Moving a Parent to Assisted Living: 12 Strategies to Ease the Transition

Moving a parent, even a willing one, into assisted living, or any senior living facility, is fraught with emotion. Your parents may mourn the loss of their younger years, their independence, the home they built. They could be scared about aging, making new friends, finding their way in a new place.

You may be mourning all of those things too. You may second-guess your decision. Did we act too quickly? Overreact? Wait too long? And you will feel guilt. Guilt is inevitable. Know that all of these feelings are normal and don’t need to last forever. And keep these 12 strategies in mind as you make the transition:

  1. Give it time. Senior living experts say it typically takes between three and six months for someone to adjust to assisted living. That’s an average. It might be quicker; it may take longer. Stay focused on the reasons you made the decision (safety, health, security, sanity). Keeping the big picture in mind will help you through the rough patches.
  2. Visit often, or not for two weeks. Only you know your parent, so only you can decide how best to assist them through the early weeks of the move. Many experts will tell you to visit as often as possible. Frequent visits can ease any stress your parent may have that they will be abandoned or lonely. It might be easier for them to meet people at activities or in the dining room if they have a companion with them. But if your parent is calling you several times a day, staying in their room, and waiting for you to show up and keep them company, you may need to give them some space in order to encourage them to branch out. When I went to college my parents wouldn’t let me come home to visit for the first few weeks. By forcing me to stay at school on the weekends, they forced me to make friends. Tough love – it can work both ways.
  3. It takes a village. Mobilize yours. When we first moved my mother into assisted living, my sisters and I could not visit for a week or two. We had been staying with her before the move and needed to get back to work. Plus, our father was in the hospital. So I called my relatives and asked them to visit in our absence. Just as parenting takes a village, so does daughtering.
  4. Expect setbacks. Just when you think you are over the hump and your parent is settling in, things will change. They will tell you they are lonely. They will decide they don’t like their new dining hall friends. They will ask to go home. These moments are heart wrenching but knowing that they are normal and that they will pass, can help get you through them.
  5. Allow yourself to feel discomfort. Speaking of home, know that when your parent says they want to go home, they may not necessarily mean their last address. It’s incredibly difficult to hear your parent say they want to go home. But know this: they may not be referring to their last address – especially if they have dementia; they may be referring to a childhood home. Home is both a place and a feeling. Sit with them in the discomfort of that statement and talk to them about what they miss. You can’t promise to change their situation, but you can hear them as they express their feelings. And that will help.
  6. Acknowledge the difficult parts. Yes you want to paint the new move in a positive light, but don’t talk at your parents about all the wonderful new activities and people and opportunities. Listen to their fears and concerns and acknowledge them. Then help them get through it. They will be more likely to listen to what you have to say if they feel like you’ve listened to what they had to say.
  7. Surround your parent with their personal belongings. Moving to assisted living usually means downsizing. The dining room table with two extension leaves and coordinating hutch may not fit in the new apartment. But what does fit, are photographs of family and friends, photo albums, favorite books, a familiar piece of artwork. If you need to downsize the bedroom set, you can still bring a familiar blanket and pillows. The kitchen may be new, but you can pack your mother’s favorite teacup. Leaving a home shouldn’t mean leaving behind the comforts of that home.
  8. Limit new things. You may be tempted to furnish your parent’s new place with the latest and greatest in hopes they love their fancy new home. But limit new items. Moving into an assisted living facility is a major adjustment where everything is new – the people, the food, the routines. Don’t overwhelm your parents with a new phone or remote control for the television, or a fancy new coffee maker. Limit the amount of new things they need to learn.
  9. Be your parent’s advocate. No place is perfect. You and your parents may see opportunities to improve something at their new home but your parent may hesitate to speak up when they move to a new place. Do it for them. My father, who worked nights his entire adult life, likes to sit outside on a balcony until almost midnight. When he first moved in, the staff would tell him he needed to be inside by 8 p.m. I asked management if there was any reason he couldn’t be on the balcony after 8, and there wasn’t. The staff just wasn’t used to seeing the residents out of their rooms after 8:30 at night. So management let the staff know that my father could stay outside as late as he wanted– and he does.
  10. Build a team. The staff at assisted living can and should be a part of your team. Talk to them about your concerns and your parent’s concerns and actively enroll them in helping with the transition. Don’t assume they will notice what needs to happen – they are very busy. If your parent tells you they are too shy to go to the dining hall for dinner, or they forget when activities are happening, ask if a staff member can knock on their door and invite them. If the staff members know what you need, they should be willing to help out.
  11. Set your boundaries. Yes, you want to be a good daughter and ease your parent’s transition. But you have needs too. Try to free up as much times as you can in the first few months after the move to help, but know that it is okay if you are not always available. Your kids may need you. Your boss and clients may need you. And you need to take care of yourself. Determine what you are able and willing to do and then stick to your boundaries. Other people will tell you what you should do. Ignore them. You are the judge – no one else.
  12. Daughter knows best. Remember the television show and saying, “Father Knows Best.” Well this time, daughter, you know best. The experts may tell you to stay away or visit often. They may tell you to dismiss complaints as normal. But you know your parent best. Trust your instincts. I was told my father had to spend the rest of his life in a locked memory unit. When I expressed doubt about that decision, doctors and social workers dismissed me as a daughter in denial. But I persisted and my father now lives in his own apartment in an assisted living facility with minimal support.

You might also like:  How to Initiate Difficult Conversations With Your Aging Parents


135 comments on “Moving a Parent to Assisted Living: 12 Strategies to Ease the Transition”

  1. Gregory Willard Reply

    I had no idea that you should limit the amount of new items. When we moved my grandpa, he was telling us how he wanted to have furniture from his old bedroom, and we took a few things. I think that since this is a big change itself, it helps them to have some familiar pieces from their old house.

