• Alzheimer’s & dementia
  • Senior Living

When to Move From Assisted Living to Memory Care

Concerned you or your loved one may need more assistance? Do you know how to decide between assisted living and memory care? Click here to learn more.

Continue READing

When to Move From Assisted Living to Memory Care & Our Top Tips for Making the Transition

Are you or your loved one experiencing memory impairments that are continuing to get worse? Curious about when to move from assisted living to memory care? 

The idea of this type of transition can be overwhelming and stressful for residents and family members — everyone is trying to do what is right. 

This is why we’re here to help you decide when it is time to move from assisted living to memory care and how to make the process easier. Keep reading to learn more. 

What Is the Difference Between Assisted Living and Memory Care Facilities? 

It’s not uncommon for people to think of all senior living facilities as the same. Although they all have similarities, every lifestyle option is different, especially in assisted living and memory care facilities. 

Assisted living communities can provide care to residents with Alzheimer’s, early stages of dementia, and other memory problems as long as the resident does not need treatment for serious medical conditions or intense, round-the-clock support.

Assisted Living Facilities

Assisted living and memory care facilities both provide: 

  • Meals
  • Medication management
  • Assistance with certain activities of daily living; and
  • Transportation. 

But that doesn’t mean an assisted living facility is the right facility for you or your loved one. In some cases, especially for those who have individualized needs based on their cognitive decline. 

The goal of assisted living is to promote independence while providing support to those who need minimal support for activities of daily living and care. 

Assisted living facilities give residents the ability to come and go as they please — most do not have doors that can be locked from the inside and are not meant to keep residents from leaving; making assisted living facilities a safety issue for those prone to wandering.

Memory Care Facilities

Memory care facilities are long-term nursing facilities that provide specialized care to people who are dealing with mental impairments such as Alzheimer’s and other forms of Dementia

Memory care units often provide …  

  • 24-hour supervised care
  • Incontinence care and bathing assistance as needed
  • Memory-enhancing activities
  • Facility layouts that prevent confusion/chances of wandering
  • Lower staff-to-resident ratios for individualized care
  • And more

… making them ideal for residents who need individualized, specialty care. Generally, memory care facilities are better suited for residents whose safety concerns can not be met by an assisted living facility. 

But how exactly do you know when it is time to make the move into memory care or when to move from assisted living to memory care?

When Is it Time for a Memory Care Facility? 5 Signs it’s Time to Transition From Assisted Living to Memory Care

Deciding between assisted living and memory care can be difficult, and it’s not always a one-size-fits-all answer. What are some of the signs that say it’s time to move from assisted living to memory care?

#1: The Assisted Living Facility Recommends Memory Care

Suppose your loved one is living in an assisted living facility and the clinicians who are working closely with your loved ones recommend it’s time to make the transition from assisted living to memory care. In that case, the chances are very high that the team is not steering you wrong.

No community wants to lose residents, but they do want to ensure that residents receive the best and safest care

As you consider helping your loved one make the transition from assisted living to memory care, ask your facility for recommendations to facilities and how to navigate the best course of action.

#2: Safety Is a Concern

When safety becomes a concern, it’s time to move from assisted living to memory care. What does this look like? 

Let’s look at Jon’s situation as an example. 

Jon’s Alzheimer’s is getting worse. As he continues to hit the later stages of the condition, his team of caregivers at his assisted living facility isn’t able to continue ensuring he is safe. 

Every day, Jon takes a walk outside of the facility, and as his confusion gets worse, his family is worried he will wander and get lost. They’ve spoken with the clinicians at his current assisted living facility. Since they are unable to ensure he stays in the building at all times, it’s been recommended that he move from assisted living to memory care.   

Other signs it may be time to move into memory care for safety concerns include:

  • Trouble eating/drinking
  • Taking medication inappropriately or forgetting to take medication
  • Having bruises that you, or your loved one, can’t explain
  • Combativeness — typically due to confusion caused by mental decline

#3: Cognitive Needs Aren’t Being Met

What many families sometimes do not consider is that oftentimes with dementia, Alzheimer’s and other mental health declines, their loved one’s cognitive needs may not be able to be met in an assisted living facility. 


These residents’ cognitive function isn’t where it used to be. They typically aren’t having the same kinds of conversations as the rest of the residents in an assisted living facility. The activities may be too difficult, or they may struggle to understand what’s going on during activities the way they used to. 

