The transition to memory care can be difficult for families to navigate. Strong emotions, confusion, and shifting relationships may play out in interactions with a loved one moving to a memory care community.
1. Personalize their room in gradual increments
Experts caution families against moving all of a senior’s personal items at once, which may cause panic. Instead of making the change feel immediate from the start, caregivers should frame the move as a trial period while their loved one adapts.
Slowly introduce things to make it more homelike, say “Would you like your pillow?” or “Would you like this one picture?”
2. Grant a few weeks for adjustment
Moving into a memory care community marks a big change — one that requires time and patience from everyone involved. Families should expect a window of four to six weeks for seniors to become acclimated. During this time, family members should validate seniors’ feelings, rather than simply push past them.
3. Step away from visits when necessary
In the early days after a move, the presence of a loved one may trigger homesickness or other negative emotions. To account for this, someone may step in as a “surrogate” visitor. This person can have similar conversations with the senior while establishing a more neutral connection.
From the surrogate visitor, you can get a good picture of how your parent is adjusting. Ask yourself this key question: “Who can be present for them, so that you can know they’re OK and feel pleasure from being with them?”
4. Visit at the right times to minimize distress
Try to avoid visits in the evening. Not only does this time coincide with symptoms of sundown syndrome, but it can upset your loved one when you leave for home without them. To prevent this reaction, plan visits around the morning or lunchtime, when you can mention leaving for work or running errands instead.
5. Encourage family and friends to connect
When someone moves to memory care, it’s natural for family members and friends to pull back as a way to promote socialization among memory care residents. Despite this instinct, experts warn that an “all-or-nothing” approach might prove ineffective. As your senior loved one becomes more involved in their community, disengage slowly and in stages.
6. Focus on the positive
Typically, a senior transitions to memory care when it becomes too difficult for caregivers and family members to manage dementia behaviors like aggression, confusion, and repetitive speech. However, we encourage family members to focus on the traits the person still has, not what they’ve lost.
7. Be open to reassessing needs, and embrace flexibility
Approach these moments with one key question: What did go OK? While challenges are normal, watch out for persisting red flags. If a senior has difficulty making friends or engaging in community activities, consider making a more in-depth plan and talking with staff to address it.
For more information on transitioning a loved to a memory care community, contact one our Sales Directors today.
Source: Kara Lewis