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When Is It the Right Time to Move from Assisted Living to Memory Care?

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Navigating the delicate balance between honoring your aging loved one’s independence and securing their safety and well-being can be one of the most challenging responsibilities placed on adult children. 

Specifically, as a loved one’s cognitive health begins to decline, the decision to transition from assisted living to memory care becomes not just practical but essential.  

Your loved one’s assisted living staff can help identify the transition point to specialized care. But you should also talk to your loved one’s physician or medical team to determine the best time to make the transition.

Differentiating Between Assisted Living & Memory Care Communities

While both offer a level of residential care, assisted living is designed for seniors who require some help with daily living activities. Memory care, on the other hand, is a specialized form of long-term care for individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or other memory-related issues.   

Memory care communities provide a higher level of supervision, along with specific programs and environments, to cater to the unique needs of their residents.  

Identifying Signs That May Indicate the Need for a Transition  

Knowing the red flags that suggest memory impairments are impacting the senior’s daily life is crucial. These can include:   

  • Forgetfulness that disrupts their routine
  • Disorientation
  • Changes in behavior or mood
  • Difficulty doing routine tasks
  • Changes in language or communication
  • Impaired judgment

Factors to Consider for a Memory Care Transition  

A strategic approach to determining the right timing for a move involves evaluating multiple factors.

Health & Cognitive Status Assessment  

Regular assessments by medical professionals or geriatricians can provide insight into the progression of cognitive decline. Tracking memory performance, activities of daily living (ADLs), and the development of symptoms is essential in making informed decisions. 

Consultation with Healthcare Professionals

Seeking guidance and advice from healthcare providers experienced in senior care can help interpret assessment results and understand the implications for daily living and quality of life. These professionals can then recommend appropriate care options and help to set realistic expectations.

Financial Planning & Support Options  

The cost of memory care can be higher than assisted living, so it is essential to reassess current financial plans and explore support avenues such as long-term care insurance, Medicaid benefits, or veterans’ programs to help cover the additional expenses associated with memory care.

Navigating the Transition Process

Transitioning a loved one to memory care requires thoughtfulness and planning. 

Communicating with the Senior & Involving Them in Decision-Making

Open and honest communication, conducted with empathy and tact, can help seniors understand the reasons for the potential transition and feel more involved in the process. Listen to their concerns and preferences to make the experience as collaborative and supportive as possible. 

Touring Memory Care Communities & Evaluating Their Services 

Research and visit potential memory care communities to assess their:  

  • Philosophy of care
  • Staff training and experience  
  • Safety and security features  
  • Living spaces  
  • Quality of life programs

The facility should feel like a safe, supportive environment that can meet your loved one’s physical, social, and emotional needs.

Emotional Support for Both the Senior & the Family During the Transition  

Transitioning to a new living situation can be emotionally taxing, particularly for seniors with memory loss. Provide reassurance and comfort during this time, and use the support services offered by the memory care facility to ease the adjustment. Additionally, support groups for families can provide firsthand advice, empathy, and even friendship during this shared experience.

Benefits of Memory Care  

An older adult woman solving a crossword puzzle

Understanding the benefits of memory care can provide a sense of comfort and affirmation about the decision to transition.

Specialized Care for Individuals with Memory-Related Conditions  

Memory care communities are designed with specialized services that can adapt to the unique and changing needs of individuals with memory-related conditions, which may include:  

  • Structured routines  
  • Memory-enhancing activities  
  • Therapies to reduce distress and problematic behaviors

Enhanced Safety Measures & Tailored Activities

Communities offer 24-hour supervision, advanced security systems, and living spaces designed to prevent wandering and provide a calm and familiar environment. Tailored activities and therapies cater to the resident’s cognitive abilities and can even help slow the progression of memory loss through engagement and social interaction. 

Support Groups & Resources for Families

Memory care communities often have robust support networks for families, providing education, counseling, and opportunities for shared experiences. Engaging with these resources can help families stay informed, feel connected, and be supported throughout their loved one’s stay. 

Visit Memory Care at Liana Living

The decision to move a senior from assisted living to memory care marks a significant change in their care journey. By recognizing the signs of cognitive decline, carefully assessing the senior’s needs with health professionals, thoughtfully managing the logistics of the move, and understanding the benefits of specialized memory care, adult children can successfully support this critical transition. Visit us at Liana Living Sarasota for a tour and see what memory care can offer your loved one.


Written by Angela Clark

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