    • MP Reply

      Have them make a list of items they want. Family photos, favorite comforter, pillow etc. large print books. A clock. Calendar. Send cards daily if u r far away. Just chatty notes about what u r doing. Find out if therapy dogs can visit and arrange it. Make sure mom has her makeup and access to a hairdresser. Some nice new house dresses. Encourage participation in rehab and activities. If religious ask a minister to visit

  2. Emily Stone Reply

    This is an extremely helpful post, I found surrounding my parent with their personal belongings really helped the transition, in particular family pictures.

  3. Scott Reply

    I like that you point out that a lot of people can be and should be involved when helping a parent adjust to living in an assisted living facility. I can see why it would be important to help them feel comfortable and at peace while there. My grandparents are both over 90-years-old. They have been doing well so far, but they might need to go live in an assisted living facility pretty soon here. I’ll definitely keep this in mind when that time comes.

      • Kathy Reply

        We are just moving a newly widowed mother in law who is 90. We have 5 hours away and it’sSO hard. She refused to move back to our state but she doesn’t want to leave her house either. We can’t pay for 24/7 caregivers anymore and the only way to pay for help is assisted living and selling her house. The crying phone calls are so stressful for everyone even though we know it’s normal and is grieving.

        • Ashley Reply

          We are in the same boat. Assisted living is much cheaper than 24/7 caregiver. My 81 year old dad was in the hospital and ER twice. The Dr said he cannot live alone anymore nor drive. He’s got cardiac problems, really high blood sugars, unstable on his feet, and undiagnosed dementia. The lady who helped us place him deals with this all the time. I had to tell my dad that the dr said he needs to go to “rehab” for a little while. We are using all his retirement, selling his stuff and house to pay for him to live in this wonderful place. I cry all the time feeling guilty, but I know we all have jobs that are in jeopardy right now because of the time off that we had to take. We are moving his stuff in today. It’s a beautiful place and our advocate negotiated a fair price. Much cheaper than home care. His memory is failing and the place he’s in now I had to go rescue him because he escaped and found him 4 blocks down the road. He bugs my sister all the time saying he wants to come home. The reality is he cannot. He’s had many falls and doesn’t remember and almost set the kitchen on fire. We were advised not to visit for a week or 2 while he is in the transition period. I know he’s going to be angry at us, but this is what’s best. This place has never had any complaints and I’d love to live there. They have everything you need. Group outings, movie night, a hair salon, library room, dining hall, happy hour, and so much more. He worked hard for retirement why not put it to use instead of it sitting there. I want him to make friends and enjoy the rest of the days he has left.

  4. Ben Allen Reply

    I appreciate the tips on how to make moving into assisted living easier. I agree that it is hard for people to adjust to a different living situation, especially people who have been independent for a long time and now have to rely on others. My mom is looking for an assisted living place for my grandpa, I will be sure to share this information with her.

      • joelyn manfredi Reply

        Just moved our 93 mother in law into assisted living facility. She has dementia. We live 8 hours away. Our state does not provide services she receives where she is.
        She is very angry, screams, pleads and accuses. It is difficult to listen to it. She is never wrong nor does she remember why she’s there. I want to support her and be there for her. I feel I need to learn coping skills. I just don’t know what they are.

        • admin Reply

          Seek a support system – dementia is a brutal disease for patients and caregivers alike. Be compassionate toward yourself.

      • Kim Reply

        For the person that asked HOW do you get your parent to make the move: For my mother, she came out of the hospital and went to rehab and never left due to her progressing memory loss. We just kept telling her she had to do rehab to get better which was actually true. I just moved my dad this week. That was a true miracle -thank you God! I talked him into visiting a place and having lunch. I worked for several days to get the assisted living apartment ready before hand, and when they served us lunch, I told him this would be where he would be staying while I had repairs made to the house(true). Additionally, since he was 28 lbs under weight, he needs to gain that weight back and exercise before his doctor will consider letting him go home. He’s not happy about it, but his short term memory loss and frailty make it impossible for him to live at home anymore.

  5. Samantha Stein Reply

    Seniors have valid reservations when moving to an assisted living facility. It’s understandable because leaving your home and your loved ones can evoke fear. The transition is really going to be hard especially those who are too emotional and think that moving into an assisted living facility means they will lose their independence, they will be lonely for the rest of their lives and they will no longer see their families again.

    These strategies can help debunk the myths of moving to a facility and can give them a peace of mind too. Thanks for sharing this awesome list, which can make the transition from home and facility much easier.

  6. Annika Larson Reply

    I’ve been worried about how transitioning my mom to an assisted living center will go. In a lot of ways, she has been resisting the idea, but we know it is what is best for her and her health as well as the rest of our family. These tips will definitely help ease the process, though. I hadn’t thought about making sure to surround them with personal belongings and limiting the new things, but I think that will be a help. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Jay Jorgenson Reply

    This article is spot on when it talks about how it takes a while (up to 3-6 months according to this article) for older people to get used to assisted living facilities. I remember when we put my grandparents in assisted living that it took them a really long time. These are all great points about assisted living!

      • Fran Reply

        We moved in assisted living facility a month ago, I’m fine with it but my 93 year old husband is in complete denial and wants to go home and sits in chair all day just looking out side or tv, I’ve handed him family albums but he shoves them away, any suggestions are so very welcome, Fran Barker

  8. Dave Anderson Reply

    I agree that the first couple weeks of transition to an assisted living center would be the most difficult part for your family members. Because they would have to get used to a new bed, house, and environment it could be stressful and quite difficult at first. However, once they realize that they are very taken care of they will be able to transition much more easily. I think that once they are fully transitioned they would love to have regular visits from their family members.

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  10. Ridley Fitzgerald Reply

    I love your tips for moving a parent into assisted living. My dad needs help living, but he doesn’t want to move anywhere. I’ll make sure that plenty of his neighbors visit him, to make him feel like he’s still at home thought.

  11. Chris Winters Reply

    It makes sense that it would regularly take somebody about three to six months to get used to an assisted living lifestyle. My grandparents currently require a lot of attention and care due to their illnesses. I feel like they would be much more comfortable in an assisted living home where they can live in a social environment.

