3 Steps to reducing stress during a move to Memory Care
Moving is stressful for most people, but for those with memory loss, relocating can be especially traumatic. The effects of dementia and Alzheimer’s aren’t restricted to short-term memory; individuals with memory loss process information differently and can have severe reactions to unfamiliar environments. The decision to transition to memory care is rarely easy, but much of the stress can be minimized with the right kind of planning.
Step 1: Pick the right community and care level
There are several senior living options available, but not all are suited for a person with memory loss. It’s important to understand the different types of care available in assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing. Traditional assisted living supports independence with options for support for activities of daily living (dressing, grooming, bathing and similar tasks) and instrumental activities of daily living (managing medications, social opportunities, maintaining hobbies and more), but unless the assisted living is designed for memory care, it won’t include specialized services designed for those experiencing memory loss.
Even if it seems like your loved one would be better suited for less supervision now, most memory loss conditions are progressive, meaning symptoms will get worse over time. Because of this, there is a greater emphasis on planning for future decline and their changing needs. Communities offering a full spectrum of care options, like the Wingate Senior Living Campus in Haverhill, can accommodate residents with the option to transition to different care levels as needs change. Should your loved one require more intensive care, you’ll want the peace of mind knowing they have access to the specialized, state-certified care they need.
Step 2: Communicate regularly with staff
Staff can better serve your loved one when they understand that person’s unique interests and needs, fine points that people with dementia or Alzheimer’s can’t always communicate. Family members and caregivers are integral to filling in these gaps, so residents have a smoother transition to memory care. Your relationship with staff can also help identify more personal activities and special experiences for residents.
Because staff have more experience and intensive training in memory care, their guidance is especially helpful for family members who feel overwhelmed by their loved one’s needs.
Some communities partner with family members to add familiar keepsakes in living areas to stimulate memories and positive reactions. The Memory Care Neighborhood at Wingate Residences at Haverhill houses memory boxes outside each resident’s room to stimulate conversation and happy thoughts. These displays of small keepsakes associated with positive memories, Memory boxes offer some insights to people’s life or passion and can help residents locate their studio.
Step 3: Make sure you’re sending the right message to your loved one
Memory loss can affect a person’s reasoning and processing skills, making it difficult to convince loved ones that relocating is best for them. There are a lot of do’s and don’ts for communicating with individuals with dementia or Alzheimer’s. While the intention may be well-meaning, some phrases can confuse, agitate or incite feelings of fear.
When introducing the idea of relocating, try to avoid talking negatively about your loved one’s current living situation and instead focus on the positives of their new home. Here are some examples:
“I’m worried you won’t be safe in your home, especially when you’re alone.”
“I want to let you know we are going to a beautiful place where family and friends will love to visit you”
- Someone with memory loss may feel confused about why their home is unsafe. This can cause feelings of fear or mistrust, making it even more difficult to assure them a move is best. A more effective approach is to mention things your loved one enjoys and reinforce positive messages.
“Welcome to your new home.”
“You have your own space – it’s very comfortable and this place has delicious apple pie!”
- When introducing a new living situation, keep in mind your loved one may feel out of place or unfamiliar with the community, even if they came with you on every visit. Avoid calling it “home,” as this can be overwhelming and hard to process. Instead, describe where you’re going by talking about the enjoyable things there.
If you’re getting started with transitioning a loved one to assisted living or planning a visit to a memory care neighborhood, read our latest blog (Questions to Ask When Choosing a Senior Assisted Living Community) for a comprehensive guide to finding the “right fit” in senior living.