Moving parents into assisted living can be an emotional and challenging process for both the seniors and their adult children. However, with careful planning and consideration, this transition can be made smoother and less stressful.
In this article, we will discuss 25 essential tips to help you navigate the process of moving your parents into assisted living, ensuring their safety, comfort, and well-being.
25 Essential Tips for Smoothly Moving Parents into Assisted Living
1. Start the Conversation Early
Don’t wait until your parent is in a crisis to start talking about assisted living. The earlier you start the conversation, the more time you’ll have to research facilities and make a decision that’s right for your parent.
2. Be Honest With Your Parent About Their Needs
It’s important, to be honest with your parent about their needs and limitations. This will help them understand why assisted living may be the best option for them. Also, get your parent involved in the decision-making process to empower them and address their concerns and preferences.
3. Visit Multiple Assisted Living Facilities
Once you’ve started researching assisted living facilities, it’s important to visit several of them in person. This will give you a chance to see the facilities for yourself and meet the staff. As you conduct thorough research on various assisted living communities, consider factors such as location, amenities, services, and affordability.
4. Ask Questions and Consider Special Needs
Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the facility’s policies, services, and costs. The staff should be happy to answer your questions and help you make the best decision for your parent. If your parents have specific medical or mobility needs, ensure that the chosen community can accommodate and provide appropriate care
5. Trust Your Gut
When you’re visiting various assisted living facilities, pay attention to your gut feeling. Some are not as accommodating as they may seem so, if you don’t feel comfortable with a particular facility, don’t be afraid to move on.
6 Be Involved in The Transition
The transition to assisted living can be difficult for both your parent and you. Be sure to stay involved in the process in a way they recognize you and offer your support.
7. Help Your Parent Pack
This can be a difficult task for your parent, so offer to help them pack their belongings. In addition, help your parents declutter their current home by sorting belongings into categories like keep, donate, sell, or discard. This can make the move more manageable.
8. Create a Moving Timeline and Hire Professional Mover
Develop a moving timeline with key milestones to help you stay organized and ensure that all tasks are completed in a timely manner. Also, Consider hiring professional movers experienced in assisting seniors to handle the logistics of packing, transportation, and unpacking
9. Coordinate Medical Care
Endeavor to Inform healthcare providers about the move, transfer medical records, and ensure a smooth transition of care.
10. Plan for Emotional Support
Moving can be emotionally challenging for your parents since they would be leaving where they had spent a bigger portion of their lives in. To make it a little bit easier for them, arrange emotional support for them, such as counseling or social activities, both before and after the move to an assisted living community.
11. Ensure Safety
Evaluate the safety features of the new living environment, including emergency call systems, grab bars, and accessibility, to minimize the risk of accidents at the assisted living facility.
12. Let Family and Friends Know About it
To ensure a smooth transition in social connections, Notify friends, relatives, and neighbors about the move to the assisted living facility or community
13. Attend The Move-in
This is an important event for your parent, so be sure to attend the move-in so they don’t feel alone at any point during the transition process.
14. Visit Your Parent Regularly.
Even after your parent has moved into assisted living, it’s important to visit them regularly. This will help them feel loved and supported.
15. Encourage Your Parent to Participate in Activities
Assisted living facilities offer a variety of activities for residents. Encourage your parent to participate in activities that interest them. Here are some common examples of activities for residents at assisted living facilities you can suggest to your parent to participate in:
a. Social Events: Assisted living facilities organize social gatherings such as holiday parties, birthday celebrations, themed events, and group outings to encourage residents to interact with one another.
b. Exercise and Fitness Programs: Assisted living facilities offer exercise classes, yoga sessions, walking groups, or access to fitness equipment to promote physical activity and maintain mobility.
c. Arts and Crafts: Activities like painting, pottery, knitting, and other creative pursuits are frequently available to engage residents’ artistic abilities and provide opportunities for self-expression.
