White Paper To Understanding Your Parents Leaving The Family Home

elder care in North vancouver

Below is a white paper on the emotional and psychological impact for elders leaving their home to go to care homes.

Introduction: The Emotional and Psychological Impact on Elders Transitioning from Home to Care Homes

As the global population ages, an increasing number of older adults are facing the transition from living independently in their own homes to moving into care homes. This transition, often necessitated by declining health, mobility issues, or the need for constant care, can have profound emotional and psychological impacts. This white paper explores these impacts, identifies key challenges, and suggests strategies to support older adults through this significant life change.

Emotional and Psychological Impacts

1. Loss of Independence

One of the most significant emotional impacts of moving to a care home is the perceived and actual loss of independence. Older adults often view their homes as a symbol of their autonomy and self-sufficiency. Moving into a care home can feel like relinquishing control over their daily lives, leading to feelings of helplessness and loss of identity.

2. Attachment to Home

The home environment holds a lifetime of memories and emotional attachments. Leaving behind familiar surroundings, cherished belongings, and the comfort of a known environment can be deeply distressing. This separation can trigger grief, akin to the loss of a loved one, as older adults mourn the end of a significant chapter in their lives.

3. Anxiety and Stress

The transition itself is inherently stressful. The logistics of downsizing, the physical move, and the adjustment to a new environment can induce anxiety. Uncertainty about the future, fears about the quality of care, and concerns about fitting into a new social setting can exacerbate this anxiety.

4. Depression

The combination of losing independence, leaving a familiar home, and experiencing anxiety can lead to depression. Symptoms may include persistent sadness, loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, changes in appetite and sleep patterns, and feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness.

5. Social Isolation and Loneliness

Moving to a care home often means leaving behind a community of friends and neighbors. This disruption to social networks can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation, particularly if the care home environment does not offer ample opportunities for social interaction and engagement.

Key Challenges

1. Emotional Adjustment

Adapting to a new environment requires emotional resilience. Older adults may struggle with changes in routine, loss of privacy, and the need to build new relationships with staff and fellow residents.

2. Identity and Self-worth

Maintaining a sense of identity and self-worth in a care home setting can be challenging. Older adults may feel like they are no longer contributing members of society, which can diminish their self-esteem.

3. Communication Barriers

Effective communication between residents and care home staff is crucial. Older adults may feel misunderstood or ignored if there are communication barriers, whether due to hearing loss, cognitive decline, or language differences.

4. Family Dynamics

Family involvement plays a critical role in the emotional well-being of older adults. Strained family relationships or a lack of regular contact can exacerbate feelings of abandonment and isolation.

Strategies for Support

1. Personalized Care Plans

Creating individualized care plans that take into account the personal history, preferences, and emotional needs of each resident can help ease the transition and promote a sense of continuity and security.

2. Emotional Support Services

Providing access to counseling, support groups, and mental health services can help residents process their emotions and develop coping strategies. Regular check-ins and emotional support from staff can also make a significant difference.

3. Facilitating Social Connections

Encouraging social interaction through group activities, communal dining, and social events can help residents build new relationships and combat loneliness. Involving family and friends in these activities can further strengthen social ties.

4. Maintaining Independence

Wherever possible, care homes should promote independence by allowing residents to make choices about their daily routines, activities, and personal care. Providing opportunities for residents to engage in meaningful activities can enhance their sense of purpose and self-worth.

5. Communication and Inclusion

Regular, open communication between care home staff, residents, and their families is essential. Involving residents in decision-making processes and seeking their input on care-related matters can foster a sense of inclusion and respect.


The transition from home to a care home is a significant and often challenging life event for older adults. Understanding and addressing the emotional and psychological impacts of this transition is crucial in promoting their well-being. By implementing personalized care plans, providing emotional support, fostering social connections, maintaining independence, and ensuring effective communication, care homes can create a supportive environment that helps older adults navigate this transition with dignity and resilience.


1. Training for Care Home Staff: Equip staff with training on the emotional and psychological needs of older adults, including strategies for effective communication, empathy, and emotional support.

2. Family Involvement Programs: Develop programs that encourage and facilitate regular family visits and involvement in the care process.

3. Resident Feedback Mechanisms: Implement systems for residents to provide feedback on their care and living conditions, ensuring their voices are heard and respected.

4. Community Integration: Create opportunities for residents to remain engaged with the broader community, through outings, volunteer opportunities, and intergenerational programs.

By prioritizing the emotional and psychological well-being of older adults, care homes can significantly enhance their quality of life and make the transition from home to care as smooth and positive as possible.

How to determine the best style of care and need for elders moving into care homes?

