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How To Move A Parent With Dementia To Assisted Living

To move a parent with dementia to assisted living smoothly involves a few key steps. These steps are knowing when it’s time, and introducing the new home in stages.

We all know that moving a loved one into a assisted living can be stressful for everyone.

It is possible to make this change without excessive stress, discomfort, or drama.

This post will give tips on how to move a parent with dementia into assisted living smoothly.

There are some signs which will help you decide when it may be time for assisted living.  Dementia assisted living or memory care as it is commonly known is a safe environment for seniors with memory challenges.  The grounds are restricted access and also help keep seniors from wandering and getting lost.  In addition to helping keep seniors safe staff assists with taking medications, personal care, and all other tasks that a senior might need.

Steps To Move A Parent With Dementia To Assisted Living

When it’s become clear that your parent has reached a point where they need assisted living or memory care use these steps to researching the best option.  Caring.com maintains an extensive directory of care facilities who provide specialized care for dementia.  There are additional steps you can take to help manage your parent’s memory care.

Step 1. The Alzheimer’s Association

Most cities and towns have local Alzheimer’s resources that’ll help both you and your parent. Visit their site to learn more about how they can help you with emotional and social support during this time at Alzheimer’s Association.

Step 2. Learn About Dementia

Without knowing what dementia is, what the stages are, or what symptoms to watch for you’ll have no idea if your parent is safe.  It’s important to understand the disorder and provide care when it is needed but respect their autonomy until they cannot care for themselves. Read about the seven stages of dementia.

Step 3. Start Looking For Care Early

If you’ve noticed signs that your parent has dementia it’s a good idea to start looking for potential assisted living and memory care communities early.  It’s always less stressful to do the searching and visits when there isn’t a crisis.  This way when the time comes you’ve already got a great place picked out and can move forward when needed.

Step 4. Find A Geriatric Care Expert

These specialized care coordinators understand the needs of seniors with dementia and can help find the best communities for them.  When there’s an unbiased expert in the room seniors won’t be as focused on if their child is “trying to put them in a home”.  Instead they’ll likely see that there’s a legitimate need for the move and accept it more easily.

Step 5. Hire A Lawyer

When your parent has dementia and enters care facilities many times children will need to have power of attorney rights.  Lawyers can produce the needed paperwork for you to take care of your parent’s estate and see that their finances are taken care of properly.  Seniors should be involved in this process to ensure they feel in control of their care.

Step 6. Take A Quick Tour

It’s important that the senior see the new home they’ll be moving to.  You should schedule a time for them to visit the community but not stick around too long.  It’s important that the first visit not feel like you’re getting ready to drop the senior with dementia off.  Try to maintain a positive element in conversation and point out the praiseworthy elements of the community that you know your loved one will like.

Step 7. Introductions & Making Friends

If your senior agrees to a meal or activities at the community you’re considering ask the assisted living staff to pair you with some of the most outgoing and friendly seniors in their community.  Introduce your parent for who they are and what they do best, not that they are considering living there.  When people start making friends, new places become less intimidating.

Step 8. Provide A Temporary Reason

Virtually all seniors would rather stay home and it is even harder for seniors with dementia to understand why a move would be necessary.  A great technique is to introduce a practical reason living at home isn’t possible, temporarily.  Temporary reasons you give might be along the lines of the house needs to get fumigated, painted, or needs extensive construction. This will be a logical reason for them to move temporarily and give them time to enjoy an active and compassionate community.

Staff in these situations are typically informed of the reason the senior is living with them.  This makes a more cohesive transition into assisted living and even the most resistant seniors many times realize the benefits of assisted living after having given it a “test drive” and accept it as a permanent solution.

Step 9. Keeping It Positive

During visits it is normal for loved ones living in assisted living communities to ask about when they are going home. It is important to avoid talking about how they are living there now.  Instead it is much more constructive to focus on asking questions about their new experiences such as food, new friends, and activities.

Step 10. Personalize The Room

It’s easier to make a change to a new home when it resembles a place you’re already comfortable.  Families can personality, decorate, and work with staff to ensure the new living arrangement is as much like home as possible.  These efforts go a long way in helping seniors with dementia feel comfortable in new surroundings.  Some family members have some doubt about making an assisted living room look like a senior’s home.  While it might seem less than honest when it comes to dementia the truth isn’t always constructive.

