6 Ways to Ease Your Parents Into Assisted Living


It's tough to watch your mother or father age. And when you need to sign your parents up for an assisted-living facility? That's never an easy job.

Getting the paperwork ready is enough of a chore. But the most difficult task might be keeping yourself sane as you go through the difficult process of convincing your aging parents that living in an assisted-living facility is the right choice.

This will never be an easy process. But here are six tips for making the transition as easy as possible for all involved.

1. Give Yourself Plenty of Time

Don't expect to check your parents into an assisted-living facility in one week. It takes a long time to gather the paperwork and schedule the medical evaluations that most facilities require.

But even if the process didn't take as long, you should still give yourself and your parents plenty of time to prepare for a move to an assisted-living facility. Let your parents mull over the thought for several weeks before you begin moving them into their new home. They'll need time to accept that this move is the best one for them. If you rush the process? Your parents will be more likely to resent the decision; they'll feel that they are being forced to make this move.

The best time to start talking with your parents about an assisted-living facility is as soon as you start seeing the signs that they need help with everyday tasks.

2. Let Your Parents Remain Decision-Makers

It's tempting to try to handle all tasks involved in getting your parents into an assisted-living facility. Resist. Not only will taking on all this work by yourself result in loads of stress, it will also alienate your parents. Remember, your parents are the ones who will be living in the assisted-living facility, not you. You need to give them plenty of input.

Ask for your parents' advice on everything from what they're looking for in a facility, in what part of town they'd like to live, and on what date they'd like to move. The more you involve your parents in the process — to the extent that this is feasible — the smoother the transition to assisted living will go.

3. Work Closely With the Staff

The professionals working at assisted-living facilities have helped countless people like you and your parents. So take advantage of this expertise. Any time you have a question, even if you think it's a small one, call up the facility. You aren't bothering anyone. Remember, you or your parents are paying for the assisted-living facility. Like any customer, you have the right to ask for help or for answers.

It's easy to become overwhelmed. The quickest way to relief is to rely on the guidance of the medical and administrative staff at the facility you and your parents have chosen.

4. Expect Short Tempers

Don't be surprised if your parents lash out at you during the transition. And don't take it personally. When you help your parents move into an assisted-living facility, you are reversing the roles you and your mom and dad have long held. Basically, you are becoming the caretaker that your parents once were for you. This is not an easy transition for anyone, and your parents wouldn't be human if it didn't frighten or annoy them.

5. It's Time to Downsize

One of the bigger challenges might be convincing your parents to get rid of a large amount of their personal items. The space they are moving into will undoubtedly be smaller than where they are living today. You can make move-in day less stressful by helping your parents downsize their possessions before they're ready to move.

Expect some resistance here, too. Even if your parents understand that their new home doesn't offer nearly as much space, they might still resist parting with their possessions. You might make it easier for them by helping them donate these items to Goodwill or the Salvation Army. This way, your parents will know that their furniture and mementos will be going to people who really need them.

6. Show Them You Haven't Forgotten Them

Once your parents have moved into their new home, make sure they know you're not forgetting about them. It's easy to feel ignored when you're adjusting to a whole new life filled with people you don't know. Ease the transition by visiting your parents often, bringing them back to your home for regular dinners and taking them out to the movies or shopping.

The more you make them feel connected to your family through regular visits and phone calls, the easier it will be for your parents to accept and welcome their new living arrangement.

Have you had to move your folks into an assisted living facility? How'd it go?

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Guest's picture

We had a unique situation, my mom had a house fire before she moved in with us. Instant downsizing. She lived with us for five years. When we took vacation, she stayed at this very nice assisted living place for her respite care. She became comfortable with the staff, residents and routines. It was the natural choice when she needed assisted living. That transitional time may be helpful for other people's parents. They could try it out without committing.

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