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Choosing an Assisted Living Home

There are many types of senior living. How do you choose an assisted living home that will be the best choice for your needs, preferences, and budget? 

Nursing homes, independent living, home care, residential assisted living? What does this all mean? How are they different? Does it matter which one you choose?

Then there are the details of each option, the location, size, services, amenities, staff, quality, cost, and availability. And that is just the beginning! 

It can be an overwhelming process during a time that is likely already overwhelming and emotional.

Throughout this article, we will break down each option along with the pros and cons to help you make an informed decision, and the best one for you or your loved ones.

Assisted Living Options

Below, we will provide an overview of the most common options available to seniors in the U.S. and some tips on comparing and evaluating them. The options may feel overwhelming, but we will aim to organize and simplify the information so you can feel confident in making the best choice for your loved one.

As you consider options for yourself or your loved one, you will likely be wondering about the costs associated with each. We dive into that topic in our article on Residential Assisted Living Costs.

Independent Living Communities

For many older adults in this country, the first step beyond the comfort of their own home is a senior living community. The term independent living community is often used interchangeably with retirement community, active adult community, senior living apartments, or 55+ community. 

Independent living is a popular option for seniors who want to enjoy their retirement without the hassle of maintaining a home. Unlike assisted living or nursing homes, independent living communities do not provide any care or supervision for their residents. They are designed for seniors who are healthy, active, and self-reliant. 

Independent living communities often have age restrictions, usually 55 or older, to develop a sense of belonging and camaraderie among the residents. Independent living communities may offer more amenities and social opportunities to help seniors avoid loneliness and isolation when living alone. 

Some communities provide services that make life easier and more enjoyable for seniors, such as housekeeping, laundry, transportation, meals, fitness centers, pools, etc.

Independent living communities typically offer a range of housing options, such as apartments, condos, townhouses, cottages, or single-family homes, all designed to provide a comfortable and convenient lifestyle for seniors who want to enjoy their golden years without the hassle of maintaining a large home, dealing with household chores, or worrying about safety and security. 

Retirement communities often have features such as:

  • Landscaping and maintenance services
  • Transportation and shuttle services
  • Fitness and wellness centers
  • Swimming pools and spas
  • Golf courses and tennis courts
  • Clubhouses and social spaces
  • Libraries and computer labs
  • Restaurants and cafes
  • Hobby and craft rooms
  • Cultural and educational programs
  • Social and recreational activities

Independent living communities are not only places to live but also places to belong. They offer opportunities for seniors to meet new friends, pursue their interests, learn new skills, and stay active and engaged. 

Retirement communities can also provide a sense of community and support for seniors who may feel lonely or isolated in their old neighborhoods.

Retirement communities can also provide a sense of community and support for seniors who may feel lonely or isolated in their old neighborhoods.

Not all independent living communities are the same. They vary in size, location, cost, quality, and services. 

Some retirement communities may have entrance fees, monthly fees, or contracts. 

Some retirement communities may be affiliated with religious or ethnic groups or have specific themes or lifestyles. 

Some retirement communities may be more luxurious or exclusive than others. 

Therefore, it is important for seniors considering moving to a retirement community to do their research and compare different options before making a decision. They should visit several retirement communities, talk to current residents and staff, review the financial and legal aspects, and assess their needs and preferences.

Moving to an independent living community can be a significant change for seniors, but it can also be a rewarding one. Retirement communities can offer seniors a chance to live independently and comfortably while enjoying the benefits of community living and having access to various services and amenities that can enrich their lives.

Home Care

The next senior living option many elderly Americans opt for is home care. One of the choices seniors face when they need assistance with their daily living activities (ADLs) or other chores is whether to stay home or move to an assisted living facility. 

For many seniors, staying at home is the preferred option because it allows them to maintain their independence and enjoy the comfort and familiarity of their own environment. However, staying at home may also require some help from others, especially if the senior has health or mobility issues. This is where home care comes in.

