What Is the Next Level of Care After Assisted Living?

Author: Sarah Williams

Reviewed By: Brindusa Vanta

The next level of care after assisted living is usually nursing home care. However, for seniors with cognitive decline, the next level of care could be memory care, delivered in a specialized unit within the same facility, within a nursing home or in a stand-alone community.

Care Services in Assisted Living Communities

Assisted living provides nonmedical help with activities of daily living and personal care in a maintenance-free setting. Residents receive support services tailored to their needs, such as help with bathing, transferring and toileting. Depending on state regulations and facility licenses, some communities also offer medication management. Other services include housekeeping, laundry and transportation, and staff manages enrichment and wellness programs to enhance residents’ quality of life.  

Care Services in Nursing Homes

Some seniors stay in nursing homes temporarily to recover from an illness, injury or surgery. However, others move permanently to a setting with a higher level of care following a deterioration in their health. Nursing homes provide 24/7 medical supervision, skilled nursing services, therapies and personal care in a clinical environment.

Staffed by nurses and aides, nursing facilities are a long-term care option for seniors with complex care needs. Signs it is time to move to a higher care setting include becoming bedridden, needing a feeding tube, experiencing cognitive decline, falling more frequently and requiring palliative care.

Care Services in Memory Care

Memory care communities provide specialized services for seniors with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Staff has training in easing symptoms such as sundowning and wandering. They also learn appropriate communication and validation techniques to promote comfort, dignity and quality of life.

Communities feature enhanced security measures, easy-to-navigate layouts and comfortable amenities. Caregivers manage enrichment programs that enhance life meaning, prompt recall, maintain skills and support brain health. Although the social programming and communal lifestyle of assisted living may benefit seniors with mild dementia, specialized care is more suitable as conditions progress.