If your loved one now needs more care than you can provide at home, you may have chosen to take advantage of the benefits and specialized attention that a memory care community can offer.
Once you found the right community, next on the list was likely choosing the room and scheduling a move-in date.
While your loved one may have been able to visit the community, depending on where they are in the progression of the illness, they may still not be clear that they’ll be moving soon.
Families often struggle with how and when to have this conversation. But there are recommendations you can try.
As the moving date approaches, you may be unsure of how to proceed. These tips may smooth over the process and help all of you transition to a new way of life:
When moving a loved one to memory care, waiting to tell them until right before or even the day of the move may be best. You’ll want to caution against your instincts not to surprise them or to want to give them time to prepare.
Those in the middle to later stages of Alzheimer’s can’t process information the way you do. They may not understand that this will be their new home. By telling them earlier, they might suffer from anxiety or acting out as they anticipate what may be happening.
As the time to move grows closer and especially on the day of the move, try to keep the routine as regular as possible. Maintaining a familiar schedule is comforting and less upsetting to someone with a cognitive illness.
Arrange for the move to coincide with your loved one’s best time of day. Avoid late afternoons or evenings when many struggle with increased confusion and anxiety. For individuals with Alzheimer’s, mid-to-late morning or early afternoon might be best. Also, check with the community for which times might be less hectic there.
The less detail and explanations given to the person with Alzheimer’s, the better. Don’t argue with your loved one about why the move is necessary or try to appeal to their sense of reason. Avoid trying to rationalize or making arguments to convince them of a position.
Some individuals may become upset if you explain that more help is needed than you can provide. If they are at a point in the illness that they’re unaware of any problems, their response may be one of confusion or anger.
It can be tempting to ask individuals what they would like to take with them. They most likely won’t be able to make these kinds of decisions and will instead react with increased anxiety and uneasiness.
You may need to make the choices for them. Consider what they like and dislike or what seems comforting to them. Framed photos of family members, a favorite quilt or knick-knack they’ve kept by their bed for years are usually the right items to bring.
If the day to move has arrived and your loved one becomes upset about leaving, don’t give in. Your decision was based on research, thoughtful consideration and sound judgment. You’ve found the best care possible so don’t go back on your decision.
It can be heartbreaking, but it will only become harder when you’ll need to revisit the subject again later on. Stay confident in your tone and actions, which can have a positive influence on your loved one. Although it can be difficult, hide your own emotions as your loved one may pick up on any uncertainty.
The fear of most families is that the individual will simply refuse to go and they won’t know what to do next. As discussed above, trying to list the reasons or giving logical arguments typically won’t work as they aren’t able to process that information.
You may want to use compassionate deception. Start by telling them they’ll only be gone for a few days. If needed later, let them know it will be for another week or two. Eventually they will adjust. Depending on their level of impairment, they may not remember they were supposed to go home – or may not be aware that they aren’t home.
Knowing how to tell a loved one about a move to memory care can be complicated. You’ve learned much since you began down the road of Alzheimer’s but it’s not an easy journey to take. Yet it’s important to remember that you’re not alone.
Your memory care community should also be a trusted resource for you and your family. Be sure to discuss with them their suggestions for how to talk to your loved one about moving and recommendations they have to make moving day easier.
Your loved one’s medical team is another good source as well as the Alzheimer’s Association who provide support group information. Learning what others have experienced and what worked for them can be helpful.
We understand the anxiety involved when moving a loved one to a memory care community. And we recognize that the conversations can be distressing for the entire family.
But we have helped many families cross this bridge. We hope these suggestions will help make the transition as easy as possible and we are here to offer our support and experience.
Call (202) 846-2651 if you have any questions or would like to schedule a personalized tour today.