Moving Mom 1000 Miles – Assisted Living to Skilled Nursing

Moving Mom 1000 Miles – Assisted Living to Skilled Nursing
Diane and her Mother

Diane and her Mother

Well, it is a complicated process moving a parent from an assisted living to skilled nursing.  Add 1000 miles into the equation and prepare for asking a tremendous amount of favors and help with no physical eyes on the situation. This is my story…

My mom has lived in a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Seattle, WA for 15 years.  For the past 7 years, she has lived in Assisted Living.  Her ailments have progressed to diabetes, severe vascular dementia, incontinence and now all symptoms indicate breast cancer.  Short-term memory loss and 90 years of age does not equate to any invasive procedures or surgeries.  When I visit her one-day, she has no memory of my visit the next day.

I could not stomach her completely alone (no children in the same state) and moving to the next level of care or a hospice community.  So my husband and I decided to quickly move her to Southern, CA, before she could not travel anymore.

All professionals who know my mom and I have been very supportive of this move.  Here are some of things that had to be put in place for this transition: Coordinating with the assisted living team where she lives, a nurse consultant to assess her and be our eyes in another state, her doctor, a home healthcare agency to take her to the doctor, the social worker at the HMO, the skilled nursing community that she was moving to, the federal government regarding her medical insurance and a Medicare representative.

The paperwork and logistics included filling out 27 pages of a Medi-Cal application, finding 22 additional documents for Medi-Cal, providing all the information that the new skilled nursing required, buying plane tickets, combining all our plane seats into one row, having someone drive my mom and us to the airport in Seattle and having Freedom Village Skilled Nursing pick us up at the airport when we arrive in California – whew!!!!

My mom does not know that she is going to move, because she cannot mentally process anything beyond 30 seconds in the short term and it would create anxiety for her – not understanding.

I am going to continue sharing my story as this moves takes place over the next few days.  Prayers and patience are needed to survive this.  I am excited for my mom to be located by our family in California and terrified of travel day.  I am her protector and don’t want her to suffer in anyway emotionally or physically.  It’s thrilling that my company in California is welcoming my mom with open arms – thank you Freedom Village.

Please comment to join the conversation and interact with other senior living professionals on what is currently being effective to increase occupancy on a nationwide basis.

Diane Twohy Masson is the author of Senior Housing Marketing – How to Increase Your Occupancy and Stay Full,” available for sale at  Masson’s book will be required reading at George Mason University in the Fall as part of the marketing curriculum.  She is currently consulting with Seniors For Living and two debt-free Continuing Care Retirement Communities in Southern California – Freedom Village in Lake Forest and The Village in Hemet, California. Connection and partnership opportunities: Email:


  1. Linked In Boomers: Aging Beats The Alternative

    It sounds like you’ve made the right decision. Moving an elderly parent across the country can be a daunting task, but imagine if you were not in the business of elder care.
    By Lorie Eber

    • Thank Lorie, today is moving day!

  2. Bless your heart Diane. all thoughts and prayers will be with you for a smooth transition. You are doing the right thing for both of you. ~ Kathryn

    • Thank you Kathryn, I needed these words of encouragement today.

  3. Imagine if you weren’t in the industry? I feel so fortunate that I have been in senior housing for 15 years. With my own parents I feel lucky to have the knowledge on services to access. This is on my mind at all times when I am working families. Wishing you and your mom minimal stress as you embark on this teansition.

  4. Oops…transition! Be good to yourself and know you are making the best decisions with what you have. Oh, and some chocolate can’t hurt!!

