How Do You Move A Parent With Dementia To Assisted Living?

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Assistive Technology Professional

If your parent has dementia and you are struggling to keep them safe at home, then you might want to consider assisted living. And in the assisted living facility of your choice, make sure that your parents will be treated with care and compassion. Read on, as we help you figure out how do you move a parent with dementia to assisted living.

Move A Parent With Dementia To Assisted Living
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Are you planning to move a parent with dementia to assisted living? If so, you have come to the right place.

When a parent has Alzheimer’s or any other type of dementia, you may struggle to keep them safe at home. Dementia is a difficult condition to navigate when family members work outside the home.

Moving such a parent to assisted living is a major transition. Moving your older adult to assisted living is an emotional journey that involves logistical challenges along the way.

This article provides information on how to move a parent with dementia to assisted living.

How To Know It’s Time For Assisted Living?

Observing occasional memory lapses or behavioral changes may not mean your parent should be immediately moved to assisted living.

Knowing when to reach out for help can be difficult, especially when it comes to moving your parent to assisted living. It’s an emotional and challenging decision both for you and your older adult.

Here are some of the most common signs to look out for when deciding whether assisted living is appropriate for your loved one:

Your Parent Requires Help with Activities of Daily Living (ADL)

Bathing, washing, mobility, dressing, and taking medications on time are some of the daily living activities that become challenging for senior adults as they grow older.

In fact, medication management stands out as one of the most common concerns for seniors and caregivers who are employed outside the home. If your older adult finds it difficult to manage these activities, it’s time for assisted living.

Your Parent Requires More Opportunities for Socialization

If your older adult often seems bored at home, assisted living is ideal for him or her. In fact, assisted living provides opportunities for senior adults to get involved with activities like happy hours, fitness classes, game nights, and more. 

Your Parent Seems to Have Regular Memory Lapses

Even though occasional memory lapses are common when a person ages, regular memory lapses could mean your parent is suffering from Alzheimer’s or any other type of dementia.

If your older adult needs reminders to take his/her medications, exhibits aggressive behaviors, becomes disoriented, or struggles to find the right words when speaking, you should be concerned about the health condition of your parent.

He or she may be suffering from some form of dementia. If so, you should consider assisted living for your loved one with dementia.

move a parent with dementia to assisted living tips
When your parent suffers from dementia, you should look for a facility that has specialized care for memory loss.

Tips For Choosing The Right Assisted Living Facility For Your Parents 

Even though assisted living is a common housing option for seniors in the United States, the decision for moving an older adult to assisted living won’t come easy for every family.

There are millions of older Americans living in assisted living facilities right now. Finding the right facility for your parent can be an emotional process.

Here are some tips for choosing the right facility for your older adult:


The most important thing is to check the facility’s price before moving your parent in. In fact, you don’t want your parent to fall in love with an assisted living facility that isn’t affordable.

Shortlist a few assisted living facilities in your area and get a cost estimate for each facility. Sit with your loved one and discuss how you will cover assisted living costs.

Here is my guide on paying for assisted living with limited resources.

Assisted Living vs. Memory Care

When your parent suffers from Alzheimer’s or any other type of dementia, you should look for more than assisted living. In fact, the facility you choose should offer specialized care for memory loss.

Compared to standard assisted living, memory care facilities boast of staff with additional training and experience to handle issues of people living with dementia.

Talk to the Staff

Talking to the staff of the potential assisted living or memory care facility is crucial in choosing a reliable facility for your loved one.

You will want a facility that employs staff who can treat your loved one with the same level of love and attention as you do. The staff should have a high level of compassion for older adults.

Meal Quality

This is another important consideration when choosing the best assisted living facility for your loved one.

Serving your parent with his/her favorite meal at least once a week helps improve the quality of his/her life. Check the dietary preferences and restrictions of the facility before you decide to move your loved one there.

Check Reviews

Online reviews will help you narrow down the area’s best assisted living or memory care facility. In fact, reviews will give you first and second-hand accounts of what life is like at the facility.

Reviewers will share everything, including bad experiences with the staff, which you may not hear during a guided tour of the facility. 

Keep it Closer to Home

Choosing an assisted living facility close to your home helps shorten your drive when visiting your loved one. In fact, you will have more time to visit your older parents without changing your lifestyle when you opt for a facility near your home.

Getting Ready: Steps To Take Before Making The Move

Several important things can happen before moving your dementia parent to assisted living. These steps include managing emotions, making the new surroundings feel like home, and maintaining effective communication.

