When Should a Person Move From Dementia Care to a SNF?


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Tess’ question: “At what point is a sweet-natured senior with dementia no longer an appropriate candidate for living in a memory care facility? Can memory care facilities give the increased hands-on care someone in the later stages of AD needs to receive? In your opinion, when should an AD sufferer go to a skilled nursing facility instead of a memory care facility?”

At our dementia care community, we are able to provide a lot of hands-on care for people. There is a point, however, where it may be better (and perhaps cheaper) to choose a Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) for your loved one. Here is what I’d look at:

– Can your loved one still walk? Even if it’s with a walker or cane, she won’t need help being transferred. 

– Can she eat by herself or does she need to be fed?

– Will she be able to participate in activities that the dementia care community provides?

– Will she be able to interact with other residents in a dementia care community?

If you think she’s able to interact with other residents and participate in activities, then she should definitely still be in a dementia care community, even if she needs help getting around and eating. You want to make sure that, no matter what, her living situation is as positive as possible. When it gets to a point that she’s wheelchair or bed-bound constantly, needs to be fed, and can’t interact with others, then it’s probably time for a SNF.

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Rachael Wonderlin is an internationally-recognized dementia care expert and consultant. She has a Master’s in Gerontology and is the author of three published books with Johns Hopkins University Press. Rachael owns Dementia By Day, a dementia care consulting and education company.

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