Moving your loved one into memory care can be emotionally challenging.
Despite knowing that the move is being made to enhance your loved one’s quality of life and that you have carefully chosen the memory care facility, you may still find yourself lying awake at night anxiously wondering if your loved one will resist the transition, and how long will it take them to adjust.
Unfortunately, there is no way to predict how long the adjustment period will last. It can take days, weeks, or months.
Much of the outcome depends upon the type and severity of dementia, and how your loved one is prepared for the move.
The outcome also depends upon the environment (the facility), and the level of support that is given (by yourself, family, and staff) during and after the move.
A True and Positive Transition Story
Recently, a friend of mine moved her mother to a memory care facility. She could no longer give the care that she knew her mother would receive in the memory care community, but she still was filled with trepidation.
How long would it take for her mother to adjust? As a caregiver, she was prepared.
She visited the memory care facility with her mother before the move. She had the conversation with her mother about the move.
On moving day, she also made sure the new living space felt warm and personal by moving her mother’s favorite dresser into the room, along with her cherished pillows and quilt, and other decorative items that the facility allowed (and urged her to put in place).
The day of the move went smoothly. Her mother did not become agitated (which is a concern when moving dementia patients). My friend said, “The move went amazingly well.”
Days passed, and it went into a full week. The staff at the facility reported to my friend, “Your mother has not left her room. We are concerned. She does not want to walk anywhere. She does not want to partake in our activities.”
My friend pondered on the situation. Why would my mother not leave her room? Was she going to go downhill emotionally and physically from this point?
I have visited her several times, and my close friends have visited her as well at the same time each day – we’ve established a routine. What are we missing? Then, it came to her…
She sat down in her mother’s room and had a conversation:
“Mom, look at your pretty things sitting on your dresser. Your clothes are in the closet. I hear your favorite music playing on your radio. This is your home – one that I think you are comfortable in. You know, you aren’t in the hospital – where they told you that you couldn’t leave your room. You are free to walk around here. You are free to meet other people. You are free to go down the hall and have some fun.”
The next day, the facility called my friend and reported that her mother had left her room and was having a great time.
Several days passed, and the phone calls came with even more upbeat news. Her mother not only was being social, walking the halls, taking part in activities, but she had become the leader – the caregiver that she once was.
She had found her own joyous space and purpose!
What happened in this (true) story that helped with the adjustment?
Several things took place – such as the personal items that were moved to the mother’s living area.
The mother was emotionally prepared before the move, and the routine and regular visits after the move were connective and personal – geared towards meeting her mother’s needs.
The facility also had attentive and caring staff!
Tips for Preparing a Person with Dementia for Moving
Here are some practical ways to make a transition to memory care smoother:
Announce the upcoming move to your loved one, but not too far in advance.
This gives your loved one time to emotionally prepare, but not so much time that they could become agitated and advance to extreme behaviors.
Reduce the surprise factor by visiting the new facility with your loved one.
This can be planned to ensure your loved one meets the staff, and the staff connects on a personal level (with information that you provide prior to the visit).
Consider a fun stay for your loved one, perhaps an overnight stay.
Seek the facility’s respite services.
This can help your loved one develop familiarity with the environment, staff, and the residents before the move.
When having a conversation with your loved one about the approaching move, listen well.
Empathize and validate their concerns but avoid trying to convince them that the move is going to be perfect for them.
Listen for key words that clue you into their fears and anxiety that you can help with – or share with specialists who can assist (prior and during the move).
After the move – make frequent visits!
Frequent visits during the first few weeks after your loved one moves to a memory care community can help them settle into their new environment.
You are the one that knows your loved one’s preferences – their likes and dislikes.
Your loved one may not be able to articulate all or any of this, so your input will help to ensure that a smoother transition with a greater level of comfort takes place.
You may not have the time in your schedule to make these visits frequently, but as my friend did, she pulled in the troops – her closest of friends, those that her mother knew well, helped to fill in the gap to ensure predictable, routine, and personal visits (three key elements for fruitful visits) were made during her first several weeks in memory care.
As your loved one becomes accustomed to their new routine and community, you can ease off from visiting frequently.
We Are Here for You
Our goal is to make your loved ones feel at home!
We want to help you with your questions, and ease your mind about the transition for your loved one to memory care.
The small things in life matter to us – we pay close attention to our resident’s preferences and needs, and family matters!
You are more than a visitor – you are part of the process!
If are in the Round Rock, Texas area, and would like to schedule a family visit, or make an appointment, you may do so online, or call us at 512-399-5080.