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Choosing a Place to Call Home

Consider these questions when making a decision

En español | Although housing options may seem overwhelming, your parents' desires, finances and degree of need will narrow the focus. Consider these questions when making a decision.

See also: Assessing Housing Options.

Business Reputation

  • Is the facility licensed and operating legally?
  • Has its license ever been revoked — if so, why?
  • Are recent inspection reports available?
  • How long has it been in business?
  • Are financial records available?
  • What about references?

You can find answers to these questions by contacting the state licensing agency (search for the state name plus licensing — for example, Minnesota licensing — on the Internet), the local agency on aging and the Better Business Bureau.


  • Do residents look as if they have their needs met?
  • Do they seem to be content and interact well with the staff and owners?
  • Do staff and residents treat one another with dignity and respect?
  • Do staff members take the time to listen and respond to residents' needs?
  • What is the staff-to-resident ratio?
  • Are residents' rights posted?
  • What training does the staff receive?
  • What do residents and their relatives say about their care?


  • Does the facility have requisite safety equipment, such as fire extinguishers, smoke detectors and a sprinkler system?
  • How's the sanitation?
  • Are doors and locks secure?
  • Is someone on duty 24 hours a day, or is there an emergency call service?
  • Is a doctor available around the clock?
  • Are there obvious hazards?
  • Is medical care handled professionally?
  • Can those with physical disabilities get around the facility?


  • Is the facility attractive and in good shape?
  • Does it have the style of living desired, such as a private apartment, private room and private bath?
  • Is it comfortable enough, with conveniences such as equipment, electronics, gardens and adequate space for entertaining or hobbies?
  • What meals are provided, and are the quality and quantity up to par?
  • Does the food suit your parent's taste, nutritional requirements and cultural preferences?
  • Are the social interactions and recreational programs appealing?


  • Is it in a safe neighborhood?
  • Is it located near shops, doctors’ offices, places of worship and social contacts?
  • Is it reasonably close to adult children's homes?
  • Is public or private transportation easily accessible?


  • Are there restrictions on behavior such as smoking and drinking alcohol?
  • Are pets allowed?
  • Are guests, including overnighters, welcome?
  • Are there formal visiting hours?
  • How much flexibility is there for mealtimes?
  • In a shared setting, how are responsibilities determined?
  • How does management handle rate increases and discharge policies?

Moving In With Family

  • Will this move cause or solve family problems?
  • If a parent and child are considering living together, can they and the others living in the house get along?
  • Is the space adequate?
  • Is the house equipped for the older adult?
  • Can you give the parent the attention she deserves?
  • Are your lifestyles compatible?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages for all those involved?
  • Are you comfortable with this serious commitment and reasonably sure it will work?

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