Step 11. Quick First Visit After Move

Once your parent with dementia has moved into the assisted living community make your first visit short but positive!  It’s common for seniors to ask when they will be returning home.  It’s important to avoid discussing that their new living arrangement is permanent. Redirect conversation if possible to the positive attributes of their dining, activities, and even new people they’ve met and made friends with. After your visit you might call and ask if your parent was excessively upset by the visit.  If so plan a little more time until the next visit to allow them to accept their new surroundings.  Then you can set up a more regular schedule for visiting them in their assisted living community.

Knowing When It’s Time

Caregivers are best served by watching for legitimate signs that dementia is setting in and avoid using arbitrary guideposts to make decisions.  It is a confusing and difficult decision to move a loved one or parent into assisted living or memory care.

There are situations where people say that it is time to move them if a spouse or parent forgets how to use the toilet, or forgets names of loved ones.  There is a chance seniors will never experience these signs yet still be living with dementia.  That means there is a chance that you and your loved one might be holding on and trying to care for a love one with dementia.  Moving the spouse or parent with dementia to assisted living will benefit everyone involved.

Signs Assisted Living May Be Needed

Read through the headings and see if you recognize any behaviors or signs that assisted living and memory care might be the best living situation for your spouse or parent.

1. They are no longer safe at home

The main reason that many families choose to move a parent to assisted living is when the senior is no longer safe.  This happens when there simply aren’t enough resources to guarantee the senior’s safety.  This is typically caused by memory deficiency and you should use the following list to evaluate their safety.

There are a number of questions you should ask yourself when evaluating your senior loved one’s safety.  Ask yourself the following questions to gauge if assisted living or memory care is needed.

  • Is the senior able to take prescriptions according to directions?
  • Are they able to prepare and store food safely?
  • Do they leave oven or burners on after cooking?
  • Are they eating regularly and not losing or gaining weight?
  • Have they fallen recently? Have they fallen repeatedly?
  • Is there any physical aggression towards people or pets?
  • Do they wander away from home, or get lost?
  • Is there a chance that the loved one is being abused?
  • Do they drive without a license or against doctor’s orders?
  • Have they been victimized by scams or likely to be?

When you start realizing that your loved one might not be able to safely care for themselves it is time to consider how assisted living might be the very best living condition for them, and for the people caring for them.

2. When Seniors With Dementia Are Bored

One sign that your loved one might be suffering from dementia is if they are following you around, asking what you are doing or are going to do.  This is clear sign they are lacking stimulation. Everyone needs some kind of daily activities which entertain, challenge, and offer us creative outlets.  Assisted living facilities specifically choose the best types of activities which cater to groups of seniors with dementia to stimulate them in meaningful and engaging ways.

People want purpose in their day.  They want something to get up for that is for them and about them.  Seniors not provided with activities and meaning decline much faster than their counterparts and it can be a major undertaking for a caregiver to provide the necessary stimulation.

3. When Caregivers Are Burning Out

Caregiver burn out is a serious issue for the quality of care seniors get, and for the mental health of the caregivers.  “Burn out” is an term that covers a lot of different difficult situations for care partners.  Burn out can be emotional, physical, or both.  Some caregivers become socially isolated, emotionally exhausted, and might feel like they are losing themselves.  Other caregivers are simply exhausted by the physical exertion of caring for their loved one.  This is common among spouses and with physical exhaustion comes a cost at the caregiver’s own health.

Caregiver Guilt & Stress

Seniors and families never ask for dementia but it is a reality for many people.  Feeling burdened by the workload of caring for the senior and resenting it will leave caregivers feeling guilty, especially when they are unable or poorly equipped to do the job.  Guilt is a feeling which is normal when something is done wrong.  When a caregiver is upset that they aren’t able to go be social and they must fulfill their caregiver roll they might feel guilty for having these thoughts. It isn’t something to feel guilty about.

Find Affordable Assisted Living Services in Arizona

Find affordable assisted living in Arizona with SLS Communities.  We proudly operate assisted living facilities in the Phoenix Valley in Mesa, Surprise, Peoria, and Sedona.  Ultimately the ball is in the court of spouses, children, and doctors when it comes to deciding the right time to move a senior into assisted living or memory care.  There are a lot of signs that can be watched for and there are seven stages of dementia that can be used by doctors and families to know when the time is right.   For more information about our Assisted Living Communities or Memory Care Communities please give us a call.  We make every effort to ensure that the transition for seniors with dementia into our communities is welcoming and positive.

Call for more information or a tour of our facilities today – 480-348-0300

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