Senior Care
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How to Get Real Reviews on Assisted Living: Family Caregiver Guide

Explore how to choose the right assisted living facility: insights on honest reviews, personal visits, and using state resources for the best care.
Published on
January 24, 2024
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Finding the best assisted living facility is stressful and emotional for family caregivers. Still, it's a decision caregivers must make to guarantee that loved ones receive the care and support they need. How can caregivers choose the right assisted living facility for their loved ones?

Assisted living overview

Assisted living is a residential option for older adults who require some assistance with daily activities but do not need the full-time healthcare services provided in a nursing home. Typically, these facilities offer a combination of housing, personal care services, and healthcare designed to respond to individuals who need help with everyday tasks like bathing, dressing, and medication management. 

Assisted living communities aim to foster independence among residents, offering communal activities and social opportunities while ensuring their safety and well-being. The level of care in these facilities can vary, ranging from minimal assistance to more comprehensive support for individuals with significant physical or cognitive challenges. Assisted living balances autonomy and personalized care, making it a popular choice for older adults seeking a supportive living environment.

Importance of honest reviews in choosing an assisted living facility

When picking an assisted living facility, reliable information matters. While brochures and websites can paint a picture of what a facility offers, real-life experiences from residents provide invaluable insights. Reviews give you a glimpse into the quality of care, the atmosphere, and the overall experience residents receive.

Positive reviews highlight exceptional staff, engaging activities, and a supportive community. When approached with a critical eye, negative reviews can reveal potential issues like staffing shortages, inconsistent care, or a lack of engagement. By reading various reviews, you gain a well-rounded picture and make an informed decision for your loved one.

Researching assisted living facilities

What should you look for in a long-term facility? Family caregivers look at multiple factors, including location, cost, and desired amenities. Fortunately, online resources such as AARP and Eldercare Locator can help. These websites aggregate reviews from various sources and provide valuable information about each facility. 

Use Google Maps or other online mapping tools to search for facilities in your area. Compile a list of potential facilities that meet your criteria, schedule tours, and ask questions to determine which facility best fits your loved one's needs.

Reading testimonials 

While facility websites can be biased, don't completely disregard testimonials. Look for detailed accounts mentioning specific staff members, activities enjoyed, and overall impressions. Pay attention to the tone and language used. Do the testimonials feel genuine and heartfelt, or do they sound generic and overly optimistic?


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How to spot real vs. fake online reviews

When trying to make informed decisions about products or services, it's common for people to look for reviews. However, it's essential to be cautious when interpreting reviews. Reviews that seem overly positive or negative may not accurately represent the product or service. 

It's often better to look for reviews that contain specific details and personal anecdotes, as these are more likely to be genuine. Reviews that are written in a conversational tone are often more trustworthy. 

On the other hand, reviews that focus primarily on marketing points or don't provide enough specific details may be cause for concern. Caregivers can make more informed decisions based on reviews by being aware of these red flags.

Checking state licensing and inspection reports

Online resources like and your state's Department of Health website often provide inspection reports for assisted living facilities. These reports detail any violations or concerns identified during official inspections, offering valuable insights into the facility's compliance with regulations.

Accessing state government websites 

Many state governments offer online resources to help families navigate senior care options. These websites may provide directories of licensed facilities, complaint filing procedures, and comparative data on quality measures.

Seeking advice from friends and family caregivers

Personal recommendations from trusted friends and caregivers can be a goldmine of information. Ask if anyone has experience with assisted living facilities in your area. If so, inquire about their specific recommendations and reasons for choosing those facilities. Be sure to ask about any negative experiences they encountered as well.

Investigating specific assisted living facilities

If you have a specific facility, contact individuals with personal experience. This could include current residents, their families and caregivers, or former residents. Ask them about their daily lives, the quality of care, the staff, and the overall atmosphere. Be direct and ask for honest feedback, both positive and negative.

Visiting assisted living facilities

Scheduling tours and walkthroughs give family caregivers a firsthand feel for the facility. Observe interactions between staff and residents. Are they friendly and respectful? Do residents seem engaged and happy? Caregivers should pay attention to the cleanliness and overall upkeep of the facility. Take note of the available amenities and activities offered.

Speaking with current residents and their families

Strike up conversations with current residents and caregivers during your visit. Ask them about their experiences, the things they enjoy the most, and any concerns they might have. Their insight can provide valuable insights into the day-to-day life at the facility.

Be open and honest when asking residents and families for their feedback. Let them know you're genuinely interested in their positive and negative experiences. Encourage them to share any concerns, which can help you identify potential red flags.


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Finding the right long-term facility

Selecting the right assisted living facility for your care recipient requires thorough research and a critical eye. Navigate the review landscape, gather valuable insights, and ultimately make an informed decision so your loved one receives the best care and support. Remember to collect information from several sources, be discerning, and trust your gut feeling. You will find the perfect long-term facility for your loved one with careful research and determination.

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