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How to Help Family Transition to Assisted Living

Helping a senior parent, partner, spouse, or friend move into assisted living requires a good deal of emotional and physical preparation for everyone involved. If you’re experiencing this major life transition, here’s a list of helpful tips for moving a senior loved one into an assisted living facility.

Talk Openly with Your Loved One

Open communication, kindness, empathy, and planning are essential when discussing assisted living options. Let your loved one know you want what’s best for them while honoring their wishes. You don’t want an injury or health scare to occur before their need for assisted living becomes evident.

To avoid conflict with your loved one or other parties during the conversation, consider hiring an elder mediator to help facilitate the conversation. Mediators can keep the peace, provide advice, and help everyone find common ground, resulting in an outcome everyone can agree upon.

Research Senior Living Communities Near You

Once you and your loved one have reached a mutual agreement about beginning the transition, sit down with them and start researching the best assisted living facilities near you together. Consider the level of care and independence your loved one needs:

  • Low Level: Individuals who may simply need staff to remind them about activities of daily living (ADLs) like grooming, dressing, bathing, mobility, and eating.
  • Moderate Level: Residents might require assistance with some ADLs.
  • High Level: These seniors may require assistance with most or all ADLs and need advanced services like memory care.

Make a list of facilities based on the levels of care they provide, as well as their reviews, distance from you, available amenities, and the residents’ overall quality of life. Senior living resources like Eldercare Locator and AssistedLiving.org can help you learn more about assisted living in general and find facilities in your area.

Create a Budget

Take stock of your finances and your loved one’s overall health requirements to make a budget. The cost of assisted living can change over time based on location, senior living amenities, and room size. The Genworth cost of care calculator can help you determine the median monthly assisted living cost in your area. Since assisted living can be a sizable expense, there are several strategies to help supplement any out-of-pocket payments:

  • Talk to them about downsizing or selling their house
  • Utilize a retirement or savings account
  • Most long-term care insurance programs like Medicaid offer some coverage for assisted living
  • Veterans may qualify for VA benefits that can aid with assisted living expenses

As you’re looking at potential facilities, check to see if they offer any financial assistance as well.

Tour Potential Senior Communities Together

Once you’ve narrowed down your list to a few of the assisted living options nearby, tour the facilities with your senior. Make sure they have care programs, senior living services, and amenities that will benefit your loved one—and make sure to ask lots of questions. Here are a few key things to keep an eye on with each facility:

  • Is the staff large enough to give the residents the attention they need?
  • How do they assist residents with activities of daily living?
  • What meal services are offered?
  • Are there any social clubs and activities to keep seniors engaged?
  • How much privacy and independence do residents have?
  • How big are the living quarters?
  • Do the residents seem happy in their environment?
  • How does your loved one feel about the atmosphere?

Have a Family Decluttering & Packing Party

Get a copy of your loved one’s new floor plan at the chosen assisted living facility to determine what can fit in their new living space. Bear in mind packing and decluttering doesn’t have to happen all at once! Do a little work every day by helping sort out their belongings into categories of things they want to keep, sell, and donate. By doing a little at a time, the process will be more manageable as the moving date gets closer.

One way to make packing with your loved one as painless as possible is to set a date for friends and family to get together and pack as a group. Bring snacks and drinks to make it festive and transform an otherwise mundane packing session into quality bonding time that helps everyone process the transition.

Manage the Logistics

One of the most important aspects of transitioning to assisted living is taking care of logistical and housekeeping tasks before the move. This includes helping your loved one cancel their utilities and changing their address on all their accounts, credit cards, or subscriptions. Make sure all of their vital documents like their tax information, bank accounts, pensions, medical history, will, insurance, passports, vehicle titles, etc., are organized and secured in an easily accessible place.

If they previously owned their own house and want to sell the property, help them set up an appointment with a realtor or real estate agent to get the process rolling. Additionally, help them reserve a self storage unit if they have possessions they want to hold onto but can’t fit in their new living quarters.

Set Up Their New Space

Assisted living communities often have staff members who can help move furniture and other heavy items, but double-check their capability to assist. You can also hire a moving service nearby to streamline the moving process. To reduce stress for you and your elder loved one, see if another friend or family member can take them out for a relaxing day until everything gets moved in.

While you’re unpacking, look into assisted living decorating ideas like using family photos and other keepsakes as decor to make their space feel familiar and comfortable. Similarly, you can arrange their furniture as they had them at their previous home, but keep in mind to set up their space with accessibility and safety in mind.

Give Them Time to Adjust

Once your loved one has been moved in and their space has been decorated to feel like home, allow them the time and space to get adjusted. Remember, some seniors may take longer to adjust to assisted living than others, so in the meantime, encourage them to take small steps every day to finish unpacking, get acquainted with fellow residents, and take part in the community’s senior social activities.

Many senior living communities have full calendars of events for things like senior social and travel clubs, as well as various hobbies like gardening, crafts, reading, and more to help them settle in and make new friends.

Plan to Visit Often & Stay in Contact

It’s important to stay connected with your elderly family once they’ve moved into assisted living. You don’t need to call every day, but continue to check in often after the move to see how they like their new community. Visiting in person can help seniors feel connected to their families and friends, keeping their spirits up and promoting their overall well-being.

Join them for weekly meals and activities, or visit once a week just to catch up. If you can’t see them regularly, consider calling them virtually over FaceTime, Zoom, or similar video chat apps for seniors. If they don’t already have social media accounts like Facebook, help them set one up so you can stay in contact more frequently than just your scheduled virtual or in-person visits.

Frequently Asked Questions About Using Storage for Assisted Living Transitions

Can self storage help while moving to assisted living?

While your senior loved one is downsizing in preparation to move, they may find they have a lot of possessions they want to keep but don’t have room for at their new senior living community. Reserving a secure storage unit can give them a convenient space to store those belongings.

Will belongings be safe in a self storage unit?

Yes! Extra Space Storage’s self storage facilities have top-notch security features like electronic gate access and video surveillance. Some locations even offer more advanced security measures like on-site resident managers, security access to your floor only, and individually-alarmed units.

Is a climate-controlled storage unit necessary?

Climate control can further protect your loved one’s possessions in self storage. Climate-controlled storage generally maintains the temperatures inside a storage unit to protect delicate items from being exposed to extreme temperatures that could cause damage.


Helping your loved one transition to an assisted living community? Extra Space Storage can help make this major life transition easier. Find storage units near you!