Suwanee, Georgia, combines the safety and convenience of suburban living with easy access to the cultural attractions of Atlanta. Drive a few miles north on I-85 and you’ll find plenty of rural greenspace, lots of fishing, and the natural beauty of Lake Lanier. It’s a great place to retire, but dementia can make it difficult to enjoy this vibrant area.
The right dementia care community can help your loved one take advantage of all that Suwanee has to offer, while helping them stay safe. Initiating the conversation, however, can prove difficult. This video is a great start for preparing for a move. Here are 10 tips for transitioning a loved one to dementia care.
Don’t Shame or Stigmatize
Dementia can feel frustrating, demoralizing, and even humiliating, especially if your loved one is aware of what they can no longer do. Don’t shame your loved one by reciting a long list of the things they can’t do. Don’t make them feel exposed or weak. Instead, talk about how dementia care can empower them to do more and live better.
Don’t Tell Your Loved One How to Feel
Dementia is a deeply painful experience, and those who don’t have it should not tell those who do how to feel. Even if your loved ones feelings seem irrational, don’t dismiss them. It’s common to fear change and to worry about lost independence. Arguing with your loved one about whether they’re entitled to their anger or grief is an exercise in futility. Listen, take their feelings seriously, and respond with empathy.
Offer Reassurance and Support
Talking to someone with dementia can be difficult, especially when they have lost much of their memory or ability to understand. So instead of trying to find the right words, focus on offering the right message: one of understanding, love, and support.
Dementia may erode your loved one’s ability to understand their own shortcomings. By the time memory care becomes necessary, your loved one might not remember that they have dementia, or see that there is a problem. So arguing is pointless. Don’t show up with a pile of evidence about why they can no longer live alone. Instead, focus on your loved one’s emotions, and explain that dementia care may help improve their life.
Don’t Have the Conversation Too Early
Your loved one may no longer have the cognitive ability to engage in long-term planning, or even remember recent conversations. So don’t talk to your loved one months or weeks before the move. They may not remember the conversation, and if they do, it will only build anxiety. Instead, plan for your loved one’s move and talk to them as the move gets closer.
Plan the Move for the Right Time of Day
Many people with dementia experience symptoms of sundowning. Others need time to wake up, or struggle if their routine is disrupted. Consider your loved one’s needs and routine when deciding on the best time of day to move.
Ensure Your Loved One Has Some Comfort Items from Home
Transitions are hard, even when the transition ultimately improves your loved one’s quality of life. Make the transition easier by ensuring your loved one has some comfort items from home. Make their new home feel as familiar as possible.
Attend Community Events Before the Move
The best dementia communities host events that are fun and open to the public. Help your loved one get comfortable in the community and make new friends by attending community events before the move.
Work with Community Staff
A strong partnership with the community’s staff is key to a smooth transition. Befriend a few staffers ahead of time, and help them get to know your loved one. Then work with them to make the transition as comfortable as possible.
Choose an Amazing Community
Ultimately, the best thing you can do to ease the transition is to choose a great community with compassionate staff, a wide range of activities, and a community culture that matches your loved one’s personality.Arbor Terrace of Johns Creek provides exceptional care to seniors with dementia. We can help you explore your options and prepare for the conversation with your loved one. We’d love to meet you or your loved one at one of our many community events. Contact us to learn more!