Dear Donna:

We are hoping to move my mom to an assisted living community in Michigan this fall. Our goal is to find a place and get her settled before the weather is too bad. She has lived alone since my father passed away, and the last few winters have been challenging.

I am the closest family member to her home, but still over an hour away in good weather. A few bad storms last year caused my mom to be stuck indoors for several days. It was a bad experience for her and for the rest of the family.

My mom is very reluctant to consider moving, even though she’s somewhat fearful of living alone. Do communities ever allow seniors to do a test run before making a permanent move? It might be the only way we can get her to seriously consider moving to assisted living.


Shannon in Saginaw, MI

How to Try an Assisted Living Community Before Moving

Dear Shannon:

What a great question! Families don’t always realize there is an option to consider if a senior loved one is hesitant about moving to assisted living. Designed to give caregivers a break, respite care allows older adults to stay at a community for a few weeks or months. Some families even take advantage of respite programs regularly until the senior is ready to make a permanent move.

What Is Respite Care?

Respite care was originally intended to offer support and peace of mind to family caregivers. When a spouse or adult child needs a break, assisted living community respite programs provide the senior with a safe place to stay. Depending on state regulations, respite guests can usually remain at an assisted living community for a few days or several months.

Despite the benefits of respite, few families are aware of or take advantage of it. According to a study by the National Alliance of Caregiving and AARP, only 12 percent of family caregivers utilize these services. Many times, guilt keeps families from taking a much-needed break. However, experts say routine use of respite services can make a family member a better caregiver because they have time to rest and take care of their own health.

What’s Included in Respite Services?

Respite guests enjoy the same support and amenities as long-term residents:

  • A furnished, private living space or suite
  • Well-balanced meals and snacks
  • 24/7 caregiver support
  • Medication management assistance
  • Community activities
  • Transportation services for local appointments
  • Emergency call systems to summon help, if needed

Your mom might feel more comfortable moving if she’s going to a community she is familiar with. The staff can also take extra steps to make her stay more meaningful. They can introduce her to residents with whom she shares common interests or get her involved in activities.

I hope this is helpful, Shannon! Please call the Heritage community nearest you to schedule a tour or to ask more questions.

Kind regards,


Respite Care at Heritage Senior Communities

At Heritage Senior Communities, we are proud to offer respite care and adult day services. Both are intended to provide support to the caregiver and the older adult. Both services are offered at each of our Michigan communities.