The transition to assisted living: What, when and how

Jul 28th, 2020 | By | Category: Lifestyles

As our loved ones grow older, it’s often the time when we recognize that they need extra support. You may have found that your mom or dad was no longer able to keep up with daily household tasks or suddenly required more hands-on assistance due to physical or even cognitive limitations. You could feel concerned about leaving them alone, yet not sure what to do next.

The first thing I often recommend to families is to evaluate if their loved one’s needs are being met. Is the house clean? Are they eating well?  Are they able to get around? Are they social or do you fear they may be isolated? Do they have signs of memory loss?

If answers to any of these questions raise concerns, it is likely time to begin preparing for a transition. Here are a few tips that will help get you and your family off on the right foot.

  • Determine what is most important. When thinking about what may be best for your family, take an inventory of what matters most to you and your loved one. Proximity to family? Having an active social life with frequent activities? What type of environment would make your loved one feel most at home?
  • Review their financial reality. Look at your loved-one’s retirement savings, Social Security, pensions, home equity and other assets and income. What can they afford based on their current monthly living expenses? Do they have long-term care insurance? What debt do they need to pay off? Are family members planning to help financially with this next phase? This reality check will confirm what options you can consider together.
  • Begin researching your options. Once you’ve determined what’s most important and you have a budget in mind, you may consider having your mom, dad or loved one move in with you or another close family member. If your loved one has an active social life and has more limited needs, in-home care might be appealing. If they could benefit from hands-on care and an active, social community while maintaining some independence, assisted living may be the best fit.
  • Engage their care team. It is never too early to engage medical providers. A trusted, third-party resource is helpful in these situations. Not only does the provider know your parent well, but he/she can provide an objective and informed recommendation to your family. And when the time is right, this person may help you start the conversation about a transition.
  • Prepare important documents. Even if you aren’t sure when you may want to make a transition, you can get your paperwork in order right away. All too often, families wait until a crisis hits and they are left overwhelmed with these details. Things you could begin gathering now include an emergency information sheet, an Authorization to Release Confidential Information form, house pharmacy form, copies of photo ID and Medicare card, and a copy of their living will.

Most importantly, remember you aren’t alone. Engage professionals to help guide you and your loved ones during this time of change to ensure a smooth transition for all.


Kathy Stewart is a vice president of Aegis Living, whose assisted-living and memory care communities include 23 in King County.