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When to Move from Assisted Living to Memory Care?

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A senior woman in a sweater puts the heel of her palms on her forehead as she suddenly remembers something important after seeing a reminder on a small sticky note.

Your healthcare needs may become more complex as you age. Challenges may include developing memory-related conditions such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease

While assisted living can provide a level of support for loved ones, there may come a time when memory care is necessary. There is no rule on when to move from assisted living to memory care, but some signs, such as memory loss, cognitive decline, or behavioral changes, can indicate the need for services with a higher level of care

What Is Memory Care? 

Memory care in senior living is a lifestyle option that provides tailored support and services for loved ones with memory problems. Memory care communities can provide a comfortable, safe, and secure environment for residents and assist with daily living activities while offering a variety of life-enriching activities and therapies that promote cognitive health and well-being.

Personalized services and amenities in memory care can include:

  • Physician services
  • 24-hour staff coverage
  • Monitored emergency response system
  • Housekeeping and laundry
  • On-site health and wellness

When Is It Time to Move to Memory Care?

Most dementias progress over time with a slow decline in reasoning, memory, and thinking. Because of this, there isn’t a specific time to move from assisted living to memory care. However, some signs may indicate it’s time to move to ensure a smooth transition before late-stage disease progression. 

Worsening Memory

Memory decline usually starts in the early stages of dementia and can look like the following:

  • Forgetting recent information
  • Forgetting appointments
  • Forgetting to pay bills
  • Asking the same questions over and over again

Behavioral Changes

Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia can cause behavioral changes, including mood and personality changes, such as confusion, agitation, wandering, anxiety, and depression. If these behaviors become hard to manage, memory care can provide more intentional spaces to minimize confusion and provide safety. 

Difficulty Completing Tasks

Loved ones with Alzheimer’s may find it hard to complete familiar tasks, such as following a recipe, keeping track of bills, and taking longer to do everyday things like organizing a grocery list or playing a favorite game. 

Increased Care Needs

Cognitive decline can result in a loved one neglecting their hygiene and having trouble with activities of daily living such as bathing, grooming, and getting dressed. If the care needs become too complex for assisted living, full-time memory care may provide a more appropriate level of support.

Speech Problems

Problems with speaking and writing can present in the following ways:

  • Trouble following or joining a conversation. 
  • Stopping in the middle of a conversation and repeating.
  • Struggle with vocabulary and finding the right words.


Because of speech and communication problems, a loved one may withdraw from social activities, hobbies, or other engagements. 

A senior man in a checkered shirt video-calling his loved ones using a laptop to keep in touch with them.

Transitioning from Assisting Living to Memory Care

Moving to memory care can be a significant change for both a loved one and their family. Knowing when to make the transition and preparing for the move can help it go smoothly. Here are some tips for transitioning from assisted living to memory care:

  • Involve your loved one in decision-making and allow them to have a say.
  • Communicate with staff. If a loved one is moving from an assisted living community, communicate with staff so they can provide the necessary medical and care information.
  • Prepare for the new environment. Memory care communities aim to provide a safe and secure environment. Creating familiarity can help a loved one feel more comfortable in their new surroundings.
  • Stay connected. Moving to memory care doesn’t mean cutting ties with family and friends. Emphasize to your loved one that family and friends can visit and they can stay connected through phone calls and video chats.

Increased Support with Memory Care

If a loved one is showing signs of dementia, visit their doctor to evaluate their needs and abilities and help determine when a move to memory care is necessary. One of the main reasons for memory care is to provide a living situation with safety, support, and engagement for loved ones with memory impairment.   

Memory care also offers a variety of activities and therapies that promote cognitive health and socialization, making it a favorable option for those who need specialized support. Contact The Parkdale Senior Living & Memory Care to learn about our memory care program or schedule a visit to see how a loved one can benefit from professional care. 

Written by The Parkdale

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