Staying in an assisted living facility when their cognitive needs aren’t being met can lead to the resident isolating him/herself. I think we can all agree that no matter how old or young you are, a life of isolation is not a healthy way to live.

#4: Inability to Express Physical Challenges 

When a resident has dementia or Alzheimer’s, it’s common for their physical needs to be missed or mistaken for what some would consider “inappropriate” or “challenging” behaviors

These individuals are often struggling to express feelings of frustration or pain that may be caused by physical conditions, such as: 

  • Loss of balance or coordination
  • Stiff muscles
  • Fatigue
  • Incontinence
  • Pain
  • Etc.

#5: Declining Health

Declining health is one of the biggest and most obvious signs that it may be time to move from assisted living to memory care. The most noticeable health concerns are typically physical changes — especially in someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s. 

Is your loved one becoming thinner or frail? 

Whether they live in an assisted living facility or their home, this could be a sign that they are forgetting when/how to eat or are not taking their medication properly.  

Is incontinence becoming a common issue? 

This could be another sign that your loved one’s health is declining due to their mental health. 

If your loved one is living in an assisted living facility, the clinical team has likely started to pick up on the declining health as well and are looking for ways to properly care for the resident or looking at what might be the next best step in care. 

Talk with your assisted living community’s staff to determine what options you have and what might be best for their health and wellbeing.

If you, as well as your loved one’s healthcare team, have decided it’s time to move from assisted living to memory care, we’re here to help make the transition easier. Keep reading to learn more.

Caregiver with arm around senior woman

3 Transition Tips for Moving From Assisted Living to Memory Care

Transitions to a new living space are HUGE, no matter your age or situation, but they can be especially challenging for families and their loved ones as they transition from independent living to assisted living or memory care facilities.  

So, how can you make the move from assisted living to memory care go as smoothly and comfortably for your loved one? We’ve got the top tips you need to know.

#1: Understand What Physical and Cognitive Needs Must Be Met For Safety

As you prepare to help your loved one move into memory care, it’s important to understand their physical and cognitive needs/abilities. Most families we work with are feeling guilty about the transition. 

They want to involve their loved ones in the entire process of picking a facility and all the details that come along with the transition. And although this may help with the guilt, it isn’t what’s best for a loved one suffering from mental impairments like Alzheimer’s or dementia. 

It is vital to realize that oftentimes, this leads to a loved one feeling overwhelmed, and because of their declining mental health, they cannot process all of the details that families provide them with. 

Instead, help your loved one understand that they will be moving to a new place  — keep it light and keep it positive.

#2: Keep the Transition Simple

Remember, when helping your loved one transition from assisted living to memory care, it’s vital that you keep the transition simple.

Move-in day can be overwhelming for everyone involved; and to avoid adding to your loved ones’ stress from changes, the simpler, the better. While we like to think, “The more, the merrier,” this isn’t always the case. 

On move-in day, opt to have a few close family members assist with the move. 

Help your loved ones move in, get them settled, and remind them that you’ll be back to see them soon. The facility’s staff will be there to help with anything they need and are trained to help make these transitions as seamless and comfortable as possible.

#3: Maintain as Much of a Routine as Possible

Although their mental health may be declining, many people suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia benefit from having a daily routine. These routines help reduce stress and anxiety for both your loved one and his/her caregivers. 

Help the staff at the new facility learn as much as they can about your loved ones’ routines and the activities they still enjoy. This can help the clinical staff create an individualized care plan that best suits their needs. 

Plus, on an even more important note, maintaining a routine will help your loved ones feel a sense of …  

  • Control
  • Independence; and
  • Dignity 

… as they experience massive life changes.

Senior Services of America Understands the Importance of Individualized Care. We’re Here to Help With How to Decide Between Assisted Living and Memory Care Facilities

At Senior Services of America, we understand how big the transition is for loved ones and their family members to move from assisted living to memory care — which is why we’re here to help. 

If you are unsure if your loved one needs to make the transition, or which type of living facility would be best for your loved one, one of our staff members can provide you with as much information as you need to help you make the right decision for their health and happiness.  

Whether you’re ready to make the transition from independent care to assisted living, or you’re helping your loved one transition from assisted living to memory care, you can count on Senior Services of America communities to provide the highest level of care and compassion.