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Transition To Memory Care

Helping Your Lived One Transition to Memory Care

There are probably few things in life more heartbreaking than watching a loved one experience the challenge of dementia. As a family member, you are not only dealing with its effect on you and your family, but you’re also faced with how to best care for your loved one’s altered life circumstances. Fortunately, with a deeper understanding of the condition, the care for Alzheimer’s and other dementia patients has greatly improved. Here’s how to help your loved one make the transition into a Memory Care community.

Getting started

The transition to memory care needs to be handled with great care. No two cases are alike and there is no “one size fits all” approach. The first thing to do is see a neurologist to determine if, in fact, they have dementia or if the symptoms they’re showing are simply a symptom of an unrelated health problem. If it is dementia, a Memory Care community may be your best option.

Take it slow

Making the transition to Memory Care is best done in small steps. For instance, have your loved one visit the Memory Care community once or twice a week to get them familiar with the new setting and the other community members. Coordinate with the community to make these visits active and engaging. For instance, perhaps your loved one can play the piano, participate in the cooking club, or spend time talking to other residents with similar interests.

Share their story

One of the most important things a family member can do is to share their loved one’s story. By sharing their hobbies, likes and dislikes, passions and pastimes, this helps the staff create an environment in which your loved one will thrive. It also helps them match them with residents who have a similar background. When residents have someone to share stories with, this makes the transition much easier.

Focus on the familiar

Surround your loved one with things that are familiar. For instance, furnish their new apartment with furnishings from home. Place their bed, dresser, rugs, etc. as close to their current arrangement as possible. Bring in family photos, a favorite blanket, knickknacks — anything that will make your loved one recognize their surroundings will increase their feelings of security.

Adjusting to new realities

Many families wonder how long they should wait before visiting their loved one after they’ve moved to a new community. Again, there is no standard answer to this. It is up to the family to create a dynamic that everyone is comfortable with. Pay attention to your loved one’s reaction when you visit. If you notice your loved one becomes agitated during a visit or after you leave, work with the community staff to develop a strategy for a successful visit and departure. When you do visit, focus on good memories you’ve shared together. Plan an activity, such as looking at photo albums or putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Even cleaning the apartment or folding laundry can make your loved feel productive and can spark memories.

By taking small steps to prepare your loved one for their new situation and by sharing their life story, you greatly increase the likelihood the transition to Memory Care will be a smooth one. Although this is usually a challenging time for everyone involved, you can rest easier when you deal with a community that understands your loved one’s needs and is experienced in helping create a life that is still rich and rewarding.

All Caregiver Resource Center staff conversations are confidential.

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