Here are some of the steps you need to take before making the move:

Frequently Remind Your Parent that He or She is Moving

This is the first thing you must do to prepare your loved one for the move. It helps curb disorientation and reassure your senior parent. Make sure to keep the message simple and straightforward, depending on the emotional condition of your loved one.

Pack for Your Loved One

Moving is an emotionally turbulent experience for any person, especially senior adults. The process can be overwhelming when your loved one is suffering from dementia. The best thing is to pack when your loved one is asleep. 

Be sure to bring some familiar items from their current home. If possible, bring their current bed to their assisted living room to reduce the chance of a problem sleeping.

Here is my list of what to bring – and what NOT to take – when moving to assisted living to help you out with this.

Personalize Your Loved One’s Space

Personalize the living space at the memory care facility by incorporating a senior’s decorations and personal items before the actual move. When your loved one walks in and sees his or her belongings, it helps ease their anxiety which can make for a smoother transition.

move a parent with dementia to assisted living moving day
Make the moving day special for your loved one.

Moving Day: How To Have A Smooth Transition 

Set realistic goals about what you plan to accomplish on moving day. Moving your older parent to assisted living or memory care can be physically and emotionally draining on both of you.

Here are some tips for a smooth transition:

Stay Positive

When your parent moves from your childhood home, it can be tough. Some of your past is slipping away, and you acknowledge that your parents are aging.

These emotions can surface on moving days. Try your best to stay positive and not show your emotions in front of your parents. Be aware of what you say to them when moving to assisted living.

Make the Moving Day Special

Have plenty of snacks and drinks on hand and get all family members to gather at your home to make the day special. 

Your Parent’s Role on Moving Day

Ask your parent what they would like to do on moving day. Do they want to get involved in the moving or stay busy with other family members until you do the work? They could participate in other favorite activities until you do the hard work.

Settling In: Follow Up And Adjustments After The Move

There are many things that you can do to help your loved one settle in once they have moved to assisted living. 

  • Unpacking and decorating – Help your loved one with unpacking and decorating his/her new home. There is a certain level of excitement that accompanies setting up a new place. Having your family member involved in the process will help him or her feel more comfortable and at ease.
  • Check in with your loved one – Check in with your parent regularly, either in person or via telephone, to see how he or she is doing.
  • Encourage the parent to participate in daily activities at the new facility. 
  • Help your older adult to get to know the other residents at the facility.

What Should You Do If They Are Refusing To Go?

If your older parent needs assisted living but refuses to go, here are some things that you can do:

  • Change your approach – If your loved one refuses to go to assisted living, don’t repeat the same speech over and over. Give your parent a sense of control by changing your approach. For example, you can ask the loved one to explore options with you instead of asking him/her to do “something.” Express your concern and love rather than frustration and fear.
  • Get help from others in the family – Get help from a leader that your adult trusts, such as a pastor. Encourage a trusted physician to explain the dangers of refusing assisted living when he or she really needs it.
  • If your older adult absolutely refuses assisted living, you can get legal help by way of talking to an elder care lawyer. 

What To Do If Only One Parent Is Moving?

It can be really hard on the other parent when only one parent is moving to assisted living. If both parents require different levels of care, you should first check with the assisted living facility whether they can accommodate both parents.

Most facilities are equipped to accommodate senior adults with different levels of care.

How To Deal With The Emotions You Both Are Feeling When Moving Your Parent To Assisted Living?

Accepting that your parent is getting older is a major life event for most of us. Transitioning your older parent to assisted living can cause guilt, fear, and worry.

Overcoming guilt is important when making the move. The most important thing is to find a healthy outlet without letting the guilt consume you. Find an outlet where you can express your emotions and work through them.

A trusted friend or support group can help you in this regard. The most important thing is to talk with your loved one and help him or her express his/her feelings. If you can’t handle the emotions, it is best to get professional assistance by working with a counselor. 

If you plan to move your older adult with dementia to assisted living, you have come to the right place. The aforementioned article provides information on how to move a parent with dementia to assisted living.

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Assistive Technology Professional

Scott Grant has spent more than 20 years serving seniors and the elderly in the home medical equipment industry. He has worked as a manufacturer's rep for the top medical equipment companies and a custom wheelchair specialist at a durable medical equipment (DME) provider in WV. He is father to 4 beautiful daughters and has three terrific grandkids. When not promoting better living for older adults, he enjoys outdoor activities including hiking and kayaking and early morning runs.

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