  12. Jill Hill Reply

    This is clearing a tough subject for anyone who is being forced to deal with this subject to talk about. This topic can be
    just as hard for the family member trying to help as for the elderly family members. I really appeciate how you wrote this article to flow easy
    and help make the process simple by outlining the basic steps to help people get started. Thanks! please keep up the good content.

    • Tam Reply

      I agree. I came to the realization that we need to move my mother from the independent side to the assisted side of her adult community a few weeks ago. I cannot sleep, knowing she will not be happy about the restrictions and chance, but I know it is best for her well-being and mine. She was picking up other people’s pull boxes and adding them to hers, unwittingly, and doesn’t remember it all. As much as I know it has to happen soon, I am on an emotional roller coaster. The doctors have reminded me that “ You wouldn’t let your toddler run with scissors even if the toddler got upset when you took them away.” Because of her dementia, there is no way to reason with her, so I am doing my best to be patient, reflect her feelings, and remind her that I am not going to let any happen to her.

      • admin Reply

        Act with equal parts compassion and courage – compassion for your mother’s feelings and situation and courage to do what needs to be done even though it’s as hard as hell. SOunds like you already are. Good luck with the transition.

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  17. Jacki Reply

    I am moving my mom to an assisted living from her apartment where she had a full time aide. She has dementia and her short term memory is gone. We are moving her in two months. When should we tell her she is moving? What should we tell her?

    • admin Reply

      Hi Jacki. If her short term memory is “gone” you will most likely need to tell her several times. Consult with her doctor/team if she has one and see what they say – also the assisted living might have suggestions too. Also, let your heart guide you. What do you think is the most compassionate approach? You want to balance surprising her and worrying her.

  18. Karla Reply

    Moved mom into Alf almost one week ago and she isn’t liking it
    She agreed at first because she wanted to make us kids happy but after a week there she wants to go home and the ability to smoke has been really hard on her. Any advice? She was down to 88lbs, not eating, house not being kept up and refused anyone to come in.
    She wasn’t safe. Any suggestions getting over the hump?

    • admin Reply

      Give it time. Work with the staff and make sure they are encouraging her to participate. Good luck!

    • Lori MacPherson Reply

      Karla, I think your mom’s addiction to smoking plays a much bigger part in her unhappiness than anyone realizes. When I was a smoker if I would have been given the choice between a nice room in assisted living or smoking, I would have rather lived in a cornfield than give up my cigarettes. If she is not allowed to smoke anywhere outside please look into e-cigarettes for her. They are clean, don’t have an odor, easy to use and provide nicotine which should satisfy her cravings and make her much happier. I know this will probably be an unpopular viewpoint with some people but if you’ve never been addicted, it’s almost impossible to understand.

  19. Sandy Radeke Reply

    I am thankful that my Mom is willing and ready to move into a senior apartment facility. She’s going to move in a month. Because she has some short term memory issues and is leaving her single family home of 60+ years for a building with hallways that all look the same, I am concerned about her remembering where her apartment is. We will put something familiar on the front door but I don’t want her to have to wander the halls to find it.

    Has anyone seen a bracelet or lanyard that will help an older person remember where a new apartment is?

    • admin Reply

      My father wore his key on a lanyard bracelet with the apartment number written on a tag that hung like a charm.

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  21. amanda albury Reply

    My male friend 67 was in secret from us, his friends for 12 years and had him living with us fortnightly for 3 to 4 days each time, his sister and sons put him in a locked high care dementia ward. He is not to this level yet. We attended all hospital meetings with his son who was not coping. I told him to call his brothers, aunties, uncle, family.. they came for final meeting with gerry doctor and ny husband and i were present at their request. Yet hospital staff even us walking in with both sons of our friend, asked me if i had permission from the family to come. I have left out much detail. They all our friends family meeting 4 family for the first time, thanked me for what i had done. More than they will ever know as friends and advocate. That was Thursday last week. We missed speaking to our friend on Thursday night. We called on Friday night. The hospital said he was not here for me to talk to. What i said. Staff lady said he has been discharged. I phoned both sons and sms and daughter in law. No response. So i called our friends sister. She was cold. Yet last thursday was singing her praises to me for what i did etc etc. Told me she had taken him to place today. For me to call his son and he can tell me where he is. Why is the family doing this? Why are they stopping us and other friends of Graham’s to know where he has moved and stopping us all continuing our friendship, to come and see him or call him? What can i/we do?

    • admin Reply

      Sorry to hear this. The best you can probably do is try to work with his family. Good luck.

  22. Carol Reply

    We are moving my mother into an assisted living apartment, not willingly…… She is not safe to be at home alone. We have had several aids at her home, but they all quit……. She refuses to have someone 24 hours a day in her home and we all work…. I feel so guilty about putting her there, I’m an RN and feel like I should be able to take care of her at my home. I have a 2 story home and the steps are a concern….. This is heart wrenching to do this to her !

    • admin Reply

      Sorry you are going through so much worry and guilt. You are acting with courage and compassion to make sure your mother gets the care she deserves. Focus on that.

  23. joy butler Reply

    I have been trying to move my parents to an assisted living home for a while now. I think that it’s going to be a difficult transition. I really appreciated what you said about trusting yourself with the whole “Daughter knows best” mindset. I trust myself to make a great decision for them.

      • Dee Fanning Reply

        Thank you for all the suggestions. My mom is planning to move to a tiny independent living facility. We took a tour yesterday and she called me last night very excited. She still has to be evaluated by their nurse and social worker. It helps that this campus is run by and organization that she belongs to. Mom used to work here so she knows some of the staff, and she knows a couple of women who live here. Right now she is very excited to live where she will see more people. She is lonely at her townhouse where she has lived alone and three of her neighbors have passed away. I think she will do well but I know there will also be some difficult moments.

  24. Beth Havey Reply

    Today is my mom’s birthday. She died in 2013 after living in a Senior facility. Your post is great and covers everything so well. My mother did well, but there is no ideal place. You have to be vigilant. I had an independent caregiver that I hired to be with my mother when I could not. It worked so well. Wishing you the best and thanks for this post.

    • admin Reply

      Thank you Beth. And sorry for your loss. When we lose our mothers it always feels like just yesterday.

