Moving a parent with dementia to a memory care facility can be a daunting and emotionally charged experience for everyone involved. Not only is it a significant life change for your loved one, but the process can be challenging for caregivers and family members too. However, transitioning to memory care can also be an opportunity to provide your parent with the specialized care they need and help them live life better.
Memory care is a type of senior living that specializes in caring for people with dementia or other forms of memory loss by offering a secure environment with trained staff who are experienced in managing the behaviors and symptoms associated with dementia. They also provide a variety of activities and programs designed to stimulate cognitive function and enhance quality of life.
If you’ve decided that memory care is right for your loved one’s needs, use these tips to make the process of transitioning to memory care as smooth as possible.
Discuss long-term care early in the diagnosis
If possible, it’s best to begin making long-term care plans as early as possible after the dementia diagnosis. This means starting the conversation about transitioning to memory care early on, while your parent is still able to participate in the decision-making process. This can help them feel more in control of the situation and may make the transition easier for them.
However, if your loved one is in mid-to later-stages of the disease, involving them in the decision-making, planning, and packing can be very agitating and confusing. In these cases, it may cause less distress to wait until the change is imminent to announce the move. To figure out the best approach for your unique situation, it helps to consult with your memory care community of choice or your loved one’s current dementia treatment specialist. As professionals, they can be a valuable resource for strategies to make the move to memory care easier.
Choose the best time of day
With dementia, you may notice that your loved one’s symptoms can be better or worse depending on the time of day. With that in mind, try to schedule your parent’s move to coincide with the time of day when they’re at their best. This will help them get through the move and settle into their new space with minimal fatigue or agitation.
Build familiarity with the community
Familiarity is key to feeling comfortable and safe – especially for those with dementia. After choosing a memory care community to move to, visiting a few times before moving day can help ease the transition. If possible, do more than just take a tour. Participate in activities, meet future neighbors, and build a rapport with the staff. Each visit can build a little more familiarity for your loved one and ease any anxiety they might have about the environment.
Personalize their new space
Your parent’s favorite possessions and furnishings can help to make the new environment feel more like the home they are used to. But when deciding what to pack, keep in mind that many people with memory loss experience decision-making impairments. Asking your loved one what to bring or what to keep may turn into a nerve-wracking process for them – so it may be best to leave the planning and moving process to yourself and other family members.
Finally, moving your loved one to memory care doesn’t mean that you have to step back from their care entirely. Stay involved by visiting regularly, communicating with the staff, and participating in activities and programs when possible. If regular in-person visits aren’t possible, make arrangements to call them on the phone or use video chat technology. Seeing familiar faces will help to ease their anxiety in their new surroundings.
Transitioning to memory care can be a difficult and emotional process, but it’s also an opportunity to provide your parent with the specialized care they need. With time, patience, and support, they can adjust to their new environment and enjoy a better quality of life. If you are looking into memory care options for your loved one, see what Miami Jewish Health has to offer.