Home care is a service that provides seniors with personal care and assistance with various tasks in their own homes. 

Home care can include help with daily care activities such as bathing, dressing, grooming, toileting, eating, medication management, and more. Home care can also include help with household tasks such as grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, and laundry. Home care can also include help with social and emotional needs such as companionship, conversation, hobbies, and more.

Home care can be delivered by different types of caregivers depending on the needs and preferences of the senior. 

Some seniors may choose to hire professional caregivers from an agency that screens, trains, and supervises them. Professional caregivers can provide reliable and consistent care that meets the standards and regulations of the industry. Professional caregivers can also provide specialized care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or other conditions that require extra attention and skills.

Some seniors may choose to rely on family members or friends who are willing and able to care for them. Family caregivers can provide more personalized and flexible care that reflects the relationship and history between the senior and the caregiver. Family caregivers are also a cost-effective means of care because they provide care for free or at a lower rate than professional caregivers. However, family caregivers may also face challenges such as balancing their work and personal lives, managing their own stress and emotions, and accessing resources and support.

Home care can be arranged for different durations and frequencies depending on the needs and budget of the senior. 

Some seniors may only need home care for a few hours a day or a few days a week to supplement their abilities, or to fill in the gaps when family caregivers are unavailable. Some seniors may need home care for more extended periods or even 24/7 to ensure their safety and well-being at all times. The average cost of home care in the US is $24 per hour, but it can vary depending on the location, level of care, type of caregiver, and other factors.

Home care is ideal for seniors who value the comfort and familiarity of their homes and have a strong support network of family and friends nearby. 

Home care is an excellent choice for those who just need assistance with a few daily living texts and have loved ones who live nearby.

Home care can also be combined with other services, such as home health care, which provides medical care at home by nurses or therapists. 

Home health care can help seniors recover from surgery, injury, or illness, or manage chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, or COPD. 

Home health care can also help seniors prevent hospitalizations or re-hospitalizations by monitoring their vital signs, administering medications, providing wound care, and more.

Assisted Living Models

The remaining options for senior living are grouped under the category of long-term care facilities or assisted living. These include big-box assisted living facilities, skilled nursing facilities (also known as nursing homes), continuing care retirement communities, and finally, the best option for most seniors, residential assisted living.

Big-Box Assisted Living Facilities

If you are looking for senior living options, you may have heard of the term “big box” assisted living. This is a common name for traditional assisted living facilities, which are large and institution-like facilities that often house hundreds of seniors on one expansive property. Unlike nursing homes, which provide medical care by licensed professionals, big box assisted living facilities offer only basic assistance with daily activities, such as bathing, dressing, and medication management.

These facilities generally offer private or shared rooms/apartments, meals, housekeeping, laundry, transportation, social activities, and 24-hour staff. Some communities may offer specialized care for seniors with dementia or other cognitive impairments.

Big-box facilities are not typically designed to cater to each resident’s individual needs and preferences but rather to operate on a large scale to maximize profits. As a result, they charge very high fees and may not deliver the personalized quality of care and attention that most seniors prefer.

Some features of big-box assisted living facilities are:

  • They offer a variety of choices and options for residents, such as different floor plans, meal plans, and social events.
  • They have economies of scale that allow them to provide many more services and amenities than smaller facilities.
  • They have extensive staff and management trained in senior care.
  • They often have advanced technology and security systems that ensure the safety and well-being of residents.

Some disadvantages of big-box assisted living facilities are:

  • They can feel impersonal and overwhelming for some seniors who prefer a more intimate and homelike environment.
  • They can have rigid rules and policies that limit the flexibility and autonomy of residents.
  • They can have high turnover rates and staff shortages that affect the quality and consistency of care and service.
  • They can have hidden fees that increase the overall cost of living for residents.

