Moving to a new home and changing the environment is challenging for everyone. Older people particularly struggle with such changes. It's an emotional process. And regardless of how aware of the benefits the person who is moving is, stress is not easy to avoid. Now, when it comes to helping a dementia patient move house, things become even more difficult.
Once your loved one is diagnosed with dementia, you will realize soon enough that providing adequate care will not be an easy feat, especially considering that it is a progressive disease. Therefore, families often decide to place them in an assisted living facility or a memory care community. These neighborhoods are very beneficial as they can help patients with memory loss feel happy and productive despite their ailment. However, relocating these patients can be problematic. For them, it can be a traumatic experience that can lead to several symptoms. Thus, careful planning of the relocation is necessary to minimize this trauma. Here are some tips on how to help an adult with dementia move.
Keep Loved One Involved
People do not like to feel as if things are merely happening to them. The lack of control can lead to frustration and elevated stress levels, which are particularly problematic for dementia patients. Therefore, it is advisable to involve your loved one in the moving process as much as it's reasonable and comfortable.
Although these patients usually cannot choose the community they are moving to; multiple choices are available. For instance, they can select the things they wish to take with them. Of course, there will be some essential items they will need to bring. But there may also be other items they want to keep close. You should make sure they have all the things needed for everyday functioning but at the same time, remember not to neglect your loved one's emotional needs.
Furthermore, it's crucial to be open about the move. Communication is always vital. So, talk about everything your senior finds confusing. Try to ease their mind regarding things that worry them. And allow them as much independence as possible. It will make them feel like they haven't lost control and provide some much-needed comfort.
As we have mentioned, moving is a stressful endeavor. For dementia patients, it is even more so. It is scary, and they may express anger because of it. If that happens, it is crucial not to argue. Acknowledge their feelings and try to put your mind at ease. Explain that the move is not punishment but a way to keep them safe and care for their well-being.
Keeping Positive is Key
It is essential to keep a happy face around your loved one even when you don't feel like it. Although your family member may suffer from memory loss, they can still feel your energy and read your emotions easily. You need to stay calm and focus on the positive. If you show you are worried and sad, it will only upset them. A smile on your face will be reassuring, and it will show your dementia patient they are safe, they have nothing to worry about, and the transition to a new home is a positive thing.
Join Loved One for Meals After They Move-In
Over the first few days, it will be beneficial to visit your senior and join them for meals. Before they begin settling in, it would be wise to avoid noisy areas. These could be agitating. For the same reason, you could ask the staff to limit introductions to new people and limit the number of visitors. However, as your loved one begins adjusting, encourage them to start making connections and participating in the community.
During the entire process, from preparations for the move to settling in the new community, you have to be patient. No matter how hard this may be for you, it is harder for you lived one. Therefore, make sure you never snap. Even when things are not going smoothly, you have to stay calm and not lose your patience. You must show some understanding of how your loved one feels.
Moreover, it will take some time before your loved one settles in, adjusts to the new environment, and starts feeling at home. It also takes time for the community to figure out the best care plan for them. During that time, you should allow your elder the space to make connections in their new community. So, although your company will be beneficial, make sure you dose it well. If you visit daily, you can prevent your elder from connecting with other community members and participating in community life.
Bring Familiar Objects
Before you arrive at your loved one's new room, make sure you set it up. Take some familiar items from their old house so they can feel more at home. You can bring some framed family photos and ornaments, or your elder's favorite blanket, or even a chair if possible. These will make the new space feel less strange and more welcoming.
Familiar Faces Beneficial on Moving Day
Besides you, there should be another family member of a close friend on the move-in day. It will make everything much easier, and your elder won't feel alone. Also, it would be best if you could take them to meet the staff and see the premises before the relocation. That way, things will not seem so new and alien.
Moreover, if you had an in-home caregiver, it could be helpful to ask for permission to bring them with you on the move-in day. It will be another familiar face, and it will undoubtedly be comforting.
Remember to Take Care of Yourself Too
Be kind to yourself too. While you should keep your loved one's best interest in mind and worry about their feelings, you have to acknowledge that you are going through something difficult too. The sense of guilt and fear is common for caregivers who are helping a dementia patient move house. So, remind yourself that the decision you have made is for their well-being. Their new home will be a safe environment where they can continue to succeed and live the best life possible.
About the Author
Jane Stinson is a relocation specialist who has worked with many seniors over the years. Having seen how hard some of them have taken it, she has decided to start blogging about helping seniors, and younger generations, move to their new homes. Jane aims to make the whole experience more comfortable. In her free time, she enjoys reading and gardening.
Contributor since March 26th, 2021
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