305 West End Assisted Living Blog

How to Know When the Time is Right for Memory Care

Senior man and woman in their luxury kitchen discussing memory care for a loved one.

In our blog series, The Caregiver’s Toolkit for Alzheimer’s and Dementia, we’re offering in-depth resources for those caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

It is natural for caregivers to want to provide care for their loved one within the home for as long as possible. While the reasons may vary, a few are more common. For instance, caregivers may be unaware of other options or feel a sense of guilt at the thought of not providing the care themselves.

However, for most, caring for someone with mid-to-late-stage Alzheimer’s disease or dementia can be challenging and may require professional assistance to manage successfully.

How do you know when it’s time for memory care – sometimes referred to as specialized care – for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia? How do you find the right care community? We’ll explore these topics in more depth below.

What to Expect in Mid- to Late-Stage Dementia

Caregivers assisting a loved one in the earlier stages of Alzheimer’s may play more of a support role than a full-time helper. For example, you may aid your loved one by giving cues, helping them run errands, or going to appointments.

As the disease progresses, your role by necessity will shift. Your loved one may need help bathing, eating, getting dressed, and more. Eventually, in late-stage dementia, the individual may be nonverbal, be unable to walk, and require assistance for most activities of daily living.

Even if you previously provided care for a loved one in your home or in tandem with an in-home nurse or aide, someone with mid-to-late-stage dementia may require more extensive care than you can manage by yourself.

When Is the Right Time for a Memory Care Community?

Choosing to move a loved one to a memory care community can be filled with emotion for everyone involved. You may feel a sense of inadequacy, guilt, or fear for the future. Some people may have promised their loved ones that they would never move them to a nursing home – which can further complicate matters.

Keeping your loved one’s well-being in mind will help guide decision-making. As a caregiver, you want what’s best for them. And sometimes, the best care they can receive is in a high-quality memory care community.

If you answer “yes” to several of these questions, provided by the Alzheimer’s Association, it may be time to explore memory care options:
  • Is the person with dementia unsafe in their current home?
  • Is the health of the person with dementia or my health as a caregiver at risk?
  • Are the person's needs beyond my abilities?
  • Am I becoming a stressed, irritable, and impatient caregiver?
  • Am I neglecting work responsibilities, my family, and myself?
  • Would the structure and social interaction in a memory care community benefit the person with dementia?

In addition to caring for your loved one’s physical needs, the best memory care communities will also provide opportunities for enrichment and social engagement appropriate for your loved one’s cognitive level. Specialized dementia care coordinators understand the specific needs of people with cognitive diseases and will create individualized care plans to improve and enhance the quality of life.

The good news is that you have options when choosing a memory care community. Here are some practical suggestions for finding, researching, and choosing a memory care community that is right for you and your loved one’s needs.

Related: Caregiving tips for dealing with dementia-related aggression >>

How Do I Find a Memory Care Community?

Word of mouth is a good place to begin looking for a memory care community. Ask friends, family members, neighbors, and co-workers if they have any experiences with memory care communities. Their recommendations can be valuable as you begin your search.

You can also search online for a list of memory care communities in your area. Peruse their websites and jot down your initial reactions to each one that appeals to you and questions to ask later.

When you’ve identified a few communities that interest you, schedule an in-person or virtual visit to learn more about the community. Nothing is as helpful in choosing a community as visiting it yourself and getting a feel for the location, building, staff, and general mood.

Prepare a list of questions to ask the staff. Take notes, and don’t be afraid to speak up if you’re uncertain about anything. In addition to asking about what a typical day looks like and what security measures are in place, discuss the related costs – making sure you understand what is included in the fees.

Private payment (paying out of pocket) and long-term care insurance are two common ways to pay for memory care.

Complimentary Guide to Memory Care in Manhattan

With a wide variety of memory care options in Manhattan, it can be helpful to have a place to start when evaluating them. Our free memory care guide includes information on what to consider when choosing a memory care community for a loved one, including:

  • What’s typically included in a memory care program
  • What questions you should ask when evaluating programs
  • Examples of quality programs and offerings


The New Yorker's guide to memory care in Manhattan button with an image of  the guide and a CTA to download now.

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