Transitioning to a Memory Care Community: How You Can Help Your Loved Ones
When your mom or dad’s dementia or Alzheimer’s care requires more than you can reasonably provide, it might be time to start thinking about transitioning to a memory care community. A variety of memory care levels exist, from providing simple medication reminders to full care communities assisting residents with bathing, dining, and ensuring they won’t get lost.
Transitioning to a Memory Care Community
The first thirty days can be the most difficult as you and your parent work through the shift from independent living to a memory care community. In many cases, your loved one may not always remember why the move is a good idea and might become upset or argumentative. Being patient but firm, and leaning on the staff and administration at your chosen community for help, can aid you through this process and make your mom or dad feel at home.
Explore Before the Move
Taking your mom or dad to enjoy lunch or recreational activity at their chosen memory care community can help give them familiarity with the building, grounds, staff, and other members of the residence. Associating positive feelings and memories with the community can make it easier for them to feel at home once they move in. You can also discuss various Alzheimer’s care options with the staff, and see how other residents enjoy their lives in the community setting.
Share Information with Staff
The caregivers at your loved one’s chosen senior living community should have as many questions for you as you do for them. Be prepared to tell them as much as you can about your parent’s life and interests. Knowing which foods they like and dislike, what things they were passionate about when they were young, and other personal pieces of information about your mom or dad can help staff personalize your parent’s care.
Initiating the Actual Move
The chaos of moving can be even more confusing and disorienting to a loved one living with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Having one friend or family member spend the day with your parent while the rest of you arrange the setup of their new room can help.
Choose belongings carefully to create a space that feels familiar as well as offering staff insight into your parent’s personality and interests. Focus on items with personal value and sensory input, like a soft quilt or family photos.
Take Time to Visit Frequently
Years ago, the standard recommendation was for family and friends to stay away for the first week or after transitioning to a memory care community. At The Kensington Falls Church, we encourage family members to visit our memory care communities frequently, and even have a pet-friendly policy so you can enjoy time with the entire family while your loved one adjusts.
By planning visits for a specific time of day, you can create a defined routine helping your mom or dad get used to the idea of you coming, leaving, and reliably coming again.
Adapt your Interactions
You may need to adapt the way you interact with your loved one. If they insist an impossible event took place, or that a fact (like the year) is different than what you know to be true, realize that this is their reality. Arguing may only lead to unnecessary unhappiness. Instead, enjoy listening to their stories and find small, meaningful activities to do together, such as sharing a meal or going for a walk around the grounds.
It’s important to take care of yourself to make the most out of your time together. If you are experiencing grief or frustration, there is a good chance they will also pick up on your emotions and become upset. You may want to consider talking with a friend or therapy professional about your feelings as a way to work through your role in the transition.
The better you care for yourself, the better you’ll be able to help take care of your mom or dad. Being once the primary caregiver for a senior parent, it’s easy to feel nervous about how comfortable your loved one will feel. What’s key to pushing worries aside, is reminding yourself that a team of loving, caring, and expert professionals will be there to ensure they are happy and healthy at all times.
Know that it Gets Easier
The initial transition into a memory care community can be challenging, and at times your loved one may say or do things that are hurtful. But remember, it isn’t personal.
They are coming from a place of uncertainty, confusion, and frustration. Accept that their unhappiness is temporary. They will have good days and difficult days.
By attending to their care with compassion and love, you are ensuring that they are safe and will continue to have every opportunity for a fulfilling life beyond dementia.
Find out more about how The Kensington Falls Church can help your mom or dad transition to the highest level of independence without compromising their safety. We welcome you to book your personalized tour today.