Assisted Living

2/24/2022 | By Kate Smith

Kate Smith, a staffer at, shares five tips she learned about easing the transition to assisted living through watching her grandmother make the move. The principles can help families navigate changes to a new senior community for their loved ones, too.

The first few weeks of living in a new place is always rough as one settles in, learns the lay of the land, builds new habits, and forms new friendships. Recently, I noticed how magnified this challenge can be at an assisted living community while watching Grandma move into one.

The first time I visited my grandmother in her new home was tough. Her spirit was down, and she looked older. From my years in the industry, I knew this was normal and knew it would get better. Subsequent visits supported that, as her mood improvement was palatable. She’d gotten accustomed to being there and she smiled at her caregivers, who warmly made friendly conversation as they went about their jobs. Each week, I’m glad to say, it continues to improve. Looking back, I realize there were things her family could have done to make her transition to her new senior community easier.

Easing the transition to assisted living

1. Set up the apartment completely before move-in day.

Make the new living space feel as familiar as possible by furnishing it with things they love and decorating with favorite photographs. If budget allows, hire a downsizing company to help. This will start your loved one off in better spirits from day one, and better spirits translates to better health.

2. Make sure the space accommodates their specific needs.

The more independent and autonomous someone is, the happier they will be. Mentally walk through their day and evaluate their needs when it comes to:


Are walking paths clear and easy to navigate? Do they need transition aids to stand up from the bed or from a chair?

Restroom use

Check for safety accessories such as toilet safety rails, grab bars, and non-slip surfaces.


Stock it with their favorite treats to help them settle. Make sure everything is within reach and easy to use.


Is the space well lit, and is it easy for them to turn on various lighting? Pull cords can be easier to use than small knobs, and some find touch lighting solutions to be helpful.


Are their cell phones and tablets easy for them to access and charge? Is the TV set up the way they like? Is there a place for the remote?

3. Pay attention to mental health needs during this change.

Isolation and loneliness can creep up in unexpected ways and affect overall health. Work with the senior community care team proactively to note any necessary support needed here.

4. Visit at least once a week for the first month.

If this is a memory care community, the professionals may advise against weekly visits as your loved one gets adjusted. Otherwise, plan on weekly visits. Let your loved one know when to expect you. This will give them something to look forward to, and they can make note of anything they need help with during your visit. If you have a strong support system, stagger the family and friend visits throughout the week heavily in the first couple of weeks. If in person, weekly visits aren’t manageable – or in addition to these visits – set up weekly phone calls, Facetime, or Zoom calls.

5. Encourage your loved one to participate in senior community activities and make friends.

If he or she is reluctant, find an activity you two can join together to help them be more comfortable. Or, join them during dining times to help coax and find ways to connect with those dining nearby. The social aspect of a senior community is incredibly valuable, as life is always fuller and richer with friends.

A move like this is life changing for the whole family, often with unexpected challenges. Hopefully these tips for easing the transition to assisted living make it a journey that brings your family closer together as you learn ways to support each other during this new chapter.

Kate Smith