Elder Law


April 6, 2018

By Atty. Anne R. Tessier

Choosing an independent senior living facility can be a difficult task. Facilities and the services they offer vary widely. You will need to do some homework and it is a good idea to take a tour if you are able. Here is a list of some questions that may help you choose the community that is right for you.

Rent or Buy

  • Are the residences owned or rented?
  • Do you require first and last month's rent or a security deposit?
  • Does the cost vary for a single person or a couple?
  • What level of care triggers the requirement to move?
  • What amenities and services are included in the base price and what services need to be paid for separately?
  • What happens if you run out of money?
  • Is electricity, cable television and internet included in the base price?
  • How many apartments are in the community?
  • How many apartments are currently available and is there a wait list?

Guests, Visitors and Security

  • What are the visiting hours?
  • What security measures are in place?
  • Is someone at the front door to greet guests and assist residents?

The Apartments

  • How many bathrooms are there in each unit?
  • Are floor plans available for each room category?
  • Are the bathrooms equipped with a bathtub or shower and are they handicap or wheelchair accessible?
  • Are there individual thermostats in the apartments?
  • Do the apartments have emergency call buttons in each room?
  • Can the rooms be painted and pictures hung on the walls?
  • Who pays for damage to the rug or other items in the unit?
  • Are maintenance services available?
  • Is there a stove, full size refrigerator and countertop microwave?
  • Are pets permitted?
  • Is smoking permitted or is there a smoking area?

Housekeeping and Laundry

  • Are washers and dryers available in the apartments or in a common area for resident use?
  • Is laundry service available?
  • Are housekeeping services available?


  • What meals are included and can they be delivered to your apartment?
  • Is there assigned seating in the dining hall?
  • Are dinner guests permitted and is there an additional charge?

Other Services

  • Is there an onsite pharmacy?
  • Is there an onsite hairdresser or barber?
  • Is there a chapel or are church services available onsite?
  • Is there a local bank available onsite?
  • Is transportation available to local churches?
  • Is there a fitness room?
  • Is there a hobby and crafts room?
  • What types of activities are offered both onsite and offsite?


  • Is transportation available for shopping or doctor visits?
  • Are parking spaces or garages available if you own your own car?


  • Are storage areas available?

Air Conditioning

  • Are the apartments air conditioned or do you need to provide your own window unit?
  • If you provide your own window unit, does the facility provide assistance installing and removing the unit?
  • Are the common areas air conditioned?

Power Outages

  • Is a generator available in the case of power outage?

Availability of Medical Care

  • Is nursing care available?
  • Can you bring your own aide?
  • Is there a Medical Director onsite?
  • Is full-time nursing care available if it becomes necessary?
  • Is there a wait list to transfer to full-time care, if available?


Finally, you may wish to ask a trusted family member or friend to help with your search. It may also be a good idea to consult your health care provider, financial advisor, and your attorney to be sure the choice you make meets all of your needs before you make your final decision.

See also It is Never too Early to Start the Conversation

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