Moving to Memory Care – Having the Conversation with Your Loved One
Your loved one experiencing dementia may require memory care if their symptoms worsen or if their safety at home is compromised. Your decision to move them to memory care may lead you to worry about how to have the conversation with your loved one and make the transition smooth. We understand your compassion. Our tips will help you have a caring and honest talk with your loved one to prepare them for a move to memory care.
Start the Conversation Early
Start the conversation with your loved one as early as possible to ensure they are aware from the start that they may move to memory care if their symptoms progress and compromise their well-being. Use time in this early stage to include your loved one’s preferences so that they have a say in their own future. By doing so, you may stave off typical feelings such as loss of independence, fear, or abandonment.
Listen and Have Compassion
Understand that your loved one with dementia has basic needs and that you can help them feel secure and comfortable in their:
- Need to feel safe
- Need to feel that they belong
- Need to feel a sense of community
As you discuss a move to memory care, have compassion by keeping these basic needs in perspective and on the top level of importance.
Listening is key to communication. It encourages your loved one’s faith in you.
Honest and Open Conversation
What should you say to your loved one to help them feel safe and secure? Use honest (don’t add fluff), and open descriptions in your conversation. Describe the memory care unit to your loved one in a positive and easy to understand manner:
- A place where you’ll always be safe
- A place where all your needs will be met
- A beautiful place that you will love
- A place where I and your family and friends will often spend time with you
- A place where you’ll have fun things to do
- A place where you’ll see and hear … (fill in your loved one’s favorites – music, color, etc.)
Avoid frustration and feelings of alienation by allowing your loved one to openly participate in the decision making process as much as they are able. They may verbally clue you in on personal needs and wants that you aren’t aware of.
Choose Your Words Carefully
If you feel your loved one will react negatively to the topic of a memory care facility, give them the option to tell you what their care should look like. Consider asking:
- What options would you have if something happened to me?
- If I weren’t around, what would your ideal home and caregiver plan look like?
- If you were to choose a plan for your caregiving that didn’t include me, what would make you feel safe and cared for?
After allowing your loved one the opportunity to express their own thoughts, explain the caregiving options that are available. Ensure your loved one understands that you are on their team, that your goal is the same as theirs—memory care that meets all their basic needs and comfort. Don’t be surprised if your loved one expresses relief after the conversation. Sometimes they don’t, or cannot, verbalize their fears and anxiety about their future life and are relieved to know a plan is set in place.
Build a Sense of Familiarity
If your loved one is not in the latter stages of dementia, consider planning several visits to the memory care unit to build a sense of comfort and familiarity before move-in day. Memories of these visits will help calm jittery nerves about the move. Schedule visits with memory care staff to ensure you meet at optimal times, such as during meals in a dining room or during a scheduled activity. Consider scheduling a day or night of respite care in the unit. Visits go a long way towards creating a sense of familiarity in the new environment.
Help and Advice
Whether you are trying to decide if a move to memory care is right for your loved one, or if you have made the decision and are struggling with how to help your loved one make the transition, we understand that this can be challenging. If you are a caregiver and would like to talk about the best options for the future, give us a call at 512-399-5089. We can help you through every step of the way.