d. Educational Programs: Assisted living communities often offer educational seminars, lectures, book clubs, and discussions on a variety of subjects to stimulate residents’ intellectual curiosity and promote lifelong learning.
f. Entertainment: Most assisted living facilities may host musical performances, dance shows, movie nights, or live theater productions to provide entertainment and enjoyment for residents.
g. Games and Game Nights: Common games in assisted living include bingo, card games, trivia contests, puzzles, and board games, fostering friendly competition and mental engagement.
h. Volunteer Opportunities: Many assisted living facilities facilitate volunteer programs where residents can engage in community service projects or assist with activities within the facility itself, fostering a sense of purpose and fulfillment.
i. Spiritual and Religious Activities: Is your parent into religion and is worried about coping in an assisted living facility? Well, you can let them know that there is nothing to worry about as assisted living communities often organize religious services, prayer groups, or spiritual discussions to cater to residents’ diverse spiritual and religious needs.
j. Gardening: Some assisted living facilities offer gardening areas or raised beds, allowing residents to cultivate plants, flowers, or vegetables, promoting outdoor engagement and a connection with nature.
k. Pet Therapy: Animal-assisted therapy programs may be available, where residents can interact with therapy animals, providing comfort, companionship, and therapeutic benefits.
L. Guest Speakers and Performers: Assisted living communities invite guest speakers, authors, musicians, or performers to entertain and educate residents on various topics of interest.
M. Intergenerational Programs: Collaborations with local schools or youth organizations allow residents to engage with children and young adults through activities like mentoring, storytelling, or joint events.
These activities are designed to cater to the interests, abilities, and preferences of the residents, fostering a vibrant and inclusive community within the assisted living facility.
16. Be a Good Advocate for Your Parent
If your parent has any concerns, be a good listener to them and be sure to speak up to the staff about the concerns your parents might have as related to the living assisted community.
17. Be Patient
The transition to assisted living can take time. From getting your parents to see reasons why they should move into an assisted living home, to researching for an accommodating living assisted home for your parents, signing documents, you name it! In all these things, consciously exercise patience with your parent and with yourself. No one knows it all, know within yourself that you’re giving it your best.
18. Don’t Forget to Take Care of Yourself
The physical and mental stress that comes along with moving a parent to a good assisted living facility can leave you exhausted in the long run. So yes, caring for an aging parent can be stressful however, try not to forget to take care of yourself, too.
19. Get Support From Friends and Family
Talking to friends and family can help you cope with the stress of caring for an aging parent as they move to an assisted living community. So, don’t be shy to express yourself as you’re likely to get some comforting words of encouragement.
20. Practice Patience and Understanding
Moving into assisted living is a significant life change. Offer your parents patience, understanding, and emotional support as they adapt to their new surroundings.
21. Join a Support Group
There are many support groups for caregivers. Joining a support group can help you connect with other caregivers and learn from their experiences. Here are some very good support groups you might be interested in:
a. AgingCare.com Caregiver Support Forum:
AgingCare.com offers an online caregiver support forum where caregivers can connect with others who have recently moved their parents to assisted living communities. This forum provides a platform to share experiences, ask questions, and receive support and guidance from fellow caregivers.
b. Description: Senior Living Support Groups by A Place for Mom
A Place for Mom is a senior living referral service, that offers support groups specifically for caregivers who have transitioned their parents to assisted living communities. These groups provide a space to discuss challenges, share tips, and find comfort in connecting with others on a similar journey.
c. Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA)
The Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA) provides resources, including support groups, for caregivers who have moved their loved ones to assisted living communities. These groups offer the opportunity to connect with other caregivers, access educational materials, and receive support throughout the transition process.
d. Facebook Groups
There are several Facebook groups dedicated to caregivers who have recently moved their parents to assisted living communities. Search for groups with keywords like “Assisted Living Caregiver Support” or “Transitioning Parents to Assisted Living” to find communities where you can connect with others facing similar experiences.
e. Local Support Groups
Check with local senior centers, community centers, or organizations that focus on eldercare and aging services. They may offer support groups or have information about caregiver support networks specifically tailored to those who have moved their parents to assisted living communities.
