If your loved one is living with dementia, you already know the serious decisions that go along with the disease. One of the most important decisions a family member or loved one can help with is the decision to live in a dementia care community. These specialized communities offer socialization, safety, and peace of mind for the senior and for their loved ones.
However, deciding on a dementia care community is only half of the long-term care strategy. The senior should enjoy a seamless transition to the community in order to have a better quality of life. Here are a few ways to make transitioning to dementia care as easy as possible for everyone.
What Is Transfer Trauma?
A smooth transition is crucial for your loved one’s well-being. Transfer trauma, or relocation stress syndrome, is increasingly common in the older adult population. Moving from one place to another can be especially difficult when dementia is also part of the equation.
Seniors can experience transfer trauma anytime they move from one home to another. This can include moving from their home to their daughter’s home or from their home to a senior care community. Transfer trauma can happen right away and can last for weeks or months as they acclimate to their new home.
Transfer trauma can look different for each senior, but can include more acute confusion, increased anxiety or depression, and even physical side effects such as shortness of breath. Recent studies have also reported that transfer trauma can affect family members as well. In short, the transition is hard for everyone. Fortunately, there are interventions that can prevent additional stress.
Prepare for the Move
When you choose a dementia care community, work with its staff to begin the transition plan long before the move-in date arrives. Begin by bringing your loved one to the community for a meal during the week or to participate in an event in the community. This allows your loved one to associate the community with positive feelings and it gives the staff the opportunity to get to know your loved one’s preferences and needs before move-in.
As the move-in date approaches, begin to decorate your loved one’s new apartment with favorite knick-knacks, photos, and other comfort pieces. Moving into an apartment that is already decorated with their favorite things and familiar furniture can significantly decrease acute confusion upon move-in.
Communicate with Staff
When move-in day arrives, be sure you are available to assist with questions or assessments the staff may have in regard to your loved one. The assessment process is a crucial first step to getting to know your loved one, and the dementia care staff will take it seriously. They like getting a social, emotional, family, and medical history in order to begin creating individualized approaches and interventions for your loved one. The more you can assist in filling in memory gaps, the better informed the staff will be in order to better care for your family member.
Visit Often, Whenever Possible
If you are local to the Mountainside, New Jersey area, be sure to visit often during the first few weeks of your loved one’s move. Your familiar face and comforting smile will go a long way toward making your loved one feel at home in their new apartment. If you aren’t local, try to reach out as often as possible via regular phone calls and video chats. The staff at your loved one’s dementia care community can assist with the necessary technology as needed.
Remind Yourself of the Purpose of the Move
Exceptional dementia care communities provide state-of-the-art interventions and care that seniors simply cannot get alone at home. The additional socialization with peers and staff on a daily basis, along with nutritious meals and medication management services keep seniors with dementia healthy and happy. When you worry about whether you made the right decision, remind yourself that you certainly did.
To see exceptional dementia care in action, visit Arbor Terrace Mountainside. Our Evergreen dementia care neighborhood is designed for seniors living with cognitive loss, and everything from our meals to our activities to our staff training is designed with the best possible experience for our residents in mind.
You can find more information about dementia by downloading our free e-book, “Living Well with Dementia,” which was written by senior care experts and residents who are currently living with the disease.