When a senior loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, families are often confronted with the difficult task of moving them to a memory care assisted living community. After they learn more about these specialty programs, most families understand their senior loved one will be better off in such an environment. Memory care programs offer safety, security and the support seniors with Alzheimer’s disease need to maintain their abilities. But the very idea of helping their loved one make the transition from home to a senior living community often creates high anxiety for family caregivers. If you and your family are facing this transition, these tips can help.
Helping a Senior Loved One Make a Successful Move to Memory Care Assisted Living
- Bring their favorite belongings. Familiar possessions help decrease the anxiety most people feel when moving to a new home. This is doubly so for seniors living with Alzheimer’s disease. Before your loved one actually makes the move, develop a plan for recreating their home environment. It should include favorite belongings such as their comfy chair, the blanket they use while watching TV, and family photos. The items that indicate this is “home” will help make it easier for them to settle in.
- Plan to move on their schedule. If at all possible, arrange for the actual move to take place during their best time of day. As a caregiver, you likely know when that is. If they are at their worst in the early evening, plan to arrive at the assisted living early in the day. That will give you time to get them comfortably settled before their anxiety and agitation peak.
- Create a reminiscence board. Before the move takes place, make photo copies of your loved one and the people and life events that are important to them. Glue them all on a foam poster board. Label everything on the board. It will be something they can keep in their room and will also help staff identify who all of the family members are. The history presented on the board will make it easier for staff to find things to talk about with your loved one and to get to know them quicker.
- The power of music. Many people living with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia benefit from music therapy. It has been shown to decrease stress and anxiety. It might help to bring a small CD player and some of their favorite music on CDs when they move. Talk with the staff to see if they can use it when your loved one is anxious.
We hope these tips help make your senior loved one’s move more manageable. If you are a Michigan caregiver who has been through this process with a senior you love, please share any advice you can offer in the comments below.