Assisted Living - Did I make the right choice to move my dad from his community?

3 answers | Last updated: Sep 12, 2016
Celeta c asked...

My father is 83, suffers from mild to moderate dementia and until recently lived alone. He lived in a small town about 3hrs away where neighbors really try to take care of one another. He reached a place in his life where assistance (more so structured oversight) is needed - he struggled with memory loss for the past two years (hospitalized 3 times last year for dehydration) and memory loss accelerated over the past two months. His doctor, pastor, neighbors and I encouraged him to take measures (home health care, in home assistance) to ensure better health, but he refused. He also refused living with me.

He wants to be at home (who doesn't). The neighbors provided food daily, but he eats very little (lost 10lbs in just past two months) when alone. At one point he had a minor accident and the doctor told him not to drive - of course he refused to comply.

Even though distance would still be difficult for me, I thought assisted living in his community would be ideal. However, when we visited he said he "it's nice, but not for me"

His doctor and he informed me my dad was to the point where he COULD NOT live alone and that something had to be done. During a visit with my dad (and his neighbors), he agreed to come to Houston (where I live) - something in my "go!" and so I did. We packed up essesntials and came to Houston. He was agreeable until we arrived at my house and then he started with "I want to go home" - the one thing I have learned is that reasoning doesn't seem to be effective! Needless to say it was a VERY long weekend. On Monday, he was agreeable to going to an assisted living facility minutes from my house. He went in wilingly, met with staff, agreed to stay and then later started again with "I want to go home"

It has only been one week and I realize it will take much longer to adjust, but now the doubt has set in...he is literally begging me (on the phone - I have not seen him since Monday) to take him home where his neighbors can take care of him. When I remind him that he cannot be at home alone, he says he will go to assisted living there.

I'm sure I've made every rookie mistake possible, but I've done my best. Would adjustment be any different in his own community? My gut tells me no, but I am so close to the situation it's difficult to be objective. Thanks in advance.

Expert Answers

Chris Moore is a certified aging in place specialist (CAPS) and the founder and president of Solid Rock Enterprises, Inc. He is a contractor with more than 24 years of experience in residential construction. He specializes in using the principles of universal design to help seniors age in place in their own homes. He writes a monthly column called Housing Matters on the Senior News website.

Anytime we difficult decisions regarding the care of our loved ones it is natural to think, "Did I make the right choice?" Being a contractor, I am not qualified to answer that question. I would recommend following the suggestions in the answer above and conferring with the neighbors who have been so generously helping your father. I would like to suggest a tool that would be very helpful in keeping tabs on your father in any living arrangement where he might be. It is an electronic remote activity monitoring system. The system I use is available at ( but there are several others that perform similar functions. All of these systems work in essentially the same way. The system will send you, another family member, or a caregiver an alert if certain activity or inactivity occurs. For example, you would get an email, text message or phone call if he was not out of bed by a certain time, or if he gets out of bed in the middle of the night and doesn't return for a specified period of time. There is even a medication dispenser which you load with his medicines and then it opens each compartment at the proper time. If the medication is not taken, you can get an alert. There is a GPS watch will allow you to pinpoint his location if he wanders. Click on the link above for more information on Simply Home. Once again I am not sure if this is the right choice for your father, but I am a firm believer in people having as many options as possible when facing these difficult decisions. I wish you and your father the best.

Community Answers

Rosar answered...

Hello Celita,

Thank you for posting your question. Change is challenging for most people. When there is evidence that living independently is not the best for your father, a chose had to be made. I have listed some resources you may find helpful. Also I would encourage you to share your experiences with one of our online support groups. They are walking the same walk and maybe area to give you their perspective as well.

  1. 8 Ways to Soothe Someone Who Says - I Want to Go Home-

  2. When Someone with Demenita says: I Want to Go Home-

  3. How to accept change-

  4. Adjusting to Assisted Living-

  5. Online Support Groups such as Caring for a Parent, Assisted Living, etc-

Please let me know if I can further assist you with additional resources.

Ann cason answered...

I wish everyone could be a rookie like you: kind, good writer, and willing to go beyond what is reasonable for one human to ask of another. Thank you for your good letter. Now I would like to extend your natural kindness into compassionate action. Your dear father wants to be home, but at the present time, he is not able, even with the help of his neighbors, to care for himself. You did exactly the right thing. Give it more time. Don't doubt yourself. Instead give yourself a gold star.

Here are some suggestions to make life easier for you so that you can gradually make life easier for you father.

  • When you speak with him, always acknowledge, from your heart, that you understand and respect his desire to be at home. But with warmth don't waiver from letting him know that right now it is not possible. He needs to be where he is.
  • Monitor your calls so that he does not control your life by too many requests and pleadings.
  • This may also help him to connect more to where he is.
  • When you are with your father, help him to write or skype his friends back home, sharing his experiences of both what he likes and dislikes about his new home. Take photos and post to friends.
  • Spend quality time with him attending activities in the assisted living.
  • Also, spend quality time driving around the community. Go out for lunch or for coffee or to a park or museum. Help him to feel a part of the mainstream of life in your community.
  • Convey the appreciation and excitement of his starting a new phase of life.
  • Share your aspirations for your father with the staff of the assisted living. Get their view of how he is doing. Find out any problems they are having with him and see how you can help.
  • Be very kind to yourself. Realize that this is a big transition for you, having your father a few blocks away and frail.
  • Get a support group, keep up your activities, don't get over involved. Your father's not living with you may indicate his desire not to be a burden, or a need to be independent. It would be good to contemplate that. I'm not sure what it means, but it may indicate a strength of his that you don't want to undo by over doing. You are his daughter, and he wants the best for you. Help him to achieve that aspiration.