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Holding hands

Chapter 2 - Recognizing that your parents are ready for senior living

Recognizing when it's time for a change

“My mom, in a retirement home? No way. Not her.”

It’s hard to picture our moms and dads as people, and not just as parents. Parents are strong, seemingly immortal in our minds. Sure, they might need an extra hand or a caregiver now and then, but they love their home. Besides, even if you thought a change might be a good thing, they’d never go for it. Lose their freedom and independence? Leave their home? No way. Not them. And definitely not now.

But here’s the thing for you to remember as a family caregiver: a lifestyle change, whether it’s a move into a retirement community or any other form of care, is often the spark needed to rekindle their independence, not hamper it.


Moving is a major decision, and your mom or dad may need to take some time to work through the idea before they make up their mind.

What is it that your mom or dad needs most to live well? Is there something getting in the way? What brings them the most joy? The biggest frustration? These are the things that matter most to them, and they’re your starting points when exploring options.

How do I know for sure if my parent is ready?

Moving is a major decision, and your mom or dad may need to take some time to work through the idea before they make up their mind. It is rarely a snap decision. There are a few things to keep an eye on, which may indicate that a senior living lifestyle option may be the best next step for your loved one:

  • Are their social and emotional needs being met living at home? Do they have friends, hobbies, volunteer opportunities that they enjoy? If you are noticing that your parent is becoming more isolated as time goes by, a senior living residence may be a good option. There, they will be part of a community of new friends, plus have support when they need it.
  • Are they feeling more overwhelmed than inspired by taking care of their home? Constant oversight of needed home maintenance and repairs is a big job for anyone, let alone the day-to-day cleaning and general upkeep required. If you are getting the sense your parent is no longer enjoying the work of having a home, moving to a place where someone else worries about upkeep may be a good option.
  • Are they able to function day to day, getting to their appointments, buying groceries, preparing meals and taking care of their personal hygiene? What about medications? In senior living communities, nutritious and delicious meals are prepared fresh daily, and there is support available to make sure every need is satisfied.
  • Are you concerned for their safety? Are they at risk for falls or other injuries in their home? If they have mobility challenges, how accessible is the bathroom or front entrance? If changes are needed to make the home more functional, are they affordable? A move into a retirement residence can provide you and them with peace of mind knowing the environment is designed specifically for seniors.
  • Are they able to continue making sound financial and health-related decisions? Are they meeting any financial obligations, like household bills? If you have any concerns, it may be time to encourage them to consider another lifestyle option better suited to their changing needs.

There is no right or wrong way for someone to come to their personal decision. These questions are just meant to help you start thinking about factors that could indicate that a change might be good for your mom or dad. Perhaps soon, or maybe later, but definitely before it’s a necessity. Support them as they think things through, one step at a time.

Remember that the decision to make a move to a senior living residence is very personal, and it is not tied to a specific age or milestone. For most people, it’s about recognizing when the time is right and exploring the options available, and then making that decision to move to a place where they can live their life to the fullest extent possible. It’s about your mom or dad enjoying their life, their way.

What senior living options are available?

There are two main types of senior living communities: retirement residences and long term care homes. Retirement residences offer a range of lifestyle options to suit your loved one’s needs and preferences. The terminology varies slightly between provinces, but they generally include: independent living, where residents need little to no support; independent supportive living, where residents may want help with daily activities like taking medication; assisted living, where residents need some daily care or help with things like dressing, medication and getting to the dining room (this is called “designated supportive living” in Alberta and “residential care” in BC); memory care, for people living with dementia; short term stays; and respite care. Learn more about Revera retirement homes.

Revera’s long term care facilities care for people who can no longer live independently and need supervised care and support. If your loved one has more complex care needs and requires the specialized environment provided in a long term care home, our caring and compassionate staff are ready to welcome them. Find out more about Revera’s long term care homes, or about making the move to long term care.

Want to know more about the differences between retirement living and long term care, or how much they cost? We’ve got you covered. That’s why we created this guide in the first place: to make it all just a little easier to plan. The next chapter is all about understanding the various senior living options, helping you think through which of them might be the best choice.