TIPS FOR MOVING SOMEONE WITH ALZHEIMER’S
TO A NEW HOME
Who out there likes moving? I sure don’t. In my lifetime, I have moved over twenty (20) times! Yikes! For an introvert like me, moving is difficult. Even for non-introverts, moving is stressful.
Now, imagine if you have Alzheimer’s. You are already having difficulty remembering things. New places and people might scare you. You need routines. And now your loved ones need to move you to another facility.
Maybe you need extra care. Perhaps you are no longer able to live independently. Maybe you are starting to wander. Or, maybe you keep forgetting to turn off the stove.
Unfortunately, you need to move – either into a caretaker’s house or into some type of memory care unit. You need to have a smooth transition as moving is even more stressful for someone with Alzheimers. But how?
Barbara’s Story, Part One
Recently I spoke with my friend, Barbara. Barbara is upset because her mom is quickly declining. Her mom was diagnosed with Alzheimers. Her mom is at the point where she can no longer live by herself. So, Barbara needs to move her mom.
However, Barbara worries about moving her mom. Where will her mom live? What will happen to her mom’s home? Most importantly, how will she get her mom moved?
Barbara needs help fast! Luckily, Barbara is in a support group for children whose parents have Alzheimer’s. So, Barbara spoke with her fellow group members about her dilemma.
Luckily for Barbara, several group members had undergone this experience. So, they were able to offer Barbara some great tips.
TIP ONE: TALK TO YOUR PARENT IF THEY ARE ABLE TO MAKE CHOICES
Moving can be stressful for most people. To alleviate stress, its is a great idea to plan ahead.
So, what do I mean by planning ahead? First, you need to talk to your loved one with Alzheimer’s if he or she is still able to make decisions. Find out what are his or her preferences. Do they want to move in with you or another family member? Do they want to move to an assisted living facility or nursing home?
Second, you need to have suitable choices available. That way, you can discuss those choices with your loved one. You can ask them for his or her input.
Third, you need to be honest with your loved one. You should express your concerns and point out why moving would be a great option for your loved one. Provide your loved one with a lot of information. Do not downplay your loved one’s feelings or reservations. Allow your loved one to express his or her opinions. Remind your loved one of your love and concern. Do not get into an argument with your loved one.
Tip Two: You Need to Have Family Discussions Before Moving Your Loved One Into Your Home
If you decide you are able to care for your loved one in your home, you need to talk to the other family members who live in your house first. You need to find out if there are any concerns or questions.
You also need to discuss responsibilities. Who will be the primary caregiver? How will you share responsibilities? Where will your loved one reside? Will someone have to give up his or her room? Who can take your loved one to medical appointments.
Next, you will need to make sure your home is safe for a person with Alzheimer’s. Are there any potential falling hazards? Do you need to install special locks if your loved one is prone to wandering from home?
If you have children, you need to explain to them that grandma still loves them even if she can’t remember who they are. You need to explain that grandma can’t help it when she forgets things.
Tip Three: Dealing With Anger
Be prepared for your loved one to be angry about the move. As I mentioned earlier, I hate moving. So, your loved one is probably not going to be happy about moving to a new place.
If your loved one becomes angry, table the discussion. When he or she is calmer, ask them why they are so angry. Are they scared? Perhaps they don’t want to leave their friends. Maybe they are afraid to give up their independence.
You may want to reach out to someone who is an expert in dealing with Alzheimer’s patients. Find out from those experts how you can explain the need for the move. And don’t forget to ask those experts for their help in these situations.
Tip Four: Pick the Right Time of Day to Move
Make sure you schedule the move at a time when your loved one is usually at his or her best. What do I mean?
Well, some people are morning people and some are night owls. If your loved one is not a morning person, please do not schedule the move for 7:00 a.m. Likewise, if your loved one likes to go to bed early, scheduling a move for late afternoon is probably not a good idea.
People with dementia may experience “sundowning.” What is sundowning? Sundowning is a state of confusions that usually occurs in the late afternoon. When a person is sundowning, they may be confused, aggressive and anxious.
Moving is stressful enough. So, if your loved one is prone to sundowning, avoid late afternoon moves.
Tip Five: Add Personal Touches
Moving is scary. Humans need familiarity. Someone with Alzheimer’s especially needs to feel safe. So, make sure you decorate your loved one’s new space with familiar objects.
Do they have a favorite chair? Make sure that chair comes with them. Definitely make sure pictures of loved ones are surrounding his or her room. Do they like music? Make sure you have their favorite songs playing.
Why the need for familiar objects? These objects provide stability for the Alzheimer’s patient. Seeing familiar belongings is comforting. Familiar items also helps the Alzheimer’s patient feel control knowing they own something of their own.
Tip Six: Realize Settling In Takes Time
Realize that it may take time for your loved one to adjust to his or her new surroundings. Be prepared to hear pleas of getting them out of their new space.
Remember it takes time to adjust to new surroundings. Stay strong and be patient. Most of all remain positive.
Barbara’s Story, Part Two
Remember my friend, Barbara? For weeks, every time she visited her mom, her mom would ask her when she could return home. She would cry every time Barbara visited her. Needless to say, that would cause Barbara to cry.
But, Barbara persevered. Every time she visited, she would point out the positive things about her mom’s new place. Barbara would tell her mom the activities planned for the next day. She would ask her mom which activities sounded fun to her. Barbara would encourage her mom to participate.
But, Barbara was not just all talk and no action. She decided she would start taking her mom to activities being offered. Barbara appeared at dinnertime to take her mom to the dining hall. Barbara made sure to introduce her mom to the other ladies in the home.
Guess what happened? One day Barbara came to take her mom to arts and crafts. However, she could not find her mom. Barbara was frantic as her mom almost never left her room without Barbara.
In the midst of her panic, a staff worker saw Barbara. She went over and told Barbara that her mother was doing arts and crafts with the other ladies. Barbara was skeptical. But, she ventured to the activities room.
And guess what she saw? Her mother siting at a table of other ladies laughing. Yes, her mom was finally happy just like Barbara knew she would be when she got used to her surroundings. Thank goodness Barbara had been patient with her mom.
Even though Barbara’s mother continues to get worse and often has no idea who Barbara is, Barbara’s mom still smiles. And you know what, that makes Barbara smile, too.