March 5, 2019

We all want our parents to be as safe, healthy, and independent as possible as they grow older. But for most adult children, there comes a point when you realize that living at home is no longer the best option for your parent. If you start to see your parent’s health decline or notice signs that they need more help, it may be time to consider a move to an assisted living community.

Acknowledging that your parent needs some help is just the first step in finding them the care they need. Use the following guide to help you create a realistic plan and find the right assisted living community for your parent.

Learn about the differences between the levels of senior care

When you first begin researching senior living options, you might be confused about the differences between assisted living and nursing homes. While they may sound similar, these living options differ greatly in terms of the level of caregiving provided and the types of residents they serve. Assisted living is ideal for seniors who are still relatively independent, but require extra help with daily activities such as grooming, dressing, and medication management. Nursing homes, now referred to as skilled nursing facilities, are catered to seniors who require around-the-clock medical care. Understanding the differences between the types of senior care available can help you determine which option is best suited for your parent’s current and future needs. 

Visit and evaluate local assisted living communities

Researching assisted living communities online is helpful, but there’s no substitute for an in-person tour. Visiting local communities will give you a better idea of what to expect and help you narrow your options. Schedule several tours of nearby assisted living communities and don’t be afraid to make follow-up visits as you finalize your decision. It’s often a good idea to visit during a mealtime to sample the community’s food and get to know some of the residents and staff members.

Include your parent in the decision-making process

When planning for your parent’s care, it’s important to involve them as much as possible. Have regular discussions with your parent and carefully consider their preferences as you weigh the options that are available. Keep in mind that your parent may be hesitant about the idea of moving at first. It will likely take multiple conversations and visits to nearby communities to overcome their resistance and help them understand the benefits of moving.

Don’t delay the move

One of the biggest mistakes families make is delaying the move to assisted living. While it can be difficult to come to a final decision, it’s often easier for older adults to adjust if they move sooner rather than later. Procrastinating can also be risky, especially when your parent has escalating care needs. Delaying the move could also put your parent at risk for an accident, such as a fall, that would otherwise be avoidable.

Help your parent settle in

Moving a parent to assisted living can be an emotional time for everyone involved. It can be especially challenging for your parent to adjust to the changes. One way to help ease the transition to assisted living is by incorporating some of your parent’s favorite personal belongings into their new home, such as family photos and other keepsakes. Call and visit often, but remember to give your parent some space so they can participate in the community’s activities and meet new people. Over time, your parent will settle into a comfortable routine and feel right at home in the assisted living community.