The Emotions Around Moving a Loved One to Assisted Living - Calyx Living
Calyx Living

All The Feelings: The Emotions Around Moving a Loved One to Assisted Living

Seeing a parent or loved one unsteady about things they used to confidently tackle is one of the most difficult parts of aging. It’s emotional when those who have served as role models, led successful professional lives, traveled to adventurous locations, and cared for us now need more and more assistance with daily tasks. As subtle changes present, you and your family may start to think about care transitions and wonder what comes next. Exploring care options often comes with a wide range of emotions, including sadness, anxiety, concern, and guilt. 


Handling those feelings requires thoughtful planning, open communication, and support. Consider these steps to help channel your emotions as you and your loved one explore a move to assisted living. 


Research options together

A move to assisted living is all about balance – providing help that’s needed while giving as much independence as possible. By offering support with daily tasks, removing home maintenance chores, and ensuring a safe environment, you and your loved one can focus on interests and connections that bring you both joy. The often unexpected advantage of an assisted living community is that families can spend time together, building memories, and engaging in meaningful time, not balancing the uncertainty of changing care and ability needs. Visiting assisted living communities together can highlight the advantages and make everyone feel involved in the research and decision making process. Knowing what to expect helps ease fears around any type of change.


Prioritize open, honest communication

Your loved one is likely noticing changes to what they can and can’t easily do. Engage them to talk openly about what’s going on, including their fears, concerns, and desired care path. Listen to what bothers them, it will be different from your concerns. Creating a safe space where you can share, understand, empathize, and start to objectively consider care options is key. This sets the foundation for exploring and finding your best care option for both immediate needs and future changes. It will also help you prioritize and compare the services, amenities, and resources you’re looking for in a community. Another essential step – ensure that all family members are part of the conversation. Leverage video calls to include those who care deeply, but don’t live close. This will reduce miscommunication among family and help your loved one feel supported. 


Acknowledge your emotions

A change in circumstance, living space, and independence creates a mixed bag of emotions. Recognize and acknowledge when you and your loved one feel sadness, guilt, worry, and even relief. These are all expected. Allow yourself to experience and process the emotions. Seeking out people who have walked this path ahead of you can bring insights, learning and comfort. When you tour a community, ask to talk with residents or their family members who have recently transitioned to assisted living. Their viewpoint on the process and the community you’re considering can be valuable. While everyone comes to assisted living or senior care differently, there is strength in hearing, sharing, and gaining perspective from others in similar situations. Friends, support groups, counseling, and even resources through assisted living communities can help you manage emotions and expectations. 


Focus on the positive

A transition to assisted living can feel overwhelming but it doesn’t have to be. Jennifer Moore, Vice President of Operations at Calyx Senior Living says that one of the most exciting things is to see families and their loved one realize the possibilities when they consider assisted living. “Residents have access to gorgeous spaces, lush gardens, dialing wellness and social activities, and delicious dining. When they realize what they can do and who they will meet here, fear and worry diminishes as excitement and peaked interests take its place.” Another way to mark a transition to assisted living is to organize a small gathering for your loved one to “show off” their new space with a focus on new beginnings and opportunities.

Involve your loved one in decision making

Start open communications when you and your loved one first notice changes in health and daily routine. This empowers your loved one to talk openly and be actively involved in choices about their care needs, including assisted living facilities. .It’s important to find a balance between your loved one’s preferences and their care needs. If your loved one meets the qualifications for assisted living, they may be able to help select their room and can guide decisions on personal items to bring. Working together during the entire process will help you both feel better about the transition and sharing perspectives with each other can help your family find the assisted living facility that is right for your loved one. 


Stay connected and available

Assisted living communities can be a bustle of activity. Regular visits to see how your  loved one is connecting can help reduce your worries and concerns. It can take some time to settle into the change, but residents often pick up interests like painting or gardening that haven’t been fostered in a long while. Seeing your loved one engaged, energized, and building relationships with other residents as you become familiar with their care team can bring a sense of calm and trust. Enjoying your loved one’s new space together also ensures you’re aware of challenges that need to be addressed. This allows you to keep communication open – with both your family and care team – as everyone adapts to changes. 


Select a community that listens to your concerns

Feelings about the “right type of care” will change as you and your loved one navigate a transition to assisted living or another senior care option. Leverage the management team and care providers at your chosen community to help you navigate your feelings and expectations. Quality assisted living communities have resources who specialize in elder care transitions and can offer access to books, articles, support groups, and healthcare professionals who can support the emotional aspects of caregiving and change. These are also people with whom you can share information about your loved one’s day-to-day wellbeing and involvement. Building relationships with your on-site team can go a long way to reducing unsettled emotions.


Handling the emotional decision to move a loved one to assisted living is challenging. Being aware of your feelings and approaching both the research and transition with empathy, open communication, and support can set you and your family up for a positive outcome. The Calyx Team has helped hundreds of families assess care needs and manage the uncertainties that are part of a move to assisted living. Contact us for a tour and resources as you start this process. We’re happy to offer support and guidance.