  25. Haralee Reply

    Great points! We endured many of the adjustment issues with my Mother. We were fortunate however because she chose where and when she wanted to be moved. Still it did take some of my cousins, her nieces and nephews to pick up the slack in visiting.

  26. Stephen A Bryson Reply

    This has been a great post, very helpful. I am not the daughter, I’m the son. My father passed away last week just as both my parents were to move into assistive care together, now my mom is moving into assistive care by herself.

    • admin Reply

      I am sorry for your loss. Best of luck with these new transitions for you and mother. Sons are 40 percent of all family caregivers – you are not alone.

    • Heidi J McKenzie Reply

      Stephen, I cried when I read your post as I’m now going through the exact same situation. My father died on the morning of 6/9/20, which was the same day that he and my mom were to go into assisted living together. Now she is there by herself (during COVID no less,) and I feel horrible that she is there alone. She keeps saying she wants to go back to her house which is breaking my heart. So hard!

      • Karen Soistman Reply

        My Father died from covid19 on 6/8/20. My 93 year old mother is home with me now. Assistant living is the best option but hate that we can’t visit or be with her when we bring her to the assistant living home. If we were not going through the pandemic, we would be okay to move her to assistant living because we would be there as much as she needed to help her with the transition. We are having second thoughts about admitting her to the assistant living home until the covid19 restrictions are lifted. Its so complicated. She needs 24 hour care and can’t imagine dropping her off at assistant living and not being able to see her family. We may have to sacrifice our lives until this Covid19 goes away. My mother is surrounded by love at my home and she is getting stronger and has the will to live. She was married to her love of her life for 65 years.
        But my life has changed as I have had to take off work and have made adjustments to my life to care for my mother. what’s the right thing to do?

        • admin Reply

          Sorry for the delayed response. There is no one right answer. Just try to act with equal parts courage and compassion.

  27. Kate Welling Reply

    You mentioned that we should be our parents advocate when bringing them to assisted living. I think it would be nice to do this so they feel not so alone. My mom is getting too hard for me to take care of, so I am going to look for a community near me to bring her to.

  28. Lola Reply

    I am getting ready to move my 95 year old mom into an independent senior
    Iiving facility so she is close to me in distance (I am in another state) and for safety reasons and she isn’t happy about it. She told me today that she doesn’t like being around old people. Hah! That struck me as funny but sad…

    • admin Reply

      Best of luck with the move. Hopefully your mother will meet some young people!

  29. Sandy Reply

    Great article, after about 8 years of home care we are moving mom in to Assisted Living. This article was exactly what I was looking for!!!

  30. Sandy Reply

    I am moving my aunt (who never married and has no children) into assisted living from her independent apt at an elderly living complex. Her short-term memory is gone and she is becoming very hateful and says very spiteful and hurtful things to me. I know this is quite stressful for her and I am trying to show no emotion about her comments. She has friends that are already in the assisted units and her new apartment is quite nice but is it normal for her to be so negative in the things she says. I’m sure she won’t remember saying them.


  32. Bonnie Reply

    My 95 year old mother has been living with us for just over 3 years. She has moderate ALZ. I am also caring for our adult daughter who lives with Chronic Daily Migraine to the extent that she is bedridden. We just found out that our daughter has been accepted into a program specifically for migraine patients in another state. She is unable to travel alone. We don’t know how often or how long we will be gone for her treatments. I am probably going to have to put my mother into a memory care unit of an assisted living center. There is a brand new one near us and I have put a fully refundable deposit down. I have peace about this for one minutes and horrific guilt the next minute. I don’t know how to make this decision. I am worn out from care-giving. Exhausted and undone. I have loved ones telling me that I have done heroically taking care of both my mother and daughter and now we have to focus on our daughter. Then I look at my mother who is so weak and frail and wonder how I can do this to her.

    • admin Reply

      I am so sorry you are dealing with so much at once. Two feel torn between parent and child is a very tough place to be and when you are exhausted it is so hard to think straight. The decision to move a parent to a senior living will feel like a roller coaster. Your goal right now is to make sure that both mother and daughter get the care they need. Sometimes that will come from professionals a(the medical team treating your daughter and the memory care staff caring for your mother) and sometimes from you. Perhaps this article will help:

  33. Karin Gerschwiler Reply

    I am so scared to make this move for my mother but I do not feel she is safe to be in her home anymore. I work full time, have my own home , husband and a daughter beginning college. My only sibling lives 6 hrs away and is not very involved in Mom’s care. I handle her house, shopping, laundry, and her medical care/appointments for the last three years since a cancer diagnosis. My father passed away in Dec of 2017 and I handled all of his needs also.
    I am at my breaking point, I am physically and mentally exhausted.
    This weekend was the first time my brother had to deal with Mom at a bad time. He finally had a small taste of what I have been going through.
    I love my mother and want her to be safe and happy. I worry that when we get this move accomplished, she will be unhappy.
    My heart is breaking but I can’t do it anymore.

    • admin Reply

      I am sorry you are so overloaded. These moves often feel negative but do have positives – socialization, professional care, etc. Your mother may very well be unhappy at first. Who wouldn’t be? It’s a BIG move and adjustment. Give her time. Try to listen and support her without making it personal and about you. Equal parts courage and compassion…

  34. Nancy Reply

    Just moved my 97 year old Mom to assisted living this week – she said she wanted to go but then forgets and says why did you put me here – so it’s a very emotional rollercoaster and I don’t know how to best handle this. We have someone most every day visiting and the staff is very encouraging. I’m saying lots of prayers these days and lots of sleepless nights. I can only hope it gets better as time goes on – it’s just scary to think it could take many months – she might be fine – i might not survive! Has anyone experienced help with their elder parents in the form of an anxiety medication that might get them through or will that only add to the problem?

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  36. Brenda Reply

    Thank you for this article! I just moved my 69-year old mother with early stage dementia to assisted living this weekend. She’s been excited to go but now I can already see some of the obstacles that may arise. Definitely a journey for both of us to take.

