they show you around the entire facility? Were any areas or sections not shown to you? Why?
  • Do you feel that the administrator and staff are people you can work with and communicate with honestly?
  • How would you or your loved one fit in? Is this facility compatible with your lifestyle?
  • Can you imagine yourself or your loved one living here?
  • How did you feel when visiting the facility?
  • Are Supplemental Security Income (SSI) residents accepted?
  • Do the estimated monthly costs (including extra charges) compare favorably with other facilities?
  • Are there any upfront fees, e.g., assessment, community fees?
  • What services are included in the basic rate?
  • What is the cost for extra services? Levels of care? How is the need for extra services or higher levels of care determined?
  • What are the costs for specialized services, e.g., dementia unit?
  • Will the facility continue to charge a resident who is transferred to a nursing home or hospital and does not return to the facility?
  • Are the costs and payment schedule clearly described in the admission agreement?
  • Ask the facility for a copy of the most recent rate increase disclosure statement to find out the average monthly rate increases (actual amount and percentage) for each of the previous three years.
  • Are the total monthly charges affordable over time?
  • Will the facility give you a copy of the admission agreement to take home and study before making a final decision?

Click here to see which senior living communities earned the Caring Stars distinction in your state this year.

Download the Assisted Living Checklist

Prepared by California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR)

At Elder Protection Center we’re here to help you and the ones you love to navigate the complexities and concerns that often come with aging.

Protect the People You Love is our number one priority. You are not alone. We’d love to hear from you. Elder Protection Center is standing by for you and your loved ones – Today.

Nursing Home vs. Assisted Living

Understanding the difference between skilled nursing care and assisted living can be confusing. A skilled nursing facility may be needed if your family member requires: around-the-clock nursing care, medical treatments, IV medications and a level of care just short of a hospital. A nursing home provides, assistance with meals, personal hygiene, medications and more help than the family or present caregiver can provide.
Know Your Nursing Home Rights
Tips on Selecting a Nursing Home
Nursing Home Checklist

Assisted living communities are recommended when the senior does not require much medical care but they do need more assistance than can be provided in their home. Assisted living facilities allow residents to live independently in their own “apartment.”  Assisted living provides meals, housekeeping and transportation services whether it be to the store, hairdresser/barber or a medical appointment.  Assisted living communities have a scheduled calendar of events for residents and their families that may include arts and crafts, and field trips.  They may offer assistance with dressing, personal hygiene and medications. Some have a resident doctor and/or registered nurse on staff. Many have secured Alzheimer’s/Dementia units that pay extra close attention to those residents who may stray if left unsupervised.

6 Great Reasons for Assisted Living Know your Assisted Living Rights Stay Updated on Your Assisted Living Home

Assisted Living Checklist
Elder Protection Center strives to provide you with valuable information about a variety of issues facing our aging population. Our Tips and Resources will help you to seek out long term care or help with transitioning to new living arrangements. Learn about safety devices and technology to make your home safer, understand important legal documents and more, all in one great resource.

Tips When Selecting a Short or Long Term Living Arrangement

Carefully Select Caregiver

Ask caregiver to provide referrals. Don’t just rely on calling the referrals. Make sure they are legitimate. Offer to buy him or her a cup of coffee so you can meet and evaluate them. When you find a caregiver you like, conduct a background check. There are many reputable companies that can do that for a reasonable fee. Keep in mind, there is no current law requiring mandatory background checks for in-home caregivers in California. You should do it yourself.

Carefully Select Assisted Living Home
  • Start the process early before there is a crisis.
  • Involve the prospective resident as much as possible in the process.
  • Pay special attention to how residents are being treated by staff and the quality and responsiveness of the services. Don’t be sold only on the attractiveness of the facility.
  • Narrow the options down to two or three facilities.
  • Visit each facility several times.
  • In making visits, walk through the whole facility and visit at different times of the day. Make sure you visit during a mealtime.
  • Drop by unannounced and visit at night and/or on the weekend.
  • Obtain a copy of the admission agreement. Read it carefully. Understand the services, costs and conditions for transfer.
  • Before you make a final decision, check the latest survey report and any other citations issued by the state licensing agency. Facilities should make these reports available to you upon request. Or you can view the reports at the community care licensing office, California department of social services, or at some ombudsman offices
6 Great Reasons for Assisted Living Assisted Living Checklist Know Your Assisted Living Rights

Stay Updated on Your Assisted Living Home

Carefully Select Nursing Home

Selecting a nursing home for yourself, a loved one, or a friend is an important and often difficult decision. Ideally, you will have the time to gather the many facts you’ll need to make that decision. Unfortunately, that decision is often made in a crisis atmosphere, when a person is about to leave the hospital or after a serious illness or operation.

Finding the right nursing home is all-important to you or your loved one’s well-being. The nursing home selected will be the person’s home for the duration of his or her stay, and sometimes for the remainder of a person’s life. A careful search for a nursing home will prevent future problems. The following tips are intended to give you some guidelines in selecting the most appropriate nursing home for you or your loved one.

