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Searching for Senior Care - What questions to ask placement agency?


Searching for Senior Care - What questions to ask placement agency?

I'm researching Senior Care options. What are the main criteria when starting the search? Distance from desired location Distance from medical facilities Cost Languages: Staff + Residents Reviews Complaints from State Capacity of the facility Condition of facility Housing: Private Room, Shared Room Caregiver to Resident Ratio
AARP Expert

Hi Pete. I would follow Amy's advice, and definitely look at the Medicare ratings. I'd also see if there's anyway to ask people who are local to you, or to your elder loved one, about their opinions. I used to work as a geriatric care manager, and there are a lot of intangibles, or quiet issues, that don't get posted. Such as, say, if your loved one is African American, are there any African American residents there? I had a client who was very well educated, and virtually all the staff were Black, and she was Black, but all the other residents were white. It was a weird culture for her. So i found an assisted living place with more Black residents, and she was much more comfortable there. (She had dementia.) The place she moved to had a slightly lower rating, but she was much happier there. 


Places to look would be any local facebook groups, and ask, 'anyone have any recommendations on a nursing home/ continuing care community/ assisted living place?' 


Also, google the name of the facility you are considering and click on news to see if there's an article, pro or con, about that place. 


In some communities, like the tiny rural one i live in, there are adult foster homes that provide as good care, although less stimulation like 'field trips.' But depending on what your loved one needs, and how much money you're working with, it might be a good fit. 


Be sure to tour any place you're considering, and stay for a meal.


Good luck!

Jane, in rural eastern Oregon

AARP Expert

@PeteP74386 Looks like you've already got a good handle on some of the things to ask about. I'd also research:

  • Activities, cognitive stimulation, physical activity
  • Socialization opportunities
  • Safety measure (with the pandemic in mind)
  • Various levels of care
  • On site therapies
  • Animals allowed?
  • Personal furniture allowed?
  • Transportation
  • In normal times, are there field trips into the community?
  • How are residents families involved? Is there a resident/family council?


You can look for ratings and scores for the facility in Medicare's Nursing Home Compare tool. 


Here are some articles to help:

Hope this is helpful! 


Take care,

Amy Goyer, AARP Family & Caregiving Expert

Author, Juggling Life, Work and Caregiving

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