Moving a Dementia Patient to Another State: A Comprehensive Guide

Whether it’s for better care options, family support, or a change in environment, relocating someone with dementia requires careful planning and consideration. In this guide, I talk about the various aspects involved in such a move and provide you with practical advice to help you navigate this complex journey.

Understanding the Need for Relocation

When it comes to moving a dementia patient to another state, it’s crucial to start by assessing the reasons behind the decision. Consider these key factors:

Caregiver Support

Trust and Comfort

Moving closer to family members or friends who can provide additional support can greatly ease the burden on primary caregivers. Having a support system in place ensures that the patient receives the attention and care they deserve.

Specialized Care

Certain states may have better resources, facilities, and healthcare professionals specializing in dementia care. Researching and finding a location with comprehensive services can significantly enhance the quality of life for your loved one.

Planning and Preparing for the Move

Relocating a dementia patient involves meticulous planning to ensure a smooth transition. Let’s delve into the essential steps to consider:

Choosing the Right Location

caregiver helping a man put his footwear on in a nursing home

Identify a destination that meets the specific needs of your loved one. Look for areas with reputable memory care facilities, access to medical services, support groups, and other resources that can aid in providing the best care possible.

Legal and Financial Considerations

Consult an attorney or financial advisor to ensure you understand the legal and financial implications of moving across state lines. This includes reviewing insurance coverage, transferring medical records, updating legal documents, and researching Medicaid eligibility requirements in the new state.

Organizing the Move

moving and packing with family members

Create a checklist and break down tasks to simplify the moving process. Coordinate with professional movers, gather important documents (medical records, legal papers, prescriptions, etc.), and ensure a smooth transition by notifying healthcare providers and establishing new care arrangements in the new state.

Emotional Support for the Dementia Patient

Moving can be distressing for anyone, but for individuals with dementia, it can be particularly overwhelming. Here are some strategies to provide emotional support during the transition:

Maintaining Familiarity

Pack and transport familiar objects, photographs, and belongings that provide a sense of comfort and familiarity to your loved one. This can help them feel more secure in their new environment.

Gradual Transition

If feasible, consider making multiple visits to the new location before the actual move. This allows the dementia patient to become gradually accustomed to the new surroundings, reducing anxiety and confusion.

Establishing Routine

Set up a daily routine in the new environment to provide structure and familiarity. Consistency and predictability can help alleviate stress and promote a smoother adjustment.

Settling In and Post-Move Considerations

Once you’ve successfully relocated your loved one, it’s important to focus on their well-being and ensure a positive experience. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Support Network

Reach out to local support groups, Alzheimer’s associations, and caregiver networks in the new area. Connecting with these resources can provide invaluable support, information, and a sense of community.

Care Plan Evaluation

Assess the effectiveness of the new care plan and make adjustments as needed. Regularly communicate with healthcare professionals to ensure your loved one’s needs are being met, and consider engaging in ongoing education about dementia care.

Self-Care for Caregivers

Moving a dementia patient to another state is undoubtedly a demanding task, and caregivers must remember to prioritize their well-being. Seek support from friends, family, or professional respite services to prevent burnout and maintain your own mental and physical health.

How can I find memory care facilities in the new state for my loved one with dementia?

man being comforted by a caregiver in a nursing home

One of the first steps is to conduct online research. Start by searching for memory care facilities in the specific state or city where you plan to move your loved one. You can also use search engines like Google and Bing to find specific facilities in the area you’re interested in.

Another useful resource is to reach out to local senior service organizations or agencies. These organizations often have databases or directories of memory care facilities available in the area. They can provide you with valuable information and guide you through the process of finding the most suitable facility for your loved one. Examples of such organizations include the Area Agency on Aging, Alzheimer’s Association chapters, and local senior centers.

Additionally, consider consulting with healthcare professionals specializing in geriatrics or dementia care. Doctors, neurologists, or social workers who have experience in working with individuals with dementia may know reputable memory care facilities in the new state. They can provide insights and recommendations based on their expertise and understanding of your loved one’s specific needs.

Personal recommendations and word-of-mouth can also help find memory care facilities. Talk to friends, colleagues, or neighbors who have had experience with dementia care facilities in the new state. They may be able to provide valuable insights, share their experiences, and recommend specific facilities based on their firsthand knowledge.

Once you have gathered a list of potential memory care facilities, it’s important to conduct thorough research and evaluations. Check the facilities’ websites to learn about their services, amenities, and staff qualifications. Look for online reviews and ratings from current or past residents and their families. 

