Dear Donna:

During our family visit to my mother’s house in Traverse City, Michigan over the holidays, I came to the conclusion that she just isn’t safe living alone any longer. The change in her condition from last year to this year is quite dramatic. I was so shocked to see how much has changed! Mom has lost a lot of weight, her house was a mess and she is always forgetting to take her heart medications.

I know now that I need to find a senior living community in northern Michigan for her to move to this winter. I’m just not sure what to look for and where to start. Can you offer me any advice? One question I’m wondering about is whether or not I should visit some of the communities before I talk with my mom about moving.


Dear Patty:

I’m sure there are a considerable number of adult children who came to the same conclusion about their aging parent over the holidays. Many transitions to senior living communities begin at the prompting of an adult child.

Your question about when to involve your mother is one we hear quite often from families who are first beginning this search. The question is a tough one to answer because it really depends upon your personal situation.

If you think making a move is something your mother is ready for and may welcome, it is probably best to involve her right from the start. Some adult children we work with are surprised at how willing their parent is to move, especially those who have become fearful of living alone.

On the other hand if you feel your mother will be resistant, it may help to educate yourself on senior living and explore options before you tackle the topic with her. By eliminating some of the assisted living communities you know won’t work for her and narrowing the choices to those that might, you can make the process easier for her.

Here are a few factors to take in to consideration as you begin your search for care for a Michigan senior loved one:

  • What is important to them? For example, do they have a pet they won’t move without? Do they want to be close to their church or to where their grandchildren are?
  • Can a community accommodate their care needs now and in to the future? That is always a good question to ask the staff at each of the communities you talk with during your search. The last thing you want to have to do is move your mother again in a few months because she needs more care.
  • How much space will they realistically need? This can be a real sticking point for some seniors, especially if they are moving from a large home. What do they really want and need to be able to take with them when they move?
  • What type of environment will best suit their personality? Do they like to dress more formally for dinner or are they more comfortable in jeans and sneakers?
  • Will they need transportation to physician appointments and for other errands? Assisted living communities all offer different types of transportation and at different prices.

I hope this helps you get started in your search, Patty. Please feel free to call one of the Heritage Senior Living communities if you need additional advice or guidance!