Seniors & Aging: Tips for a smooth, stress-free transition to a retirement home

Of the almost 5 million seniors age 65 and older in Canada, 7.1% live in care facilities.  Of this amount, 4.5% live in nursing homes, chronic care, or long-term care hospitals and 2.6% live in residences for seniors. Wherever you’re loved one decides to go, moving into a retirement home or senior community can be stressful.

Below are 10 tips to help with the transition.

  1. Involve your loved one in the selection process if possible.  Listen to their concerns and fears and then address them.  Let them know they are NOT losing control.
  2. Try to make sure everyone in the family is doing what is best for the loved one.
  3. Choose a senior community that is a good match based on the senior’s needs and location.  Try to pick a place that nurtures what is important to them; be it hobby, services or social.
  4. Make random visits to the retirement home at various times of the day before the move to meet residents and staff as well as try the food and some of the activities offered.
  5. Walk the building to get a feel for where everything is before you move and review activity schedules to plan ahead so you have an idea what your daily schedule can be like.
  6. Allow as much time as possible before the move to prepare.  If required; hire a Senior Move Manager or downsizing company to help with the coordination. 
  7. Meet with the move-in coordinator. They have done this many times and may have additional advice or help. They can help decide what will come from home and where it can be placed in the new apartment. 
  8. Do not schedule the move-in for the weekend; try to move during the week when the community is fully staffed. 
  9. Inquire about a “Be Our Guest” program. Some communities provide furnished rooms for a few days at no charge to help the future resident get acclimated.
  10. Be sure to complete the resident history questionnaires before moving in as it helps the staff in the building become even more involved with the new resident if they already know their history, likes and dislikes.

When there is a move into a retirement home, the lack of familiarity with both the environment and the other residents can be quite intimidating. Very often, family members can feel guilty about placing loved ones into a senior residence. The reality is that a move will most likely be for the best.

It is important to remember that the caregiver also plays a vital role in their loved one’s successful transition to a retirement home. When visiting is not possible, family members can keep in contact with both their loved ones and the senior residence’s staff. They should make sure that their parents are socializing and getting involved in the community. When visits are possible, caregivers can even attend activities with their parents to ensure that they are meeting new people. Finally, the staff plays a vital role in making the new resident feel at home by taking the time to talk to the newcomer and integrating them into the community.

Matt Del Vecchio is the founder and president of Lianas Services, a company that assists families in retirement home search and transition support.  He is a Certified Professional Consultant on Aging (CPCA).  He is also the host of “Life Unrehearsed” on CJAD800 which is aired every Sunday at 4:00pm.  Matt can be reached at

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(1) comment


I recently read several guest posts on the blog on the site Retirement And Good Living by retirees who moved to retirement communities as well as others by retirees who moved overseas to retire. Good first hand accounts.

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