  37. Carol Derby Reply

    Hi! My name is Carol Derby. This is a great article! I just started my business, Blissful Beginnings. I assist older adults transition from a private home to a retirement community. I would like to visit retirement communities and reach out to the families of potential residents. Can I share this article with others? Thank you!

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  39. Sabrina Addams Reply

    My mom is getting older, and my brother and I are trying to help her decide if moving into a care continuum assisted living would be the best option for her. It was so helpful to read that you should visit a lot to help them feel loved and calm but to still give them some space. If she does move into an assisted living, I’ll make sure we do this to make her comfortable.

  40. Dolly Mcinntrye Reply

    To All daughters and son and family placing a elderly person in assisted living. First, having worked in the field for over 35 years Please know that a beautifully designed assisted living facility with beautiful carpet, drapes, chandeliers, dining room, ect ect do not make a home for your loved one. Yes, we know you have burn out taking care of mom…. dad or a relative…. and if the Funds are there to place mom in one of these high end facilities is convenient to you…. think twice. Did anyone ever think of hiring a competent care giver at Home or their apartment to care for your parent, loved one before them going to assisted Living? Sure you will be presented with a fantastic presentation of how wonderful a facility is for your parent, loved one. They will hear your need and then repeat that they offer help in those area designed for the new resident. If mom or dad have been left due to a mom or dad passing…. the admittance into a facililty is even worse than ever. Dealing with the loss of a life partner has to be dealt with first before moving them out of their environment that they are most familiar with. Moving a person into a new room however nicely decorated it is is strange, frightening and traumatic. Often due to money there may be a room mate. Good Luck, Room mate sometimes can be kind and friendly and sometimes they can be the vultures from hell who can mentally and verbally abuse your parent when no one is looking. They are all not sweet and kind. Much of the time they are resentful a new room mate is invading their space… regardless of how kind and sweet your parent is at most times.

    The marketing director who is selling the room to your to get a new resident gets a commission on how many new residents they can bring to facility to be new residents. Much of the time….. people often really belong in Nursing home and assisted living facilties will admitt your loved one only to tell you that in a couple of months… the price goes up because they are requiring more care from PCA’s on staff or your parents is constantly falling, going to hospital and needs more care. Your cost for level of care always goes up no matter what…. so the initial price you pay will never be the same amount you pay by the end of the year. Those are what those case management meeting are all about. Stay on top of the all medical necessities your loved one needs…. Residents are readilty sent to hospital when they often do not need to be admitted to hospital. Rn on staff which there should be on staff 24 -7 Are really needed at all times… not just during day time hours. You don’t want an LPN nurse responsible for making medical judgement call for the resident that could be extremely serious or deadly. Nurses and staff do do like to put up with eradict behavior from resident or residents that are not compliant with bathing or changing clothes, or those who are not compliant with taking directions….They become bothersome to staff at assisted living…. as they are not paid much more than minimum wage. You will recieve what you pay for. IF you do have the financial means….. have a caregiver stay with your parent during the evening hours till your parent falls asleep…. this the the most frightening time for them…. and many will wonder the hall ways if left unattended….

    Do ask what the ratio of nurses Aides are to the number of people living in Assisted Living. Example 7 patients are the responsibilty of one PCA? Good Luck. Your mom’s diaper may not be changed when she really needs it. This results of many residents having UTI’ Infections…. ect, ect.

    IF you do decide to place your love one in assisted living ,…. bring your grandchildren to see your family member. Even if they are too busy with their life…. SEt the example so when you get old your children will come to see you. Do not forget them, Take them out for two hours on weekend to break their monotony. Playing bingo and singing and watching TV and doing crafts is mindless and boring for many residents…. Start support groups with other residents families ….. to engage and be involved. Invite your childs dance troup or music group to visit and perform at asssisted living. BE INVOLVED. Come have dinner with them and discuss life and what is going on in the world. THey want to be engage in life same as you do. Take them to the family parties and weddings to give them a break from boredom. Take them home and if you treat them without disdain they may at some point thank you for understanding that loosing life time friends and family is painful and a tragedy and a loss. Acknowledge their feelings, Don’t discount them. Ask them questions about their youth and during life…. THey aren’t dead they are still important and geneology research is just one way to understand your family background and people who helped to form who you are today. Be sensitive, be kinds, Do not embarrass and reprimand your parent. IT hurst to be asked MOM, DAD why did you do this or do that? Sometimes there are no answers. REmember you set the example for your own children to treat you when you reach the golden years. Empathy is the word that comes to mind. DOcument their life to enrich yours. Remember your parent did not have the handbook on how to raise you…. they did their best. Maybe not perfect but for the most part provide the foundation for you to be who you are today. Lastly Love your parents. Forgive them because when your mother father is admitted into an assisted living it’s as if she left her home for a trip with twelve suitcases and as in life she left one suitcase at different destinations. At the end of her life when she/he is admitted into nursing home or assisted living…. They walk in with one suite case with little clothes….. this is what their life ends. One suit case and lots of memories. Make those memories good one…. you may need the same kind of compassion yourself someday from your own children. What is the saying ? The apple doesn’t fall form the tree.

    • Linda Reply

      Wow! You hit it all. Thank you so much for your depth, reflection and willingness to share what you’ve seen, learned and pass it on. Every one of your points resonates.

        • Karen Reply

          That was spot on. And I might add more. Before you ever sign the paper see for yourself if this is a family friendly place meaning they want family involvement and won’t question your every move. Sit and talk with the head nurse. This is who you will deal with the most. If they are overbearing and question you about your parent turn and run no matter how nice it is. You will save yourself alot of grief. If they give you a discount run!!! Walk by the nurses station several times. If they are always sitting there then they aren’t “assisting”. Assisted living is a term like undercoating when you buy a new car. So many things to check out before signing papers with the salesperson who will say all the right things. It’s hard enough doing this and you want to feel good about leaving your loved one in the care of people that are part of your team not the other team.

