Ask the Expert: Tips for Moving Parents Into Assisted Living

Dear Jaclyn:

We visited my mom in Columbus, Ohio over the weekend. Truth be told, I’m worried about her and have been for a while. At a minimum, she is lonely. She might even be depressed. Some of the other concerns I have are small, but I think they add up to a more serious decline in her health.

I think we need to get her moved to an assisted living community in the Columbus area. We’ve talked a little about it before and she seems receptive, but she isn’t sure it’s quite time yet. How do I convince her (and myself) that it is?

And, if she decides to move, I want to make sure the move is as painless as possible for her. I know one of the things holding her back is the thought of packing up all her stuff and moving.

Do you have any advice for us?

Sincerely,

Frances

How (and When) to Make the Move to Assisted Living

Dear Frances:

As it happens, your questions are ones I get a lot from adult children with senior parents. I’m going to tackle your questions one at a time, because I think there are two issues here:

1. ) You and your mother are both wondering when the right time to move to assisted living is.

2. ) You want to know how to ease the transition if your mother chooses that option.

So, let’s go ahead and dive into your first question!

Signs a Senior Might Benefit from an Assisted Living Community

It seems like you have a pretty good idea of what assisted living is, but here are the basics just in case.

Assisted living is a residential option for seniors who need a little assistance with activities of daily living. It’s not for 24/7 nursing care. So when you say that your mom is having some minor age-related health issues but nothing major, that leads me to believe assisted living would be the right fit (as opposed to long-term care).

Here are some signs we encourage families to watch for in a senior loved one:

  • Change in physical appearance, such as unkempt clothing or messy hair
  • Unintentional weight gain or weight loss
  • Messy or dirty house (un-emptied trash, foul odors, piles of laundry)
  • Problems with balance or an unsteady walk

For more on this, you might like our blog, Signs It’s Time for Assisted Living. You and your mother can also visit her primary care physician to ask any remaining questions you may have.

Now, on to your second question: how to make the move.

Moving to Assisted Living

If your mother decides to move to assisted living, here are some tips to help make the move (I’ve also included a few resources that I thought would be helpful):

  • Use a moving checklist to make sure nothing is forgotten. Don’t forget things like forwarding the mail, changing the newspaper delivery and notifying the utility companies. This moving list from HGTV isn’t specific to assisted living, but it might help you think of things you might otherwise overlook.
  • Ask the assisted living community if they can provide floor plans before the move, then decide what furniture and possessions to bring based on the space. You can use this list of Must-Haves When Downsizing to Assisted Livingor check out this resource on How to Decorate an Assisted Living Apartment to help with packing.
  • Have a frank discussion with your mother about what her concerns are and address them as best you can. You can also reach out to the assisted living community staff and ask for their advice. They’ll be happy to answer any questions that come up. Here’s a quick guide on Addressing the Concerns Seniors Have About Moving to help the conversation along.
  • Visit whenever you like, and reach out to family members and your mom’s friends so they know where to reach her. At Macintosh, families and friends are always welcome, so you don’t have to worry about restrictive visiting hours.

I hope this helps, Frances! Please contact us if you have questions or would like to schedule a personal tour.

Kind Regards,

Jaclyn Spalding, Assisted Living Director