Taking care of a parent or family member with dementia can be challenging. As dementia progresses, physical and cognitive functions decline, making it harder for a person to manage on their own. When it becomes difficult to care for a person with dementia at home, it might be time to turn to an assisted living community.

Assisted living communities offer around-the-clock care, providing physical assistance, memory care, and emotional support to older adults. While they’re designed to help elderly individuals, the process of moving into a community can be stressful. Not only are there logistical elements to consider, but many residents may feel worried about shifting to a new environment. In this article, we’ll review five tips on how to move a parent with dementia to assisted living and how our team can help ensure a smooth transition.

How to Move a Parent with Dementia to Assisted Living and the Steps You Need to Take

1. Monitor Your Loved One’s Dementia

Dementia comes in many stages. When the syndrome is in the early stages, there are rarely any symptoms. However, as it worsens, you may notice problems like memory loss, difficulty speaking, and wandering. If you suspect a parent has memory problems, you should take them to the doctor for an official dementia diagnosis. Once dementia is confirmed, try to monitor its progression at home. Some people may remain in the early stages for the rest of their lives, while others worsen.

Once you decide your parent needs an assisted living community, try to have a conversation with them. Talking to your parent through the process of moving and explaining the benefits can help ease mental and emotional stress. Keep in mind that a conversation is only helpful when dementia is still in the early to mid stages. If they’ve reached one of the later stages, they may panic or be unable to understand.


Daughter talking to her parents about moving to an assisted living apartment with a dedicated memory care community.


2. Visit a Memory Care Senior Living Community

Deciding to use an assisted living facility is just the first step — next, you have to actually pick a community for your parent. It’s important that it offers a memory care program that caters to those with dementia. Other factors to consider include:

  • Location: The closer the community is, the easier it will be for loved ones to visit your parent.
  • Caregivers: Ideally, your new memory care community should offer experienced caregivers who can meet your parent’s unique needs.
  • Amenities: Many facilities offer amenities like activities, dining and furnished suites.

Once you’ve settled on one or two top choices, make an appointment to visit. This offers an opportunity to meet the caregivers and staff, explore the site and get to know the environment. If your parent is willing and it would not further upset them, you can bring them to the appointment.

3. Plan Out the Move

After you’ve picked a community and filled out the necessary paperwork, you’ll be given a timeframe to move in. No matter how much you prepare beforehand, move-in day will always be stressful. However, you can help ensure it goes smoothly by planning the move out properly. This can include:

  • Recruiting friends and family
  • Picking a good time
  • Packing familiar items

Before the move, call friends and family members for help. In addition to packing and moving items, they can provide emotional assistance for the person with dementia. Your parent may feel more at ease knowing there’s a network of people to support them.

For the actual move, try to pick a time when your parent will be calm. Many with dementia tend to be most relaxed during the late mornings or early afternoons. On the flip side, earning mornings and late evenings are associated with higher stress levels.

Finally, try to pack some items that will bring your parent comfort. This could include anything from their favorite decorations and bedding to personal artwork and family photos. The assisted living community can also provide guidance on how many items you may bring which can help facilitate the transition process.


Daughter packing familiar items for her parent with dementia to move into a new assisted living memory care home.


4. Keep in Touch With Your Parent

The first few weeks after move-in tend to be the hardest for dementia residents. There’s usually a lot of anxiety and stress as new residents attempt to assimilate into their new environment. To help make sure your parent is managing, stay in touch with them through regular visits and phone calls. You can also consult with the facility on how and when to visit to make sure the visits are providing comfort to your loved one and are not disruptive to their new routine.

If weeks have passed and your parent is still having trouble adjusting, you may want to turn to counseling services or transition programs. A professional can help your parent navigate through their emotions and come to terms with their new lifestyle.

5. Work With the New Senior Care Team

Moving a parent into an assisted living or memory care facility isn’t a solo process. Many communities, such as Catered Living at Ocean Pines, offer dedicated caregivers who are personally invested in your parent’s safety and well-being. We don’t just want our residents to be healthy — we also want them to feel at ease in our Maryland home.

As you prepare for the transition period, you’re welcome to ask our staff any questions. We have years of experience in assisted living, memory care, respite care and end-of-life care and have helped many residents with moving. Our team does everything we can to create a pleasant home environment where seniors can thrive.


Group of well-adjusted seniors at an assisted living memory care facility in Ocean Pines.


Catered Living at Ocean Pines: Contact Us Today

Moving a parent or loved one into a memory care home is a difficult process. You can expect emotions to be running high for everyone involved, from the resident to family members. At Catered Living at Ocean Pines, we work hard to ensure transitions go as smoothly as possible.

First, we invite residents and families to tour our memory care community and get to know our staff. Once move-in day comes, you can expect our team to be by your parent’s side and address their concerns. Ultimately, our goal is to make sure every resident is happy, healthy and comfortable in our home. If you have questions or would like to learn more, please contact us online or call us at (410) 208-1000.