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Steps to Take When Your Parents Need Assisted Living

It can be a difficult moment when you come to realize that your mom or dad needs senior care in a setting like assisted living. Just as our parents kept us safe, sheltered and secure when we needed it – there comes a time when we’re called upon to return this same love to our parents.Next Steps: When Your Parents Need Assisted Living

Steps to Take When Your Parents Need Assisted Living

Some of us will provide care to our parents in our own home for a period, but this is not always possible for all families, or always desired by the children or parents themselves. Many families find themselves searching for assisted living, an intermediate level of residential care for seniors who aren’t safe living alone.

Ideally, your parents can be full participants in the search, but when your loved one is impaired by Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, you may have to proactively take more control of the decision making.

If you see that your parents need assisted living care, here are some steps that can help you find the right care:

1. Get Your Loved One Involved

The more involved your parents are in the search, the better. Of course you can do much of the legwork for them, but have discussions with your parents about their desires and preferences and, ideally, present them with a range of options. If your parent is in denial about his or her need for care, read our article about overcoming resistance in the situations.

2. Determine What You Can Afford

Like it or not, money is going to be a factor in most families’ searches. Look at what your family can afford on a monthly basis. Our guide to financing senior care page could be a helpful reference. Look into veterans benefits and other creative ways to pay for care. Some seniors and families may have to consider difficult options such as pooling resources from the adult children, selling a family home or even cashing-in a life insurance policy.

3. Get Connected with a Senior Living Advisor

This really could have been the first step on our list, as you can call us at any point in your search. A good point for your initial consultation from an A Place for Mom Senior Living Advisor is after you have already done a little investigating into what your family can afford. That way your Advisor can provide a list of seniors communities that meets the needs and preferences you have already established, and ones that are in your price range. This list of communities is an excellent starting point for your search. From there, a logical way to proceed with the decision making process is through the process of elimination. For those families who ultimately cannot afford private-pay senior care and require state assistance in the form of Medicaid (not to be confused with Medicare), your Advisor will connect you with the appropriate liaison at the Area Agency on Aging so that you can get this process started.

4. Tour Senior Communities

No amount of time viewing photos, brochures, floor plans or reviews can substitute for an in-person visit to a community. Schedule visits for you and your parent at a minimum of three communities on your short-list. If you and your parent have the time and stamina, it may be helpful to view up to five or six communities as you narrow the search. A good time to tour is during a meal, such as lunch, for example. Potential residents can try the food and get a good sense of the community’s culture; as most of the residents will be out and about during a mealtime. Based on these initial tours, narrow down your search to two or three favorites. Perform follow-up tours, perhaps even unannounced, to get a good sense for the community you and your parent are considering. Your Senior Living Advisor can make this process easier for you by arranging all your tours in one short call.

5. Come to a Decision

Whether your parent is choosing the community themself, or whether you need to make that decision for parents impaired by dementia or Alzheimer’s, try to make sure that everyone in your family feels good about the choice. When possible, have conversations with your parents discussing the pros and cons of each option and try to find consensus about the right option. You can always bounce ideas off of your Senior Living Advisor during your decision making process and get his or her impressions of communities on your referral list. Another smart move is reading reviews of senior communities on can also help you make an informed and confident decision. Finally, you can also check the background of an assisted living community you are considering with the licensing agency in your state that monitors assisted living.

6. Make the Move

If you’ve come this far in the process, there’s no sense in delaying the move. It’s risky to procrastinate when a parent needs care, as the delay can lead to avoidable accidents and medical problems. Our blog article, “6 Survival Tips for Moving Your Elderly Loved One” has important information about helping to assure this move goes smoothly.

What struggles have you faced in looking for an assisted living community for your senior loved one? Share your stories with us in the comments below.