When a parent or older family member has Alzheimer's disease or dementia, it can be challenging and upsetting to watch them deal with their symptoms. At some point, you may decide that the best thing for your loved one is to move them into an assisted living or memory care community. It may be more than you can do at home to provide professional care, a safe place to live, and mental stimulation.
Even if you've decided that an assisted living or dementia care community is the best place for your loved one, it's normal to be worried about the transition. Major disruptions or changes in routine can be very distressing for individuals with memory impairments, so it's best to handle the move with care by preparing wisely and remaining positive.
Assisted Living Locators of Northern Virginia helps families navigate this difficult process. Here are a few tips to help your loved one adjust to memory care and make sure they are set up for success.
1. Find the Right Senior Living Community
Finding the proper assisted living or memory care community for your loved one's specific physical, mental, and social care needs is the first step in helping them transition from their home to a senior living community. It is important that you fully understand your family member's unique circumstances in order to find a community that meets their specific requirements. You have the option of conducting independent research or working with a Senior Care Advisor, such as Assisted Living Locators of Northern Virginia. We assist families who are looking for Alzheimer's and dementia care and help them find communities that meet their healthcare needs, social and environmental preferences, location, and budget.
Once you and your family identify a community that your loved one will be comfortable with, the transition will be a much easier process. You will feel at ease knowing that your loved one is moving into a community where they will be safe, respected, active, and well-cared for.
2. Give Community Staff a Detailed Backstory
Once you have selected an assisted living or memory care community and determined the move-in date, collaborate with the community's staff to share as much information as possible about your loved one. You'll want to include important details, such as their health care needs, current medications, and physician contact information. You will also want to discuss your loved one's likes and dislikes, social and recreational interests, meal preferences, and personal history.
By learning personal information about your family member, such as their favorite food and music, the community caregivers can help ease the transition by making your loved one's environment more comfortable, familiar, and enjoyable.
3. Tailor Your Discussions About the Move
Depending on the severity of your loved one's memory loss, there are various ways to prepare them for the transition to a senior living community. If they are in the early phases of dementia and can still communicate and reason effectively, it may be advantageous to prepare them for the move by keeping them informed and involving them in the process as much as possible. Also, before making a final decision, give your loved one an opportunity to tour the community, engage them in optimistic discussions about what to expect, and properly address any questions they may have.
On the other hand, if your loved one is in a late stage of Alzheimer's disease or a related form of dementia, informing them of the pending move in advance might be more harmful than beneficial. It can cause anxiety, fear, and even anger in relation to the move. While it may seem deceptive or unfair to not prepare them for such a significant transition, sharing the news may only present additional obstacles.
4. Create a Comfortable Environment
Once the day of the move has arrived, you should surround your loved one with familiar belongings from their home. Typically, relocating to an assisted living or memory care community involves a considerable amount of downsizing, so it's essential to pack wisely.
Since it is unlikely your loved one will be able to bring all their possessions with them, you should focus on the items that best represent the comforts of home. A beloved pillow or blanket, a favorite portrait or piece of artwork, or a cherished antique are all examples of objects that can create a familiar, home-like environment. Additionally, bringing photographs of family and friends can be very calming and comforting for your loved one during the transition.
5. Provide Them Adequate Time to Settle In
Leaving a family member in their new home can be emotionally taxing. It's natural to want to call or visit them every day, but they need time to adjust to their new surroundings and routine. You chose the assisted living or dementia care community because you were confident in its ability to provide a safe and comfortable environment for your loved one, so you should be confident that the staff will help them feel at ease during the transition.
To support their transition, you should communicate with the staff regarding the optimal times to call. It is also advisable to remain in contact with the attendants regarding how your parent or family member is adjusting to their new residence. It may be difficult at first, but rest assured that you will ultimately see that your loved one is receiving the best care possible.
Transitioning a loved one to an assisted living or memory care community can be fraught with sorrow, regret, and guilt. However, with adequate research, planning, and optimism, you can make the transition a gentle and positive process for your family.
If you believe it is time for your loved one with Alzheimer's or dementia to move into an assisted living or memory care community in Northern Virginia, please contact Assisted Living Locators of Northern Virginia. We are familiar with the assisted living and memory care communities in Northern Virginia and the surrounding area, so we can help you find the community that best meets the needs of your family.
For more information or no-cost assistance with independent living, assisted living, memory care, in-home care, or other senior living options in Northern Virginia’s Prince William County, Fairfax County, Loudoun County, Arlington County, or Alexandria, please call our local elder care experts today at (703) 878-7870 or contact us via e-mail.