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At some point our parents, or our surviving parent, may find that the family home is just too large, requires too much in upkeep or repairs, or is too far from family, from friends, or from the places they now want to go. It might be time to move, perhaps to downsize, certainly to rightsize.

It might even be time to move to a senior living facility, perhaps to “independent living” with some services provided, or to assisted living, with more.

There may be only one move, probably to a nursing home, perhaps following a hospital stay or a fall or after the chronic conditions have just gotten to be too much to manage with weekly nurse or semiweekly therapist visits at home.

Or there may be a step-by-step process, with partial, but not full recovery following repeated downturns.

If our parent has lived in the family home for years, why not hold a farewell party?

Helping mom get settled

If she is moving to assisted living or a skilled nursing facility, consider creating a one-page introduction to share with the staff and, if she is on the shy side, introducing her to her neighbors, to the activity director and the hair salon operator. You might do more of this by joining her for meals with others, drawing her out.

Wherever she moves, your visits will help her get settled. There is always something which doesn’t fit, something which was forgotten. More important, there is always the feeling that the place is not a good fit and that we are being forgotten.

Visiting and doing things together demonstrate your ongoing care. Maybe you like to make music together. Maybe your son likes to play cards with grandpa or your daughter would like to be taught to knit.

Any nursing home has a resident’s council and a family council. Put your PTA skills to work. If you did not meet other residents’ family members before, this is a good chance to do so. They can give you hints on how to ease the transition. You can support one another and so support your parent in the move.


Elder law attorney, Terry Garrett, is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is an Approved Guardianship Attorney. She assists people in elder law, estate and special needs planning, guardianship and settling estates. She graduated with honors from Cornell University. She was on the Dean’s List at Wharton Business School. She earned her J.D. at Columbia Law School, receiving the Parker Award and a Mellon Fellowship.

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