Successfully Transfer Seniors to Assisted Living – Top 10 Tips

by: Cheryl Mercure

Realizing that your loved one can no longer live independently is stressful. Actually preparing for a move of this magnitude can be traumatic. These tips are provided in hopes of making the transition to assisted living a more peaceful experience.

1. Involve your loved one in the discussion. Months before the impending move. Have them provide input about what services/amenities they need in their new home. Take them on tours of assisted living and nursing homes. Talk with them often about the move, using encouragement and positive reinforcement. Someone suffering from dementia might not be able to make important decisions regarding their care, but they would still appreciate being able to decide if their favorite chair will make the move too. Most seniors want to maintain their independence, so DON'T make all the decisions for them.

2. RESEARCH, put in the time to make sure it's the right long-term care option. Finding the right long term care facility is key to making the transition. Make sure you do a full background check on the facility you choose, including independent reviews and citation checks with the state. It's just as important to find a place that's safe as it is to find a place where the staff is loving. Most important, make sure the assisted living or nursing home you choose can provide them with the right level of care. Consider hiring a senior placement company to do the research and coordinate the entire transition to assisted living or a nursing home.

3. Take tours of many different long term care facilities. There is a negative stigma associated with assisted living and nursing homes, some people get the image of sterile hospital care with several patients in one room. Fortunately this care has been replaced with communities that promote independent living, wherever possible. To create a more comfortable image, take tours of many different types of communities and care facilities. These tours will give you insight to the priorities of the management and staff. Also try visiting them at different times during the day.

4. Tour the dining hall, have a meal or two. One of the biggest complaints of assisted living facilities is "the food is terrible". When you tour these facilities, also be sure to dine with them, maybe 2-3 times each, at different times of the day. This will give you a very clear indication of the quality of food being prepared.

5. Choose a location that is close enough to "home". You may have chosen a luxury assisted living facility, but if it's too far away from family, your loved one may still feel alone and isolated. Make sure the location is convenient to allow friends and family to visit easily. Consider throwing a house warming party, so that everyone knows the routine to visit, and is comfortable visiting on their own.

6. Decide what will happen to their home together. "I can't go because this is my home." Address this issue in advance by creating a plan of what will become of the family home. Consult a real estate agent who specializes in senior advisement. Sometimes just knowing the details are covered will alleviate the stress.

7. Help them sort through their things. Another concern is "I can't leave my things". Help alleviate these concerns by helping sort through their lifetime of memories, finding new places for their things, and assuring them they will be cherished by the new person. You can consider hiring a senior move manager who will pour over the memories with them, and help the senior sell the items that might be of value.

8. Create a warm, inviting and familiar environment in their new home. Make the new facility seem as much like home as possible, bringing in pictures, pets, even furniture from the last place. This can make the space feel more inviting. You'll need to check with the assisted living or nursing home on what items are allowed before moving things in.

9. Try to have the Senior keep the same routine. If the Senior has gone to coffee at the same place, with the same people for 10 years, try to make that appointment a priority. Often the concern is I have to "give up" my life to move into a long term care facility.

10. Provide a list of activities and transportation to them. Nearly all long term care facilities offer activities in house. Some even provide transportation to outside activities as well. When transportation is not provided by the long-term care provider, look into independent transportation companies that only service the elderly. Showing the many social opportunities available can give Seniors a greater sense of independence.

Cheryl Mercure, Senior Care Advocate and Owner of Eshalon, Inc. Eshalon, Inc provides senior placement services for families looking for guidance in finding the nursing home, assisted living, and memory care facility that best suits the Seniors needs. We coordinate the entire transition to assisted living, which includes senior placement, long term care provider reviews, testimonials, and background checks of facilities. Eshalon also assists the client with form completion, researching additional financial assistance and negotiating long term care rates. The company also provides a free searchable directory of assisted living, nursing homes, Continuing Care Retirement Community, senior living retirement communities, and residential care homes, Alzheimer's care facilities, and hospice care. No signup or commitment is required to use the site. For more information visit

4 Responses

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  3. Great topic. Choosing the right place to live before you have to make a change is so much easier than waiting for the last possible moment. Your chances of finding the right home is unlikely if things have to be done in hurry. Again excellent article.
  4. Completely agree with the idea of involving the senior as much as possible in all aspects of the move. I think a big part of the fear of moving for an elderly person is the fear of the unknown: it will be "different" and they are comfortable with routine. Helping them to see that things and routines that have provided security will still be a part of their lives can help make the transition so much easier for everyone.
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  6. Realizing that your loved one can no longer live independently is stressful. Actually preparing for a move of this magnitude can be traumatic.