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When Is It Time To Move a Loved One To Senior Living?

adult daughter and senior mother talking

Maybe your dad keeps forgetting to pay important bills. Or, perhaps your mom’s chronic condition is worsening. No matter the circumstances, it can be hard to accept that your parent’s needs are changing. It can be even more difficult to know when senior living is the next best step.  

In this blog, we will help you determine if your parent, relative, or friend is ready for senior living. 


How To Know When It’s Time for Senior Living

Like many adult children, you may be tempted to shrug off your dad’s forgetfulness or overlook your mom’s immobility. 

After all, trying to decide if your parent needs more intensive daily support can be stressful at best and heartbreaking at worst. You may also feel uncomfortable discussing senior living with your parent

But, for your parent’s sake, it’s important that you evaluate the situation objectively. Look for red flags — signs suggesting that your mom or dad is struggling to live independently. 

Common signs include:

A Decline in Self-Care  

Many seniors struggle with activities of daily living, or ADLs, which are self-care tasks like toileting and bathing. 

Out of embarrassment, your mom or dad may not mention that they have trouble completing basic self-care tasks. However, you can assume they need more help if you notice:  

  • Poor hygiene (e.g. unbrushed hair or teeth, long fingernails)
  • Unchanged or dirty clothing
  • Immobility (e.g. finding your parent in the same spot you left them in)
  • Malnourishment or overreliance on canned/frozen meals
  • Improper medication management 


After children leave the home or a spouse passes away, seniors are vulnerable to loneliness. 

Though loneliness may seem benign, isolation can increase an aging adult’s chances of developing long-term illnesses like heart disease and cancer.

Your mom or dad may be lonely if you notice:  

  • Changes in call frequency (either an increase or decrease)
  • Not leaving the house as frequently as they once did
  • Hypersomnia (excessive sleeping)
  • Unexplained weight loss or gain 
  • Mood swings 

Changes in Cognition and Memory

Forgetfulness is a natural part of aging. However, excessive forgetfulness — not remembering the name of a close friend, for instance — could be a warning sign of Alzheimer’s

Since Alzheimer’s is a progressive condition, there will come a time when living at home alone is dangerous for your parent. 

For example, when they begin leaving the stove on, forgetting to pay bills, or misplacing their keys, senior care is needed.  

Neglected Household Responsibilities 

Keeping pace with housework is difficult for any homeowner. However, seniors tend to struggle with everyday chores because of health issues and mobility problems. 

Signs your parent is having a hard time with household responsibilities include:

  • Excessive clutter or mess
  • Unkempt landscapes
  • Dirty dishes and laundry  
  • Unopened mail or past-due notices

Ailing Health 

Many adult children begin discussing senior living when a parent experiences a health change. 

This change could be a new diagnosis, perhaps of heart disease or cancer. Or, it could be that an existing condition has worsened. 

If you aren’t sure whether or not a parent’s diagnosis will compromise their ability to live independently, have a conversation with their doctor. Express your concerns and ask for their opinion on senior living.  

Signs You Need Help Caring for a Parent

Like many adult children, you may try to provide your aging mom or dad with support. After all, your parent cared for you. Isn’t it time to repay the favor?

But for some people, especially those with children of their own, the responsibilities of caregiving can be too overwhelming. 

Trying to give your parent the high-quality care they deserve can lead to a state of physical and emotional exhaustion called caregiver burnout.  

Signs of caregiver burnout include:

  • Lack of energy 
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Sleep problems
  • Changes in appetite
  • Trouble concentrating 
  • Becoming unusually impatient or angry
  • Headaches and stomachaches 
  • Frequent colds or fevers

If you are experiencing these symptoms, know that it’s okay to ask for help. You aren’t failing your parent by relying on professional senior care experts. 

Which Senior Living Option Is Right for My Parent?

You have determined that now is the right time to move your loved one to senior living. Now what?

For most families, the next step is to determine which senior living option is appropriate. Generally speaking, there are four senior living care options:

  • Independent living, which is perfect for active seniors who crave a maintenance-free lifestyle
  • Assisted living, which is meant for residents who want to remain independent but who need help with daily tasks like dressing and bathing
  • Memory care, which is designed for older adults with Alzheimer’s and dementia
  • Skilled nursing, which provides 24/7 skilled medical care    

If you aren’t sure which care level is best for your parent, contact your mother or father’s doctor. A physician can provide a medical assessment to inform your decision.  

Not sure which level of care is right for your parent? Understand the care offerings offered at a CCRC and which is best for your parent in our Guide to Senior Living. 

Download Your Free Guide to Senior Living 

What Are the Benefits of a Senior Living Community?

You recognize that your parent needs the high-quality support of a senior living community. But you still feel guilty about the transition. 

Know this: What you are feeling is completely normal. Many adult children experience guilt when they realize they can no longer provide their parent with sufficient care.

However, senior living communities actually benefit aging adults and adult children alike. When a parent moves to a senior living community, they receive compassionate care in a community of like-minded individuals. 

Meanwhile, you can step out of your position as a caregiver and back into your role as a son or daughter.  

Give Your Parent the Best at Havenwood Heritage Heights

Based in Concord, NH, Havenwood Heritage Heights is a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC). A CCRC is a type of retirement community that offers a spectrum of care — from independent living to skilled nursing. 

As a resident of our CCRC, your mom or dad will receive high-quality support no matter what happens in the future. That means you will never have to worry about moving your parent to a different senior living community in the wake of a medical crisis. Instead, you can rest easy knowing Havenwood Heritage Heights is equipped to handle any diagnosis — big or small. 

To learn more about our community, contact us today. You can also talk to a member of our friendly staff by calling us at 888-929-8381.   

By Mike Wall