22. Remember That You’re Not Alone
Caring for an aging parent is a challenging but rewarding experience. Remember that you’re not alone and there are people who can help you. If you think you’re not getting much help you need from people around you or loved ones, consider seeking professional help.
23. Celebrate the Milestones
As your parent adjusts to assisted living, be sure to celebrate the milestones. This will help them feel good about themselves and their new life.
24. Be Grateful
Caring for an aging parent can be a thankless job. But it’s important to remember that you’re doing something important and honorable. Be grateful for the opportunity to care for your parent.
25. Cherish the Memories
Time they say is the most expensive gift you can give to someone, thus, the time you spend with your parent is precious. Cherish the memories you make together.
Websites That Can Be Helpful When Researching Assisted Living Facilities
a. A Place for Mom: A Place for Mom is a website that provides information and reviews of assisted living facilities across the United States. The website also offers a variety of resources for caregivers, including articles, videos, and a forum. www.aplaceformom.com
b. SeniorAdvisor: Senior Living Advisor is another website that provides information and reviews of assisted living facilities. The website also offers a variety of tools to help you compare facilities, such as a cost calculator and a care comparison tool. www.senioradvisor.com
c. Caring.com: Caring.com is a website that provides resources for caregivers, including information on assisted living facilities. The website also has a forum where you can ask questions and get advice from other caregivers. www.caring.com/senior-living
d. SeniorHousingNet: This website also offers a variety of tools to help you compare facilities, such as a cost calculator and a care comparison tool. www.seniorhousingnet.com
e. ElderCare.gov: This website offers public service of the US Administration on Aging; it connects you to services for older adults www.eldercare.gov
f. Medicare.gov: www.medicare.gov/nursinghomecompare
g. Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA): www.alfa.org
h. National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL): www.ncal.org
i. AgingCare.com: www.agingcare.com
j. Eldercare Locator: www.eldercare.acl.gov
How to Prepare for Moving Day and What to Expect
Most people find it difficult to leave their long-term residence and move into an assisted living facility. Just know for sure you and your parents will be dealing with a lot of emotions and uncertainties on a moving day. Even more, emotions if their grandchildren come to show their love and support for their grandma or grandpa on a moving day.
Here is How to Prepare for Moving Day: Wake up early, carry out a final inspection to make sure your parent has everything they need for the move, and say some words of prayer if you’re a religious person (this can also provide emotional support for you leaving parent), play their favorite games or music and do a dance, listen to them attentively so they feel loved and heard. This will reassure them that you’re not going to abandon them after they leave for the Assisted living facility.
What to Expect: Expect lots and lots of emotions (Your parent may shed a few tears probably because it’s the end of their formative years, their individuality, their relationship with nearby neighbors and friends; or the home they constructed.)
While your parents may be afraid of aging, making new friends, depending completely on strangers for assistance, and making themselves comfortable in a new environment, you, on the other hand, would certainly be feelings of regret and hurt and might be asking yourself questions like “Am I doing the right thing? Am I a terrible person?” etc. Remember, this is a phase and you may not be able to do as much for your parents perhaps because of your demanding job or family. You do it because you love and care for them.
This isn’t necessarily part of what to expect however, it will mean a lot if you would go the extra mile for your parent by adding color and surprises to the already gloomy day. You could organize a surprise party for your parent at the Assisted Living Facility with the help of the staff. Just to make your parent feel at home.
Budget, Financial Planning, and Settling Legal Matters
Before you make a decision to move your parent to an assisted living facility, there are some key points you may need to consider which include budget, financial planning, and settling legal matters.
Evaluate the financial aspects of assisted living, including costs, payment options, insurance coverage, and potential assistance programs.
