When Is It Time to Move to Senior Living?

For many seniors and their families, the most difficult aspect of transitioning to senior living is deciding when to make the move. As soon as seniors move to senior living, they’re often happier and more engaged, with more chances to socialize, and support whenever and wherever they need it.

Still, making the decision — especially when you’re worried about finances, or family members disagree about what the best decision is — can be tough. The truth is that there is no single list of criteria that works for everyone. The right time to transition to senior living depends on the type of senior living you’ve chosen, your health needs, your budget, your level of family support, and more.

Here are some helpful hints to keep in mind.

Types of Senior Living 

Quality senior living communities promote active senior living through a wide range of activities, special events, and classes. Although many seniors think of all senior living as identical, there’s actually a range of options available. The right time to move depends on the type of senior living you choose. Consider the following:

  • Independent senior living caters to seniors who are fully or mostly independent and want to move because they might save money, live more adventurous lives, and feel less isolated. It’s never too early to transition to senior living because even very healthy seniors can and do thrive in these communities.
  • Assisted living communities partner with seniors who have difficulties with activities of daily living, such as bathing, cooking, or feeding themselves. These communities support seniors’ independence by offering them the exact level of help they need. The help a senior receives evolves and changes with their needs. 
  • Memory care communities cater to seniors with memory or cognitive impairments that undermine everyday functioning. These specialized, supportive communities offer activities customized to meet the unique emotional and cognitive needs of seniors with dementia. A senior might transition to memory care if they feel confused or frightened at home, or when they can no longer independently care for themselves.

Your journey to senior living starts here, with this step-by-step guide that  covers everything you need to know to get started.

Budget and Care Resources 

Many seniors and their families worry about the timing of the transition to senior care. They fear running out of money for care if they transition too early. But the truth is that for many seniors, senior living is a budget-friendly option. Check out our Cost Calculator tool to assess and compare costs.

Some seniors worry that moving to senior care may expedite their decline. For many seniors, senior living does exactly the opposite. They get more exercise, have more fun, and enjoy healthy, nourishing food. This means that it’s better to transition early than late, especially if you’re worried about falls, loneliness, and other serious health concerns.

Another factor to look at is the amount of in-home support each senior receives. Seniors with family caregivers may be able to remain in their homes for longer, as long as the caregiver does not experience burnout or exhaustion. When multiple family caregivers are willing to step up, it can greatly prolong a senior’s time in their home. When care resources are limited, however, a senior may need to move as soon as there are signs of cognitive or physical decline.

Signs It May Be Time to Move 

No two seniors have the exact same needs or goals for their retirement. So it’s important to look at the entire situation rather than any single factor. Asking a few simple questions can help clarify things. If you answer “yes” to several of these questions, it may be time for a transition to senior living:

  • Does the senior need help with activities of daily living?
  • Does the senior have a progressive condition that will likely get worse with time?
  • Has the senior had accidents at home, such as falls or leaving a stove on?
  • Does the senior seem unhappy or isolated?
  • Does the senior have a history of wandering or other dangerous behaviors?
  • Have healthcare providers expressed concern about the senior continuing to live at home?
  • Is the senior’s spouse or another family caregiver overwhelmed or exhausted?

Additionally, independent-minded seniors who are healthy but would prefer more socialization and more activities may wish to consider transitioning to senior living.


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