Making the transition into memory care can be a tough one. From the change of scenery and lifestyle to the anxiety and confusion associated with Alzheimer’s disease, your loved one may not adjust well to the move. Luckily, there are some ways to alleviate the pain of the move and make it a gentle transition. We’ve gathered some great tips to ease your loved one into memory care and make it as stress-free as possible.
When Might Someone Need to Move to a Memory Care Facility?
Alzheimer’s disease is something that can progress very slowly, and someone could manage to stay in an assisted living community for a long time. Other times it’s a rapid shift, and the dementia symptoms associated with memory loss, daily activities, and taking care of oneself decline to the point of requiring full-time memory care and assistance.
Either way, the time will come when an Alzheimer’s patient will need to move to memory care, and some tell-tale symptoms indicate that time has come. Signs it’s time to move into memory care include:
- A decline in personal hygiene or appearance
- Disorientation and confusion, especially about time and place
- Getting lost in familiar places
- Wandering off and becoming lost
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks like bathing or eating
- Paranoia, aggression, or other changes in mood and behavior
- Repeating questions or phrases
Some of the earliest signs of memory issues associated with Alzheimer’s disease are driving and getting lost, forgetting people’s names, and forgetting to pay bills. While this isn’t extreme dementia, it is the earliest opportunity to head into memory care and treat these issues with cognitive therapy to try and slow the progression.
The next stages of Alzheimer’s may include losing the ability to speak or understand language, regularly bathe and groom oneself, or even forgetting to eat or sleep. Once these basic daily activities are affected, getting that person into memory care is crucial. They can be with staff and nurses who know how to address these issues and ensure their basic day-to-day needs are met.
Moving Family Members With Alzheimer’s Disease Into Memory Care: Step-by-Step
When that time comes to move your loved one into memory care, there are some vital steps to take to ensure it goes smoothly.
Step 1: Research Your Options
When considering memory care, the first thing you need to do is research all of your options. There are many different types of living situations for people with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, so you must find the one that will be the best fit for your loved one. It can be helpful to choose a place that has different levels in one building.
For example, a memory care community may have assisted living quarters for those who are more independent, but then memory care and more advanced hospice for each stage of progression. This can eliminate the stress of having to move someone into a new memory care community should their Alzheimer’s progress to that level.
Do they need constant supervision? Do they require special care or treatment? What level of security does the facility have? Ask yourself (and the facilities) these important questions to ensure you get the care needed.
Step 2: Apply for Financial Assistance
There’s no doubt about it— memory care is expensive. But there are things like elderly waivers or TBI (traumatic brain injury) waivers that can help cover some of the costs of memory care and alleviate some of the financial burdens. Other forms of financial assistance include:
- Medicare benefits (more here)
- Home Care Waivers
- Elderly Waivers
- CADI Waivers
- State Non-Medicaid Programs
- Veterans Aid
You can also go to benefits.gov to check eligibility for other forms of government financial assistance.
Step 3: Get Power of Attorney Situated
It’s very important to get the official paperwork done for the power of attorney if you are the caregiver or adult child of a patient with Alzheimer’s. Holding power of attorney means you have the executive power to make decisions on someone’s behalf, which is vital for getting the care required to care for your loved one or patient. The sooner you get this, the better off you’ll be to get forms filled out and applications sent for financial assistance.
Step 4: Memory Care and Assisted Living Community Tours
After you’ve done your research, it’s time to start touring some of the places on your list. Ask plenty of questions as you tour and get a feel for each facility. Find out their policies on things like:
- Visiting hours
You should also find out about their staff— what are their qualifications? What is the ratio of staff to patients? How are they trained to deal with memory care patients?
You should also get a tour of the actual living quarters. Do they have private or shared rooms available, and how much does each cost? Are the rooms comfortable and clean?
Seeing it for yourself can help you make your final decision as you can factor in the cost and where those payments are going.
Step 5: Pack Up Their Belongings
Once you land on a place, it’s time to pack up your loved one’s belongings. This can be an arduous (and emotional) task. You’ll want to pull out the items they’ll need to furnish their new room, plus necessities like clothes, shoes, and personal effects. Keep it light— they won’t probably need a ton of stuff, but making it feel like home is vital to ensuring a smooth transition.
If you’re moving out of someone’s home, this can be an even bigger task. You’ll want to probably sell some things, keep some things, and give sentimental items to family members. This process will take much longer, and it’s best to have a team to help you— whether it be family, friends, or professionals. Yes, some people offer senior transitions and moving services. You can find out options for Minnesota here.
Step 6: Explain to Them the Reason Why They’re Moving
This can be really hard. Often, with people dealing with the symptoms of dementia, significant changes can be very difficult to comprehend. Not only may your loved one struggle to communicate or understand speech in general, but they may hold on tight to their existing living arrangement and not understand why they need to move. It’s important to tread lightly, speak softly, clearly, and be very patient. Patience and a calm demeanor will be your biggest assets during this transition.
Step 7: Set Up Their New Room First
Before you actually move them to their new home, it can be especially important to set up their new room first, so they are welcomed into a good environment. This can help ease the transition and make them feel more comfortable in their new surroundings.
If you’re moving into a care facility, find out if there’s anything you need to do to prepare their room. If you’re moving them into your home, try and make it as similar to their old arrangement as possible so they feel like they’re at home. Most facilities, including Sunflower Communities, will list the items someone can bring to their new room. This list may include:
- 1 Twin-sized bed
- One nightstand
- One dresser
- One recliner or small sofa
- A small TV or stereo
- Small decor items like pictures, bulletin board, fake plants
Step 8: Moving Day— Get Professional Assistance If Needed
On moving day, it’s best to have a team of people to help you. If you have trouble lifting or are feeling overwhelmed, some services will come and help you with the actual move— from the packing process and loading to driving and unloading.
If you’re moving your loved one into a care facility, they will have staff that can assist you with the move-in process most of the time. Just be sure to arrange this earlier, so you don’t scramble and create a stressful day when it comes time to move in.
Tips for an Easy Transition to Memory Care
While knowing the steps to take to move someone into a memory care facility helps tremendously, it’s still a tough transition, and there are a few essential tips you can follow to ensure an easy, successful transition.
- Have the conversations as early as possible. Springing a potential move onto someone who doesn’t understand why can make the situation messy and stressful. Ease into it as much as you can.
- Schedule your move for the best time of day to combat sundowning behavior. Many people with Alzheimer’s and dementia have a symptom called “sundowning,” which can cause agitation and anger in the later parts of the day. This is due to their internal clock changing, and they get overtired or overstimulated at the end of the day.
- Make a list of their essential items and make sure they’re coming with you. This will help ensure that they have everything they need and that you don’t forget anything important.
- Get help from family and friends, or hire professional movers to do the hard stuff so that you can care for your loved one during the transition.
Choose a Reputable Community to Help Ease Your Burden
One of the best ways to make for an easy transition into memory care is to choose a place that has a good reputation, great staff, and all of the tools and resources to take the stress off your plate. A place like Sunflower Communities provides an ideal environment for someone with Alzheimer’s to make a move into memory care.
We will welcome your loved one with open arms and pleasant staff to cater to their every need the second they move in. If you’re interested in learning more, contact us to schedule a tour or get your questions answered.