Family, senior parents and woman holding with care, love and hug bonding outdoor in a park. Smile, happy person and people in retirement with adult daughter together with bokeh in nature in summer

Chart the course to success in assisted living and memory support

By Ronda Rose

From start to finish, transitioning to senior living requires research and thoughtful decision making, which takes time and understanding. Seniors who currently live at home may not understand the difference between assisted living and memory support, which are two types of care levels in senior living. From the outside, the concepts may seem similar, but they do have their differences.

Assisted living helps seniors with daily activities, such as dressing or bathing, while also guaranteeing them independence, socialization and access to the amenities that come with senior living. Gulf Coast Village, Cape Coral’s only life plan community, offers the full continuum of health care needs, from independent living to skilled nursing and features a range of amenities. Though Gulf Coast Village is a life plan community, seniors do not need to move into independent living first to transition into assisted living or memory care. In fact, seniors can make a direct move into Palmview, Gulf Coast Village’s assisted living and memory support building. At Palmview, residents have access to walking trails, a variety of high-quality dining locations and more.

Memory support communities are designed for seniors experiencing cognitive decline and aim to provide their residents with a homelike and familiar setting. Throughout Palmview, memory support residents have decor outside of their apartments based on their interests. For example, one resident loves gardening, so she has an outdoor garden right by her apartment.

Senior living is a great resource to benefit the health and wellbeing of seniors. That said, it’s important to discuss senior living before it is needed. Often times people are forced to make the decision to move to senior living after an emergency, which can be difficult emotionally, physically and financially. For an earlier approach, the conversation starter could look like this:

“Mom or Dad, have you ever thought about senior living? How do you feel about going to visit some communities, that way we have some options in case anything was to happen?”

The earlier the move to senior living, the better the chance for success. Ideally, the time to begin exploring a move to senior living is when you notice that you or a loved one have difficulty completing daily activities, like grocery shopping, appointments, managing finances or taking medications on time. Additionally, depression and isolation can trigger a decision to explore a move.


Searching for an assisted living or memory support community requires attention and consideration. To find what fits your loved one and their needs, follow this guide:

  1. Do your homework: Know your budget, wants and needs.
  2. Be proactive: Have an open conversation about senior living with your loved one before an emergency arises, forcing the discussion.
  3. Tour communities: On tours, speak to residents, ask them what they like and don’t like.
  4. Ask around: Talk to friends, neighbors and family members about communities that they know of and learn their likes and dislikes about each community.

The standard transition

The physical transition is the hardest part of senior living. While it may look different for everyone, the transition period for new Palmview residents typically lasts two weeks.

Week one is known as the “get to know you” period, where residents are greeted by the different parts of the community, like life enrichment, administration and dining, and their new neighbors. Additionally, the community’s staff gets to know you and your habits. Typically, residents get into a routine, develop habits and engage in activities during week two.

Find support

Families should understand that transitioning to senior living is hard, and your loved one is likely overwhelmed. However, for seniors struggling with daily activities, the help of an assisted living community can transform their lives for the better.

It’s normal to feel guilty about relocating your loved one to senior living. The decision can sometimes bring on the feeling that you, as the caregiver, are not capable of caring for your loved one. For those struggling with these feelings, Gulf Coast Village hosts a monthly support group for caregivers and loved ones led by the Alzheimer’s Association.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are plenty of services that can help you talk to your loved one and navigate the situation of needing to move into assisted living, so research programs in your community.

The power of community

A primary benefit of receiving care in a community is socialization and the resources available to all residents to enjoy life on their own terms. For example, one Palmview resident had an interest in wine tasting, so our life enrichment team organized a wine tasting event for her – now, it’s a community favorite.

If your senior moves to a community that meets their needs physically, medically and socially, it’s likely that while their quality of life improves, so will their quality of health. At the same time, assisted living and memory support communities are looking to improve not just the quality of health of residents, but also their quality of life.

I heard someone once say that successful aging is more of an art than it is a science. There’s no timetable that tells you that now is the time to move to senior living. Each individual ages differently, and we all face different challenges as we age. At the end of the day, senior living is a step toward getting the right help at the right time to live longer, healthier and happier lives.