Skilled Nursing Facilities (Nursing Homes)

When most people think of senior housing and elder care, they generally think of nursing homes they have seen in movies and TV. Large sterile facilities where no one looks happy. And while they are not the first choice of seniors or their families searching for care, the reach of this long-term care model is vast. Unfortunately, in many regions, it is the only option, and where many seniors end up spending their final days.

What is a nursing home?

A nursing home, also known as a skilled nursing facility, is a place where seniors who need 24-hour medical care and supervision can live. 

Nursing homes provide nursing care, wound care, medication management, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and hospice care. 

Nursing homes are regulated by the state and federal government, must meet certain quality standards, and are usually paid for by Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance, or personal funds.

What is an assisted living facility?

An assisted living facility, also known as a board and care home or a personal care home, is where seniors who need assistance with daily activities can live. 

Assisted living facilities provide personal care, meals, housekeeping, laundry, transportation, social activities, and medication reminders. 

Assisted living facilities are usually smaller than nursing homes and have a more home-like atmosphere. They are licensed by the state but have less strict regulations than nursing homes. 

Assisted living facilities are usually paid for by private funds or long-term care insurance.

Nursing Homes vs. Assisted Living Facilities

The main differences between a nursing home and an assisted living facility are:

  • The level of care: Nursing homes provide higher-level medical care than assisted living facilities.
  • The size of the facility: Nursing homes are typically larger than assisted living facilities.
  • The cost of the facility: Nursing homes are typically more expensive than assisted living facilities.
  • The payment options: Nursing homes are more likely to be covered by Medicare or Medicaid than assisted living facilities.
Questions to ask as you visit different facilities to compare their services, staff, amenities, and environment.

Continuing Care Retirement Community

Finally, one type of senior living option that has become popular in recent years and combines many of the previously mentioned options is the continuing care retirement community or CCRC. 

These are large communities that offer a range of housing and care options for older adults, from independent living apartments to assisted living units to nursing home rooms. The idea is that seniors can move within the same community as their needs change over time, without having to relocate or find new providers.

Some CCRCs are very attractive and well-maintained, with a variety of amenities and services for their residents. However, these features come at a high cost. 

Most CCRCs require a substantial entrance fee, which can range from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on the size and type of the unit. In addition, residents have to pay monthly fees, which can also vary widely depending on the level of care and services they receive. 

These fees can easily exceed the average income of most seniors, making CCRCs unaffordable for many older adults.

Residential Assisted Living Homes

Finally, and perhaps the best senior living option for you or your aging loved one is residential assisted living homes. 

Most seniors prefer not to move to a nursing home or a large assisted living facility, preferring a more homelike and personalized setting where they can receive high-quality care and attention. That’s where residential assisted living, or private assisted living homes, comes in.

Residential assisted living (RAL) is a type of senior living that provides a smaller and more intimate alternative to traditional assisted living. 

Residential assisted living (RAL) is a type of senior living that provides a smaller and more intimate alternative to traditional assisted living.

RAL homes are typically located in residential neighborhoods and have a limited number of residents, usually between 4 and 16. Each resident has a private or semi-private room and shares common areas such as the living room, dining room, kitchen, and backyard with the other residents and staff. RAL homes are licensed and regulated by the state and provide their residents with 24/7 supervision, assistance, and care.

Choosing a residential assisted living home for yourself or your loved one has many benefits. 

RAL homes offer personalized care.

RAL homes offer a higher staff-to-resident ratio than larger facilities, meaning each resident receives more individualized attention and care. 

The staff knows each resident’s name, preferences, needs, and medical history and can tailor their services accordingly. RAL homes also have more flexibility to accommodate special requests or dietary restrictions and adjust the level of care as the resident’s needs change over time.

RAL homes offer a home-like environment.

RAL homes provide a comfortable and cozy atmosphere that feels like home. 

Residents can decorate their rooms with their furniture and belongings and enjoy the amenities of a regular house, such as a fireplace, a garden, or a porch. 

