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Tips On Making The Transition To Assisted Living Easier

Get tips on making the transition to assisted living easier. Seniorly offers families' perspectives on what to do when elderly parents refuse to move.

By Arthur Bretschneider Updated on Jul 10, 2023

How to move a parent into assisted living

Moving into a new home can be overwhelming no matter your age, whether you’re a child moving across the country, a teenager heading off to college, or a senior adult moving to a new assisted living community. Here are some top tips for helping your parents or loved one transition into an assisted living facility and embrace this exciting life change!

Make sure you choose the right assisted living community

We’re stating the obvious, but if you want your loved one to transition from a home into an assisted living community smoothly, start by making sure you select the best place for you or your loved one. If you choose a senior living facility that doesn’t meet the necessary care needs or isn't a lifestyle fit, it’s almost guaranteed to be a difficult experience. 

Finding the right retirement community is a process that involves investigating different assisted living properties, getting a clear idea of the services and amenities offered at each, and taking a closer look at what life is like for senior residents.

After doing some research, visiting and evaluating the assisted living community in person is vital. Touring the senior living facility lets you both see everything first hand and gives you the chance to ask questions. 

Of course, not everyone has the time to tour an assisted living facility, which is where it can be beneficial to have a local senior living expert who knows the community on your side. 

Doing your homework in the beginning will help you make the right choice for your loved one so the transition from home to a new assisted living community goes as smoothly as possible.

Understand the Cost of Assisted Living

The cost of assisted living depends on the location, community type, amenities, daily activities, on-site medical care and more. For example, according to Genworth the current average cost for assisted living in the U.S. is $3,628 per month. However, the average amount can reach as high as $6,700 in Washington, D.C., and as low as $2,700 in Missouri. The specific services for every community vary, however, monthly rates typically include rent, three meals per day, daily activities and events, and basic medical care and monitoring. 

Paying for assisted living can be a complex topic, so we suggest reading this article on how to pay for assisted living. Some options include:

  • Long-Term Care Insurance
  • Reverse Mortgages
  • Veterans Assistance
  • Medicaid
  • Medicare

When it comes to the question of “How much does Medicare cover for assisted living?” it is important to note that only specific types of medical care are covered. Generally, other costs associated with assisted living, such as room and board, can not be paid for using Medicare. 

What do you do if your elderly parent refuses assisted living

It helps to start having conversations about assisted living long before the need arises. Doing so will help your loved one understand the benefits of assisted living and accept the transition so that they can thrive in their new living environment. Still, your loved one may be resistant to any new kind of living arrangement. Sometimes, they’ll refuse to even consider an assisted living facility, even though they need a higher level of care associated with the activities of daily living (ADLs).

Be sensitive to their resistance and take the time to understand their concerns. Instead of fighting them and trying to force the issue, back off for a short time and gently reintroduce the idea later on. 

You can also enlist the aid of their friends, healthcare providers, or a trusted community member to join in the conversation about how to best address their changing needs and the benefits of assisted living.

How to help elderly parents adjust to assisted living

There’s so much to gain by moving to an assisted living facility, and most seniors come to love their community after they get through those first days in a new place. It’s a brand-new adventure, and the following tips we’ve gathered from current residents at assisted living communities can help your loved one settle in and get comfortable in their new home.

Familiarize yourself with the community before the move

Familiarizing your loved ones with the assisted living community can go a long way in easing the transition into the new environment. Touring the senior living property several times before the move can help. 

Many retirement communities also allow you to schedule visitations where you get to interact with staff, eat meals with senior residents, and spend time experiencing the amenities and grounds. The more they’re able to take in the new surroundings before a move, the easier your parents will find it to adapt to this new home.

Keep things familiar

No matter where they move, even if your loved one is settling into assisted living nearby a new place can feel a little strange and uncomfortable. Even if they love their new quarters, it can take some time to make the place feel like home. As the apartment is set up, try keeping things as familiar and comfortable as possible.

