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Ingleside at Rock Creek Blog

IRC Blog
Posted: Thursday, December 5, 2019

5 Tips to Help a Loved One Adjust to a Memory Care Community

The day you may have worried about finally came. Both you and your loved one needed more help than could be provided at home. Accepting this the best you could, you researched and asked friends and family for referrals. But now that you’re beginning to visit communities, you may wonder how to make the transition from home.

Start by preparing yourself the best you can to help your loved one make this move. Depending on the triggers that day, it may be a challenge for both of you.

Transitioning from home to a memory care community may not be easy but there are still steps you can take to help things go as well as possible. Here are 5 tips to consider.

  1. Don’t Tell Your Loved One About the Move

At least not until the day arrives. While it might help to visit the community together beforehand to possibly create familiarity, explaining the why and when of a move will only cause anticipation anxiety. Depending on where your loved one is in the disease, they won’t be able to process what they can’t understand, including that they need more help.

Although your instincts may tell you that giving them plenty of time to adjust is best, that doesn’t work. Neither will trying to include them in the planning or the packing. Do whatever you can to minimize their agitation and frustration.

  1. What You Can Do Before the Move

Plan for the actual transition to occur at the time of day when your loved one typically feels the best. It can also be helpful to coordinate arriving when the community itself is less hectic. 

Make sure you talk to the staff ahead of time. Prepping them about likes, dislikes, career, hobbies and other information gives the staff clues about how they can start their relationship together.  A software like Memorywell does a great job to help gather information in a concise way.

If possible, prepare the room before your loved one arrives. Bring in photos and any familiar furnishings or comfort items, such as a favorite chair or blanket. But don’t let them see you taking things from the house and don’t ask what they’d like to bring as this will typically lead to confusion and agitation.

  1. What to Expect After the Move

While it may make you uncomfortable, telling the truth is not always the kindest approach when caring for someone with a cognitive impairment. Revealing that this is their new home will be upsetting to them. Instead, you might want to say you need to be out of town for a week so you arranged for them to stay here. They’ll feel less anxious and won’t understand that they have actually moved.

Many communities recommend not visiting for the first week. It makes it easier for your loved one to begin bonding with the staff and other residents if you’re not around. Also, if you visit too soon, they’ll often ask you to take them back home and there’s no easy way out of that conversation.

It’s common to see an increase in certain behaviors for a while after a move such as depression, agitation, confusion and loss of interest in activities. They may also respond to this change by pacing, becoming restless or wandering.

Consider decorating their room in a way that reflects the life they once had. One example is if someone loved quilting, bring a favorite for the bed or to hang on the wall. You could also have a sewing basket, material and thread nearby.

An activity box can be used as a calming technique or a great way to encourage interaction with visitors. Fill the box with items they loved or used regularly in their past. For example, a former teacher’s box could be filled with pencils, papers to grade and a grade book.

Post special mementos and photos of family members and friends on a reminiscence board. Make sure to label each item as it’s another way the staff can begin to get to know your loved one and family. This can also help visitors with conversations.

Decorating the door to their room with a wreath or unique item that was special to them creates a welcome home feeling and provides a visual cue to help them recognize their room from others.

  1. Manage your expectations

It’s important to stay positive when you visit but for those who continue to complain it might be better to acknowledge that you know how hard this is but the most important thing is that they remain safe and have the best of care.

Expect a bumpy road and setbacks. There will be good days and bad. Remind yourself that you made the right decision.

Ingleside Memory Support Assisted Living

Our care team is here to help and support both your family and your loved one during all the phases of memory care. We understand that transitioning from home can be challenging but we have the experience and training to help everyone make the adjustment as smoothly as possible. You won’t be alone.

Please call (202) 905-0018 if you have any questions or would like to schedule a personalized tour today.


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