  5. Thank you for sharing your story. Perhaps you or another respondent can help answer a question for me. I work as a geriatric care manager for a Medicaid funded MCO in Florida. A few of my ALF clients have no local family but their out-of-state families would like to move them closer, like you are doing with your mother. The problem is the need,reported by these families, to establish residency in the new state so clients can get Medicaid to help for another SNF. Is there any kind ofconsolidated database re: the rules of each state? These families are not able to provide carepet in theirthe own homes while establoshingBrian residency duein to clientyou needsresdency y

  6. Best wishes to you. Hope you have some sibling/relative support as you will need it. Taking turns regarding being with your mom as she adjusts will help considerably. Make sure you take time off to recuperate from assisting her, as this transitioning process can be very hard on you too, and you must protect your health and energy level if you are to be successful in helping her. Find out if her new facility offers psychological support/assistance for family members as well as residents, as this can be very helpful during YOUR adjustment process as well (she isnt the only one that will be facing some major adjustment challenges). Counseling services initiated at admission can be very helpful for both of you. Don’t be surprised if she goes through some major anger and behavioral issues initially, many new residents do. Just keep telling yourself that it won’t last, with some good support services, chances are very good that both you and your mom will be through the most difficult part of this transition in just a couple of months. Good Luck!

    • This is very helpful, thank you for sharing!

  7. Linked In LeadingAge Marketing & PR Member Group


    Good luck! I will be following your story. I hope all goes well!

    By Bill Bartlett

  8. Linked In Young Professional Leaders in Senior Living

    Diane, Not an easy task but you made the right decision. A family member needs to be close by. I went through this process with several families, as a Community Relations Director, and did everything to make this as smooth a transition as possible.
    Embrace her and enjoy being able to see her as often as you like, as she enters another phase of her precious life.
    Good Luck.

    Abby Peretz

  9. Linked In CCRC’s – Continuing Care Retirement Communities

    Very sweet photo of you and your mother. Best wishes on the big move!
    By Mary Spann, BSW

    • It’s the best picture I have gotten of her in a long time. She was having a good day.

      • Linked In CCRC’s – Continuing Care Retirement Communities

        I sure hope she has many more :)
        By Mary Spann, BSW

  10. Linked In Marketing to Seniors

    Wow, Diane! I feel part of your pain as I had to put my beloved mother-in-law in a SNF about 300 miles from where I live. We counted on my husband’s sister and friends of Mom to keep us informed as to her well-being when we could not be there. I hope all goes well with your move and it does not put too much stress on your Mom. She is lucky to have you and your knowledge! All the best.
    By Kim Megorden

    • Thanks Kim, moving day was the hardest day of my life. I will share the whole thing in my Sunday night post. Moving a skilled person is not an easy task, how is your mother-in-law now?

      • Linked In Marketing to Seniors

        She thrived for 3 years in the home, but passed away quietly at 97 just this last January. We were lucky that the facility had long-time employees that adored her and doted on her. That kept me sane. Looking forward to hearing how your trip went. I wish you an uneventful journey – that is what I wish all of my loved ones who are traveling!
        By Kim Megorden

        • Thriving for 3 years sounds wonderful – I am glad you found a great place for her. I hope my mom has 3 wonderful years too…

  11. Linked In Senior Assisted Living Sales, Marketing & Operations

    I have to say I was moved by your story. The process of making our parents happy, and ourselves in the transition. You mentioned that you visited your mother one day and she did not recognize you, I know that must have been really difficult. You are a wonderful daughter and you will be rewarded.
    By Julie Hurd

    • Thanks Julie! It is very hard when one moment they seem lucid and normal – then the next minute/30 seconds – they are repeating a question or can’t process the conversation. My brother has a tougher time with it than me. I try to focus on the moment with her. If I can get one good connection in an hour – I am thrilled.


  1. Senior Housing Marketing | Diane Twohy Masson, CASP – Moving My Mom 1000 Miles From Assisted Living to Skilled Nursing Care (Part 2) - [...] The long story short is it took my husband Chris and I, seven hours to move my mom with…
  2. Senior Housing Marketing | Diane Twohy Masson, CASP – Moving My Mom 1000 Miles From Assisted Living to Skilled Nursing Care (Part 3) - [...] blog posts on the preparations for moving my mom because she was diagnosed with breast cancer (Part 1) and…