42 More questions to ask at an assisted living facility

An assisted living facility is not just a place for your loved one to while away the time. Ideally there should be activities and services intended to improve their quality of life – or at least preserve the level of quality to which they are accustomed. At the same time, these activities and services may come at an extra cost. The caregiver may ask the following questions regarding quality of life and costs at an assisted living facility.

Activities and socializing

1.       How often are activities scheduled? What staff participates?

2.       Can your loved one walk on the grounds? Are the protected walking areas for patients with dementia?

3.       How are religious and spiritual needs met? Is there transportation to churches or synagogues? Is there space and arrangements for worship programs at the facility?

4.       Who develops and oversees recreational activities, and what is his or her background?

5.       Do residents have a say in the activities offered?


6.       When are meals served?

7.       What if your relative is late for, misses, or refuses a meal?

8.       What if your loved one wants to skip a meal regularly?

9.       Can your relative have a tray delivered to his or her room? If so, would there be an additional charge?

10.   What are the alternatives if your loved one doesn’t like a meal?

11.   Are snacks available? What kind of snacks are available? At what times are snacks available?

12.   Does a nutritionist/dietitian review meals and special diets? If so, how often?


13.   What safety measures are there to protect residents from wandering away, or personal belongings from being stolen?

14.   What if you would like an exception to a policy, for example signing in and out, smoking, or eating foods that are not on a prescribed diet?

15.   Are background checks performed on all employees? If so, what kind?

16.   Which doors are locked and when? When doors are locked, how does one access the home? Are exit doors alarmed?

17.   Are there safety locks on the windows?

18.   Are there call bells in each room and bathroom? How often are they checked for proper functioning?

19.   Is there a fire emergency plan? Are there fire drills? Are emergency plans displayed in visible places?

20.   Is the floor covering of the facility made of a slip-resistant material?

Facility-initiated discharge

21.   What are the reasons for discharge?

22.   Is there an internal appeal process? If so, what is it?

23.   How many days’ notice is given and to whom is it given?

24.   How does the facility assist you if they go ahead with the discharge?


25.   Are hallways, doorways, bathrooms and common areas fully accessible to wheelchair-bound patients?

26.   If it is a multi-floor facility, what are the safety measures for escape in case of fire for wheelchair-bound patients?

 Costs and contracts

27.   How much is the baseline fee?

28.   What services are included in that fee?

29.   What are the charges for additional services and products?

30.   What initial payment is required, and is any of it refundable?

31.   If your loved one is away from the facility for a prolonged period – in the hospital or temporarily in a nursing home – what charges continue to apply?

32.   When, why, and with what frequency can charges be changed?

33.   Who is informed and how long in advance when charges are changed?

34.   What happens if funds run out? Is there financial help?

35.   Is renter insurance acquired?

36.   Who is responsible for cleaning/repairing/payment/replacement if there is an accident that destroys property – either the facility’s or your relative’s?

37.   Are there monthly fees and additional charges including charges to hold a bed during an absence?

38.   Is there a refund policy in case of transfers, discharges, changes in ownership, or closing?

39.   What are the responsibilities of the residents and of the facility?

40.   What are the rights of the residents?

41.   Are there behavior conditions or other circumstances that may cause termination of services?

42.   Is there a grievance procedure? What are the options if you’re not satisfied with the grievance procedure?

Related: How to offset the costs of caring for someone with dementia