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Easing the Transition for Alzheimer's Patients to Assisted Living

- Monday, October 31, 2011

Transitioning from home to a residential care community can be challenging for both caregivers and for Alzheimer’s patients.

Here's how to make the move easier:

Due diligence. Caregivers need to have much comfort in their choice of assisted living communities. Unfortunately, the quality of these settings varies greatly. Your decision should be based on three important factors: Is there a dementia care unit staffed by professionals with specific dementia training? Does the facility have locations close enough to your home and/or work to allow for visitation at a level that is best for your family? Does the facility meet the specific medical, social, therapeutic and emotional needs of your loved one?

Understand the emotions. An individual with dementia may not be able to fully appreciate what is happening or the long-term implications of relocating to a care facility. They may react to your emotional state during the move. Also, the new surroundings can be overwhelming and confusing, but this will subside in a few days or a week. Give them time to acclimate and to get used to the staff.

Provide input. Share your knowledge of the patient with the staff, including the unit nurse, social worker and nutritionist prior to admission. Employees need time to learn about the medical condition, temperament, behavior patterns, likes and dislikes, of your loved one.

Talk about it. The level of disclosure to your loved one about the upcoming move is a decision you need to make based on your knowledge of their ability to understand. Be patient and understanding and allow them a chance to voice their concerns. Offer reassurance of your plans for regular visitation.

Prepare the room. Plan to have the room set up before they move in. Bring familiar objects, but nothing of value that could be misplaced or damaged. Label clothing and personal items.

Be by their side. Accompany your loved one to the Alzheimer's care facility for the actual move, and repeatedly explain that they will be okay and that you are there to help. You may want to stay for the day and have dinner together. When it is time to go, explain that you have to leave for a while, but will return as soon as you can. Assure them that they will be fine.

Check in regularly. Monitor the care of your loved one on a regular basis, and advocate on his behalf with the staff and administration.

Think about yourself. Tap your network of family and friends for emotional comfort. And seek support from others who have been through this situation. Spring Arbor Living hosts many events where you can find support.

Original article – Alzheimer’s Foundation