Change is always a challenge, even when it’s a good change. But for seniors with memory issues, change can be especially difficult. Because of the planning and decision-making required for moving, a transition from home to a memory care community – or even from one unit to another within the same community – can be a particularly stressful time for loved ones.
However, there are ways that you, your family, and other caregivers can help ease that transition and ensure your loved one feels safe and comfortable during and after the transition. Here are a few tips to help make that happen:
Before the Move
Because transitioning to memory care often involves the whole family, you may hear opinions from many different people, and all these opinions can overwhelm seniors with dementia.
Establish a script – Before proposing the move to your loved one, it’s important to have a family conversation to establish a consistent script. You’ll likely have to remind your loved one frequently of their move, and it will be helpful to have a straightforward, comforting response to curb disorientation and reassure your senior loved one. Keep the message simple — you could tell your aging relative, “You’re going to your new home,” or, “This is a place where you’ll be safe.”
Do the packing for them – Moving can be an emotionally turbulent experience for anyone, but it can be especially overwhelming for a loved one with dementia. Organizing and boxing up beloved items can be stressful and disorienting. You can minimize panic and potential outbursts by packing when your senior loved one is asleep, at an appointment, or spending time with friends.
Personalize their living space – The memory care community you choose will become your family member’s new home. You can help establish a homey feeling by incorporating decorations and personal items into the space before the move to make them feel at ease when they arrive.
On Moving Day
In the same way you can alleviate stress by handling packing, you can also take the pressure off your loved one on moving day by shouldering key responsibilities.
Encourage your loved one to socialize and participate – While you’re unboxing final additions to your loved one’s memory care room, let them explore the community and adjust to their new surroundings. Aim to move during a time when a memory care activity your loved one might enjoy is being hosted, like an art class, singalong, or game of bingo. Experiencing the benefits of their new community right away can decrease moving day stress and give your family member the chance to meet friends and learn their new daily routine.
Acknowledge concerns and questions – Be supportive and let your loved one know you understand how hard this transition is for them. Reaffirm the long-term benefits of the situation without discounting their current emotions.
Have important conversations with community staff – Take time on moving day to share any concerns, personality traits, or other information the staff may find helpful in creating a safe, comfortable place for your loved one. Having open lines of communication will help you stay engaged with your family member even when you are apart.
Once They’re Settled In
After moving to memory care, the community staff will become an integral support system for your loved one. They can help you understand how to stay connected in a way that’s healthy for you and your senior loved one
Communication and regular visits with your mom or dad show you’ll continue to support them and be present. However, communication may be challenging during the first weeks or months after the move. You can help reduce distress for seniors with dementia by following these tips when visiting their memory care community:
Visit at the right times. Whenever possible, opt for morning visits and avoid evenings. People with dementia are generally more alert in the mornings, and late afternoon can coincide with sundown syndrome.
Join programming and mealtimes with your senior loved one. Visiting during a game, activity, or lunchtime can distract from potentially difficult emotions. It also helps mark a clear end point for the visit, making goodbyes easier.
Accept that the transition to memory care might take several weeks. Moving into a memory care facility is a big change that requires time and patience from everyone involved. Expect an adjustment period for seniors to become fully acclimated to their new environment.
If your loved one reaches a point where living independently becomes problematic or impossible, it’s important to be prepared for their next phase of life. Crimson Village is proud to offer memory care options onsite to allow for a smooth transition from your senior loved one’s current situation to their possible future living arrangements. You can learn more about available amenities, floor plans, and medical support by exploring our website. Crimson Village is happy to provide direct access to urgent care, primary care, physical therapy, and medical spa. Contact Transition Specialist Tim Eads today! (205) 344-2855