Tips for Helping Older Adults Transition to Senior Living – Part 1

As your loved one ages, living alone might become unsafe. Getting in-home support can be costly or impractical. At this point, families start thinking about moving their loved one to senior living.

But when you broach the idea of moving, conversations can get tense. It’s a stressful situation for everyone involved.

Your loved one may blame you for “making me move”. It’s likely they feel fearful about losing control. And may resent you for “taking over their life”.

You, on the other hand, love them and want the best quality of life they can have. Even if that means discussing a move to senior living.

Before starting this journey

Before starting this journey, read these tips on how to start the conversation. Then keep the encouragement and momentum going.

Most importantly, include your loved one in the decision. Let them take part as much as they can.

Phase 1

  • Try starting the conversation long before a move becomes urgent.
  • Gently bring up the idea of moving without forcing the issue.
  • Ask them where they see themselves in the future.
  • Plant seeds over time if possible. Gather brochures for them to look at. Talk about their friends who’ve moved to senior living.
  • Keep it positive. Focus on the things your loved one could do if they moved. Avoid focusing on the things they can’t do if they stay home.
  • Call a local Senior Housing Advisor. They can help with the discussion, answering any questions your loved one has. They’ll review your preferences, needs, and finances. Then they’ll refer senior living communities that match.

Phase 2

  • Go visit several senior living places. Then narrow the list to 2 or 3 options. Don’t confuse or overwhelm with too many choices.
  • Take them to visit the best 2-3 options. If that’s still too much decision making for your loved one, visit only one. Let them choose between rooms or apartments. NOTE: it’s important they have some part of the decision.
  • While visiting, point out all the freedom they’ll gain. Focus on the privacy of their potential room or apartment. And point out all the opportunities waiting right outside their door. They can make new friends, join classes, or attend events. It’s up to them on what and how much they want to do.
  • Review the monthly social/activity calendar. Circle or highlight the activities your loved one thinks are interesting.
  • Meet other residents if possible. Ask about resident volunteer buddies or resident welcome committees.
  • Re-visit your loved one’s favorite communities for a meal. Come back for an event or join an activity.
  • Help your loved one envision their belongings in the apartment. Ask them where they’d place certain cherished possessions.
  • Stress the benefits of moving to a senior living community. Share with your loved one the peace of mind you’d feel knowing they were in a safe place.
  • Reassure your loved one that you will support them all through the transition to their new senior living.

In summary

Your loved one can truly gain quality of life when living in supportive senior living. Social opportunities, proper nutrition, and access to transportation contribute to their health and happiness.

It’s our experience that once seniors settle in and start making new friends, they appear lighter. A burden has lifted. They often tell us, “I wish I’d moved sooner!”

Be sure to read Part 2: Helping Older Adults with Dementia Transition to Senior Living.

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