Choosing an Assisted Living Community: Red and Green Flags


Assisted living communities are supposed to be ideal for seniors who are unable to live on their own without assistance. However, that does not mean every assisted living community lives up to the same standards. In fact, you should be extra cautious while choosing the right place, be it for yourself or for someone in the family.

Just as there are truly wonderful senior communities spread all around the United States, there is no shortage of dubious places with shoddy standards either unfortunately. Don’t worry though, because there are plenty of ways to tell whether a senior living community truly is as good as it proclaims itself to be.

Check Online First

Search online for the best senior living communities in your location to see which ones show up with the highest reviews. For example, if you’re looking for assisted living in St. Louis, Missouri, just type that into your search engine and check the top-rated results. Good communities for assisted living are expected to have:

  • Trained staff available during all hours of the day.
  • The equipment and medical staff to stabilize health emergencies.
  • A good reputation among past and present members.
  • Fitness, social interaction, and memory care programs.

After you have a few well reputed names, read the reviews and see if they seem genuine. If there are complaints, note them down and try to see how they have addressed those complaints during an unannounced visit. In general, well reputed places are the least likely to risk their reputation by not maintaining their standards.

Pay an Unannounced Visit

Even before anyone in the family starts living at the facility, you should be welcome to pay a visit and check things out for yourself. Arrive unannounced within workhours to see how the staff reacts to your visit. Next, tell them about your situation and ask if you can have a look around. As long as it’s not an odd hour or a holiday, and you only wish to visit the common facilities and the community grounds, it should go smoothly enough.

See if the staff reacts adversely to your impromptu visit, as well as your wish to check out the place. If they ask you to book an appointment first, feel free to ask them why that is necessary? A common excuse would be that they do not wish to disturb their members. Point out again that you only wish to see the common facilities and the grounds, which should be open to visitors during workhours anyway.

What Does Secretive Behavior from the Staff Indicate?

Barring emergencies and special circumstances, there is no good reason as to why the staff should refuse a general visit during regular hours. Therefore, oddly secretive behavior may indicate:

  • The place is so short staffed that they cannot find a single employee to give someone even a short tour of the place without prior notice.
  • The standard of living which they advertise is not what they strive to maintain for their members behind the scenes.
  • They might need time to cover up their mistakes and neglect.

On the other hand, if the staff seem unperturbed by your impromptu visit, that’s a good sign. As long as there isn’t anything to hide, or it is not a special circumstance that can justify any defensive behavior, employees should be confident and eager to show guests what they are striving to build inside the community.