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Broaching the topic of moving someone into senior living isn’t easy. But when aging parents or relatives are no longer able to effectively care for themselves, it may become necessary.

Family members should ask themselves why the senior should transition and what that person isn’t getting that a senior living facility would provide, said Donna Wobbe, long-term care ombudsman director at the Central Missouri Area Agency on Aging.

The ability of the person to maintain nutrition, hydration and safety are the most important things to consider when deciding whether a senior should make the transition, she said.

After a decision is made to have a loved one transition to senior living, here are a few things to keep in mind.


Family members should have the conversation while the aging person is still in good health and can have significant input, such as what kind of facility he or she would like to move to and under what circumstances.

A long term care ombudsman, who advocates for all residents in long term care facilities in the community, can help families become well-informed about their options.

In the transition to senior living, it’s important that the control of the person being moved is not taken away, Wobbe said. Have a discussion with an aging parent or relative early on to find out what his or her wishes are.

“Keep it real and honest,” Wobbe said. “Keep the family member in the loop because the choices are really theirs.” This includes not talking about the person like he or she isn’t in the room when making decisions for them, she said.

Because living situation changes can make someone feel a loss of control, A Place for Mom’s Senior Living Blog emphasizes putting as much control as possible into the hands of the person transitioning. It’s also vital to allow time and space for the person to grieve leaving home.

Unfortunately, many families do not have conversations about transitioning before a person’s mental condition has deteriorated to the point where the person can no longer be part of the decision, Wobbe said. In this case, an ombudsman would help the family get the right resources for its situation and make sure a doctor is involved in choosing where to move the person.


Before someone transitions to long term care or senior living, make sure important paperwork is in order including an advance directivepower of attorney and durable power of attorney for medical decisions. It will be easier to follow through with the person’s wishes if they are clearly written down. Changes in your paperwork can be made as long as you have the capacity to make clear choices for yourself, including transferring power of attorney.

Someone giving up power of attorney should carefully consider who he or she is transferring it to, Wobbe said. Although certain societal expectations might say it should go to the oldest child, they might not always be the right choice.

This includes working together to decide what personal belongings to take to the new residence, Wobbe said. It’s important to be realistic about how much space will be available in the new place so pack accordingly and pack together.


Wobbe said there are three main things to consider when choosing a senior living facility:

What is the person’s level of need? In some cases, the care may be short term, such as going to rehab after breaking a hip, or home health care that might allow the person to stay in his or her home. In other cases, moving to a long term care facility is necessary to meet a person’s needs. This can range from needing periodic help with mobility to around-the-clock care for someone with dementia.

What are the likes and dislikes? It’s important to keep the decision “person-centered,” Wobbe said. Meeting the physical and mental needs of a senior might be the first consideration when choosing a facility, but that person also has emotional and personal needs that should be considered.

Is it affordable? Being realistic should be a constant throughout the conversation about transitioning to senior living, and that includes cost. Wobbe said one thing to keep in mind is that financial assistance is sometimes available if the senior or his or her spouse is a veteran.

An ombudsman would provide you with a list of place in the community for you to choose from. You can also use websites such as A Place for Mom and SeniorHousingNet to find senior living options in your area.