Making the decision to move a loved one into memory care can be very difficult. After all, many caregivers may feel guilt, shame or uncertainty about whether they’re doing the right thing for their loved one. Addie Ricci, Executive Director at Bridges by EPOCH at Norwalk, located in Norwalk, CT, says that this is a normal feeling – but rest assured, you are doing the best thing for them … and for you.
“Choosing to move your loved one into memory care is actually a very selfless move,” she explains. “Memory care assisted living communities like Bridges by EPOCH at Norwalk are designed specifically for the needs of those with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, which allows us to create a fulfilling lifestyle focused on overall health and well-being. Being able to hand off the caregiving to professionals also gives you the opportunity to rekindle and nurture your original relationship with your loved one.”
While making the decision to move is perhaps the biggest hurdle you will face, you will also need to work to help make the transition into memory care easier for your loved one. This can be stressful and cause a lot of anxiety for everyone involved. Depending on what stage of dementia your loved one is in, he or she may not understand what’s happening or why it’s happening. Addie says that this can be a trying time, but there are tips and tricks you can use to make the transition as easy as possible.
“Never hesitate to talk with the community you’ve chosen about how to best make the transition for your loved one,” she explains. “The staff and leadership at the community have dealt with situations like this many times, so they will have suggestions based on their experiences. It’s important to remember that even though it may not go as smoothly as you like, the transition can and will be successful.”
Prior to the Move
Visit the new community several times. It’s always a good idea to take your loved one to the new community several times prior to the move. This allows both them and you to start getting involved in daily life at the community, meet the staff, and become more comfortable with the layout and atmosphere. Hopefully this will make moving day a bit easier, since you won’t be going to a scary, unfamiliar place.
Make their room “home.” Prior to moving day, figure out how to set up your loved one’s new home so that it feels familiar, comfortable and meaningful. For example, bedroom furniture like bedside tables or a favorite chair should definitely be present, as well as any familiar or meaningful pieces of art or items. Set family photos around the room so that he or she can see familiar faces and memories everywhere they look. You may not be able to move everything prior to the actual moving day (since you don’t want to remove familiar items from where they currently are), but make a plan for how you’ll get items from their current place to the new community.
Plan on spending time with your loved one on the first day. As you coordinate everything necessary for the moving day, recognize that the first day in a new place is always the hardest – for anyone. You should plan to spend time with your loved one during the day you move them to the community. You may want to spend a long amount of time with them, or it could be easier for you to come and go a few times throughout the day. Talk with the staff members at the community, who may have suggestions on how they manage the first-day transition.
After the Move
Visit regularly. This can be particularly important at the beginning of your loved one’s stay at the community, especially if you were the primary caregiver. Again, it’s best to talk to the staff to get their take on what the best way to manage the transition is. Sometimes they suggest staying away from the community for a week or two in order to better build a routine for your loved one. Others may encourage you to visit as often as you like starting whenever. Eventually, you will learn the routine and rhythm of the care community while also learning the “good times” for you to visit your loved one. Visiting regularly is not only excellent for your relationship with your loved one with dementia; it also allows you to build relationships and friendships with the care team, staff and leadership of the community. Memory care assisted living communities know that the best possible care occurs when family members and loved ones are involved, and will be your biggest champions when it comes to visits.
Become a part of the community. At the beginning of your loved one’s residency, you’ll be focused on visiting him or her and help settle into the new normal. Once a rhythm has been set, though, you may want to consider branching out and finding your place at the community. This doesn’t mean that you’re becoming an unpaid staff member; it simply means that you build your own relationships with the staff and residents while also participating in events that are enjoyable to you. By becoming a part of the community, you’ll find yourself becoming better adjusted and more comfortable with the new changes in your life.
Remember that adjustment can take time. As you already know, dementia is not predictable, and just when you think your loved one is becoming settled, something may come up that sets the situation back. Be patient and remember that this, too, shall pass. Your loved one may be happy and content one day, and then on your next visit you’ll find them asking when you can take them “home.” As always, the staff members are there to help you manage any situation and help you navigate the ever-shifting landscape of the dementia journey.
Continue visiting even as the disease progresses. After a while, your loved one and you will settle into a comfortable routine. However, since dementia is a progressive disease, your loved one will continue to worsen. This can be emotionally difficult for you, and sometimes hard to go and visit them. But remember that even though your loved one’s abilities diminish, the emotional memory and the relationship that you had is something that’s retained and can be nurtured, even in the late stages of dementia. Although your loved one may not recognize you, or even know you’re there, they can respond and benefit from the emotion in your voice, touch and tone. Cherish the moments that you have together throughout the disease and live in the moment, taking advantage of the happy times and creating memories that you can carry throughout the dementia journey and beyond.
Change is difficult for everyone, and as you already know, dementia is very unpredictable. The tips outlined here are no guarantee that your loved one’s transition to memory care will be smooth. But it’s important to remember that you’re not alone, and there are people who can help. Lean on the community staff when you need a sympathetic ear or helping hand.
Expert, Life-Enriching Memory Care
Bridges® by EPOCH at Norwalk provides memory care assisted living that is comfortable, positive, safe and engaging. Exclusively dedicated to caring for those with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, our community promotes a wellness-focused lifestyle that emphasizes dignity and individual preferences. Our memory care professionals receive specialized, ongoing training designed to help residents maximize their independence in a secure, calm environment – making a truly positive impact on the lives of our residents.
Inspiring Programs for All Stages
Bridges® by EPOCH at Norwalk’s services are designed to recognize and adapt to the unique challenges and individuality of each resident, while ensuring comfort and safety. We believe in a full-service approach to care and provide personalized attention and programming for residents in every stage of memory loss.
Purposeful Community Design
Within a beautiful residential design, Bridges® by EPOCH at Norwalk provides everything residents with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia need to enjoy comfort, familiarity and security. Soft colors, directional cues and aromatherapy create a soothing and secure environment where residents feel at home.
Bridges® by EPOCH is New England’s largest stand-alone memory care assisted living provider.
Contact us today to learn more.