When living at home is not an option anymore
Moving with Alzheimer is a challenge. It starts with a difficult decision, but at some point you feel that you can no longer provide the care that is needed at home. Moving in general is a busy and complicated event and it can also be quite emotional. For people with memory problems, it can also be very confusing.
Moving with Alzheimer may result in transfer trauma
This is a term used to describe the stress that a person with Alzheimer may experience when changing his/her living environment. For some, the stress associated with the move is significant, for others mild or not at all. In general, the impact of moving with Alzheimer is more significant with early stage Alzheimer. The length of time and severity of the transfer trauma is quite individual and can vary from a few days up to a few weeks. The stress is usually temporary in nature and relieved as your loved one builds friendships, gains trust and develops a sense of purpose and belonging in the new community.
Next to making sure the facility can provide the care that is required, it is also important that you choose a facility where the staff is trained to build a strong relationship with your loved one and help him/her building peer relationships. In addition, do your research and choose a facility that understands and provides the needs of your loved one.
Only a sense of real purpose and belonging will help to make themselves at home. If they were used to help doing the laundry, making a cup of coffee, straightening their own room, tending the garden, taking care of a pet; they should be enabled to do whatever they desire to make the facility their home.
Moving with Alzheimer; 10 tips to prepare your loved one
- Avoid telling your loved one he/she needs more help.
Generally, by the time your loved one needs 24-hour care, they are no longer able to identify the fact that they have a problem. If you suggest they can’t do something, they can get very angry. They truly believe there’s nothing wrong with them. Often a doctor or other healthcare professional can be an ally in this situation, explaining to your loved one in a calm but authoritative manner why a transition to memory care is a positive move.
- Attend events at the care facility prior to move-in day.
Make a few visits for lunch or attend other events at the one or two places you’re looking at. Making these activities fun and social can increase familiarity with the communities. If time allows, take advantage of the transition programs many care facilities offer.
- Don’t include your loved one in planning or packing for the move.
With memory loss, decision making and any process with multiple steps will present challenges. You will know what things around their home they use and enjoy on a regular basis.
- Properly time the move
Align the moving time with your loved one’s best time of day. If they are at their best in the morning and worst around sundown, plan to arrive at the assisted living early in the day. It will allow you time to get them settled and comfortable while they are at their best.
- Make sure there are familiar faces on moving-day
Time the move for a day when the staff members you have met earlier are on duty. And obviously make sure you, other family members or friends, are around too.
- Prepare the room with favorite items and photos
If possible, set up your loved one’s room before arrival. Include a few familiar items like cherished photos, small trinkets, throw pillows. Try to make the room welcoming, but choose wisely and do not bring too much. For those suffering from memory loss, too many items, especially clothing options, can confuse or frustrate.
- Make the first meals special
It would be great when the first few meals in the new community are at least familiar and even are favorite meals. Join your loved one during the first meal(s). It makes moving with Alzheimer less confusing.
- Get acquainted with the staff members
Make connections with the people who will care for your loved one. Getting to know individual staff members makes communication about your loved one’s care easier. Give the staff information about your loved one, background, special needs, ahead of time. The more they know, the better they can help.
- Say goodbye properly
Leaving a loved one with Alzheimer is always a challenge, and it will even be more so on moving day. If possible, follow a familiar routine and make sure the staff is aware of your departure, so they can give support after you go.
- Support yourself
Understand that having your loved one moving with Alzheimer will also impact you. Especially if you were the primary caregiver. Stress and guilt during the first couple of weeks after you have made the decision to move your loved one into the community is quite normal. Keep in mind, that regardless of where the care takes place, the decision is about making sure your loved one receives the care needed. Take some time to acknowledge the work you’ve done to give the care he/she needed, enjoy some relaxing activities and enjoy your next visits.