  41. DDoxey Reply

    OMG, this person sounded as if she has seen everything in assisted living. Yes, stay aware when you drop your parent at an assisted living facility… I agree a pretty physical building location and a pretty cafeteria do not make a facility… it’s the people who work there. Treat them with kindness and respect… Do not look down or talk down to these poor PCA that make barely the minimum wage per hour. Treat them nicely and they will have compassion for your parents. They give hugs too.

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  43. Charlotte Fleet Reply

    I like that you mention that you should look to make sure to acknowledge the hard parts of moving to an assisted living facility such as listening to their fears and concerns. My husband has been worried about his mom for a while since his dad died. I think we should find a good assisted living place for her to feel comfortable and make new friends.

  44. greta james Reply

    Thank you so much for pointing out that getting everything moved and taken care of in this time of change can take a lot of time and work, so it is okay to ask for help from relatives and friends to help make sure your loved one feels loved. For the last few months, I have noticed that my mother is struggling to do simple things to take care of herself. I do not have as much free time as I used to so I cannot help her like I want to. I think we will have to start looking into different kinds of senior placement to see what will be best for us.

    • admin Reply

      Thanks Greta. It’s never easy to make the decision about senior living. But if we do it with equal aprts courage and compassion, it is easier.

  45. gemma Reply

    It was great reading all the comments on placing a loved one in assisted care and to know I’m not alone in my feelings of grief, sadness and yes even relief! I cared for my 90 year old parents for the last 18 months, it has been devastating watching dad go downhill with vascular dementia (they call dementia the slow goodbye which it certainly is) and blood cancer and mum going through major heart surgery and other illnesses. It got to the point where they could do very little for themselves (I was doing all the cooking, cleaning, washing, gardening, paying bills, taking them to appointments…and then neither could shower or dress themselves and were forever having falls and hurting themselves. I had them assessed with view to obtaining home help but that took forever and when it did eventually come through they were placed on the low level with only able to obtain home help for 2 hours a week!
    They said they wanted to stay home, but I came to the realization that with them falling over and hurting themselves constantly it was a huge risk for them to stay home as I couldn’t watch them 24/7 and I realized it was just a matter of time until they had a serious fall and broke their hips and many other vital bones. I had to also look at my own health as my bp had shot through the roof and I was feeling really unwell and had no life of my own. I realized caring for my parents was burning me out and ultimately making me ill. So a couple of weeks ago I made the tough decision to place them both in to an aged care facility. I found them the best. I filled their rooms with their familiar stuff, put photos around and visited often but I also realize in the near future I need to make the daily visits less. They seem happy there with all the attention/assistance they are getting. Some days they don’t like it there, other days they do but I know I have done the best thing for them. They are safe and well cared for. Now its time to care for me after all I deserve a life…and you do too!

  46. carol Reply

    We are at a place where our mother needs to be somewhere simpler and safer. I think there are downsides to all types of care, whether quality or cost, etc. I am just wondering how people have been handling the issue of placement in Assisted Living during COVID.

  47. Roland Reply

    This article and comments have been helpful. Thank you all.

    My parents who are in their eighties have been living together for 63years in our family home and despite my dad being assessed as being eligible for in home support and respite care, mum has resisted support from anybody for years due to the fact she has bought family and grand children up over the years so dealing with a grumpy old man is a breeze.

    Over the past several months she relented and accepted the in home support. While it took her and dad time to adjust, she was relieved and appreciative of the support.

    During this time however he has lost a lot of weight (raising new concerns), falling over and needing emergency assistance to get up a couple times a week while also going through bouts of diabetic emergencies etc to the point where he has now been formally diagnosed as needing full time dementia level care.

    Mum also recently shared how dad forgets where he is and follows her like a shadow everywhere she goes, gets jealous thinking she is having an affair every time she talks too a male, gets angry, abusive and threatening towards her and she is taking sleeping pills as he often wakes her up early hours of the morning as he talks to dead people pointing at empty places in the room to tell her that the dead people are standing behind her… despite this she has been resistive of placing him in care.

    So my enduring power of attorney has been activated so effectively i legally have a responsibility to protect dads interest and have the final say. Emotionally though i am heart broken about the step I am about to take which is going to be against the will of dad who will be angry at being moved to a 24×7 dementia care which will be foreign and feel like a prison to him and mum who is stressed at her current situation but is struggling with the thought of the chabge… and siblings who have made it clear they do not support placing dad in care… yet offer no alternative help.

    So again thank you for this article and comments.

    • admin Reply

      I am sorry for all that this is happening. Remember: equal parts courage and compassion. It takes booth to get your father a level of care he needs and deserves.

  48. Zoe Campos Reply

    I totally agree that moving a parent to a senior facility can be filled and overwhelming with emotions. My sister is strongly against this as well, so we’re still not sure if this is the right choice for our father. Maybe we should consider in-home care services so he’ll still be taken care of without leaving our childhood home.

    • admin Reply

      Think about where your father would get the best care for him – social, emotional, medical, dignity, quality of life. There is no one right answer. Approach your decision with equal parts courage and compassion and trust your gut.

  49. Judy Reply

    I placed my 94 year old Mother in Assisted Living 3 weeks ago. She told me she thought it was time. I did my research, took Mother by for a visit and we both agreed it was the right place. When she moved I took familiar furniture, lots of family photos and albums, etc. She seemed happy at first. Due to COVID 19 the facility has been on lock down for two weeks, but that has ended. Mother has fallen several times and has trouble cooking, and other household activities. Now she says she wants to come home. I have explained that it isn’t safe for her to stay alone. Her comment “that’s what you say”. She won’t answer the phone when I call and the last time I talked to her she hung up on me. She says they keep the front door locked, so I know she has tried to leave. She says she’s calling a taxi and going home. Here’s my problem – I am scared to go visit because I know she will cause a scene and try to leave with me. I don’t want to fight with Mom. My sister agrees with me that we have made the right choice and also told Mom she couldn’t go home because it isn’t safe. What do we do?

    • admin Reply

      Speak with the staff- ask them to partner with you to help your mother adjust. This is hard! It tkaes time. Remember why you made the decision in the first place.

