A happy male resident wearing glasses pats one hand of a caregiver who has her other hand on his shoulder.

Caregiver Guilt: Navigating the Emotions of Moving Your Loved One


Whenever you’re the caregiver for an aging senior loved one, the choice to help transition them into assisted living might not come easy. In some cases, your loved one might be ready, and even excited, to make the transition. In other cases, your loved one might be afraid and sad at the idea of leaving their home.

Starting a new journey late in life can be difficult for many senior adults, even if it is the best thing for their physical, mental, and social health. Likewise, caregivers who transition begrudging loved ones into assisted living might feel guilt and sadness, often feeling as if they have given up on their loved one. Keep reading to learn more about how to help ease your loved one into assisted living, and dealing with caregiver guilt in a healthy way.

Realize you aren’t alone. 

No one likes feeling guilty, especially when those feelings are about a loved one. However, the majority of caregivers reported feeling guilty when moving parents to assisted living.

You are not alone. Recognizing your feelings of guilt as a false emotion is the first step to dealing with these feelings. You are doing the absolute best you can for your loved one. Reach out to family, friends, or a caregiver support group for help. You might be surprised at how many people want to help you. 

Recognize why assisted living is the best option for your loved one.

As a caregiver, the chances are that you’re not a geriatric doctor or nurse. And here’s the good news, no one expects you to be! Assisted living facilities exist to provide support to older adults. The doctors, nurses, and aides available are all trained to have the specific skills necessary to give your loved one the best quality of life possible. 

Furthermore, assisted living facilities are not nursing homes. Assisted living communities provide their residents with independence and an abundance of opportunities to live as autonomously as possible, socialize, and try new activities. Some senior adults view assisted living as a new chapter in life. Moving parents to assisted living is a difficult choice, but it usually is the right one!

Research together and have open discussions.

Once you and your loved one start discussing assisted living, do your research together. If your loved one is feeling hesitant about moving to an assisted living facility, help them feel like they have a say by having them help you with your research. Make a list of your favorite facilities, look at the activities offered, call and ask questions, and tour facilities together! 

When bringing up the topic of assisted living to your mom or dad, let them truly participate in the conversation. After all, it’s their life that is getting switched around. Be honest and empathetic while listing the reasons why you believe assisted living would be the best option for them, let them ask questions, and respond kindly.  

Help your loved one move in. 

Once you and your loved one decide upon an assisted living community, be there for them on moving day. By helping your loved one move into, and decorate their new home, you are showing them that you care and that you are not abandoning them.

Many caregivers find it helpful for both parties to stay with their loved one for the entirety of their first day. Walk them around, visit activities and eat meals together. Help introduce them to new people and transition them further into their new home. 

Make a visiting schedule. 

Unmet expectations are one of the most significant sources of caregiver guilt. Creating a loose visiting schedule is helpful to both seniors and their caregivers. Your visiting days will give your loved one something to look forward to, and the schedule will provide you with the freedom to take care of things in your own life without feeling guilty. Plus, on days you won’t be visiting, your loved one might be more encouraged to branch out, meet new friends, and try out a new activity. 

At Culpepper Place, we understand that transitioning to assisted living can be difficult. But it doesn’t have to be! Contact Us with any questions you have or to schedule a tour. 

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