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How Do You Move A Senior Parent With Dementia To Memory Care?

moving parent with dementia to memory care

By the time someone with dementia is demonstrating the symptoms (such as memory loss) that qualify them to be in a memory care facility, their disease is often advanced enough that moving them to a long-term care unit may not be as traumatic, at least for the senior person.

Memory care communities are more secure (often a locked unit) so if your senior with dementia or Alzheimer’s tends to wander, this type of unit is a way to help keep them safe.

The staff in a memory care unit is specifically trained to work with elderly with cognitive decline which does require special training.

These dementia caregivers can normally provide the best care for your loved one.

Tips On Moving Someone To A Memory Care Unit

Here are our recommendations for moving a parent with dementia to memory care. Following these steps will ensure a smoother transition to their new home:

  1. Pre-Move Preparation:
    • I would recommend consulting with a social worker or geriatric care manager who works with patients with dementia to assess what your senior loved one may or may not be able to handle emotionally.
    • Write out a practical timeline to complete the move. Factor in things such as visiting and choosing a facility, finalizing paperwork in preparation for the move, deciding on which clothes or familiar items are going with your parent, and so forth.
    • Select memory care facilities with a strong emphasis on tailored care and independence, ensuring they offer the right environment for your parent’s specific needs and dementia stage.
    • Engage in preliminary discussions: Talk to your parent about their future living arrangements long before the need becomes urgent. Make sure to frame these conversations around positivity and care.
    • Utilize “therapeutic fibbing” if necessary, employing gentle, compassionate untruths that reduce stress and make the idea of moving more acceptable.
    • For many seniors who require a memory care unit, the stress of having to make decisions can be overwhelming. So, it may be easier to not involve them in the tasks of packing, scheduling, moving, etc.
  2. Managing Logistics and Emotions:
    • Distinguish between the roles and benefits of assisted living versus memory care to tailor your approach and expectations according to the chosen facility.
    • Discreetly handle the packing of belongings, focusing on bringing essential and familiar items to avoid overwhelming your loved one.
    • Create a serene moving day atmosphere by staying calm and collected, thereby setting a reassuring tone for your parent.
  3. Personalizing the New Space:
    • Before moving, personalize the new living space within the guidelines of the facility. Use items that evoke a sense of home so your parent will experience immediate comfort and familiarity. Don’t forget things like their favorite chair, photo frames filled with pictures of loved ones, and their favorite music.
    • Plan the layout and decoration of the new living area in a way that mirrors previous living conditions as closely as possible.
  4. Transition and Adjustment:
    • Encourage participation in social activities and community events from day one to foster a sense of belonging and accelerate the adjustment process.
    • Everyone is different, so you may need to be at the new facility daily for the first week or two, to help your parent adjust. Conversely, sometimes limited or zero visits during the first week can allow your parent to adapt to their new environment without external pressures. You know your parent; use that inside information to guide you to the type of visits that will best help them settle in.
    • Remain flexible and patient, recognizing that the adjustment period varies greatly among individuals and may require ongoing assessments and modifications to care plans.
  5. Communication and Support:
    • Keep communication lines open with caregivers and facility staff to stay informed about your parent’s adjustment and any emerging needs.
    • Prioritize your own emotional and physical well-being, acknowledging the personal challenges that come with this transition.
  6. Continued Engagement:
    • Maintain regular, supportive visits after the initial adjustment period, focusing on quality time that reinforces your ongoing presence and support.
    • Celebrate small milestones and improvements in your parent’s adjustment to the new environment to encourage positive reinforcement for both you and your parent.

Remember, this transition is profoundly significant for both you and your parent. Compassion, patience, and adaptability are key components of navigating this journey successfully.

Read our tips for how to keep dementia patients in bed at night. If your loved one with dementia tends to wander out of the house, read about the Safe Return Program.

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