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  51. Wendy Reply

    My mother is 91 and lives in Fla. My sister and I live up north. My mother’s short term memory is severely diminished as is her ability to manage her financial and household affairs. We tried to move her into assisted living settings near us several times. She initially agrees, we make the arrangements, and at the very last minute she refuses to go. She refuses 24 hour aides so we have had a parade of aides for 8 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is hard to keep an aide for very long even though we are supportive.
    We also have a visiting nurse arranging her pill box but my mother rearranges the pill box as soon as the nurse leaves and we suspect multiple med errors. Her doctor, an aging man in his 80’s, refuses to help us encourage my mother to make the transition. My mother, who has been a sweet person her whole life, has become depressed and nasty. She cries a lot and wishes she were dead. During COVID I can not imagine her successfully making a transition to a new environment, even if she were to go, because we will not be able to visit or help her. We can’t force her out of her apartment and we can’t find adequate support to place in her apartment with her. It’s a lose-lose situation. I’m losing sleep and I’ve started therapy but it doesn’t make the situation any better. Any help would be appreciated.

    • admin Reply

      I am sorry the situation is so stressful. And COVID makes it even more so. You have some choices to make. Your mother clearly cannot manage on her own and her doctor is no help. You could find another doctor but that will take time and may not yield the results you want. You can continue as is. You could hire 24/7nursing if you could afford it – that way your mother stays home but gets the care she needs. You could move your mother to skilled nursing or memory care with the lockdown risks. A transition would be tough – you may seem some decline in mood and cognititon. That may be natural progression anyway, but could be pronounced by a move. You and your sister should aim for equal parts courage and compassion in making a choice. The courage to take action on your mother’s behalf that she may resist and the compassion to get her the care she deserves.

  52. Connect55 Reply

    It is a very difficult to move from own home to assisted living especially for elderly parents. Thanks for sharing this kind of helpful post.

  53. Janice Reply


    You have talked to several points most meaningful to me right now. I am very interested in more detail around your last paragraph above – Daughter Knows Best.

    My mom is a relatively healthy 79 yo woman entering moderate dementia/Alzheimers. She’s taken a turn for the worse memory wise recently, but still bathes, cares for the cats, etc. She’s fiercely independent and doesn’t want assistance.

    As I look to find and/or create a safe place for her to live, I am seeing most memory care seems to assume advanced medical care is needed as well. I’d really like to preserve as much independence for her as possible while providing her the 24/7 oversight and safety.

    What are the best questions to ask that get to that level / type of care?

    I greatly appreciate your recommendations. Thank you.

    When I expressed doubt about that decision, doctors and social workers dismissed me as a daughter in denial. But I persisted and my father now lives in his own apartment in an assisted living facility with minimal support.

    • admin Reply

      Trust your instincts- sounds like you are doing a great job advocating for your mother. I would ask memory care facilities how they work with and treat those who need care but also have some independence? Can they accommodate different schedules and treatment levels?

  54. Deborah Encalada Reply

    I’m in the process of moving my mom to an ALF which only has 6 residents. She had a stroke in Sept 2021 and was the caregiver for my dad who passed away in May. My mom has not been recovering as we hoped and she is not safe to stay by herself. Although I know that this is the best decision for her, the guilt is very real. For the past month we have been trying to keep her positive about the move, although she has agreed I know it has been difficult for her to accept her new reality. I feel guilty for not being able to take care of her and for having to make this decision. I really hope that she can adjust.

    • admin Reply

      I know how difficult these moves are emotionally. Hang int here and keep reminding yourself why this is the plan – your mother “is not safe to stay by herself.”
      Perhaps you can see the decision in a different light – you have the courage to get your mother the care she needs AND deserves.

  55. Jeremy Marcus Reply

    Your tips are very helpful and should be followed by everyone that needs a guide and help with relocation. As we all know that it’s a very stressful thing to move to a new place and every bit of help should be appreciated. I am surely going to share your post with my friends to spread all the helpful info you put out. Thanks!

  56. Laura Chenault Reply

    Thank for this great advice! I’m the daughter that knows best! My mother is 74 yrs old and suffering from Parkinsons. A couple of months ago she had back surgery to relieve pain. Her Parkinsons is more advanced than she admits. Prior to surgery, she was roaming the house during the night and falling. She is not capable of managing her finances, cooking, etc -caring for herself. I relocated from Texas to help her and soon realized she needs more care than I am able to provide. She is soon to be discharged from Rehab and I’m struggling with putting her in Assisted Living. Of course she wants to come home. It’s just not possible. I work and cannot live with her as a full time caretaker. She is resistant to Assisted Living but I believe it’s her only path forward. My brother and sister want nothing to do with Mom so it all rests on me. Thank you again!

    • admin Reply

      Trust your gut. Act with equal parts courage and compassion – you will make the right decision.

  57. TC Reply

    My mom just turned 78, and has been diagnosed with fairly advanced vascular dementia. We have a caregiver helping with meds and sitting with her daily, but it’s no longer enough. She now weighs just 72 pounds, is dehydrated and barely has the energy to get off the sofa. My sister and I feel like it’s time for her to move to independent living apartments with a caregiver coming in to help with meds, etc., and have found a great place recommended by her caregiver agency. Now, how to get her to the new place? She is very stubborn and thinks she can take care of herself, and if we tell her it’s time to move, she will refuse. So, we are planning to spring the move on her (I am her POA and we have a notarized document from a neuropsychologist stating that she is no longer competent to live on her own) — get her into the car on some pretense, then take her to the new place and tell her some story about her apartment needing work, so she has to live here now. I know this sounds terrible, but there really is no way to have a discussion about this with her in advance and convince her it’s best for her, because she is no longer rational and she would not go. If we leave her in her current situation, she will die. We are planning to arrange to have some of her furniture, etc. moved into the new place before we get there, so her new surroundings will have familiar elements. I can’t think of a better way. Any advice? (I should note that my sister and I both live out of state and work full time, and our Mom is a Medicaid recipient with no financial resources. We can’t afford memory care or assisted living, which Medicaid does not cover.)

