Receiving a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia is never easy—it’s life-changing for the affected individual and his or her family and friends. Deciding to move a loved one to a memory care community can be especially difficult and overwhelming. Below are some tips and information for communicating with a loved one about the impending move, how to prepare, and what to bring.
Any Move is Difficult.
Remember that moving is difficult for anyone, whether you have dementia or not. It will take time for your loved one to adjust to his or her new surroundings, and the temporary uneasiness he or she is feeling can cause anger and insecurity. Be patient with your loved one and make a plan to help ease the transition.
Here are some items to ensure when choosing what your loved one should have in their new home:
Their place of comfort. What is their place of comfort; where are they most content? It might be their favorite recliner, kitchen table, or sewing machine. Take a picture of that place of comfort in their current home, then pick it all up and try to replicate it in their new memory care apartment. The things and places that bring them comfort are the things they’ve been using for a lifetime.
Their strengths. What is your loved one’s greatest strength; what has brought them great joy throughout their life? Was he an amazing golfer, or did she bake the best pies in town? Knowing their greatness is key to helping create moments of joy for your loved ones and ensuring they find comfort and familiarity in their new home.
Their bed and everything around it. What kind of pillows do they sleep with; how many? What is their favorite blanket? What has to be on the nightstand next to the bed; what side of the bed is it on? Their bed should be a place of comfort. Consider using the bedding they recognize instead of buying new items that could create confusion.
Most people don’t like change, especially when it involves moving. It can cause anxiety and frustration for your loved one. Here’s the reality, though—your loved one’s short-term memory loss can work as a positive in this circumstance. Deciding what to move with your loved one and what to leave behind can be a daunting task; here are some items to consider bringing along:
Clothing and personal items
Choose clothes that they like to wear, because clothing affects mood. If your loved one always wore overalls or dresses, don’t pack a lot of pants.
- 5-8 of their favorite clothing items
- 2-3 sweaters
- 2 pairs of slippers
- 2 pairs of comfortable shoes
- 1 lightweight jacket and 1 heavier coat
Items meant to spark old memories
They lose their short-term memory but retain many long-term memories; we need to learn how to trigger those memories.
What NOT to bring
Remember the new memory care community will provide meals, housekeeping, laundry, activities, transportation, etc., so there’s no need to pack the whole house! Also, remember that things get misplaced, especially in memory care, so don’t bring priceless family heirlooms, expensive items, or anything you wouldn’t potentially want to share with your new neighbors!
Check out our blog, “Where Are my Mom’s Things”, to learn more about why leaving some of those precious items in a safe place is a good idea.
If you’re interested in exploring senior living options to support your loved one with memory loss, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.