Although making the decision to move to memory care is quite intense and emotional, making the actual move to the new community can be just as taxing. Though the process may be difficult, there a few practical tips you should consider as to how to make this transition run as smoothly as possible.
Coordinating with the new community
Once you find a memory care community that fits the needs of your parent and your family, talk with the staff to come up with a plan that will work for your family. This might include scheduled visits to the new community with your family. These visits may help you both become familiar with the community and become comfortable with the ins and outs of how the community works. The last thing you and your family needs is to feel thrown off guard by the transition. If they’re able to connect with the community before the move, the transition will be easier. Take some time to get familiar with the staff and let them get to know you and your mom or dad. Again, reach out to the staff at the community you’ve chosen. They can help you develop a transition plan that will work for your family.
Handling Resistance from Your Loved One
As you probably already have expected, moving a parent diagnosed with dementia to a memory care community may cause a lot of confusion, sadness, and maybe even anger. So that you aren’t caught off guard by intense reactions, prepare a “script” of sorts, to help explain the move to your mom or dad. Let’s be clear, creating the script is for you, not for them. You may need to have this conversation frequently, preparing a script will allow you to take a step back from the emotional charge of this conversation, especially because you’re likely to have to say it repeatedly. Let your loved one know that you are trying to make sure that their health is properly managed by professionals who have dedicate themselves to improving their overall quality of life.
Although you’re working to make this transition easy, please do not be surprised if your parent is extremely resistant when moving in. Many people diagnosed with dementia are in denial. You may find that no amount of conversation with them is going to make the move easy. This is why it is important to be sure about your decision and to have proper support from your family and friends. Remember, there will be many upsides of this transition for you, your family and your parent. Ill feelings about the transition will eventually fade so don’t let this period get the best of you.
Handling Resistance from Others
By this point, you have a support system of people and professionals you consult with on a regular basis and who are completely supportive of the decision to move your parent into a memory care community. But, prepare yourself for some potential backlash from family members and friends who aren’t at the center of the discussion.
At this time you will probably hear a lot of conflicting views surrounding this transition and it may be easy for you to fall into feelings of guilt and maybe even begin to doubt your decision. This is where you will need to hold your ground the most. Reassure yourself that you are making this decision based on what you feel is best for your mom or dad. As a response to naysayers, encourage them to make more visits to the community to ensure that your parent is well supported. Don’t allow anyone’s negative comments delay or stop the process – as there will always be conflicting opinions.
Making the Move
Another potentially highly emotionally charged step is this journey is packing and moving. The move-in date must be strategically calculated as you want to offer a few days for your mom or dad to come to terms with the transition, however, you don’t want it to drag out so long that it turns into a period of dread or stress prior to the move. Shortly after you make your final decision, schedule a few visits to the community to increase everyone’s familiarity with the community.
The packing process may be uncomfortable as you have to explain that not everything can be taken along the way. There will likely be a substantial amount of downsizing. Work with your family to choose things that they really need and belongings of true sentimental value. Reassure them that their apartment is furnished and loaded with all of the essentials that are needed to maintain a comfortable lifestyle.
Maintaining the Connection
Second to the loss of independence, many dementia patients and their family fear that they will lose contact with their loved ones by moving into a long-term care community. To rid this fear, make sure to keep strong communication with your parent, especially in the beginning. Show up during visiting hours, call them often, and schedule family time. By not breaking contact and extending your presence when you are able to, your mom or dad is likely to feel more supported. Bring your family to the new community and do activities and spend quality family time with them in their new home. This may help the transition and help your parent feel at home in their community even sooner.
Though you may have taken all of the necessary steps to ensure that the transition is a smooth one, there may still be a few pitfalls and heavy emotions along the way. Moving your parent to a memory care community may be challenging for all parties involved, but by staying involved and showing unconditional love and support, your mom or dad will soon feel comfortable enough to accept the memory care community as their new home.