RAL homes also encourage a sense of community and family among the residents and staff, who often eat together, celebrate holidays and birthdays, and engage in meaningful conversations.

RAL homes provide activities and socialization.

RAL homes offer a variety of activities and programs to keep their residents active and engaged. 

Residents can choose from various options such as arts and crafts, music, games, exercise, outings, or pet therapy. 

They can also interact with other residents who share similar interests and backgrounds and with visitors from the neighborhood or local organizations. 

RAL homes foster social connections and friendships that can enhance seniors' quality of life and well-being.

RAL homes foster social connections and friendships that can enhance seniors’ quality of life and well-being.

RAL homes are relatively affordable.

RAL homes are often more affordable than larger facilities, as they have lower overhead costs and fewer administrative fees. 

The cost of RAL varies depending on the location, size, amenities, and services of each home, but it is usually comparable to or lower than the average cost of assisted living in the area. 

RAL homes may also accept different payment options such as private pay, long-term care insurance, veteran’s benefits, or Medicaid waivers.

If you are searching for a senior living option that offers personalized care, a homelike environment, socialization and stimulation, and affordability, then RAL may be the right choice for you or your loved one.

Finding a RAL Home

To learn more about residential assisted living or a home near you, check out the RAL Home Locator.

If you are looking for a suitable assisted living home for your loved one, you may feel overwhelmed by the many options available. How can you find the best match for your loved one’s needs and preferences?

The RAL Home Locator is a tool that allows you to discover quality Residential Assisted Living homes across the country. We bridge the gap between Residential Assisted Living providers and families who need reliable care for their loved ones. 

We believe that our seniors deserve nothing but the best, and Residential Assisted Living is the best option for seniors who require care. 

No one wants to be treated like a statistic. 

That’s why we focus on Residential Assisted Living. 

Smaller, safer, more comfortable assisted living in a home-like setting. With fewer residents per staff member, a cozy atmosphere, and skilled staff who care more about people than profits, Residential Assisted Living is the better choice.

How to Choose an Assisted Living Community

Choosing an assisted living community can be a challenging and overwhelming process, as there are many factors to consider such as the level of care, services, amenities, quality, location, and cost. 

Here is an overview of what you will need to consider to help you find the best assisted living community for you or your loved one:

Assess your needs and preferences

Before you start looking for an assisted living community, you should have a clear idea of what kind of care and assistance you or your loved one needs and wants. 

You can use online tools such as the Assisted Living Assessment or the Senior Living Checklist to evaluate your needs and preferences for ADLs, health conditions, lifestyle, hobbies, and socialization.

Do your research

Once you have a list of your needs and preferences, you can search for assisted living communities that match your criteria. 

You can use online resources such as the RAL Home Locator to compare different senior living options and find the best ones near you. Also, be sure to network and ask for recommendations from your family, friends, doctor, or senior care advisor.

Visit the facilities

The best way to get a feel for an assisted living facility is to visit it in person. 

During your tour, pay attention to the community’s physical appearance, cleanliness, safety, and atmosphere. 

Observe how the staff and residents interact with each other and with you. Ask questions about the facility’s services, amenities, fees, contracts, policies, and regulations. 

Try to visit at different times of the day and week to see how the community operates on a regular basis.

Compare your options

After visiting several facilities, you should better know which ones suit your needs and preferences. 

Compare the pros and cons of each option and narrow down your choices to two or three finalists. Consider revisiting these facilities or talking to some current residents or their families to get more feedback. You can also use online tools, such as checklists or comparison charts, to help you evaluate your options objectively.

 Make a decision

After you visit and compare several assisted living communities, you should weigh each option’s pros and cons and decide which is the best fit for you or your loved one.

You should also review the contract carefully and ensure you understand all the terms and conditions before signing it. Begin preparing for the move-in process and make arrangements for packing, transportation, and settling in.

Choosing an assisted living community is a big decision that requires careful planning and research. By following these tips, you can find the best assisted living community for you or your loved one that meets your needs and preferences.

