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6 Essential Steps to Take When Your Parents Need Assisted Living

How to find the right senior living community for your parents step by step.
Merritt Whitley
By Merritt WhitleyApril 18, 2020

Many families look to assisted living facilities to provide essential care and peace of mind when it comes to their aging parents. Finding the best senior living community means matching your parents’ needs, lifestyle, and budget with communities in their desired area. The process is easiest and most successful when you ask the right questions, prepare, and have open conversations with your family. 

If you’ve noticed signs your parents need help, it may be time to look for assisted living options. Follow these six steps to find the right senior living facility for your parents.

1. Determine cost and payment options for senior living

Cost is an important factor when looking for senior living options. Determine what your family can afford on a monthly basis, and look for assisted living communities that fit your budget. Our Senior Living Cost Index can help you determine the average cost of facilities near you.

Some people have savings or long-term care insurance to help fund senior living. Others need to be creative. Check out our 10 Best Ways to Save Money on Assisted Living and consider the following options to pay for care:

  • Social security
  • VA benefits
  • Cashing out a life insurance policy
  • Selling a home
  • Reverse mortgage

Our 5 Best Kept Secrets to Financing Senior Care elaborate more on the subject and can help you develop a smart and simple financial plan.

2. Connect with a senior living advisor

Call or chat online with a Senior Living Advisor (SLA) through A Place for Mom for help developing a list of assisted living communities that fit your loved one’s needs and preferences. Our advisors are local industry experts who can save you time and help simplify what can be an overwhelming process. Here’s how our SLAs can assist you at no cost:

  • Evaluating and comparing senior living communities based on your loved one’s needs
  • Providing information about cost, amenities, safety features, and more
  • Scheduling tours and facilitating move-ins
  • Sending additional resources as needed to help you finance or find the right fit

3. Have a conversation with your aging parents

You can do much of the legwork for your parents, but have regular discussions with them about their desires and preferences. When you have a list of options ready, talk to them about communities you think are a good fit and why you like them. The more your parents know and are involved, the smoother their transition to senior living will be.

If your parent is in denial about their need for care, check out our 5 Tips to Discuss Senior Care. Pick a quiet moment and share your observations, concerns, and feelings. Listen to your parents, and write down their apprehensions and preferences. This will help guide you in finding the best solution.

4. Visit or virtually tour a senior living community

No amount of time spent viewing brochures, floor plans, photos, or reviews can substitute for an in-person visit to or virtual tour of an assisted living community. Visit at least three communities on your short-list for comparison. Schedule visits for you and your parent, and try to tour during mealtimes. This allows you to interact with staff, residents, and sample the food. Overall, you’ll get a good feel for the environment and culture of the community. Our Senior Living Advisors can help you schedule tours and follow-up visits. We suggest visiting or virtually touring more than once if possible.

5. Consult a variety of sources to find the best assisted living community

You can always bounce ideas off of your Senior Living Advisor during your decision-making process to get their impressions of the communities on your referral list. Our Assisted Living Checklist can help you and your parents ask the right questions and record your impressions. When making a decision, talk to those in the know to learn as much as you can.

6. Prepare for the transition to senior living

Do not delay the move — it’s risky to procrastinate especially when a parent needs care. Delays can lead to avoidable accidents and medical problems. When preparing for a move, it’s important to:

  • Consolidate possessions
    Is your loved one downsizing? Can you help them sell or donate any items?
  • Plan and coordinate the move
    Are you hiring a company or helping on your own? Set up a schedule and plan to ensure the move goes smoothly to alleviate stress.
  • Gather and manage legal documents
    Locate medical documents, tax returns, or any important information that your parents may need. Make sure they’re in a safe place so they don’t get lost or misplaced during the move.

Whether your parents are choosing the community themselves, or you’re helping decide for a parent, the above steps should help ensure everyone in your family feels good about the assisted living facility selection. When possible, have conversations with your parents, discuss the pros and cons of each option, and try to come to a consensus together.


Merritt Whitley
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Merritt Whitley
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