    • admin Reply

      If your mother has cognitive challenges then it is right that you will make decisions on her behalf to give her the care she needs and deserves. Perhaps tell her about the apartment needing work before you take her – even if she doesn’t remember it gives her some warning. Are you sure assisted living with a caregiver is enough? Or does she need memory care now?

  58. Diana in Phoenix Reply

    We are preparing to move grandma into an assisted living home in the next 2-3 days. Caring for her ourselves has been extremely difficult as my husband and I are still working full-time. It’s a beautiful well-run home and we feel it’s a very good fit for her. Mom will have a roommate (this will be an adjustment for her) but we feel this will be good for her as opposed to being isolated in a single room — she’s a talker! We’re struggling with HOW to tell her. We don’t want to upset her and/or cause a setback. As far as the feelings of sadness, guilt, etc — we are feeling all of those things.

  59. Kim Reply

    Thank you for this! I felt like you were talking directly to me! I needed to hear this! Very timely!

  60. Lynann Reply

    Thank you so much for this information. I have a question. My mother is 98, was living on her own. Memory problems over the past 4 months… then 2 months ago fell and ended up in hospital with some mini strokes. Now is no longer able to live on her own, and we have moved her into a very nice facility. She went straight from the hospital to this facility. Now we need to clear out her house and get it ready to sell (we need the money to pay for her care). My question is…. Should we involve her in the clearing out of the house? This is all her “stuff” after all…. It seems unfair for her not to have any input or knowledge of the process. It will be hard for her to let go, likely, but wont it help with giving her some closure? I just dont know if we are better keeping things from her, or involving her in the process. Any advice would be most helpful!

    • admin Reply

      It’s most compassionate to ask, but be prepared for answers you don’t like. Are there things she will want in the facility, or that she plans on gifting to people? You should know and honor that as best as you can. If she says she can’t part with her china or your first grade artwork – can you store it for the duration of her life in your garage? Do be compassionate – don’t commit to never getting rid of the Hummel or taxidermy collection!

  61. sammy Reply

    …and what if you’re the ONLY child with no children of her own. No family left in our state to help. Then what? Mom stopped living after Dad died 6 1/2 years ago and has fallen twice in the last 6 months, was hospitalized for dehydration, and wrecked the car in between. Currently in rehab again (1st time in May of this year for broken hip; this time for broken arm). She has so many health issues.
    3 hospitalizations in 7 months and a car wreck. And it’s just me to deal with it all.
    Refuses to go into assisted living. I have a full time job (AND A LIFE of my own). She is being stubborn and difficult and I am just so exhausted. I have used up all of my vacation time this year just on dealing with her stuff and am currently running myself ragged working, checking out facilities, talking to an attorney, paying her bills, checking on her condo, etc.
    What pearly words of wisdom do the experts have in my case? Everything else I’ve seen always addresses other folks who have family to help in some capacity. I have no one.

    • admin Reply

      Being the only child, as you point out, is especially challenging and you have dealt with so much. Assuming your mother has no cognitive decline, your mother is choosing to refusing to make changes about her living situation that seems too much for her. You get to make a choice too. Her choices don’t have to dictate your actions. If she has other options, she may have to choose them.

  62. sammy Reply

    I know, but I feel heartless knowing that she is dictating her own fate. She really doesn’t have other options. Trying to find someone (you can trust) who can be with her 24/7 is near impossible, and way more expensive than an assisted living facility. Plus she has hit her head more than once and the doctors do say there is some dementia, plus she is on seizure meds and has chronic kidney disease among other things. So….
    And the next time she falls, who will be there to pick up the pieces? Me. I wish I could just turn my back but I can’t. She does seem “with it” most of the time, so guardianship is out of the question.

  63. DONNA Reply

    My 74 year old mother is blind. She can no longer stay home alone due to falling, medication issues, meals, etc. I found a beautiful place for her and her small dog. I moved her in yesterday. This morning I was already getting calls from the staff that she wasn’t taking the dog out and that it constantly barks. I have asked for a couple of more days to allow her and the dog to get settled in. If this doesn’t 2ork I do not know what to do.

  64. Larry Washington Reply

    This is very helpful. I would like to know how to handle my mothers finances now that she will be moved to an assisted facility does the government take all of her monies in her savings? Is there a way to protect her funds?

  65. Susannah Lewis-O'Dea Reply

    We are in the third week of putting our mother in a care home. My sisters wanted to move her back to her home the first week, asap they said. It has been a battle unfortunately. My brother and I wanted to give her time to adjust even though she says she wants to go home. I will propose 3 months before we reconsider.

  66. Sheryl Gerety Reply

    I am just returned home having visited mom in her new apartment, second move in less than a year. I agree and implemented many of the 12 suggestions, encouraged to read that others have had similar problems and successes with them over time. Now that I am home she is struggling with not feeling able to call on my younger sister for the support for classes and social activities that I would be happy to give. My sister is alcohol dependent, if I’m honest she may not be available for every day visits. My job seems to be to figure out how to watch the dynamics play out for the next several months.

    • admin Reply

      Sounds like you did a great job. And yes, watch and assess – that’s the next phase.

  67. Humaira khan Reply

    I love that you talked about how families will feel at ease when their loved ones are in an assisted living facility because the level of care there would be better. I will share this information with my sister because her husband’s mom probably needs to be sent to a facility for her own good. She definitely needs a professional to monitor her every now and then because she already has memory issues. So leaving her on her own in her house can be dangerous, especially if she suddenly went out and forgot about everything.

  68. Carol Reply

    My mom is 95, extremely frail with moderately severe dementia. My younger sister lived with her for many years until earlier this year when she couldn’t do it anymore (caregiver burnout). My older sister has a husband, job, and health issues of her own. I live in another state but moved in with my mom temporarily when my younger sister couldn’t do it anymore. Other than having dementia and being frail, my mom is healthy and her doctor says that she could live many more years. She cannot be left alone for more than a few hours at a time. I and my siblings want out lives back; is that unreasonable? We are looking at facilities where she will go after the first of the year. We know that it will be really hard on her. She is not social and does not make friends easily. There are no good choices here.

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