Navigating the Guilt of Moving a Loved One to Senior Living

Woman and man sitting with serious expressions on their faces

When it comes to healthy aging, quite honestly, there’s a lot to do. You’re supposed to make sure to keep your body active and your brain engaged all while maintaining your social connections as well. Sure, the benefits to your overall well-being are worth the effort, but retirement is supposed to be a time with less responsibility on your plate, right? Well, it turns out that in senior living you can have your cake and eat it too, so to speak. Here’s how programs like our Vivid Life make keeping active, engaged, and connected easy and fun! 

Benefits of Healthy Aging 

Good things happen when you focus on healthy aging. In addition to feeling better overall, which in and of itself is a win, other benefits of keeping active, engaged, and connected include:  

  • Improved ability to do everyday things ​ 
  • Reduced impact of illness and chronic disease​ 
  • Enhanced mobility, flexibility, and balance
  • Improved sleep
  • Increased energy level
  • Reduced feelings of depression and stress
  • Increased feelings of happiness and self-confidence
  • Reduced risk of cognitive decline 
  • Increased mental adaptability and cognitive reserve 
  • Improved memory recall and problem-solving skills 
  • Improved concentration and attention to detail  

How Senior Living Can Help 

At home, particularly when living alone, it can be hard to stay as active, engaged, and connected as you’d like. From lack of opportunity to lack of motivation to lack of transportation to mobility challenges, and more, it’s tough, we get it! That’s why we created the Vivid Life program in our senior living communities. It’s composed of three parts: Vibrant Body, Vibrant Brain, and Vibrant Connections. Here’s what each entails:  

Vibrant Body We offer amenities such as a state-of-the-art fitness center, a pool, walking trails, gardening opportunities, and even a dog park to help you stay active. A sample of activities includes:  

  • Walking club – Daily walks at different outdoor locations using pedometers to measure steps. 
  • Yoga – At least once per week for gentle yoga, and once per week for mindful breathing. 
  • Fitness classes – At least two times per week using a variety of hand weights, resistance bands, and circuit-type exercises. 
  • Tai Chi – At least once per week with a live instructor. 
  • Non-traditional exercise – Dancing, gardening, etc. at least two times per week. 
  • Physical games and sports – Golf, putting, bowling, croquet, bocce, and ping pong available daily with organized events one to two times per week. 

Vibrant Brain We offer monthly calendars filled with classes, events, creative arts, and enrichment opportunities to help keep you engaged. A sample of activities includes: 

  • Visiting lecture series – Twice per month with topics such as cultural, historical, local interest, career-oriented, etc. 
  • Creative art series – At least one per week with a theme that runs 3-6 weeks, such as poetry writing, storytelling, painting, digital photography, etc. 
  • Learning series – At least three times per month with an emphasis on learning something new such as foreign language, sign language, technology, hobbies, etc. 
  • Games – At least one time per week and may include poker, bridge, Scrabble, etc. 
  • Mindfulness – A meditation class once per week and gratitude discussion group twice monthly. 
  • Church service – At least once a week through visits by local churches. 
  • Stress reduction – At least once per month class that offers deep breathing exercises, nature walks, music appreciation, spa-type treatments, etc. 

 Vibrant Connections We offer resident-led clubs, social events, outings and volunteer opportunities for any interest to help you stay connected. A sample of activities includes: 

  • Outings – At least twice per month and may include going to concerts, art shows, museum visits, theatre productions, etc. 
  • Intergenerational programming – At least once per month and focuses on building relationships between young adults/children and residents. 
  • New resident welcome party – At least once per month to formally introduce all new residents, and includes ice breakers, social games, etc. to encourage connection. 
  • Philanthropic program – At least once per month provide residents the opportunity to give back to the community, such as volunteering for a local food bank or pet shelter. 
  • Resident-led clubs – May include game clubs, professional clubs, common interests, etc. that meet at least monthly.  

What’s more, it’s all right outside your door (or transportation is provided offsite) and all in a supportive environment with home maintenance, housekeeping, and restaurant-style dining freeing your time to make it even easier to stay active, engaged, and connected. 

Learn more about Vitality Living’s Vivid Life programs. Or find a Vitality Living community near you today to schedule a tour. 



