Assisted Living: How to Cope with TransitionSkip to content

How to Transition to Assisted Living

Published: Dec 30, 2022. Last Updated: Jan 8, 2023.

Assisted living is a type of long-term care that provides support with activities of daily living (such as bathing, dressing, and medication management) to seniors who need assistance in accomplishing these tasks. This type of care is a suitable option for seniors who can benefit well from a personalized care in a residential setting. However, transitioning to assisted living can be a daunting process for seniors and their families, and finding the best facility can be as challenging as there are many factors to consider, such as cost, location, and the level of care and services provided. Despite these challenges, transitioning to assisted living can also have many potential benefits. It can provide seniors with the support they need to continue living independently, and can offer them access to social activities, support with daily tasks, and medical care. This sense of community can ultimately help seniors maintain social connections and prevent isolation.

Preparing for Assisted Living Transition

Research for prospective assisted living facilities

At some point as people age, it may become more difficult to accomplish daily activities without needing a hand. According to Administration on Aging, many older adults over 65 years of age require assistance in their living environment. However, it is important that the assistance extended will not restrict their sense of independence. For many older adults, assisted living facilities can provide the perfect balance of autonomy and support. These facilities offer a range of services, including meals, transportation, and access to healthcare professionals.

One of the most important steps in preparing to transition to assisted living is to research potential facilities. This can include reading third-party or client reviews, conducting site visits, and talking to the residents and staff of the prospective facility to somehow get the feel of the environment and living situation.

Consider the specific needs of your loved one.

Seniors have diverse needs, and knowing the strengths and weaknesses of the facility can help determine if they are capable of meeting your loved one’s unique needs. For example, when your loved one is struggling with mobility issues, it is paramount that you make sure that the facility is equipped with safety features like stair lifts, toilet-lifts, grab bars and handles, walk-in and roll-in showers, ramps, and elevators.

Your loved one’s decision should be prioritized.

Involve your loved one in the decision-making process. This can help ensure that they are comfortable with the facility and feel like they have a say in where they will be living. In the same way, it can also help prevent feelings of resentment or being forced into a situation they don't want.

Consider the cost

It's also important to consider the cost of assisted living and whether it is covered by insurance or other financial assistance programs. Many facilities offer payment plans or options for financial assistance, so it's important to discuss these options with the staff.

Coping with the emotional effects of transitioning to assisted living

For many seniors, the decision to move to assisted living can be an emotional rollercoaster, as it can feel like a loss of independence and a loss of control over their living situation. It is important to acknowledge and validate these feelings, and to help them understand that assisted living can provide them with the support they need without sacrificing their sense of worth and independence. Here are some key tips to help your loved one cope with the emotional toll of moving to a long-term care:

Maintain connections with friends and family

It is natural for seniors to feel concerned about leaving their familiar surroundings and social connections behind, and it is important to reassure them that they can continue to maintain these connections and even make new friends in their new environment. Here are some practical advices to help ease the transition for your loved one while ensuring that they will be experiencing a sense of belonging and connection.

Stay in touch regularly

Make sure to keep in touch with friends and family members on a regular basis. This can be through phone calls, video calls, or even just sending regular updates and letters.

Invite friends and family to visit

Encourage friends and family to visit you in your new assisted living facility. This can help you maintain your social connections and provide you with familiar faces and support.

Join social activities and clubs

Many assisted living facilities offer a variety of social activities and clubs that you can join. This can be a great way to meet new people and stay engaged in activities you enjoy.

Utilize technology

There are many technologies, such as social media and messaging apps, that can help you stay connected with friends and family even if they are far away.

Consider moving closer to friends and family

If possible, consider moving to an assisted living facility that is closer to friends and family members. This can make it easier for them to visit and provide support.

Making Assisted Living Feels Like Home

As difficult as the time for moving in to assisted living may be, there are ways to ease the process and make the facility feel like a cozy new home:

Personalize your living space

Bring in your own furniture, decorations, and personal items to make your living space feel more familiar and comfortable. This can help you feel more at home and give you a sense of ownership and control over your living situation. For example, you can bring in your own bed, couch, and dining table, as well as items such as pictures, artwork, and plants to add color and personality to your space.

Find activities and hobbies

Many assisted living facilities offer a variety of activities and clubs that you can join. This can be a great way to stay engaged, pursue your interests, and meet new people. You can join a book club, a gardening club, or a fitness class, for example, depending on your interests and hobbies. You can also continue to do the activities and hobbies that you enjoyed before moving to assisted living, such as reading, gardening, or playing music.

Make new friends

Assisted living can provide many opportunities to make new friends and connections. You can meet people through social activities and clubs, or simply by spending time in common areas of the facility. It can also be helpful to introduce yourself to your neighbors and staff members, as they can provide you with a supportive network of peers and support. You can also join a support group or participate in group outings and activities to meet new people and build connections.

Managing finances in assisted living

Private pay

One common payment option for assisted living is private pay, which means that the senior and their family are responsible for covering the costs out of pocket. This can include a monthly fee for the assisted living facility, as well as additional costs for services such as medication management, transportation, and personal care. Private pay can be a significant financial burden for many seniors, especially those on a fixed income.

Long-term care insurance

This type of insurance policy is specifically designed to cover the costs of long-term care services, including assisted living. It is important to note that long-term care insurance policies can vary greatly in terms of coverage, so it is essential to carefully review the policy before purchasing.

For seniors who are unable to cover the costs of assisted living through private pay or long-term care insurance, there are various financial assistance programs available:


is a government-funded program that provides health coverage for low-income individuals, including seniors. In some states, Medicaid will cover the costs of assisted living for eligible seniors. It is important to note that Medicaid eligibility requirements and covered services can vary by state. Additionally, there are several other financial assistance programs that may be available to seniors in assisted living. For example, the Veterans Affairs Aid and Attendance benefit is a program that provides financial assistance to eligible veterans and their spouses to help cover the costs of assisted living.

Maximizing Quality of Life in Assisted Living

Stay active

Regular physical activity is essential for maintaining good health and a high quality of life. Many assisted living facilities offer a variety of activities and exercise programs, such as fitness classes, walking clubs, and yoga. Participation in these activities can help improve physical health, cognitive function, and mood.

Maintain independence

Assisted living facilities are designed to provide support and assistance with activities of daily living, such as bathing and dressing. However, it is important for residents to maintain as much independence as possible. This can be achieved by continuing to engage in activities that the individual enjoys and is capable of performing on their own. For example, a resident who enjoys gardening may continue to tend to their own plants, while another resident may continue to cook their own meals.

Find support and services

Assisted living facilities offer a range of services and support, such as medication management, transportation, and social activities. It is important for residents to familiarize themselves with the services and support available, and to take advantage of them as needed. Many facilities also offer access to healthcare professionals, such as nurses and therapists, who can provide additional support and assistance.

Overall, the decision to transition to assisted living is a personal one, but for many seniors, the support and services available within a well-chosen facility can greatly improve their quality of life.

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About the Author

JM Guiang

Writer & Researcher

Elder Guide LLC

Inspired by fresh ideas and wise words, JM Guiang, Communications degree-holder, and Elder Guide writer, finds profound joy in writing quality content and insightful articles that redefine seniors' perspective on aging with grace and confidence.