When is it Time to Move from Assisted Living to Memory Care?

Posted on May 15, 2023

Assisted living is designed for older adults who need or would benefit from assistance with daily tasks, such as bathing, dressing, and medication management, as well as those looking for socialization and connection opportunities in a community setting. However, assisted living communities are not equipped to care for individuals living with memory impairment, such as dementia.

As a parent ages and cognitive needs change, there may come a time when they require the additional services and support of a memory care community. Memory care communities provide specialized care for those with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, as well as have additional community features in place to promote safety.

When to move from assisted living to memory care is not always obvious, and it may be challenging to know if you should transition a parent or family member from assisted living to memory care. Fortunately, your loved one’s care team should be able to help you by sharing insight into health and behavior changes, as well as providing direction should additional care be needed.

As an assisted living and memory care provider in Tennessee, our team at The Pavilion Senior Living is sharing some signs that can help you determine if your loved one needs more comprehensive memory care.

Increased Cognitive Decline

One of the primary indicators that it may be time for an individual to transition to memory care is an increase in cognitive decline. This could manifest in various ways, such as confusion, forgetfulness, difficulty communicating, or disorientation.

While these symptoms may be present in individuals with other health conditions, they are particularly common in those with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. As a result, memory care communities are designed to provide specialized care to individuals with these conditions, including team members who are trained in managing and responding to changes in cognition.

Increased Wandering

If your loved one is becoming disoriented in familiar surroundings, it may be a sign they need more specialized care. Another sign that it may be time to transition to memory care is an increase in wandering. Wandering is common among individuals with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, which can be dangerous.

While assisted living communities allow residents to come and go, memory care communities have security measures in place, such as secured doors and outdoor spaces, to prevent residents from leaving unattended. The goal is to balance safety considerations and supervision while maintaining the privacy and dignity of residents.

Agitation and Aggression

If an individual is becoming agitated or aggressive toward other residents or team members, it may be a sign of unmet needs or that they require a higher level of care.

Similarly, agitation is a common symptom of dementia. In these situations, memory care communities have trained team members who understand these behavioral changes and can respond appropriately.

Decline in Overall Health

A decline in overall health is another sign it may be time to consider a transition to memory care. Dementia can affect an individual’s physical health, leading to weight loss, decreased mobility, and an increased risk of falls. Memory care communities are equipped to provide specialized care to individuals with complex medical needs, including assistance with mobility, feeding, and medication management.

Additionally, memory care communities have caregivers and other team members on hand 24/7 to respond to emergencies and provide immediate medical attention if necessary.


Your loved one’s overall health, cognitive abilities, and specific needs should all be considered when you decide to transition your loved one from assisted living to memory care. In addition, if you do have concerns, consult your loved one’s healthcare provider and the care team at their assisted living community to determine the best next steps.

While transitioning to a memory care community can be emotional, they can provide the specialized programming and support a person living with dementia needs. If you would like to learn more about our assisted living and memory care communities in Tennessee, we invite you to visit our website or contact The Pavilion Senior Living team.

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