Visiting the facilities in person is crucial to assess the environment, cleanliness, and overall atmosphere. Don’t hesitate to ask questions about the facility’s staff-to-resident ratio, activity programs, security measures, and any specialized care they offer for individuals with dementia.

What legal documents do I need to update when moving a dementia patient to another state?

legal documents

First and foremost, it is crucial to update the patient’s healthcare power of attorney. This document designates a trusted individual to make medical decisions on their behalf. By updating this document, the patient can ensure that someone familiar with their condition and preferences can continue to advocate for their medical needs in the new state. 

For example, if the patient’s adult child currently holds the healthcare power of attorney, they may need to update the document to reflect their new address and contact information.

In addition to the healthcare power of attorney, the patient’s financial power of attorney should also be updated. This legal document authorizes a trusted individual to handle the patient’s financial affairs. It allows them to manage the patient’s assets, pay bills, and make financial decisions on their behalf. By updating this document, the patient can ensure that their financial matters are properly handled in their new state. 

For instance, if the patient’s sibling currently holds the financial power of attorney, they should update the document to reflect any changes in their contact details and address.

Another important document to update is the patient’s living will or advance directive. This legal document outlines the patient’s wishes regarding end-of-life medical care, such as resuscitation, life support, and organ donation. By updating this document, the patient can ensure that their wishes are known and respected, even in their new state. 

For example, if the patient previously desired to avoid life-prolonging measures, they should update their living will to reflect these wishes in their new location.

Lastly, it is advisable to update the patient’s identification documents, such as their driver’s license or state identification card. This ensures that their identification reflects their current residence, which can be important for various purposes, including accessing healthcare services, voting, and proving residency for benefits or assistance programs. 

For instance, if the patient moves to a new state, they should update their driver’s license or identification card to the new address to comply with local regulations.

How can I ensure a smooth transition of medical records for my loved one with dementia?

First and foremost, it is essential to gather all relevant medical records, including diagnoses, treatment plans, medication lists, and any recent test results. These records serve as a foundation for continuity of care and help new healthcare providers understand the patient’s medical history. 

For instance, requesting records from the primary care physician, specialists, and any hospitals or clinics the loved one has visited can provide a comprehensive overview of their healthcare journey.

Once the medical records are gathered, it is advisable to select a primary healthcare provider who specializes in geriatric care or dementia. This provider will become the central point of contact for the loved one’s medical needs and will oversee the coordination of care. 

Sharing the gathered medical records with the chosen provider is crucial, as it enables them to develop a comprehensive understanding of the loved one’s health status. This transfer of information allows for informed decision-making regarding medication management, treatment options, and specialized care services.

In addition to sharing medical records with the primary healthcare provider, it is essential to inform other relevant individuals and institutions about the transition. This includes notifying the loved one’s previous healthcare providers, such as the primary care physician and specialists, of the change in care. 

Moreover, updating emergency contacts, insurance providers, and pharmacies is essential to ensure a smooth transition. By keeping all stakeholders informed, potential gaps in care can be minimized, and the loved one’s healthcare needs can be met effectively.

During the transition, maintaining open and proactive communication with the new healthcare providers is vital. This involves sharing any concerns or observations about the loved one’s condition, as well as providing feedback on the effectiveness of treatments and interventions. 

For example, if the loved one experiences side effects from a new medication, promptly notifying the healthcare provider allows for adjustments to be made. Ongoing communication fosters a collaborative relationship between the caregiver and the healthcare team, leading to improved care outcomes for the loved one with dementia.


Relocating a dementia patient to another state is a complex endeavor that requires careful planning, emotional support, and a well-thought-out strategy. Understanding the reasons for the move, taking necessary legal and financial steps, providing emotional support, and focusing on post-move considerations can help ensure a successful transition for your loved one.

Remember, each journey is unique, and it’s essential to adapt these suggestions to your specific situation. I’d love to hear from you! 

Have you ever moved a dementia patient to another state? What challenges did you face, and how did you overcome them? Share your experiences and tips in the comments section below. Let’s support each other through this challenging process!


  1. I just moved my mom to assisted living in ND but it has been determined she needs memory care. I just started the guardianship process in ND. First, should she stay In ND until I obtain guardianship in ND or move her sooner and get the guardianship in my state? She doesn’t have a valid health care directive and no POA right now. Can I move her across state lines without guardianship if I want to wait to obtain guardianship until she is in my state.

    1. Hi Teri,

      Moving your mom across state lines without guardianship might complicate matters legally and logistically. It’s usually best to obtain guardianship in the state where she currently resides (ND) before making any major moves. This ensures that you have the legal authority to make decisions on her behalf and provide the necessary care.

      Again, please consult an attorney to get personalized advice for your situation.

      Best of luck,

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