Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or a related form of dementia at home can be difficult, especially as the disease progresses. Families frequently turn to memory care communities for help.
These thoughtfully designed neighborhoods allow people with memory loss to be and feel successful and productive despite their disease. But relocating an adult with dementia can be problematic. Transfer trauma, which includes a cluster of symptoms associated with moving during the senior years, can be minimized with careful planning.
6 Tips for Making a Smooth Transition When a Senior has Dementia
- Set realistic goals: Unless your loved one’s well-being is at risk and this move needs to be done quickly, try to set a more comfortable pace for this transition. Doing so can help decrease anxiety for you and your senior loved one. It will also help you feel confident that you are making an informed decision.
- Create a familiar environment: Ask the staff at the memory care community you’ve chosen for a floor plan for your loved one’s new apartment. Be sure it has dimensions for each room listed. Use the floor plan to create a layout for the furniture and belongings that will be in the senior’s apartment. As you develop this plan, remember how important it is for a person with memory loss to be surrounded by familiar things. Be sure their favorite furniture and belongings have a place in their new space.
- Create a moving timeline: After you establish a move-in date, develop a timeline for making a smooth transition. If you are the primary caregiver for your loved one, you might want to consider enlisting the support of a professional move manager. They can help with tasks ranging from hiring a moving company to donating no-longer-needed belongings to a local charity.
- Plan for moving day: Take time to plan for a successful moving day. This includes figuring out where your loved one should stay during the hectic hours when the movers are onsite packing up the house. It might help to enlist a trusted friend to keep your loved one occupied so you can supervise the movers. Another option could be to make arrangements for your friend to take your senior family member to the community ahead of you.
- Set up a family visitation schedule: Discuss with your community what the options are for family visitations, in person or through technology. Share with family members and develop a schedule for at least 2 visits a week, either in person or through FaceTime with your loved one.
- Be kind to yourself: Our final tip is to be kind to yourself throughout this process. Caregivers often struggle with guilt and fear when it comes to moving a loved one with dementia. Remind yourself that you’ve done your research and made a decision you feel is in your family member’s best interest. From specialized dining to a secure environment, it also helps to remember that memory care communities help adults with dementia live their best life.
For additional tips on moving, downsizing, and creating a floor plan for the new space, visit our Planning the Move page.