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How do you know when it might be time for some type of out-of-home care such as a nursing home or assisted living?  Nursing Homes provide 24/7 medical care while Assisted Livings allow an older adult a little more freedom on their care.  If your loved one is falling a lot, burning themselves or their cooking, confused a lot, unable to drive safely anymore, then it might be time to look at your choices. 

Professional in-home care and a medical alert system are sufficient for some loved ones to remain at home safely for a time. But if they live alone or their spouse is frail, then there’s no one to help them if they experience a medical emergency and can’t push their wearable call button. The familiarity and comforts of home are undeniable, but there are some concerns and drawbacks associated with aging in place. So how do you know when you have to move your loved one to a Nursing Home or an Assisted Living and which one?

Tips for

Making a Move:


1. Begin the ‘talk’ gently and with ease

Don’t approach your loved one(s) as though you’ve already made the decision for them. It’s best to start talking to your parents and other senior living options well before the need arises. If you haven’t laid the groundwork for this possibility, simply mention that there are options out there that could make life easier, safer and more enjoyable for them.

2.Do your research

If they’re willing, great! But don’t push it. Drop the subject if they resist, and wait for another day to tackle this next step.

3. Wait for an open door

Go with your gut on the timing.

4. Ask around

Ask around to see if anyone else you know has already done this.

5. Take tours

6. Highlight the benefits for both nursing homes and assisted living

7. Give them time to think 

Don’t make a rash decision, but allow your loved one to think about everything being presented.

8. Arrange a family meeting

If your family is close-knit, arrange a casual meeting and tell Mom or Dad how much better everyone would feel if the move were made. Don’t make it seem like an intervention or a done deal that they have no say in. Allow everyone involved to discuss their concerns and anxieties (especially YOUR loved one) about the current situation and a potential move. Try enlisting a family friend, doctor or spiritual leader to chat with your parent(s) and state the case for this move. Third parties can often make headway where family fails.

9. Understand there’s no reasoning with dementia

It is worth noting that loved ones who are experiencing cognitive decline may not recognize their limitations and remain adamant about staying at home. Unfortunately for their families, there is no magic answer for how to move a parent with dementia to assisted living. No amount of rational thinking or negotiation will get someone with Alzheimer’s disease or a related form of dementia to change their mind. Dementia caregivers often resort to pressing the issue to ensure their loved ones are safe and well cared for, but the truth is that you generally cannot force a senior to move to assisted living unless they are deemed incompetent. In that case, a durable power of attorney (or guardianship) and some white lies are often necessary to place an obstinate loved one in the appropriate long-term care setting.

10. Be patient

Do your best to make your parents feel they are in control of their life and with this decision because they are. As long as a loved one is competent to make informed decisions about their own care, then there’s nothing more you can do to force them. 

Moving a Loved One

For many caregivers/family members, the benefits of assisted living are clear and all signs point to the fact that your loved one needs this move. Nursing Home choices/decisions are a little different and little more difficult in convincing but may be very necessary.  

This entire process can be very difficult for some older adults and even family members themselves. Leaving a home full of memories is an emotional decision—even for seniors who are looking forward to assisted living—and downsizing when you have accumulated a lifetime of possessions is a lot to ask of someone. It may take a little more time and adjusting to move a loved one to a nursing home but in the long run it will be beneficial.  Be kind, be sensitive and try to make it about your loved one and not about you. Allow them time to grieve what is lost and allow them to acclimate to their new environment. It will take some time for them to settle in to their new home, but they will probably enjoy the change once this transition period has passed.

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