Senior Resources » Assisted Living » Assisted Living: Features to Look for & Questions to Ask

Assisted Living: Features to Look for & Questions to Ask

woman holding sign that says features and questions

Assisted living may be the perfect option for seniors who enjoy their active and independent lifestyle but are also beginning to need a little help doing so. It’s a well-suited environment for those who have difficulties with motor skills, balance, or maybe living with Alzheimer’s or dementia.


So – you’re in search of an assisted living facility…

Accommodations and costs will vary, so it’s important to first gather options near you and then compare, based on needs and preferences. Maybe high security is a must-have. Maybe you want a lot of space. Perhaps it’s a toss-up between personal care assistance and dietary selections. No matter which you find most important, you should know what’s out there and what to expect.


Here are the most common features to look for and some questions to ask when looking for an assisted living facility:

Building & Unit Accommodations

wheelchair in an accessible bathroom

Single residences could be apartments or condos. Depending on the level of care, a building may sometimes resemble a medical facility. Units are designed specifically to accommodate senior needs. They’ll also usually be handicap-accessible. Here are some common building and unit features to look for when considering comfort, safety, and accessibility:

  • Security system
  • Emergency call system
  • Pet-friendly units
  • Outdoor space
  • ADA-compliant wheelchair ramps, handrails, and doorways
  • Elevators
  • Stairlifts
  • Handicap-accessible showers
  • Private dining areas for entertaining family
colorful question marks

Assisted Living Building & Unit Questions to Ask:

  • What are the payment policies and options?
  • Are the building utilities included in the overall cost, or charged separately?
  • Is internet service available?
  • Are visitors welcome any time?
  • How are grounds and buildings maintained?
  • Can you bring your own furniture and/or pets?
  • Are bathrooms private?
  • Can residents keep food in their unit?
  • What are the smoking policies?

Assisted Living Amenities & Services


Most senior housing options offer some type of service. It’s common to find community laundry rooms, but is there a cost? How about housekeeping? You’ve spent your entire life making your home the way you like it – now that you’ll be living somewhere with help, will the employees agree with your dusting and mopping standards? Here are some services that you should keep an eye out for:

  • Housekeeping (dusting, vacuuming, bed-making, cleaning, tidying)
  • Laundry room
  • Home maintenance
  • Home repairs
  • Transportation
  • Security system
colorful question marks

Amenity & Service Questions to Ask:

  • Is laundry self-service or are there employees that do it?
  • Do any provided laundry services include linens?
  • Are there any additional costs for maintenance or repairs?
  • Is transportation private or is it a bus service?
  • Is there a bus schedule?

Medical Services

assisted living resident and assistant walking

It’s no secret that as you grow older, so might your need for medical services. It may be as simple as periodic visits to a personal physician. Or, you may require more intensive care that necessitates frequent doctor visits. And, needs can and most certainly do change over time. Here are some common medical services to look for in assisted living:

  • 24-hour emergency care
  • Massage therapists
  • Coordination/contact with personal physicians
  • Supervision
  • Limited nursing services
  • Periodic wellness checks
colorful question marks

Medical Service Questions to Ask:

  • What types of medical staff work there and what are their qualifications?
  • How many staff members are on duty per day?
  • Are needs assessments given upon arrival?
  • How often are the residents’ needs assessed?
  • Do residents have a care plan?
  • Does the facility keep a record of emergency contacts?

Personal Care & Wellness

assisted living residents doing group exercise

You’re moving into assisted living because you want your quality of life to thrive! So, what types of amenities will ensure you stay the best version of yourself? Here are some personal care and wellness features to look for:

  • Multiple prepared meals per day
  • Fitness center
  • Group fitness activities such as walking, dancing, and yoga
  • Worship center and/or services
  • On-site beauty salon and/or barbershop
  • Spa
  • On-site personal care assistants (PCA) to help with everyday activities and behaviors such as dressing, grooming, bathing, toileting, and mobility
  • Community pet
colorful question marks

Personal Care & Wellness Questions to Ask:

  • Are there additional fees for beauty services?
  • Are there additional fees to join group fitness activities?
  • How many PCAs are on staff per day and how often do you have access to them?
  • What other care staff is on duty and when are they accessible? Also, what are their qualifications?
  • How often are meals provided and when?
  • Are there menus to offer residents a variety of food choices?
  • Many seniors have diabetes or other diet-limiting conditions, so is the facility able to accommodate food restrictions?
  • Are snacks available when residents want?

Entertainment & Leisure Activities

dancing couple in an assisted living

If you’re trying to stay active and healthy, then you’ll want an assisted living facility with plenty of opportunities for enrichment. Whether you’re a social butterfly or you prefer quiet hobbies, here are entertainment and leisure activities to look for:

  • Game room
  • Library
  • Book clubs or other special interest groups
  • Art studio and/or classes
  • Movie theater
  • Holiday parties
  • Community gardening
  • Billiards
  • Swimming pool
  • Day trips/excursions
  • Professional entertainment
colorful question marks

Entertainment & Leisure Questions to Ask:

  • Are there additional fees for activities?
  • Does the facility host game nights or other special interest get-togethers, like karaoke or dancing?
  • Is there an event calendar?
  • Are there additional fees for outings?

Memory Care in Assisted Living

young woman helping older adult in assisted living facility

Adults who have Alzheimer’s or dementia can live just as comfortably in assisted living, with some additional provisions. Some locations feature, or even specialize in, supplemental care for residents with memory care needs. These additional amenities include:

  • 24-hour access to staff
  • Increased safety measures for residents who wander, are more prone to falling, or may become aggressive
  • Cognitive therapies
  • Nurses or other care staff who specialize in memory care
  • Buildings/units designed to reduce confusion will feature: clear and concise signs (which may also be color-coded), outdoor gardens and open spaces, and personalization on doors or welcome mats
  • Family support groups

How To Choose the Best Assisted Living Facility for YOU

assisted living

From accessibility to entertainment and everything in between – it’s all important! And, if you’re going to live there, then yes, it’s absolutely worth your time to ask questions about it all! At the end of the day, it’s about your comfort. And, no matter which features are most important to you, make time to make sure the facility has everything you need and want.

Search for assisted living near you.


Popular Articles About Assisted Living

Originally published April 11, 2024


Free Senior Resources

Ultimate Guide to Retirement Communities

The Ultimate Guide to Retirement Communities

Get The Guide
5 Health conditions e-book cover

5 Health Conditions That Affect Baby Boomers and 5 Ways to Avoid Them

Get The Guide
ultimate estate planning checklist and guide

Ultimate Estate Planning Checklist & Guide

Get The Guide

Guide to Adult Day Care

Get The Guide
Show this content while the ad loads.