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Seven TipS for a SucceSSful Move To DeMenTia care Brought to you courtesy of Shorelight Memory Care With the increasing demands of dementia caregiving, a day may come when it is no longer possible to care for your loved one at home. The following tips from the Alzheimer’s Association are meant to help ease the move for people with dementia and to better accommodate their special needs during this vulnerable transition time. Use your own discretion on how to use them and consider your loved one’s personality when doing so. 1. Do not announce the move in adv advance. Avoid anticipation anxiety by not telling her that she will be moving in next month or so. Wait until it is close to the date to inform her, or even tell her only at the very moment of the move. Moving anticipation anxiety can cause extreme negative feelings that may escalate into extreme behaviors. By not giving her too much of advance notice you will promote a calmer state of mind for the transition. Some homes provide opportunities for socialization, such as dinner parties or day center activities, prior to residency. These are great ways of initiating the adaptation process without being too obvious about the move itself. 2. Use fiblets. She does not need to know right away that this will be her new home for the long run. She may be happier in the idea that the stay is just for a short period of time (say, the home is being fumigated this week, or the family will be out of town and in the meantime she can stay in the hotel). You can repeat the same information when asked again until she’s used to her new surroundings. Collaborate with other visitors and the staff so everybody provides her with the same message and work together as a team to ensure a successful move. 3. Use medication wisely. Consult with her doctor to adjust her medications for those vulnerable days around the move. A doctor should be able to prescribe anti-anxiety medication to make the transition much easier for her, and for you. You may want to start the prescribed regimen about a week before the move and start weaning her of the medication after a couple of weeks after the move, as she becomes more familiar and comfortable with the staff and new surroundings. 4. Bring familiar items to the new home. Decorate the new home with some of her own furniture, mementos and items that bring her comfort, such as photos and familiar books. Objects and belongings should be packed and moved outside her view, to avoid generating anxiety. Consider eliciting the help of a family member or friend to do some activity with her elsewhere, so you have privacy to make the decisions on what to bring or not. This is also a tender moment for you as well, and when in doubt about the sentimental value of an item, keep in mind that you can always bring it to her at a later date. 5. Limit length of visits. Yes, I know it’s hard to let go! But those very first days can be crucial when it comes to developing new relationships with staff members and other residents. Your presence may remind her that this is not really her family and compel her to ask you to take her back home with you, setting backward the already sensitive process of adaptation so keep visits short. Keep open communication channels with staff and work with them to build up their relationship with your loved one. 6. Take care of yourself. This is a very tender time for you too so make sure your needs are being addressed as well. Get some extra rest and relaxation; get some exercise and fresh air. Visit with friends and do something nice for yourself. You need to be cared for too, because the journey is not over yet. You are still your loved one’s voice and Advocate, only now you have a qualified team to do the hands-on care while you take a more managerial role. 7. Remember that this too, will pass. As difficult as this transition is for your loved one with dementia, it is also very hard on you. In time she will make new friends, bond with staff, enjoy the activities, move on and thrive. You will be the one left with the traumatic memories of all the responsibilities related to the transition. Later, she may still ask you to take her home with you once in a while; she may still feel lonely once in a while. But ultimately, she will adjust, and enjoy her social life because you took the time to prepare and find the right kind of care for her. And because of you efforts, she will have a safe, comfortable and content life. Lisa Wiedholz Community Relations Director 262.898.3188 • 5643 Erie Street | Racine www.sienaonthelake.org This information provided by the Alzheimer’s Association: https://www.alz.org/cacentral/documents/Professional_Care_22-Successful_move_to_Dementia_Care(1).pdf

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