Dementia can be an agonizing experience for both caregivers and seniors. But it doesn’t have to be. Alzheimer’s and other dementias affect memory, cognition, personality, speech, and more, but that doesn’t mean they cut off the path to a meaningful life. As with any other disability, the key to mastering dementia is to find ways to work around your loved one’s limitations and build upon their strengths.
Dementia care is one of the most effective ways to do so. The right memory care community offers the kind of support and care your loved one just can’t get at home—a secure environment, 24/7 help, access to new friends, food options designed to keep your loved one healthy and address eating issues, and activities specifically tailored to the unique needs of people living with dementia. As you transition your loved one to memory care near Chicago, these tips can help make the transition easier for both of you.
Start the Conversation
Dementia is something that is happening to your loved one. It is not who your loved one is. Keeping this in mind as you begin the conversation can help you keep a level head. People with dementia, especially in its later stages, have difficulty forming new memories and developing new skills. So if you talk to your loved one about memory care too early, you’ll probably have to talk to them about it again later.
A better strategy is to get your loved one used to the idea of memory care first, by attending events at the memory care community you’ve chosen. Then talk to them about moving once they’ve established a level of comfort with the community. Some strategies to start the conversation include:
- Don’t make it a personal attack. Don’t talk about your loved one’s deficiencies, or make it seem as if dementia is a personal failing. Talk about dementia like you would any other disease.
- Be positive. Emphasize how memory care will improve your loved one’s life. You must actually believe what you are saying, so it’s important to choose an exceptional memory care community.
- Reassure your loved one that you will help them transition, visit them frequently, and ensure they get exceptional care.
- Don’t be surprised if your loved one insists they don’t need help. Dementia undermines your loved one’s ability to see their own struggles clearly. It also affects short-term memory, so they might not remember the stove they left on last week or the car accident they got into. Don’t make it a power struggle. Present the facts.
- Allow your loved one to feel whatever they need to. Telling them how to feel only makes them feel less in control. It’s normal to resist change, and if your loved one is sad or scared, help them talk through those feelings.
Tips for Moving
Plan the move as far in advance as you can. This allows you sufficient time to pack your loved one’s things and address logistical issues, like which family members will visit on which days. Don’t try to get your loved one to pack their own possessions, or involve them too early in planning. They’ll feel overwhelmed, and expecting a person with dementia to undertake the complex activities of packing and planning a move will set them up for failure.
Once your loved one is moved in, a few simple tactics can smooth the transition:
- Visit frequently. Your loved one wants to know that you still love them and that they are not being punished or abandoned.
- Be prepared for a difficult adjustment. Change is hard for anyone, especially people with dementia. Sadness and frustration are normal. You might also notice an increase in difficult behaviors. Remain calm, compassionate, and empathetic. Your loved one will adjust, and will come to love what dementia care can offer.
- Form good relationships with community staff. They are your point of first contact, and can give you the lowdown on how your loved one is doing.
- Help your loved one take advantage of what the community offers. They might feel too anxious or shy to attend events at first. So go with them, and help them talk to and get to know other residents.
How Arbor Terrace Naperville Can Help
Arbor Terrace Naperville is Illinois’ premier dementia care community. We understand that dementia affects each person differently. So we work with our residents to devise individualized plans that respect your loved one’s dignity, keep them safe, and ground them even as they face the uncertainty of dementia.
Dementia is a big change, but it does not have to mark the end of one’s joy in life. If caregiving has worn you out and dementia has left your loved one depressed or unrecognizable, call us. We can help you both rediscover a better life. We can’t wait to meet you.