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When to Transition a Parent From Assisted Living to Memory Care

Mom and daughter embrace for photograph

Many seniors in the early stages of dementia can live an independent lifestyle in assisted living. However, because every person is different and symptoms can change from day to day, it’s difficult to know when to move from assisted living to memory care.

Keep reading as we break down the differences between these two levels of senior care, and learn 5 signs it’s time to transition from assisted living to memory care.

What Is Assisted Living?

Assisted living is a level of senior care that provides just the right amount of help with activities of daily living (ADLs), which are essential tasks that need to be completed for a high-quality life. They include activities like personal grooming, getting dressed, and transitioning from a seated to a standing position.

The amount of help a resident receives is determined by a personalized care plan that’s typically designed in collaboration with the resident, their medical providers, family members, and staff at the community. While caregivers in assisted living are available 24/7, they only provide help with daily activities when needed in order to help residents maintain an independent lifestyle.

Residents create and manage their own schedules, and reach out to their caregivers if they feel they need more help with ADLs, so the community can reevaluate their care plan.

Along with receiving top-rated senior care, assisted living residents in Westminster live in private, one-bedroom apartments and receive access to a variety of events, activities, and amenities that lead to a vibrant social life and happy retirement. For instance, they can join their friends for a group aqua class in the pool, attend a lecture series, or soak up sunshine in the community garden.

What Is Memory Care?

Memory care provides round-the-clock care for seniors with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. Though some people picture depressing nursing homes of decades past, memory care neighborhoods in senior living communities are cheerful environments with friendly staff that are focused on improving the quality of life for each resident.

Residents receive personalized care with activities of daily living, and still have some control over their schedule, depending on their current stage of dementia. Caregivers and licensed nursing staff are available 24/7, and there is typically a very low staff-to-resident ratio to ensure each resident receives the care and attention they need.

At our Life Plan Community in Austin, TX, we offer dementia-specific programs, events,and activities that enrich the lives of residents in memory care and promote social engagement.

Here a few ways residents in memory care thrive at Westminster:

  • Activities and socialization programming offered 24/7
  • Small group activities tailored to each resident’s capabilities to foster self-confidence
  • Devices to stay connected with family and friends
  • Art therapy, pet therapy, aromatherapy and music therapy

Memory care neighborhoods are uniquely designed to reduce confusion and prevent wandering. At Westminster, residents live in private suites in an easy-to-navigate memory care neighborhood that includes comfortable and relaxing common areas, a secure garden courtyard, and a dining venue specifically appointed to address the needs of those with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.

When Does a Person Need Memory Care?

There is no one-size-fits-all formula for knowing when to move from assisted living to memory care, because each person progresses through dementia at an individual pace. Seniors in the early stages of dementia can often live a fulfilling life in assisted living with services like medication management, scheduled transportation and housekeeping services.

Older adults in the later stages of dementia typically need to transition to memory care, so they can receive the support they need for a high-quality life.

Here are 5 reasons to consider moving from assisted living to memory care:


  • 1. The community recommends memory care.


Caregivers and other community staff who see your loved one daily are likely to notice if dementia is progressing and more support is required. They can give you professional advice on when to move from assisted living to memory care for a higher quality of life.

By keeping the lines of communication open with the community’s care team, you’ll always feel comfortable asking them the tough questions about memory care, and it will help your family member seamlessly transition to the next level of living.

  • 2. Safety is a concern.Wandering is a major safety concern, because it can lead to getting lost or injured. However, you might also consider a move to memory care if your family member is forgetting to take medication or is taking too much, has bruises that can’t be explained, or shows signs of choking while eating or drinking.

    Safety is one of our top priorities at Westminster. In our secured memory care neighborhood, we also feature chef-prepared cuisine to meet dietary needs and preferences with dementia-specific menu offerings.

  • 3. Your loved one is unable to express themselves.Many people in mid- and late-stage dementia experience trouble finding the right word for familiar objects and feelings. They may not be able to adequately express that they’re in pain, they need to use the bathroom, or simply that they’re bored and need your help finding something to do.

    At Westminster, our team places emphasis on understanding and responding to each individual’s wants and needs. With this person-centered approach, our staff can figure out how to communicate with your loved one and provide them with customized support.

  • 4. They’re combative.Inability to express themselves, physical discomfort, poor sleep, confusion about time and place, or a sudden change in routine are just a few reasons someone with dementia might be aggressive or agitated.

    Many family caregivers have the power to calm their loved one, but when your usual calming tactics don’t work, aggression and agitation could turn into physical combativeness. That’s when you and your family could use the professional support of specialized staff in memory care.

  • 5. They’re not happy.If your loved one is showing signs of anxiety or depression, or is withdrawing from their usual social activities because of dementia symptoms, it’s time to consider moving them to memory care. There, they can engage in social activities, regain confidence to be themselves, and build lasting friendships.


Westminster Delivers Meaningful Moments, Fulfilling Days and Person-Centered Care

Whether you or a loved one require assisted living, memory care, independent living, skilled nursing, or short-term rehabilitation, our Life Plan Community in Austin, TX, is here to provide an engaging retirement lifestyle and high-quality care at our top-rated health center, The Arbour. Contact our residency counselors online to learn more about our community or R.S.V.P. to one of our events</a.