Helping Seniors Transition to Assisted Living

August 12, 2015

Senior Assisted Living

Most of us envision ourselves as seniors living independently in our own homes our entire lives. Unfortunately, despite our best laid plans, this is not always possible. Change for most of us is never easy and when other options such as assisted living becomes necessary, it is often a difficult transition to make. The process can involve major changes to daily routine and a disruption of lifestyle, sometimes resulting in a senior feeling as if they are losing much of their freedom and privacy.

Your senior parent or loved one may be resistant or refuse to consider the option of a care community, insisting they can still manage on their own. But if their condition declines to the point where health and safety are at stake if they continue to live independently; ignoring the problem can have disastrous results. How do you convince them to consider care options, introduce the possibility of assisted living, and make the transition easier?

Open communication and objectivity is key. You need to give them your support, understanding and most importantly respect for their perspective regarding care choices and lifestyle. To help smooth the transition in this process, consider these five steps:

  1. Addressing the problem – Gently bring up the key issues, such as their failing mobility, safety hazards at home, chronic health problems or their inability to enjoy their lifestyle. Be candid with them about concerns and your limitations with time and availability. Do they have a realistic plan in the event of an emergency or decline in condition? Emphasize the importance of maintaining their quality of life and remaining as independent as possible. Care communities such as assisted living often combine 24/7 care with many convenient amenities, helping to keep them happy, healthy, and safe.
  2. Learning their preferences – Before you even begin to look for a care community, you need to ask your parents or loved one what they want. They may be very specific regarding their preferences. Perhaps they want to live in a care community with plenty of room and great views, or one that focuses on social events and recreation. Meeting their preferences and providing options might do a lot to ease apprehension.
  3. Plan the move – Moving is unpleasant for most of us even in the best of scenarios. To a senior there is nothing more disruptive than moving from a home they have often lived in for decades if not their entire lives. Be sensitive to this when helping with arrangements and set a realistic pace. There is always a great deal of work associated with any move. You will have to help clean out their home, pack their belongings, and keep track of all necessary paperwork. Make sure to talk to them often, and reassure them if they are feeling anxious. Creating a home homelike setting in their new home is important. Discuss which items they would like move to their new location to help make it a familiar and comfortable environment for them.  
  4. Helping them socialize – When moving to the new place, ask your loved one if you Assisted Living for Seniorscan accompany them first and help them socialize with the caregivers and other residents. This change in lifestyle can be stressful and intimidating, so having someone familiar with them at first will help with the adjustment to their new home faster.
  5. Promoting independence – Finally, you should also avoid excessive hand-holding. Give them some space! A good community will make them feel welcome, and they will be able to adjust faster if you are not visiting and calling all the time. Encourage them to continue getting to know other people, make new friends and participate in the activities that assisted living communities provide.

Remember, you should not feel guilty for helping your senior loved one make the transition to a care community. If this choice is truly for the best, then you are assisting with something that will benefit your parents greatly. Even if it is difficult at first, helping them move to a good assisted living facility will soon prove to make an incredible difference in their quality of life.

If you are seeking care community options for your aged parents or senior loved one, My Care Match can help you find the right solution. Sign up for an account and start browsing.

About the Author

Doug Breuer is co-founder of and has worked in senior care for the last 9 years for the State of Oregon. From investigating cases of elder abuse to managing the delivery of long term care to residents of Central Oregon, Doug has been involved in all aspects of senior care.

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