Moving a parent or senior loved one with dementia into an assisted living or memory care community is a major transition. It’s an emotional journey and there are bound to be upsets and logistical challenges along the way.
Understanding How To Move A Parent With Dementia To Assisted Living
Having a go-to list of tips and suggestions can help you and your family better prepare to move a parent with dementia to assisted living while ensuring s/he receives impeccable care.
Start A Conversation Early (depending on the stage of memory loss)
If possible, begin making the long-term care plan as early as possible after the dementia diagnosis.
If your parent or loved one is in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia, looking ahead to find the right community allows them to be a part of the process, which can make for a smoother transition when moving day arrives.
Ideally, the time to move to a community is when s/he is no longer able to live safely and independently at home or when the level of care required becomes more than what you and/or other caregivers are able to provide from a time and safety perspective.
On the flip side, if your loved one is in mid-to later-stages of the disease, it can be upsetting to engage him/her in selecting a community and planning moving day. In some cases, it is better to wait until the change is eminent to announce the move, and enlist the help of family and friends for decision-making, sorting, and packing.
Visit our Guide for Talking to a Loved One About Memory Care for more insight into this topic.
Choose A Community Specializing In Memory Care
Not all assisted living communities are created equal, and many of them aren’t equipped to adequately care for residents with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Moving is challenging enough, and the last thing you want to do is have to move your parent a second time unless you absolutely must, so it is important to select the right community specializing in memory care.
Use these Questions to Ask When Visiting Memory Care Communities to help you select the best new home for your loved one.
Consider Visiting The New Assisted Living Community Together Before Moving Day
Familiarity is key to feeling safe.
Once a community is selected, some people find visiting the community a few times before moving day helps ease the transition. You and your loved one may consider attending and participating in activities and events, meeting other residents with similar interests and interacting with staff.
Each of these visits proactively builds layers of familiarity.
Schedule The Move For Their “Best Time Of The Day”
Typically, late mornings and early afternoons are a dementia patient’s “best time of the day.” Early mornings and evenings may be more difficult.
The transition from one home to the next will be less stressful when your parent is most likely to be calm, allowing more time to settle in before s/he becomes fatigued or agitated.
Bring A Simple Collection Of Favorite Things
Odds are their new room is smaller than their current home, and clutter is a recipe for confusion and trip hazards.
If you haven’t received information from the assisted living community director or staff about what to bring from home, give them a call to find out how much is “just enough” to bring.
In some communities, rooms come furnished, but you should still be able to bring touches from home such as a favorite chair, wall art, personalized bedding, a CD player or iPod/docking station to play his/her favorite music.
At The Memory Center, our rooms are unfurnished to allow residents and their families to more closely recreate a space that looks and feels like home.
Having familiar pieces from home helps new residents settle in more quickly. And again, be careful about asking your parent “which item(s) do you want to take with you…,” as these types of decisions can be agitating in later stages of the disease.
We recommend reading Making A New Space In Assisted Living Or Memory Care Feel Like Home for more information on this important topic.
Take Advantage Of Counseling Services & Transition Programs
This is a major physical transition, to be sure, but it’s also a major emotional transition for everyone involved.
Often, spouses and family members are the most dramatically affected as they watch their loved one settle seamlessly into place while the rest of the family is experiencing a sense of grief. If your parent opts to move into assisted living in the earlier stages of dementia, you may find support from a counselor valuable who can help you or your family process the complex array of emotions the transition elicits.
If you’ve been an integral part of your parent’s dementia care, we suggest reading, Adjusting to Life…After Being a Caregiver, which offers nourishing tips on how to handle your next steps.
Communicate With The New Caregiving Staff
First and foremost, the staff want to get to know new residents. The more they know about your parent, the easier it is to spark conversations and connect with him/her as s/he settles in.
Additionally, it’s helpful to lean on the staff and allow them to explain the new transition and to support your parent during the move. Again, choosing a memory care-specific community means the administration and staff are well-versed experts and will know exactly what to say without causing further confusion or upset for your parent.
Carefully Deciding How to Move A Parent With Dementia To Assisted Living
As with all life transitions, mindful and methodical preparation is the key to minimizing mental and emotional stress. Selecting an assisted living center that specializes in memory care will provide the support you need throughout the move.
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