  • Look at survey results from the state licensing agency that shows the facility’s history with regulatory compliance or noncompliance. (this is public data)
  • Check court records to determine if the facility been sued for neglect
  • Conduct on line research regarding the Medicare’s nursing home compare website that ranks nursing homes from best to worst.
  • Take an on-site tour of facility. You senses of smell, sound and sight are great common sense predictors of quality.
  • Meet and interview staff and administrator
  • Ask about staffing levels, activities and resident opinion surveys, family member opinion surveys, read resident & family council minutes.
  • Make sure the facility is able to clearly communicate in the senior’s first language.
  • If it is important that the senior is seen by his or her own personal physician, confirm that he or she can see resident at facility?
  • If not, meet facility medical director and research his/her background.
  • Take the admission agreement home and read it carefully to see what services are included in the base price, as opposed to extra costs
Know your Nursing Home Rights

Nursing Home Checklist
At Elder Protection Center we’re here to help you and the ones you love to navigate the complexities and concerns that often come with aging.

Protect the People You Love is our number one priority. You are not alone. We’d love to hear from you. Elder Protection Center is standing by for you and your loved ones – Today.

Types of Care Arrangements for the Elderly

Short & Long-Term Living Arrangements for the Elderly

  • Home Health Care

    Home health care is probably the first choice for most people.  With home health care the senior  contracts with a licensed or unlicensed care giver to provide supportive services at home on an intermittent basis or 24 hours a day, depending on specific needs.  The down side of home health care is the cost.  It can be prohibitively expensive.

  • Unlicensed Assisted Living

    The typical unlicensed assisted living facility is generally an apartment type setting where a central dinning facility is provided. Residents can privately contract out for higher level of care but the facility is not a health care provider.

  • Licensed Residential Care facilities for the Elderly (Assisted Living)

    Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly (RCFE) are a housing arrangement chosen voluntarily by persons 60 years of age or over and persons under 60 with compatible needs. RCFEs provide varying levels and intensities of care and supervision, protective supervision, and personal care, based upon the resident’s needs. They includes secure Alzheimer units where residents receive 24 hour care with activities of daily living.

    Know Your Assisted Living (RCFE) Rights
    Assisted Living Checklist
    Stay Updated on Your Assisted Living Home

  • Skilled Nursing Facility

    Skilled nursing care facilities, commonly referred to as nursing homes, are licensed healthcare facilities that are inspected and regulated by a state’s Department of Health Services.

    They offer long- and short-term care for individuals who need rehabilitation services or who suffer from serious or persistent health issues, such as Alzheimer’s disease, that are too complicated to be tended to at home or at an assisted living facility.

    Federal and State laws and regulations set forth patient rights. Nursing homes are required to inform residents of these rights and protect and promote their rights.

    Know Your Nursing Home Rights
    Nursing Home Checklist

  • Acute Care Facility

    Most generally called a hospital.

  • Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC)

    Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) offer persons 60 years of age or older a long term continuing care contract that provides for independent living units, residential care/assisted living services, and skilled nursing care, usually in one location, and usually for a resident’s lifetime. Most CCRCs require a substantial entrance fee (e.g., from a low of $100,000 to over a million) to be paid by the applicant upon admission along with monthly fees.

    Know your CCRC Rights (H&S Code §1771.7)

Elder Protection Center strives to provide you with valuable information about a variety of issues facing our aging population. Our Tips and Resources will help you to seek out long term care or help with transitioning to new living arrangements. Learn about safety devices and technology to make your home safer, understand important legal documents and more, all in one great resource.

Tips When Selecting a Short or Long Term Living Arrangement
Nursing Home vs. Assisted Living


Tips After Entering Nursing Home

  • Visit after business hours and on weekends
  • Attend resident and family council meetings
  • Start a family council group to meet every month if none exists
  • Get involved with care planning
  • Don’t hesitate to look at the clinical chart and ask questions
  • Make your concerns known to administrator and director of nursing


Elder Protection Center strives to provide you with valuable information about a variety of issues facing our aging population. Our Tips and Resources will help you to seek out long term care or help with transitioning to new living arrangements. Learn about safety devices and technology to make your home safer, understand important legal documents and more, all in one great resource.

The Five Most Common Medicare Scams

Switching plans is a must.  No!

Experts suggest that checking out your options each year is the best way to make sure you have the best plan for you. You are allowed to stay with your current plan and opt to make no changes.

Medicare is changing cards. No!

If you are approached by someone who says you need to update your information to receive your new card, you are dealing with a scam. Remember, Medicare will NEVER call or email you requesting personal information.

For you, a special price. No!

Con artists like to use time-sensitive sale pitches to scam seniors into acting quickly and not thinking about the deal. If it sounds too good to be true, it is. To shop or enroll in legitimate Medicare plans use the plan finder at or call 800-MEDICARE.

Health fair scams. No!

Another ploy scammers use is to offer a free gift. All you need to do is sign up with your name and Medicare number. Remember, NEVER give out your Medicare number. 

Phony organizations. No!