Facility Amenities

The right long-term care facility can enhance the quality of life of seniors. 

But what are the amenities of assisted living facilities, and what should you look for?

Assisted living facilities offer various features to fit senior residents’ needs and wants. On-site services and amenities can include:

Personal care

Assisted living staff can help residents with tasks such as dressing, bathing, grooming, toileting, and eating. 

Some facilities also offer on-site medication management and assistance, ensuring residents take their prescribed medications on time and at the correct dosage. 

Depending on your needs and preferences, you can choose the level of care that suits you best. Some facilities offer 24/7 care, while others have staff available only during certain hours.


One of the benefits of living in an assisted living facility is that you don’t have to worry about cooking or cleaning up after meals. 

Most facilities offer nutritious and delicious meals that cater to various dietary needs and preferences. 

Depending on the facility, you can enjoy your meals in a communal dining room or in your own room. Some facilities also have snack bars, cafes, or other options for in-between meals.


Assisted living facilities are designed to provide seniors a safe and secure environment. 

They may have features such as 24-hour emergency call systems, smoke detectors, fire sprinklers, locked doors and windows, security cameras, and staff supervision. Some facilities also have gated entrances, alarm systems, and security guards for extra protection. 

You should also check the facility’s policies and procedures for emergencies, such as fire drills, evacuations, and lockdowns.

Scheduled activities

Staying active and engaged is vital for your physical and mental health. 

Assisted living facilities offer a variety of social and recreational activities to keep residents engaged and entertained. These may include exercise classes, arts and crafts, games, music, movies, outings, parties, clubs, and more. 

Some facilities also have special programs for residents with cognitive impairments or other specific needs.

Entertainment spaces

Assisted living facilities often have common areas where residents can relax and socialize. 

Depending on the size of the facility, these may include lounges, libraries, gardens, patios, pools, spas, bars, salons, theaters, and more. Some facilities also have fitness centers, computer rooms, hobby rooms, and other amenities that cater to different interests and hobbies.


Last but not least, you want to feel comfortable and at home in your assisted living facility. 

You should look for a facility that has spacious and well-maintained apartments that suit your needs and preferences. Also, consider the location, accessibility, cleanliness, and atmosphere of the facility. 

You want to live in a convenient, pleasant, and welcoming place.

Resident-to-Caregiver Ratio

One of the most important factors to consider when choosing an assisted living facility for yourself or a loved one is the resident-to-caregiver ratio. 

This ratio measures how many residents are cared for by each staff member in an assisted living facility, and it can significantly impact the quality of care and services provided by the facility.

It can vary depending on the size, type, and level of care of the facility, as well as the time of day and the specific needs of the residents. For example, some facilities may have a higher ratio during the night shift, when most residents are asleep, resulting in less staff for a larger number of residents. Yet, during the daytime, when residents are more active, the same facility will often have a lower ratio, meaning more caregivers to assist a smaller number of residents with their daily living activities.

The resident-to-caregiver ratio is not the same as the staff-to-resident ratio, which includes all staff members in the facility, such as administrators, housekeepers, cooks, maintenance workers, etc. The resident-to-caregiver ratio only counts the staff members who directly provide care and services to the residents, such as caregivers, nurses, medication technicians, etc.

Why does the resident-to-caregiver ratio matter?

The resident-to-caregiver ratio matters because it affects the quality and quantity of care and services each resident receives in an assisted living facility. 

A lower ratio means that each resident has more attention and interaction from the caregivers, which can lead to better outcomes in terms of health, safety, satisfaction, and well-being. 

Conversely, a higher ratio means that each resident has less attention and interaction from the caregivers, leading to a higher probability of neglect, abuse, errors, complaints, and dissatisfaction.