Review and update legal documents such as wills, powers of attorney, and healthcare directives to reflect the new living arrangements.
How Often Should You Visit Your Parent in Assisted Living
Visiting your parent in assisted living should be based on their needs and preferences. Regular visits are important for monitoring their well-being and offering support. Focus on quality over quantity and respect their desire for independence.
Make sure to attend facility events and communicate with staff for updates. Ultimately, find a balance that maintains emotional connections while considering their individual needs.
How To Get Into Assisted Living With No Money
If you’re wondering how to get into assisted living with no money, there are options available to help make it possible. Here are 10 steps to consider:
a. Research government assistance programs such as Medicaid or Veterans Affairs benefits, which may cover some or all of the costs associated with assisted living.
b.Seek out non-profit organizations that offer financial assistance or grants specifically for seniors in need of assisted living services.
c. Look into low-income senior housing programs that provide affordable housing options with supportive services.
d. Explore long-term care insurance policies, as some policies may cover assisted living expenses.
e. Consider downsizing or selling assets to generate funds to pay for assisted living costs.
f. Consult with a financial advisor who specializes in senior care to explore potential financial strategies and options.
g. Discuss payment plans and flexible options directly with assisted living facilities, as some may offer sliding scale fees or income-based payment arrangements.
Here are some assisted living facilities that may offer sliding scale fees or income-based arrangements:
- Sunrise Senior Living: Sunrise Senior Living offers personalized care and services with a focus on providing quality living options for seniors. They have a financial assessment process to determine individualized pricing based on income and assets.
- Atria Senior Living: Atria Senior Living has a variety of assisted living communities across the United States. They offer a financial planning tool to help families understand the costs associated with assisted living and may provide flexible payment options based on income.
- Brookdale Senior Living: Brookdale Senior Living is a leading provider of senior living solutions. They have a financial assistance program called “Brookdale Foundation Group” that offers aid to qualified individuals based on income and other criteria.
- Holiday Retirement: Holiday Retirement operates numerous senior living communities nationwide. They have various financial options, including income-based pricing, to make assisted living more affordable for seniors.
- Five Star Senior Living: Five Star Senior Living offers assisted living services across multiple states. They provide personalized care plans and financial assistance programs that consider income and assets.
i. Consider roommates or shared living arrangements to help reduce costs and share expenses with other individuals in similar situations.
j. Communicate openly with assisted living facilities about your financial limitations and explore any available resources or discounted programs they may offer.
What is The Cost of Assisted Living in The United States
The cost of assisted living in the United States varies depending on the location, type of facility, and level of care needed. The national median cost of assisted living in 2023 is $4,640 per month or $55,680 per year. However, costs can range from as low as $2,500 per month to as high as $10,000 per month.
How to Pay for Assisted Living
There are two most popular ways people choose to pay for assisted living, they are: paying out of pocket or selling a home.
Is Assisted Living Tax-Deductible?
It depends, just as with everything IRS-related. According to the IRS, the full cost of a nursing home (including meals and accommodation) is deducted as a medical expense if you, your spouse, or a dependant is there primarily for medical care. Only the cost of medical services at the facility is tax deductible if the major purpose is non-medical (assistance with daily living duties like housekeeping or clothing, for example).
To claim this deduction, you must itemize your taxes, and there can be income-based restrictions, so be careful to maintain all supporting documents, including invoices for associated expenses and assisted living.
Does Long-Term Care Insurance Cover Assisted Living?
Assisted living is often covered by long-term care insurance policies. Just keep in mind that these policies often need to be obtained far in advance of your need, so it can be difficult to get new coverage if you’re planning to move into assisted living shortly.
Depending on your policy and provider, the specifics will vary, but long-term care insurance is made expressly to pay for the expenses linked to aging or chronic disability. Most of the time, it is adaptable enough to pay for all or part of assisted living expenses. However, there may be requirements you must meet, such as needing assistance with at least two daily activities.