The Big Move

How to open the conversation with aging loved ones, and what to look for in senior living options

When a loved one ages and begins to need more help with daily living tasks, it can be an overwhelming process to open the conversation and consider senior living options. 

“While most seniors prefer to age in place and remain in their homes, many times this is not realistic any more due to medical issues, decreased mobility, cognitive decline, or just the desire for a more manageable lifestyle,” shares Lauren Miller, owner of Sonoran Senior Placement. As a certified senior advisor, placement and referral specialist, and dementia practitioner, Miller helps local families navigate the process of finding their aging loved one the best senior living situation.

Signs a Loved One May Be Ready for Senior Living Options

Miller says that some signs family members may see that indicate aging loved ones may need to consider senior living options include:

·         Difficulty managing the household. “This can include bills not being paid, housekeeping and landscaping becoming too hard to maintain, a lack of groceries in the home, or meals not being prepared,” she says. “Moving to an assisted living community will alleviate a lot of these chores and daily stress.”

·         When their safety is at risk. “When a parent starts to get lost while driving or wandering in the neighborhood and cannot find their way back home, it is probably not safe to continue living at home unattended.”

·         When there are health concerns. “They may also be forgetting to take medications or dispensing them incorrectly, you may notice their hygiene is declining, weight loss, their sleep schedule suddenly changes, they are starting to repeat questions or becoming more forgetful of day-to-day activities,” she explains.

How to Approach the Senior Living Conversation

Miller acknowledges that the conversation of suggesting assisted living to elderly loved ones can be a hard topic.

“Many feel that their independence is being taken from them,” she explains. “I normally have families approach it gently, letting their loved one know that they as family members are no longer capable of physically or emotionally continuing to care for them, especially if they have moved into their adult child's home.”

Sometimes families will approach placement with their loved one as a temporary solution, that "if and when" strength returns and improved independence is regained they may be able to return home, Miller adds. “If a family member is living alone prior to the move, I usually have the family members point out the positive changes and easier lifestyle they are about to embrace.”

Types of Senior Living Options, and What to Consider

Miller explains that there are many senior living options available in the Valley. These include independent communities and smaller residential assisted living scenarios. The right place for your loved one depends on their level of care needs—whether they’re independent or need regular caregiving services.

Miller says to look for caregivers who are welcoming, friendly and genuinely seem to love their job. “They [the caregivers] need to have an incredible amount of compassion and desire to enhance someone's quality of life up to the end,” she says.

“When you walk into a facility you need to observe if the staff looks happy, are they friendly, is it clean, does it smell? During a tour we can ask questions regarding caregiver to resident ratio, the response time for a caregiver to answer the call light or staffing turnover,” she explains. “All facilities are inspected yearly by the health department and these inspection reports are available to us.”

Consider a Professional

When beginning the process of finding a senior living placement for your loved one, Miller suggests considering bringing in a professional senior placement service such as Sonoran Senior Placement.

“We [a professional senior living placement service] can make the process so much simpler,” she says. “Being in and out of the senior living communities and smaller care homes gives agents an advantage to see the care in real time. The needs of each client are different. Matching the client to a setting that will help them thrive and have appropriate mental stimulation in the least restrictive environment is the key for a successful placement.”


Lauren MillerCertified Senior Advisor, has been serving seniors for over 20 years.  She prides herself on being able to help families navigate through the complex decision making process when it comes to finding alternative placement in a compassionate and supportive manner.  She is a proud member of The National Placement and Referral Alliance, NPRA and Professional Association of Senior Referral Specialists, PASRS.

“While most seniors prefer to age in place and remain in their homes, many times this is not realistic any more due to medical issues, decreased mobility, cognitive decline, or just the desire for a more manageable lifestyle.” 

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