Some benefits of a lower resident-to-caregiver ratio include:

  • More personalized and individualized care that meets each resident’s specific needs and preferences.
  • More frequent and timely assistance with daily activities such as bathing, dressing, eating, toileting, and mobility.
  • More accurate and consistent administration of medications and treatments.
  • More effective prevention and management of chronic conditions and complications such as falls, infections, pressure ulcers, dehydration, malnutrition, and depression.
  • More opportunities for socialization and engagement in recreational and educational activities.
  • More time with fewer residents means that caregivers can devote more attention to each resident, providing respect and dignity for each resident as a unique person with a history, personality, and interests rather than just another number.

The care and safety an assisted living facility provides its residents should be the chief concern of every assisted living facility and senior home care business. Much of this quality is achieved by having the right balance of caregivers and staff for the residents in the home.

The care and safety an assisted living facility provides its residents should be the chief concern of every assisted living facility and senior home care business.

How do you find out the resident-to-caregiver ratio of different facilities?

There is no nationwide standard or legal requirement for reporting or disclosing the resident-to-caregiver ratio of assisted living facilities, as the requirements vary from state to state. Therefore, finding this information from public sources or online databases can be difficult. However, there are some ways that you can try to obtain this information from different facilities.

The simplest way is to ask the facility manager or administrator about their resident-to-caregiver ratio during a tour or an interview. 

You can also ask for their staffing schedule or plan that shows how many caregivers are assigned to each shift and how many residents they are responsible for. 

You should also ask how they adjust their staffing levels according to the changing needs and acuity of their residents.

Another way is to observe the facility during your visit and observe how many caregivers are present and how they interact with the residents. If you get the chance, you can also talk to some residents or their family members and ask them about their experience with the caregivers.

Signs to Look for When Touring an Assisted Living Home

One of the best ways to narrow down your assisted living choices and get a sense of the quality and suitability of each facility is to take a tour. 

A tour can help you see the physical environment, observe the staff and residents, and ask questions about the services and amenities. 

However, not all tours are created equal, and you need to know what to look for and what to ask to make the most of your visit. Here are some tips on what to look for when touring an assisted living home.

1. The first impression. Pay attention to how it looks and feels when you arrive at the facility. Is it clean, well-maintained, and inviting? Is there adequate parking and accessibility? Is the reception area staffed and welcoming? How do the staff greet you and introduce themselves? How do they interact with the residents? Are they friendly, respectful, and attentive? Do they seem happy and engaged? These are some clues that can indicate the overall atmosphere and culture of the facility.

2. The living spaces. One of the most important aspects of an assisted living home is the living space you or your loved one will occupy. Depending on your preferences and budget, you may have a choice between a private or shared room, a studio or apartment, or a cottage or villa. Whatever the option, you want to ensure it is comfortable, spacious, and functional. Ask to see a sample unit or the actual unit if that is available, and check for the following features:

  • Adequate lighting, ventilation, heating, and cooling
  • Safety measures such as grab bars, emergency call buttons, smoke detectors, and sprinklers
  •  Storage space such as closets, drawers, and shelves
  • Kitchenette or refrigerator (if applicable)
  • Bathroom with shower; usually not a bathtub, as the risk of falls or accidents increases with the use of tubs.
  • Furnishings such as bed, chair, table, and TV
  • Personalization options such as wall color, curtains, pictures, and plants

3. The common areas. Another critical aspect of an assisted living home is the common areas where residents can socialize, relax, and enjoy various activities. These may include a dining room, a lounge, a library, a game room, a fitness center, a salon, a garden, and more. When touring these areas, look for the following features:

  • Cleanliness and maintenance
  • Adequacy of space and seating
  • Variety and quality of activities and equipment
  • Availability and accessibility of staff
  • Atmosphere and ambiance

4. The dining experience. Food is a necessity and a source of pleasure and satisfaction for many seniors. Therefore, you want to ensure that the assisted living home offers nutritious, delicious, and appealing meals that cater to your or your loved one’s dietary needs and preferences. To get a taste of the dining experience, ask to join a meal during your tour or request a sample menu. You can also ask about the following elements:

  • Frequency and timing of meals and snacks
  • Choice of menu items and portion sizes
  • Special diets such as diabetic, low-sodium, vegetarian, etc.
  • Quality and presentation of food
  • Service and staff attitude
  • Dining room layout and ambiance

5. The care services. The primary reason seniors choose to move to an assisted living home is to receive assistance with daily living activities such as bathing, dressing, grooming, medication management, etc. Therefore, you want to make sure that the facility provides adequate and appropriate care services that meet your or your loved one’s needs and expectations. To assess the quality of care services, ask about the following aspects:

  • Staff qualifications, training, and supervision
  • Staff-to-resident ratio
  • Care plan development and review process
  • Communication with family members
  • Availability of medical services such as nursing, pharmacy, therapy, etc.
  • Availability of specialized care such as memory care or hospice care

6. The cost and contract. Finally, the cost and contract are the most crucial aspects of choosing an assisted living home. You want to make sure you understand what you are paying for and agreeing to before you sign anything. To avoid any surprises or misunderstandings later on, ask for a written breakdown of all fees included or excluded in the monthly rate. You should also ask for a copy of the contract or agreement that outlines the terms and conditions of residency, then compare the different residential assisted living facilities and negotiate the best deal for your needs and budget.

Warning Signs When Touring an Assisted Living Home

Not all assisted living homes are created equal, and some may have serious issues that could affect the quality of life and safety of their residents. To help you make an informed decision, here are some warning signs to look out for when touring an assisted living home.

Poor cleanliness and maintenance.

A well-run assisted living home should be clean, tidy, and free of unpleasant odors. The furniture, appliances, and equipment should be in good condition and working order. The floors, walls, and ceilings should be free of stains, cracks, and mold. The bathrooms should be sanitary and accessible. If you notice signs of neglect, dirt, or disrepair, it may indicate that the staff is overworked, undertrained, or careless.

Unhappy or unresponsive staff.

The staff of an assisted living home should be friendly, professional, and attentive to the needs and preferences of the residents. They should greet you warmly, answer your questions clearly, and show genuine interest in your situation. They should also interact with the residents in a respectful and compassionate manner. If you notice that the staff is rude, impatient, or indifferent to you or the residents, it may indicate that they are unhappy with their work environment, underpaid, or burned out.

Lack of activities and socialization.

An assisted living home should provide a variety of activities and opportunities for socialization for its residents. These may include games, crafts, music, exercise, outings, and events. The activities should be tailored to the interests and abilities of the residents and should promote their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. If you notice that the activity calendar is sparse, outdated, or irrelevant or that the residents are isolated, bored, or depressed, it may indicate that the home does not value or encourage resident engagement.

Inadequate security and safety measures.

An assisted living home should have adequate security and safety measures to protect its residents from harm. These may include locks on doors and windows, alarms on exits, smoke detectors and sprinklers, emergency lighting and generators, and first aid kits. The home should also have a clear evacuation plan in case of fire or other emergencies. If you notice the security and safety measures are missing, broken, or inadequate, it may indicate that the home is unprepared for potential threats or hazards.

Negative reviews or complaints.

Before visiting an assisted living home, you should research online to see what other people have to say about it. You can look for reviews on websites like Google Reviews, Yelp, or You can also check if the home has any complaints or violations on file with the state licensing agency or the Better Business Bureau. If you find many negative reviews or complaints about the home, it may indicate serious problems with its quality of care or service.

These are just some warning signs to look out for when touring an assisted living home, however, it is not an exhaustive list. You should trust your instincts and impressions. If something feels off or wrong about a home, do not hesitate to ask questions or look for alternatives. 

Remember that choosing an assisted living home is an important decision that can significantly affect your or your loved one’s health and happiness.