Speak with the staff at the senior living community to find out if you can arrange to bring in some of the furniture from the previous home and work to keep room layouts as close as possible to the way they were before. 

Decorate rooms with favorite photos, pillows, blankets, and books. According to the Huffington Post, this can help your loved one through the transition by helping to make the new environment feel like home.

Start Getting Social Right Away

After the move, the worst thing your loved one can do is to stay holed up in the apartment all day long. Instead, they should start getting social in the senior living community right away. Making new friends and expanding social networks can make a huge difference in the transition into life at an assisted living community. 

Encourage your parent or loved one to get involved in all the new senior resident events, interact with other residents in common areas, and get to know the facility’s staff as well. Not only can getting social help them transition into a new place, but it will also improve their overall mental and physical health.

Ask plenty of questions of residents and staff

Don’t be afraid to ask questions as you help your loved one transition into an assisted living community. You and your parent are facing a lot of changes, so if you’re unsure about something, ask the staff. 

You can also ask fellow senior residents questions. They’ve all been where you are and probably have some helpful tips and advice that will enable you and your loved one to adapt to this new lifestyle faster.

Make sure your parents stick to their routine

Sticking with your regular routine as much as possible can help you both feel less overwhelmed as your parent gets settled into their assisted living community. Although you’re facing many changes, sticking to the same routine you’d established before the move as much as possible will keep you both feeling connected to familiar places and people. 

If you enjoyed coffee together or had a regular evening reading hour,continue to do so in their new surroundings. Routines can be comforting, reduce stress, and give you both a sense of familiarity, even though they’re in a new place.

Keep a positive mindset

Keeping a positive attitude is key for transitioning to assisted living and for helping transform a new residence into a home. Communicate with your loved ones, address their concerns, and focus on benefits (such as freedom from home maintenance, having a peer group around to share activities and easy access to care).

How often should you visit a parent in assisted living?

When you are helping a parent move, having the people they love around can help this new assisted living community begin to feel like home. Having friends and family members come to visit is so important. Just spending time with loved ones can help anyone cope with feelings of uncertainty or anxiety. Try setting up a regular schedule for everyone to visit so there is a steady stream of visitors as you or your loved one is adapting to these new surroundings.

Initially, daily or weekly visits are good because it allows you to see how your loved one is adjusting to the new senior living surroundings, and if the new assisted living facility is responsive to their needs. 

Once they are engaged in their new community, you can reduce your visitation frequency, if necessary. Then, identify the best times to visit your loved ones, so you can focus on the visit quality over quantity.

If you don’t live nearby, take advantage of platforms like FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Zoom, or Skype and arrange regular video calls with your parents. Even if they aren’t the most familiar with technology, community staff can help them get set up and running. 

Video calls are great because you’ll be able to see how they’re doing (and they can have an opportunity to check up on you, too!). If you have children living at home, arrange group calls so that your loved one still feels involved with the entire family.

Stay positive

Be sensitive to your parent’s feelings and understand that it may take a few days, or a bit longer, for them to start feeling settled in. The keys to a successful transition into assisted living are honest conversations, careful preparation, and a positive mindset. Knowing that they have a patient and understanding support network will help alleviate your loved one’s concerns and turn the move into an adventure.

This piece is part of our Healthy Aging Handbook, read the next one to learn more about helping aging parents: How to Support Parents in Assisted Living
written by:
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Arthur Bretschneider is CEO and Co-Founder of Seniorly. As a third generation leader in the senior living industry, Arthur brings both deep compassion and a wealth of practical experience to his work at Seniorly. Arthur holds an MBA from Haas School of Business and has been featured in the New York Times and Forbes Magazine as a thought leader in the senior living space. Arthur is a passionate and vocal advocate for improving the lives of older adults through community, and believes strongly that structured senior living environments can positively impact the aging experience.

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