Moving a loved one into memory care after you have chosen the right facility can be an undeniably difficult process.
Understandably, you will want to make the transition as easy as possible on your loved one.
While there is no guarantee it will be smooth or easy, there are certain things you can do to ease your loved one into their new memory care home.
The first day can be the toughest day. You should do what feels right for you and your loved one--you may want to hang around as long as possible or have several short visits throughout the day.
"Whatever the family does, it's important to stay in close contact with the facility," says Ruth Drew, director of family and information services at the Alzheimer's Association.
She suggests having lunch and dinner with your loved one as a good idea.
Drew also recommends having at least two people present, one to attend to your loved one and another to deal with staff and paperwork.
When talking with your loved one, stay positive.
You should provide the staff with as much information as possible about your loved one's likes and dislikes. This will help the staff give your loved one the best kind of care and emotional support they need. Make a list of favorite and least favorite things in these areas:
Drew adds to also note any subjects that agitate your loved one--like politics--or might scare them and make them uncomfortable.
In addition, you can let the staff know what makes your loved one smile.
"It's much better to care for happy, content humans," Drew notes. "Staff want that. They want to find ways of keeping people happy and giving them a good life."
You will want to adorn your loved one's new living space with familiar furnishings. Bring a favorite chair, keepsake items, bedding and other comforting items. However, you should probably not bring expensive or priceless heirlooms to the facility. And remember to label all objects.
Displaying photographs is a good idea. When Drew's grandfather had to enter a memory care facility because of Alzheimer's, her mother chronicled his life through photos in a large picture frame she hung in his room.
There were photos everywhere of moments like his wedding and the births of his children and grandchildren.
"It was something he enjoyed having around, and also anyone who came over to visit could see who this man was and could see all those people he is important to," says Drew.
Visiting your loved one often will ease the process for both parties. While you're there, get friendly with the staff and make yourself a part of the community. Your participation can also influence the staff's attitude.
"People get better care when they know there is a family member involved and volunteering and making friends with people who work there," Drew emphasizes. "That can really make a difference."
You may want to take your loved one on outings immediately, but it's important to wait until they adjust. If you take them out too soon, there is a greater risk of them becoming confused and thinking they are going home with you.
According to Drew, telltale signs your loved one has adjusted include eating regularly and having friendly interactions with staff and residents. Talk with staff members and ask for their opinions.
After they have settled in, you may want to take your loved ones for an outing. Where you go will depend on their condition and what they like to do, so tailor it to them.
Drew says it can also be as simple as driving for ice cream, going to a familiar place or taking a walk around the facility's grounds.