Determining the best style of care and the specific needs for elders moving into care homes involves a thorough assessment of their physical, emotional, and social requirements. Here are the steps and considerations to guide this process:

1. Comprehensive Health Assessment

a. Medical Evaluation

• Primary Care Physician: Start with a comprehensive evaluation by their primary care physician to understand their overall health status.

• Specialist Consultations: If necessary, consult with specialists (e.g., geriatricians, neurologists) to address specific health concerns such as dementia, chronic illnesses, or mobility issues.

• Medication Review: Review all medications they are currently taking to ensure proper management and to identify any potential interactions or side effects.

b. Functional Assessment

• Activities of Daily Living (ADLs): Assess their ability to perform ADLs, such as bathing, dressing, eating, and toileting.

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs): Evaluate their capability to manage IADLs, such as handling finances, medication management, housekeeping, and transportation.

2. Cognitive and Mental Health Assessment

a. Cognitive Function

Screening Tools: Use cognitive screening tools like the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) or Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) to evaluate cognitive function.

Specialized Evaluation: If cognitive impairment is suspected, a more in-depth evaluation by a neuropsychologist may be necessary.

b. Emotional and Psychological Health

Mental Health Evaluation: Assess for symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions.

Support Needs: Identify any emotional support needs, such as counseling or therapy, to address mental health concerns.

3. Social and Lifestyle Assessment

a. Social Interaction

Social Network: Evaluate the elder’s current social network, including family, friends, and community involvement.

• Social Preferences: Understand their preferences for social activities and interactions.

b. Lifestyle Preferences

• Daily Routine: Identify their daily routines, hobbies, and interests to ensure these can be accommodated in the care home.

• Cultural and Religious Needs: Consider any cultural, religious, or spiritual needs that should be respected and supported in the new environment.

4. Safety and Mobility Assessment

a. Home Safety

• Current Environment: Assess the safety of their current living environment to identify risks and the need for modifications.

• Future Needs: Consider the level of supervision and assistance required to ensure safety in the new living arrangement.

b. Mobility and Accessibility

• Mobility Aids: Determine the need for mobility aids such as walkers, wheelchairs, or scooters.

• Accessibility: Ensure the care home is equipped to handle their mobility needs, including features like ramps, elevators, and accessible bathrooms.

5. Financial Assessment

a. Budget and Resources

• Financial Review: Review their financial situation, including income, savings, and insurance coverage.

• Funding Options: Explore funding options for care, such as long-term care insurance, Medicaid, or veterans’ benefits.

b. Cost of Care

• Care Home Fees: Understand the costs associated with different care homes and the services they offer.

• Additional Expenses: Consider potential additional expenses, such as medical care, personal care items, and recreational activities.

6. Determining the Level of Care

a. Types of Care Homes
• Independent Living: Suitable for elders who are largely independent but may benefit from social activities and some minor assistance.

• Assisted Living: Ideal for those who need help with ADLs but do not require constant medical care.

• Skilled Nursing Facility: Necessary for individuals with significant medical needs requiring round-the-clock nursing care.

• Memory Care: Specialized care for those with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.

b. Matching Needs with Care Types

• Care Needs Assessment: Match the elder’s assessed needs with the appropriate type of care home. For example, if they need help with medication management and occasional medical supervision, assisted living might be the best choice.

• Customized Care Plans: Ensure that the care home can develop and implement a customized care plan that addresses the elder’s specific needs.

7. Visiting and Evaluating Care Homes

a. Facility Visits
• Tours: Schedule visits to potential care homes to observe the environment, staff interactions, and resident activities.

• Questions to Ask: Prepare a list of questions regarding staff qualifications, care services, resident-to-staff ratio, emergency procedures, and the facility’s approach to personalized care.

b. Resident and Family Feedback

• Testimonials: Seek feedback from current residents and their families about their experiences with the care home.

• Reviews and Ratings: Check online reviews and ratings from reputable sources to gauge the care home’s reputation.

8. Transition Planning

a. Transition Support
• Gradual Transition: If possible, plan a gradual transition with short visits or trial stays to help the elder acclimate to the new environment.

• Orientation: Work with the care home to provide a thorough orientation for the elder, helping them get familiar with the staff, routines, and amenities.

b. Ongoing Support

• Regular Check-ins: Maintain regular communication with the elder and the care home staff to monitor their adjustment and address any concerns promptly.

• Family Involvement: Encourage family members to visit frequently and stay involved in the elder’s care and activities.


Determining the best style of care and specific needs for elders moving into care homes involves a multifaceted approach that includes thorough assessments, active involvement in the selection process, and ongoing support. By carefully evaluating their health, cognitive function, social needs, safety, and financial situation, and by visiting and vetting potential care homes, you can ensure that your elder family member receives the most appropriate and compassionate care tailored to their individual needs.