Moving a Family Member into a Retirement Home 101

Moving a Family Member into a Retirement Home 101

Good things take time - including finding the right retirement home for your loved one.

Retirement homes are often confused with nursing homes, and while both provide living accommodation for seniors, they are fundamentally different. Unlike nursing homes, where seniors receive hospital-like care, retirement homes are a place where seniors can live independently or with assistance as needed. As such, retirement homes can be a great option for seniors looking to downsize to a home where there are care services available as they age. Because there is a wide range of retirement homes to choose from, it is important to plan ahead and explore seniors’ options thoroughly before making the move.

Moving a Family Member into a Retirement Home 101

Although choosing a retirement home is a big decision, there is research that can aid in selecting the best home for your seniors’ needs. Based on findings from research involving seniors living in various retirement homes, here are five considerations when choosing a retirement home.

1) Meals: Not only do you need to eat to survive, you also eat for pleasure, so make sure the retirement home meal plan suits your taste. Many retirement homes invite seniors to come have a meal with a friend or family member when browsing different homes.

2) Programs and Services: Retirement homes offer a range of services including meals, personal care, housekeeping, and recreation activities. Although a senior may not want or need these supports initially, consider how circumstances (e.g., health) might change in a few years. You can also ask current residents of the retirement home about their experiences within the home.

3) Proximity to Family and Friends: Seniors report that as they get older, relationships with lifelong friends and family are of utmost importance. Thus, try to ensure the senior is living somewhere easily accessible to his or her friends and family. Don’t forget to visit and keep the senior involved with family and friends.

4) Cost: Retirement homes are paid out of pocket, meaning they are not covered by provincial or federal health care. Make sure you are looking at homes/rooms that are in your price range. Note that subsidies through the government and housing for low-income seniors are also available.

5) The Senior’s Opinion: Make sure the senior who will be living in the retirement home likes the place. It seems obvious, but often family members get caught up in what they would like for themselves and forget to listen to what the senior wants.

Moving a Family Member into a Retirement Home 101

Plan ahead! Too often retirement home moves are done in crisis, making for a difficult transition for both the family and the senior. Be sure to examine the seniors' rights before moving into a home. Remember to listen to the seniors’ requests, as they are the ones who will be living there day and night.


Carver, L. F., & Buchanan, D. (2016). Successful Aging: Considering Non-biomedical Constructs. Clinical Interventions in Aging, 11, 1623–1630.

Procyk, Kathy, "Exploring the Lived Experiences of Female Retirement Living Seniors and Their Social Relationships" (2018). Theses and Dissertations (Comprehensive).

Reichstadt, J., Sengupta, G., Depp, C., Palinkas, L., & Jeste, D. (2010). Older Adults' Perspectives on Successful Aging: Qualitative Interviews. The American Journal Of Geriatric Psychiatry, 18(7), 567-575. doi: 10.1097/jgp.0b013e3181e040bb