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.
What is the difference between memory care and assisted living?
Assisted living and memory care can include similar services, such as help with medications, bathing, grooming, meal services, and secure living spaces. Memory care is just a specialized form of care. It is meant to support those with Alzheimer’s or dementia by creating a more structured, soothing environment with a focus on routine.
Staff working with memory care residents will have additional training to ensure the highest levels of care. They understand how to compassionately manage difficult behaviors resulting from memory loss, such as aggression or wandering, while allowing residents to maintain the highest level of independence and individuality as possible.
Some communities, such as The Kensington Falls Church, offer assisted living and memory care in the same location. If your loved one is experiencing mild memory loss, for example, they can age in place in their community by moving to memory care as their care needs change.
Transitioning to memory care can be much simpler and more gradual when the community offers multiple levels of care.
What can be expected in early-stage memory care
In the early stages of memory loss, your loved one might begin to forget names, feel confused about what they were planning to do that day, and become frustrated with tasks that once were simple for them. Transitioning to memory care as early as possible can be extremely beneficial to long-term comfort and contentment.
In a memory care community, a team of experts will create a care plan specifically for your loved one’s needs, and it will be carried out by compassionate professionals. Structure, schedules, and routine are high priorities in memory care communities.
With your input, it can be customized to include personal items that will enhance comfort and familiarity.
The Connections Neighborhood
The Kensington has two memory care neighborhoods: Connections and Haven. Connections was created for residents in the early to middle stages of dementia. The staff in this cozy, intimate neighborhood focus on helping residents engage in activities that provide meaning and purpose.
Connections is fully secured for your loved one’s safety, while the staff encourages independence in each resident to avoid them having feelings that they are being watched or restricted.
In the early stages of dementia, your loved one can feel depressed because they are aware of their declining condition. That’s why we welcome pets, frequent contact with family, and opportunities for fresh air and sunshine so your loved one can be surrounded by things they enjoy.
How advanced-stage memory care provides the most acute care
When your loved ones reach the middle to late stages of dementia, the care focus shifts to a higher level of comfort and security. Wandering behavior may increase as your loved one confuses times and years, and bathing and eating can become very difficult. Moving to memory care at this stage might be more challenging and confusing for your loved one, but working with the right community can help quickly ease their discomfort.
At this stage, your loved one may not recognize close friends and family, and have trouble organizing their thoughts. At a memory care community, they can receive around-the-clock care and assistance. We want them to continue to experience joy and contentment every day while their basic needs are fulfilled.
The Haven Neighborhood
The Kensington’s Haven neighborhood was designed for people experiencing the middle to late stages of dementia. It is fully secured, with wander management technology available to monitor residents and keep them safe. Just like Connections, Haven was thoughtfully created with cozy, intimate spaces to harbor feelings of safety and comfort.
The kitchen is active with music, laughter, and familiar smells such as baked goods to soothe residents. Pleasing the senses is important in these stages, so staff make sure to enhance experiences for residents whenever possible.
Haven also has features such as painted walls and doors, motion sensors, specially designed carpet, and memory boxes to help residents with recognition and confusion.
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.
Aging in place at The Kensington Falls Church
The Kensington promise is to love and care for your family as we do our own. Each thoughtfully designed neighborhood was created with our residents’ happiness and comfort in mind. We go above and beyond for their care in order to create a true home where they can age in place and enjoy family and pets.
With the unpredictability and ups and downs those with dementia experience, it’s important to remain flexible and adjust care as needed. Our team of professionals is always on hand to make these adjustments for the highest levels of care possible.
Find out more about how The Kensington Falls Church can help your mom or dad with transitioning to memory care, while preserving the highest level of independence without compromising their safety. We welcome you to book your virtual tour today.