A senior woman and her professional caregiver chat at a memory care community.

Transitioning Your Loved One Into Memory Care

Bethesda Health | June 13, 2019

You and your family have done your best, but dementia is taking your Mother’s cognitive abilities. Many of the indicators and unpredictable behaviors are there:

It has become dangerous for her to remain in the home. Even with 24/7 care at home or some supervised care in an assisted living community, she needs something more structured and specialized. It is time to place her in a senior community that has a memory care program

What is Memory Care?

Memory care involves a dedicated, secure environment with experienced professional caregivers who specialize in caring for people living with the advanced stages of dementia. There, they will receive assistance with daily living activities like dressing, bathing, managing medications, and other personal care services.

Meals, laundry service, exercise programs, and activities in a 24-hour supervised setting are provided as well.

Transitioning Your Loved One Into Memory Care

Prior to the day that the transition to a comfortable, secure neighborhood in a memory care community takes place, and while your Mom is able to make decisions about her future, a family member should be designated with medical and or legal power of attorney to ensure decisions are kept in line with her wishes.

In addition, consult with her physician and other family members about the transition. Talking to Mom about moving into a memory care environment depends upon her capacity to understand you. In the advanced stages of dementia, people may not realize they need help and become confused and angry.

Don’t announce the move too far in advance, which may only build anxiety. Wait until the date is near for the move. Too much early information can create negative feelings that may become extreme behaviors.

Selecting a Memory Care Community

Visit the community you are considering and talk to the staff. If it will not be too disorienting or upsetting, consider bringing Mom with you. Tell her there is a place that you just want her to see or there are some people you would like for her to meet.

While there, ask smart questions. Find out what kind of activities take place, the quality of the living space, the food served, and other amenities. Meet the people who may be caring for her. Learn the policies and procedures of the community and ask what security measures are in place.

A quality memory support community is not just a place to protect and secure people with dementia. It is important that human needs are met there and interaction is encouraged by the facility’s design and philosophy of care.

Preparing the Staff

When you have made a decision on which memory support community to use, provide the staff with information about your Mom ahead of the move. Tell them about her personal and medical history, and special needs.

Preparing the Parent

The move is likely to be upsetting for your Mom. To ease the stress of the transition, don’t ask her to help with planning or packing for the move, and don’t ask her what to take or leave behind. Decision-making about these details will be too much to handle.

Present a positive attitude during and after the move. Point out the activities, amenities, and possibilities of the community, but also empathize with her and tell her that you understand why she is upset. Let her voice her concerns.

Reassure your Mom that you will continue to see her, but give her some time to adjust without you.

Bring some items from home—photographs, things familiar and treasured she can connect with. Just limit the number of items so they do not become overwhelming.

Preparing Yourself

Understand that you are experiencing a loss of sorts. It can be very emotional, but try to keep your emotions in check for her benefit during the move. Above all, don’t feel guilty. You are doing the best thing for her that you can.

While attending to your Mom’s needs, don’t forget your own. You will need some time to come to terms with the situation as well.

With a focus on each individual resident’s own needs, Bethesda’s Memory Support services are here to make sure our senior residents receive the right level of care and feel supported. Contact us to learn more about Memory Support available at our Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing communities across the St. Louis area.

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