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What is the Average Length of Stay in a Memory Care Unit?

When a person needs memory care services, it is not uncommon to wonder about the expected length of the stay. Memory care is usually long-term, but there are numerous factors that will determine how long you, a friend or relative will need to stay in a memory care community.

The average length of stay in a memory care unit and/or assisted living community is two to three years. However, that amount of time may vary widely, from just a few months to ten years or more.

The good news is memory care communities offer services that are highly beneficial to both residents and family members. These specialized supportive living environments have highly trained staff members and the resources available to keep your loved one safe, healthy and happy. Often, individuals living in memory care communities are happier and more active in the community than they would be at home, simply because they have the support they need.

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When Is Memory Care Necessary?

Deciding when someone needs memory care is challenging. When a family member is diagnosed with a memory impairment like dementia or a specific type of dementia such as Alzheimer’s or Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a doctor is not likely to give you a set timeline of how long it will take for the condition to progress. Although symptoms may start off as mild, with the person losing keys or having trouble staying organized, the disease will progress at some point. Eventually, it will become a challenge to care for an individual with a memory impairment to live independently. Many times, there are safety concerns associated with the person’s forgetfulness and confusion that make it dangerous for the person to continue living alone.

A few signs memory care may be needed include:

  • Family members are worried about the safety of the person.
  • Caregivers are exhausted and stressed.
  • Memory impairment is causing the person to make careless mistakes with his or her finances.
  • The person is unable to manage personal care needs including bathing, dressing or toileting.
  • Doctors recommend the individual be given professional memory care support.
  • The individual is showing physical signs of decline. This may include weight loss, poor appetite or unexplained cuts and bruises.
  • Your family member is no longer taking medications or taking inappropriate amounts at the wrong times due to forgetfulness.
  • Your relatative is exhibiting a noticeable lack of personal hygiene.
  • The person feels isolated or complains of loneliness.

Making the transition to memory care is a big decision, but it’s typically a significant improvement for both the individual and their family and friends. Memory care provides the support those with memory impairments need, focusing on their abilities and helping them live more fulfilling lives.

What Impacts How Long Someone Stays in Memory Care

The length of time that it takes for a person to reach the stage where they need full-time memory care varies. A few factors that could influence how long someone stays in memory care include:

Type of Memory Impairment

Dementia is typically the most common type of memory impairment in memory care communities, but dementia has multiple types, including Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), among others.

Each type of dementia has its own progression rate. For example, CJD usually progresses rapidly. Many individuals with CJD have less than a year between diagnosis and death, reducing the time they stay in memory care communities. A person with Alzheimer’s, on the other hand, could remain in memory care for years. It’s not uncommon for someone with Alzheimer’s to live a full life in a supportive community for five or 10 years, or even more.

Health and Resiliency

A person’s physical and mental health will also impact the length of time they spend in memory care. Healthy individuals that are strong physically and mentally may be able to stay in their personal homes for longer. They may also remain happy and healthy in a memory care community for a significant length of time.

Individuals who have chronic health problems or other diseases, such as cardiac disease, may be less resilient. Memory care helps these individuals live stronger lives for longer, but overall health will still impact their length of stay.

Support and Family Preferences

Memory care is not the only option for those with memory impairments. Many families choose to have a dedicated caregiver come to a private home. Caregivers can be relatives or professionals, but the length of time they support an individual can greatly affect that person’s time in memory care. Some caregivers work in a private home for years before the individual transitions to a memory care community, reducing the time the person spends in the community. Other caregivers are a temporary support resource to help with the move.

Individuals with memory impairments and their families choose how long they stay in a private residence, with or without support, and when they want to move to a memory care community.


Not only do individuals and their families choose the best time to move to memory care, they also choose the community that best fits their needs. If the community they choose doesn’t have availability, they may decide to extend in-home caregiver services, waiting until a place opens up.

Average Length of Memory Care Stays

Giving a timeline for a memory stay is very difficult. Some individuals are only in the residence for a few months while others stay for years. The average amount of time individuals live in assisted living residences, including memory care units, ranges from two to three years.

If the individual receives home-based services first before moving into the memory care unit, the average time may drop drastically. In this case, a memory care stay may be less than a year. However, it is not unusual to need long-term care with stays exceeding three years. Each individual progresses differently and the goal of a memory care unit is to provide a high quality of life filled with joyful moments for those living with dementia and similar impairments regardless of how long residents stay.

Memory Care at the Villages of Windcrest

The Villages of Windcrest provides comfort and safety for all our residents. Located in beautiful Fredericksburg, Texas, residents become like family to our Valeo memory care team.

Our goal is to take care of each resident on a physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual level. We provide activities that are designed to help residents socialize and keep them physically and mentally active. With 24/7 medical monitoring and round the clock security, The Villages of Windcrest keeps each community member safe and healthy. All personal needs are addressed in our memory care community with chef-prepared meals, laundry/linen services and weekly housekeeping. Contact us today to learn more about our cutting-edge approach to memory care.