Be alert when you receive calls from people that say they are from your doctor’s office or local health agencies.  In some instances, scammers will illegally gain access to your medical information. Then, they call you with just enough details to ease your mind that they are authentic and cause you to reveal even more details, which then leads to fraud.

To report Medicare scams call 1-800 Medicare or the Office of the Inspector General at 1‑800‑HHS‑TIPS (1‑800‑447‑8477).
For free and objective Medicare assistance in Tennessee call SHIP (TN State Health Insurance  Assitance Program) at 1-877-801-0044

Sources: US News and World Report

Common Medicare Scams and How to Protect Yourself

It’s important to know what to watch for during open enrollment, when the nation’s 55 million Medicare recipients have the opportunity to change their Medicare Advantage and Part D plans. In addition to the challenge of going through the many plan options, experts say Medicare open enrollment is prime time for scam artists. Here are a few tips to protect yourself.

  • Guard your Medicare number, which is typically your Social Security number.  Protect it as you would your bank and credit card information.
  • Remember Medicare will NEVER call or email you requesting personal information or product offers. If you receive a call or email from someone claiming to be with Medicare that should be an immediate tip-off that you’re are dealing with a con artist.

If an insurance agent visits your home to sell or endorse any Medicare product, they are acting illegally.

World Elder Abuse Awarness Day

Elder Abuse happens to 1-in-10 elderly Americans. Physical, Financial, Emotional and yes even Sexual abuse in any form should never be tolerated. Learn the signs of abuse and what you can to to help prevent it. Elder Protection Center’s founder, Ray Lewis joins the crew at Good Morning San Diego for an informative discussion as part of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day #WEAAD2016. Thank you KUSI News for helping to shed a light on such an unfortunate and uncomfortable topic.

Tips for Spotting Debt Collection Scams

Verify the Debt is Legitimate

It is very risky to pay a debt collection agency the first time it contacts you by phone. If it turns out to be a scam, your money will be gone with no hope of getting it back. So take time to investigate and you could save yourself some serious money.

The fact that the debt collector has your personal information, such as your Social Security number, employment information, or names and telephone numbers of friends or relatives does not mean the debt is legitimate. Fraudsters can easily buy information about people who have defaulted on debts or who applied for loans online through sketchy websites. Anything you’ve put in a credit application could wind up in the hands of these crooks.

Under a federal law, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, a debt collector must provide you with a written “validation notice” within five days after they first contact you. This notice also must include the name of the creditor to whom you owe the money, how much you owe, and how to dispute the debt if you don’t believe it is correct. Insist this notice be mailed – not emailed – to you.

Another tip: Get your free annual credit report from all three credit bureaus to see if the collection account is listed on your credit reports. If it is, and the information is not accurate, you can dispute it. Conversely, if it is not on your reports, it could be a further indication that you are not dealing with a legitimate collection agency, as the scammers can’t and won’t report to credit bureaus. (While you are at it, monitor your credit scores for free. A sudden drop in your scores could indicate a collection account has been added.)

Verify the Collector is Legitimate

“Spoofing” technology makes it easy for a collector to pretend they are calling you from a phone number that is not theirs. Scammers have impersonated law firms and even law enforcement agencies in an effort to get you to pick up the phone and make a payment.

Ask the caller for the name and address of the collection agency they work for. Again, you are entitled to this information. Then go online to see what you can find out. Does this firm exist? Are they listed with the Better Business Bureau? If so, are there complaints about them? You can also try searching for the phone number listed on your caller ID, but please remember these numbers can be faked. So don’t rely on that information alone.

If the name of the collection agency or law firm is legitimate, it does not hurt to call them directly if the call you received seemed suspicious. If the agency is legitimate they will have no problem confirming your debt. But if it turns out someone else is using their name to try to rip people off, they will want to know about that as well. Same thing goes with callers who claim to represent the FBI, sheriff’s department, courts or other government agencies. These agencies will be able to confirm you are talking with scammers. (Courts don’t call consumers to collect debts, by the way, and neither does the FBI!)

Fight Back

Any of the following are red flags when a debt collector calls you demanding payment:

  • Discussing your debt with relatives, coworkers or friends (that’s illegal);
  • Threatening to “serve you” with a lawsuit if you don’t pay first (process servers who deliver these notices rarely, if ever, call consumers first, and they don’t try to collect payment);
  • Warning you that criminal charges will be filed, including “theft by deception.” It’s not a crime to be unable to pay your bills, and consumer debts are typically civil matters, not criminal.
  • Insisting you send them a prepaid card or wire payment. These funds are untraceable, which is why crooks like them.
  • You can tell a collector who is crossing the line that you are going to report them to law enforcement. Do so. You can contact or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to file a complaint.

KUSI-TV Elder Abuse Scams

Important information for everyone with elderly loved ones. Elder Protection Center’s founder Ray Lewis and KUSI-TV’s David Davis talking about the most common ‪‎Elder Abuse‬ scams during Saturday’s ‪Good Morning San Diego‬ . For more information on how to avoid financial elder abuse scams, click here.

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