Moving a Loved One With Dementia

Moving a loved one with Alzheimer's disease. 07/14/2014

When a loved one has Alzheimer’s disease or a form of dementia, families sometimes make the very difficult decision to move them to a memory care assisted living community. Most families understand that once their aging family member has made the transition, this supportive environment will offer them safety and security. A specialty memory care program like Heartland Village that helps to support their current abilities and honors their life history allows each resident to enjoy their best quality of life. But the very idea of helping a loved one with Alzheimer’s make the transition from home to a senior living community often creates high anxiety for family caregivers.

How can you help a senior with memory loss successfully transition to a new environment?

Making a Smooth Transition to a Memory Care Assisted Living Program

• Familiar surroundings can help decrease the stress and anxiety most people feel when moving to a new home. It is even more so for older adults living with Alzheimer’s disease. Before your loved one actually makes the move, work with the staff at their new home to recreate their home environment. Have their favorite chair, a quilt they like to curl up with and their family photos set up before they arrive. Whatever belongings signal “home” to them will help them settle in more easily.

• Schedule their moving time to coincide with their best time of the day. For example, 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.

• Help the staff get to know them quicker by creating a reminiscence board or scrapbook. Include photos of family members and loved ones along with names and descriptions. Drop it off to the staff ahead of time so they have time to review it before your arrival. Once your loved one moves in, you can keep it in the apartment to share with friends and staff.

• Many seniors living with dementia benefit from softly playing some of their favorite music. It might help decrease the anxiety of this transition. Consider bringing a small CD player along with some of their favorite music on CDs. Ask the staff to play it to help soothe them when you can’t be there.

These tips should help you prepare a senior loved one for their move to memory care.  If you are concerned about how to explain a grandparent’s dementia and their upcoming transition to assisted living to your own children, Talking to Your Kids About Alzheimer’s Disease may be of benefit.