One of the hardest parts of growing up is watching our parents and other loved ones grow older. For many people, advanced age brings cognitive decline or loss of memory. It’s hard to watch and even harder to deal with. Sometimes that memory loss gets to the point where the safest and smartest thing to do for you and your loved one is to place them in a memory care facility.
As caregivers, we want to provide the best life possible for our loved ones. We often assume that means that they should stay with us in an environment that they are familiar with, but that’s not always true.
Dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other cognitive issues can take a physical and mental toll on those individuals trying to help. Additionally, your loved one may require more assistance than you or your family can handle. For their safety and wellbeing, a memory care facility may be the best option all around. Remember that your job is to provide the best care possible for your aging parent or other loved one, and this care may not look like what they might prefer.
Making the decision to move your loved one into one of these facilities is the most important first step, but from there, you’ll want to ensure that you prepare them carefully and correctly. Here is everything you need to know to make this transition as easy as possible for everyone involved.
Your Guide to Transitioning Your Loved One into a Memory Care Facility
Once you have discussed this next step in their care with other family members, your loved one’s healthcare professionals, and any financial advisors and insurances they have, you will need to choose a new home where you will feel comfortable that he or she will be receiving high-quality care. You’ll want to research memory care facilities, such as Parc Provence, and find a home that offers living arrangements in addition to individually designed memory care programs.
This is a crucial aspect of the transition. It makes everything else much smoother when you have confidence that you are doing the right thing for your loved one’s safety and wellbeing.
Now that you have a plan in place for where they will be living and being taken care of, you can use some of these expert tips to help make the transition smoother during this delicate time.
- Plan what to tell your loved one in advance. Ad-libbing has a place and time, but when your emotions are running high and your loved one is in an advanced state of cognitive decline, the wrong words can set them off. Speak with a social worker at the new home or one you are already familiar with who knows your loved one’s unique needs to come up with a plan of what to say in advance.
- Pack the necessities. You might think that by letting your loved one assist with the packing and details of the move that you are helping them, but individuals with memory loss often get stressed with tough decisions or too many steps. If you know what is important to them, be sure to pack that. Otherwise, take some time to watch and observe them over a few days before you choose.
It’s also common for people to overpack for their loved ones. Remember that, for a person suffering from memory loss, too many decisions can be stressful. Pack them a few outfits, but not an overwhelming amount. Send them with their favorite knickknacks, but not too many. Keep it simple.
- Move them on their best time of the day, not yours. You may have a job, errands, tasks to do, and a busy schedule. This move will not be easy, though, and to help make it smoother, you should be sure to do it while your loved one is at their best.
Many people with Alzheimer’s disease or memory loss are best earlier in the day and by the evening they are at their worst. Take their schedule into consideration and plan the move during their best times. Plan to stay with them for a while and help them ease into their new home.
- Get your loved one familiarized with the environment before the move. There are many ways for you to introduce him or her to their new home prior to the big day. Check with the staff and calendar for any activities that are coming up, attend an event or two, or join the other residents for lunch.
The more opportunities you create for visitation, the more comfortable your loved one will be with the environment. When it comes to those with memory care issues, this is vital.
- Accept help from counselors and social workers. You don’t have to do this alone. There are people who are familiar with this transition and can help make it easier for you and your loved one. If you have questions, concerns, or just want an extra knowledgeable guide along the way, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Social workers are trained in helping you with the admissions process, such as orienting you and your loved one to the facility, coordinating care, helping with advance directives, and letting you know the rights that your loved one will have as a resident. They also aid in direct contact with residents on an individual level, can assist in planning care based on their preferences, and target their social and emotional needs to get help.
- Sign up for a transition program. Most memory care facilities offer programs dedicated to making the move as seamless as possible. You and your loved one can use these programs as a way to learn how to adjust and adapt to the new living situations. It’s an excellent way to ease your mind about the move, learn how to help your loved one deal with the transition, and let them learn how to adapt to life without you there full-time.
- Consider the little financial details ahead of time. You may need to take time off of work to handle the move and ensure your loved one is situated comfortably. There also may be extra expenses such as phone and cable installation, rent, deposits, etc. All of this should be made clear when you sign your loved one up, but the initial moving expenses can add up.
- The less advanced notice, the better. You may be planning the move for months in advance, but don’t let your loved one know until right before it is ready to happen. Too much anxiety about the upcoming change can set off a domino effect of negative behavior. Instead, take multiple opportunities to socialize your loved one in the new environment, getting them used to their new home before they even know they are moving there.
- Use whatever makes them comfortable. If music is something that your loved one enjoys, plan to have a way for there to be their favorite music in their room when they move. Offer them their favorite comfort foods as their first meal and plan to eat with them there. Whatever you can do to make them feel more at home as soon as they get there will set the stage for how they will feel when you leave.
- There will be good days and bad days. Keep your feet planted firmly with your decision, even when your loved one seems to be stressed. Remember that they are going to have ups and downs, especially during the transition time. This is not a judgment on you, even if it seems to be. You made the best choice that you could for their safety, care, and wellbeing.
It is common for them to complain and you should expect to hear many. Just continue to point out the benefits of the new environment as much as possible. If you are confident that they are being safely taken care of, hold your ground against the barrage of complaints likely to be headed your way.
That said, if there are comments that they make repeatedly, such as being unhappy with the food or a staff member, you may want to look into the concern. The goal is for your loved one to be comfortable in their new home and if there is something that can be done to make the transition easier, it’s worth the attempt!
It’s an Important Step, but the Right One!
When you know that you have found a home where your loved one’s memory care issues will be taken care of and their health and safety looked after, it’s easier for you to make the transition. But your loved one will need to be handled with care based on their own individual needs. Any move is a hard one for those with cognitive decline and memory problems, but you are making the right decision for their safety and wellbeing.
The memory care facility should do their part to make the transition easier, and now that you know what to expect, you can help the process run smoothly, as well!