When is it time to move to memory care?

spouse caregiver

You began a difficult journey the day your loved one was diagnosed with dementia. Many decisions lie ahead. You must make plans for care, finances, and the future.

One thing to decide is how long to care for your loved one at home. How do you know when it’s the right time to move to a memory care community?

Assess the caregiver’s stress level and their risk of illness. Whether the caregiver is you, or another family member, stress level is one of the main determining factors in deciding if it’s time to move.

Caregiver stress is a real thing

And is often fatal. Sadly, 40% of people taking care of a loved one pre-decease that person.

Caring for someone with dementia takes mental and physical stamina. And dementia care especially takes a tremendous toll.

Caregiving is physically demanding. They regularly deal with interrupted sleep, daily duties of cooking, cleaning, and shopping. There’s often personal care and incontinence issues along with resistance to care.

Caregiving also includes mental and emotional stress. There’s the impact of isolation and the strain of constant vigilance, worry and fear.

Even when you hire help, the primary caregiver has the stress of managing in-home helpers. You must find workers, manage schedules, share private space with them, and deal with no-shows.

It’s no wonder caregivers have increased risk of depression, anxiety, and illness leading to an early grave for many. 

Take a Self-Assessment

Assess whether you or your loved one’s caregiver is at risk. Complete a caregiver stress quiz. Here’s one such checklist from the Alzheimer’s Association:

If you feel concerned after taking the stress assessment, seek advice from professionals. Start with your healthcare provider. Then call a senior advisor and discuss the care options in your area.

Think about this

Did you know it takes 8 people to do the work of 1 family caregiver? In a care center there are:

  • 3 shifts of caregivers (but with fresh energy every 8 hours)
  • 1 activity person – at least 5 days per week, often 7 days
  • 1 housekeeper
  • 1 chef
  • 1 nurse/resident care coordinator
  • 1 director – in charge of managing and monitoring operations.

These are just some of the roles a family caregiver provides 24x7.

It’s no surprise then that we hear our clients say, “I feel such a weight lifted! I should have placed him/her much sooner.”

So, what holds people back from moving sooner?

Often, it’s the “boiled frog syndrome” – things change slowly over time. You don’t notice how bad the situation’s become until there’s a crisis or you hit a tipping point.

Also, you might have a false sense of responsibility. You made past promises to “never put me away” or to never let sickness drive you apart.

The truth is, placing your loved one in a care community is not abandonment. It can be the best way to ensure they get the care they need. You’re still their advocate – you’ve just created a team approach vs an I-must-do-it-all attitude.


The dementia journey can be a long road with many twists and turns. Decisions, decisions, decisions – it can seem overwhelming. And one of the hardest decisions is when to move your loved one to memory care.

Pay attention to the signs of caregiver stress and burnout. Don’t wait until there’s an incident or crisis.

Remember “luck favors the prepared” – it’s not too early to start investigating the options. Our service is Free.

Have questions? Need referrals?

Call me or check out my Resource Page

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