You want the best for your aging loved one, and this includes ensuring they have a safe environment to live in if their memory issues have progressed, making independent living more challenging.
Talking about memory care with a parent or other senior loved one with dementia is tricky. For one, many people with dementia don’t realize their symptoms have progressed to a point where they need help with their daily needs. For another, resistance to giving up their independence is often an issue.
These situations, how do you discuss memory care with a loved one gently and lovingly so that the transition to a different lifestyle is smoother?
It’s never going to be easy to discuss memory care with a loved one—for them or you. Still, there are ways to begin the conversation and ease the transition to a memory care community.
Tips for helping a loved one transition to assisted living level of care
A struggle that many people experience when transitioning their loved ones into an assisted living community is feeling like they’re abandoning their parents or loved one. At times like this, making sure they have a safe place to live is one of the most loving things you can do.
According to the National Library of Medicine, “close to two-thirds of all US nursing home residents have some type of cognitive impairment.” These residents have families and, while the statistic is sobering, it shows that others have gone the same road as you in deciding to transition their loved ones into long-term care.
Here is some guidance when it comes to having a conversation about memory care with your loved one.
A person diagnosed with dementia can live for years without experiencing the more serious symptoms of this illness and can have enough cognitive abilities to understand what’s happening around them and to them. It’s best, when possible, to have a conversation about future living arrangements after a loved one is diagnosed with dementia. In this way, your loved one can be involved in the process of planning for their future home and care.
Dementia is a robber—a thief of time and reason. Even if your loved one made sound decisions about their future living arrangements early in their disease, there might be resistance to following through with those plans when the disease progresses. Have your loved one’s wishes in writing to make it easier for you when the time comes to make the transition.
Dementia isn’t only a disease that affects memory and cognitive skills. Many dementia patients experience some degree of paranoia, which often leads them to believe loved ones are trying to lock them up or harm them. It’s pointless to argue with your loved one, and it only makes the transition harder. If your loved one makes these statements, assure them that they are safe, that you care about them and would never harm them.
Touring the memory care community together is a great way to ease everyone’s fears. Your loved one will have the opportunity to see their room, meet other residents, get introduced to the staff, and learn more about the programming offers. This is also an excellent time for you to ask questions.
Moving to a new place, somewhere other than the home they’re familiar with and love, can be frightening and daunting. That’s why it’s important to ensure they have familiar things in their room at the memory care community. What these items are will vary from person to person. Some people feel comforted knowing they have their favorite chair in their room or a treasured quilt on their bed. Having your loved one’s favorite things in their new space makes it feel more like home.
Consider moving all their bedroom furniture into the space and setting up the room to look like their home bedroom.
In an ideal world, your parent or loved one would be involved in the process of transitioning to memory care from day one of their diagnosis. Unfortunately, the world isn’t ideal, and many families struggle with loved ones who don’t want to admit they need care.
If you’re in this situation, discussing memory care with your loved one becomes more challenging. Your stress level skyrockets when a loved one refuses to admit they need help. Be patient, ease them gently into the transition, and ask them why they resist the idea. You can explain how financial concerns will be handled if they’re worried about costs. Many living with dementia are afraid they’ll be forgotten. If this is the case with your loved one, assure them you’ll visit often. You might have to have these conversations repeatedly, which is where patience plays a significant role in the process.
But know this: whether your loved one is agreeable or resistant to memory care, it’s not an open-ended discussion. At some point, your loved one will need care you can’t provide. You will have to make that decision for them, and while it’s heart-wrenching, it’s a decision made from love.
INGLESIDE MEMORY SUPPORT ASSISTED LIVING
If your family is considering memory care, we hope you’ll visit one of our Ingleside communities and learn about the benefits and care we offer to our residents and our families.
Our compassionate staff, residences, programs, dining and activities are all designed to provide our residents and your loved one with the highest level of care, independence and dignity.
For information on Ingleside at Rock Creek senior living community located in Washington, DC, please call (202) 846-2651 with questions or to schedule a personalized tour today.
For information on Ingleside at King Farm senior living community located in Rockville, Maryland, please call (240) 414-8557 with questions or to schedule a personalized tour today.