According to an AARP study, 90 percent of people aged 65 and over would rather stay in their own homes as they get older and not move to a senior living community. This likely comes as no surprise, and your loved one may have expressed this very sentiment to you. And although circumstances beyond your control may indicate that it would be more beneficial for their health, safety, and quality of life to leave home, we understand the guilt can be overwhelming. That’s why we’ve created these tips to help you navigate those feelings when moving a loved one to senior living.

Choosing the right senior living community

Common Causes of Guilt

There are certainly some common causes of the guilt you feel, but in order to move forward, it can be helpful to understand them a bit more.

You promised you’d never make them move – Whether you’ve literally made the promise or it’s implied due to your loved one’s wishes, again, the circumstances that prompt the move are likely out of your control even with the best of intentions. You simply can’t fault yourself for doing what’s in your loved one’s best interests; they likely did the same when you were a child, even if you didn’t necessarily like the decision at first, right? 

You don’t feel it’s your place – It’s such a surreal feeling when the dynamic between you and your loved one changes and you move from child to decision-maker. It’s understandable to be uncomfortable and feel the situation is unfair on their behalf, but if they are no longer able to make these decisions on their own you simply have no choice. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t involve your loved one in the process as much as possible, which can help ease the transition for both of you.

You feel like you’ve failed them – Whether you have been your loved one’s full-time caregiver or not, having this role in any capacity takes far more of a toll – emotionally, physically, and financially – than most people realize. Not to mention, you’re likely juggling your own commitments as well which makes it even harder, and their medical needs may now be beyond your capacity. As such, it’s not that you’ve failed, but rather, you’re choosing to make sure they have the care and quality of life they deserve. Plus, you’ll still be part of their care, just in a different way.

You’re uprooting them when they’re struggling the most – You may wonder if a move is too much for them to handle right now. After all, home is where they feel safe and comfortable. While the truth is that there will likely be an adjustment period, you may both be surprised at the positive difference in your loved one with the right support and an environment that can truly help them thrive.

How Guilt Impacts Your Health

But it’s not just caregiving that takes its toll, and guilt can have negative impacts on your health, too. Harboring these feelings over the long term can actually cause both physical and emotional health issues such as:

  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased risk of heart disease 
  • Increased risk of diabetes
  • Depression and anxiety disorders 
  • Insomnia
  • Gastrointestinal disorders 
  • A negative effect on your immune system

Tips to Turn the Guilt of Moving a Loved One to Senior Living Around

Perhaps one of the worst things about guilt is that it can cause you to second guess your decisions at a time when you need to be able to trust your instincts about what is best for your loved one. However, these tips can help you keep that guilt in check:

Find a healthy way to express your emotions – Moving a loved one to senior living is a time filled with many emotions, not just guilt. The important thing is to not let your guilt, fear, sadness, and other feelings consume you. Instead, find a healthy outlet in which to express those emotions. Work them out at the gym or through running. If you’re creative, put your feelings into words or art. If you garden or have other hobbies, spending more time there can help calm your mind and heart.

Enlist support – Give yourself grace by recognizing this isn’t something you have to go through alone. You may feel the need to be strong for your loved one, and that’s OK, but make time to talk to friends who’ve been in similar situations or find a support group, online or through the senior living community. It may be helpful to consider professional counseling as well.

Make the transition as easy as you can – Another way to help with guilt and ensure your loved one has the best support is to carefully vet all your options. Research all your options, talk to those who know the communities best, then visit and ask questions. By educating yourself and getting your questions answered, you and your loved one will have more confidence and peace of mind. We also recommend our previous blog on easing your loved one’s transition to senior living for specific tips to make the move itself easier.

Give the transition time – Yes, moving a loved one to senior living is hard for both of you. But rather than focus on that, focus on the benefits of them no longer having the burdens of maintaining the house, cooking, and cleaning, the comfort of knowing they have all the support they need, and the opportunities for them to be more active, social and engaged in life. Not to mention having more opportunities to spend quality time together instead of you being focused on caregiving. And while there may be ups and downs, over time seeing your loved one thrive will be the best benefit of all for everyone!

Check out our guide on Choosing the Right Senior Living Community for more information. Or, contact us today to schedule your virtual tour!


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