When Will Your Parents Have to Move? When Will Your Parents Have to Move?

Moving your parents into senior care is hard enough without considering the possibility they’ll need to move again later. Planning carefully, being clear-eyed about what your parents need, and asking lots of questions during the selection process can help you get answers to the question of when, if ever, your parents will have to move again.

What is the continuum of care?

A continuum-of-care facility offers assisted living, nursing, and dementia care on one campus. Typically, current residents have priority when they need to switch from one type of care to another, and this type of community can reduce the hassle of relocations. It’s important to understand that even in a continuum-of-care community your parents may have to move from one building to another when their needs change. You can read more about continuum-of-care and other senior care options in the Guide to Senior Housing Options.

What are the guidelines for standalone communities?

In general, assisted living facilities are for patients who need help with daily tasks but don’t need round the clock care or daily medical treatments. If your parent develops dementia and needs constant supervision to prevent wandering, you’ll almost certainly need to move them to a nursing home or dementia care unit. The same is true if your parent’s health declines.

Assisted living communities can ask residents to leave for other reasons, too, including nonpayment and resident-agreement violations. In those cases, state regulations usually require at least 30 days of written notice. Residents in Medicaid-certified long-term care homes have the right to appeal that notice to the state.

Choosing the right place for your parents’ needs

Senior care experts and people who’ve been through the process advise thinking carefully about what your parents really need right now, not what you wish they needed. Joan Lunden, spokeswoman for SeniorAdvisor.com’s parent, A Place for Mom, described her decision to move her mother into a community with amenities she was no longer able to enjoy, because Lunden had held on, as many of us do, to an idealized version of our parents.

Other families underestimate how much care their loved one needs or feel guilty about choosing a nursing home. Skilled care in a well-run nursing home can improve the quality of life for older adults who need daily medical care, round-the-clock assistance, or supervision due to dementia. The American Health Care Association’s Care Conversations consumer group takes on nursing home myths that keep some families from accessing the care their loved ones need.

How to plan for the possibility of a move

No one can predict the future, but you can get a reasonably good idea of when your parents might need to move by

  • Asking detailed questions when you visit the communities you’re considering.
  • Getting details in writing from each community about health requirements and relocation policies.
  • Asking more questions, if you have them, about the written information.
  • Checking online reviews and state inspection reports carefully.
  • Knowing your rights when working with Medicare/Medicaid certified facilities.
  • Choosing a place for your parents based on what they need now and may need soon, rather than what you like or what you wish they could use.

Once you choose a community, stay in contact with the staff and your parents’ doctors so you’re not caught off guard if your parents need to move later on. You can use SeniorAdvisor.com’s checklists to help you choose a nursing home, Alzheimer’s care facility, or assisted living community.

Casey Kelly-Barton is an Austin-based freelance writer whose childhood was made awesome by her grandmothers, great-grandmother, great-aunts and -uncles, and their friends.


  1. Linda Wise January 18, 2017 Reply

    Such a perfect information about moving parents and knowing the things about place. It’s hard to let your parents go to some other place. When you start feeling that going to doctor daily not going to work and when you see that your parents are in-need of time and care, It’s time to move your parents to a place where they can get proper care. At age of 80’s people normally get out of control and to control them there is a need of special place. The place where elder can be taken cared of is assisted living apartment or nursing home as per the person need.

  2. HCA Philadelphia January 24, 2017 Reply

    This article is useful. Thanks a lot for sharing, Casey! The first step to moving your parents to a continuum-of-care facility is to convince them that this move is good for them. It is always a good idea to check out the facility and find out all you can, before suggesting it to your aging loved one.

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