When an older adult is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or a related form of dementia, loved ones encounter many challenges. As the disease progresses, one of these might be accepting that a family member may be safer and enjoy a better quality of life by moving to a memory care community.
Memory care communities offer the security and support that seniors with dementia need to stay safe and maintain a sense of self. But the very idea of making a move from home to a new environment can create high anxiety for everyone involved. If you and your family are facing this transition, these tips can help.
Helping a Senior Move to a Memory Care Community
• Bring their favorite belongings: Familiar possessions can help decrease the anxiety most people feel when moving to a new home. This is doubly so for seniors living with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Before your senior loved one actually makes the move, sit down and put together a plan for recreating the look and feel of their current home at their new community. Consider moving favorite belongings with them, such as family photos, their comfy chair and the blanket they use while watching TV. Quickly spotting the items that represent home will make it easier for them to relax and settle in.
• Plan moving time with care: If at all possible, arrange for the actual move to take place during the time of day when the senior is at their best. Loved ones usually have an idea when that is. For example, people with sundowner’s syndrome typically struggle most in the late afternoon or early evening. If your family member experiences sundowning, plan to arrive at the memory care community early in the day. Doing so will give you time to get them settled before their anxiety and agitation begin to rise.
• Play soothing music: People living with memory loss benefit from listening to music. It has been shown to boost mood, decrease stress and reduce anxiety. It might help to play familiar tunes as you’re unpacking and getting set up in their new space. You could set up a playlist on your phone and give them headphones to listen with or bring a small CD player and a few CDs. The latter option might make it easier for care companions to play music for the senior when you aren’t there.
• Have loved ones present: Depending on the stage of the senior’s disease, having a few faces they recognize with them on moving day can be helpful. One family member can direct the movers and the unpacking while another helps keep the older adult busy. Pack a box or bag with activities your loved one enjoys at home, such as looking through old photos, sorting cards or working simple puzzles.
• Create a reminiscence board: One final suggestion is to prepare what is known as a reminiscence board before moving day. Make copies of family photos and memorabilia from important life events. Glue them to foam poster board and label everything on it. This will be something to keep in the senior’s room for them to enjoy and to help care companions identify friends and family. The history presented on the board will make it easier for team members to find things to talk about with your loved one and get to know them faster.
Explore Memory Care at American Senior Communities (ASC)
At ASC communities, you’ll find memory care neighborhoods that offer different levels of care to meet a senior wherever they are in their journey. With innovative music-based programs that helps residents reconnect with happy memories and temporarily improve verbal skills, it’s easy to see why families all over Indiana trust ASC to care for their loved ones. To learn more about memory care at ASC, visit ASCCare.com/memorycare.