Signs You’ve Found a Good Retirement Home Candidate

How can you tell if you’ve found a good option that meets your loved one’s needs and preferences? Here are some signs that you’ve found an excellent residential assisted living facility:

The staff are friendly, respectful, and attentive. 

A residential assisted living facility should have a well-trained and qualified staff that treats the residents with dignity and compassion. They should be responsive to the resident’s needs and requests and communicate effectively with them and their families. They should also have a low turnover rate, which indicates that they are satisfied with their work environment and have a good relationship with the management.

The facility is clean, comfortable, and safe. 

A good residential assisted living facility should provide a clean and comfortable living space for the residents, with adequate lighting, ventilation, heating, and cooling. The facility should also have safety measures like smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, emergency exits, and security cameras. The facility should be well-maintained and regularly inspected for any issues or hazards.

The residents are happy, active, and engaged. 

A desirable residential assisted living facility should offer a variety of activities and programs for the residents to participate in and enjoy. These may include social events, recreational activities, educational opportunities, cultural experiences, and spiritual services. The facility should also encourage the residents to maintain their independence and autonomy as much as possible while providing the necessary support and assistance when needed.

The facility has a good reputation and reviews. 

A residential assisted living facility should have a positive reputation in the community and among its peers. You can check online reviews, testimonials, ratings, and accreditations to understand how the facility performs and what others think. You can also ask for referrals from friends, family members, or professionals with experience with residential assisted living facilities.

The facility meets your budget and expectations. 

A good residential assisted living facility should offer a reasonable and transparent pricing structure that fits your budget and covers all the services and amenities you need. The facility should also meet your expectations regarding the quality of care, the level of comfort, the range of activities, and the location of the facility. You should feel confident that you are getting good value for your money and making a wise investment for your future.

Start Your Own Residential Assisted Living Business

Choosing an appropriate place for your aging loved one can be challenging. The need to balance comfort, safety, happiness, cost, and care quality often leaves many feeling dismayed at the options available. The late Gene Guarino was once in that position, which led him to create the solution: residential assisted living homes. 

Influenced by the significant need for senior care due to the baby boomer generation, Gene, leveraging his expertise in real estate and business, decided to build an affordable, less crowded, and more home-like assisted living option in 2013. He achieved a dual purpose, providing his mother with a quality life and carving out a profitable niche for himself, subsequently expanding his venture with two more homes.

Residential assisted living became not just a lucrative business opportunity for Gene but a beacon of hope for millions encountering similar challenges. Going beyond being a niche market, it became a broad solution for the escalating senior care crisis. 

Today, as the founder of Residential Assisted Living Academy™, Gene’s legacy is his successful RAL blueprint that continues to be shared with aspiring entrepreneurs nationwide, providing insight and knowledge on how to establish and upscale successful RAL businesses.

Gene’s example inspires others to consider creating their own residential assisted living business, translating passion into profit and impact while reaping the added benefits of owning a valuable real estate asset.

You Can Be Part of the Solution to America’s Senior Housing Demand

The current aging population represents a huge demographic shift that will impact the demand for senior housing nationwide. According to the US Census, about 120,000 people turn 85 every month, and many require assistance with their daily tasks.

This creates a massive opportunity for Residential Assisted Living, a niche market that provides quality care and comfortable living for seniors in a home-like setting.

If you are tired of working for someone else and want to take control of your financial future, this is the time to act. You can create a lasting legacy and generate significant passive income by owning and operating a residential assisted living home.

The RAL Academy has trained thousands of entrepreneurs how to start, build, and operate thriving senior housing businesses.

We want to show you how to get started in this lucrative industry and help you become part of the solution to meeting America’s growing demand for senior housing.

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Gene Guarino


Gene's Introductory Course for Residential Assisted Living

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This introductory course is taught by our late Founder, Gene Guarino.


Isabelle's Introductory Course for Residential Assisted Living

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This introductory course is taught by our Lead Trainer, Isabelle Guarino.

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