How to Move a Parent with Dementia into Assisted Living

One of the few things worse than discovering that one of your parents is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia is realizing they need more care than you are able to provide. Moving a parent with dementia into an assisted living community can present several challenges, but with the right attitude and enough preparation, you can help ease them, and yourself, into this sometimes necessary transition.

Easing the Transition for Your Parent

Dementia has a major impact on a person's thinking and problem solving skills. Your parent suffering from this disease may not understand why you want to remove them from their home and all of the things familiar to them. Transitioning your loved one from everything they have ever known into a new environment in assisted living can be an incredibly emotional experience. Here are some suggestions to help reduce the amount of stress on everyone involved during this critical time.

  • Create a Long-Term Care Plan as Early as Possible

Although it is not always possible, it is ideal to begin creating a long-term care plan shortly after the dementia diagnosis, during the early stages of the disease. This allows your parent to be included in the process of choosing the right assisted living community for their needs. As the dementia moves into the later stages, the idea of moving into a new home can be upsetting, and it may be a better idea to wait to announce their move until after all necessary decisions have been made.

  • Research Several Assisted Living Communities

You will find that not all assisted living communities provide the same services so it is important to do your research and find those fully equipped to offer the proper care for people with dementia.

  • Plan a Visit to the Chosen Memory Care Community

It’s always a good idea to plan a visit, or several if time allows, to the assisted living community you have chosen to care for your loved one. Allowing your parent to explore the community, talk to other residents, and take part in some of the activities, will help them feel more at ease. Each visit will add a layer of familiarity in their mind and will help them to feel safer during the transition.

  • Determine Your Loved One’s “Best Time of Day” Before the Move

Many dementia patients experience highs and lows throughout the day, with early mornings and evenings being a more stressful time for them. Scheduling the moving day into assisted living during a time when your parent is more likely to be calm can reduce the overall stress of the experience. This may also give your loved one more time to settle into their new surroundings before becoming agitated or fatigued.

  • Remember to Bring Some of Your Loved One’s Cherished Things

Familiarity is crucial to a dementia patient. Bringing a few beloved items that remind them of home can help ease them into the new environment. Some suggested items include photos of family and friends, a favorite throw blanket or pillow, or other small pieces of home such as a music or jewelry box. It’s a good idea to have a prior discussion with the administration of the assisted living community regarding the size and amount of items you are allowed to bring.

  • Make the Most of Available Transition Programs & Counseling Services

Moving your parent into assisted living doesn’t just affect them, it affects everyone involved. Oftentimes, family members, especially if they were primary caregivers, experience an overwhelming sense of loss or grief when their parent is moved into an assisted living community. Be sure to address those feelings and find ways to meet your own needs whether by attending transitioning programs or specialized counseling services.

It is important to remember that although you may feel defeated, you did not fail as a caregiver by placing your parent into assisted living. You made the best possible choice to ensure they get all of the advanced care they need to continue to lead a fulfilling life.

  • Get to Know the Caregiving Team

One of the best ways to feel confident you are leaving your parent in good hands is by getting to know the care staff members. Not only will you feel better by knowing the people caring for your loved one, they can learn more about your parent through you, making it easier to strike up conversations and connect with them.

When Do Dementia Patients Need Assisted Living?

Determining whether or not you should move your loved one with dementia into assisted living can be a difficult decision. Generally, a doctor or nurse can help make this determination by assessing your parent’s ADLs, or Activities of Daily Living. These ADLs allow professionals to understand how well a senior can perform common daily tasks.

The six main ADLs examined include:

  • Feeding: Can the individual feed themselves?

  • Personal Hygiene: Can the individual bathe and groom themselves? Can they maintain dental hygiene, nail, and hair care?

  • Ambulating: Can the individual move from one position to another? Can they walk independently?

  • Dressing: Can the individual choose appropriate clothing to wear? Can they dress themselves?

  • Toileting: Is the individual able to get to and from the toilet? Are they able to use it appropriately and thoroughly clean themselves?

  • Continence: Is the individual able to control their bladder and bowel function?

To get a better picture of daily life and to determine if the skills needed to live independently are still accessible, IADLs, or Instrumental Activities of Daily Living, are also accessed. The six main IADLs examined include:

  • Managing Finances: Can the individual pay bills and manage financial assets?

  • Transportation & Shopping: Can the individual drive themselves, or organize other means of transportation, to obtain groceries, show up for appointments, and attend events?

  • Shopping & Meal Preparation: Can the individual perform everything needed to get a meal on the table? Can they shop for clothing and other items necessary for daily life?

  • Home Maintenance & House Cleaning: Can the individual keep up with home maintenance? Are they able to clean the kitchen after meals and maintain reasonably tidy living areas?

  • Managing Medications: Is the individual able to obtain medications and take them as directed?

  • Managing Communications with Others: Does the individual have the ability to manage the telephone and mail?

If your loved one shows signs of decline or limitation in one or more of these areas, it might be a good time to consider transitioning them into a senior community that offers memory care.

Compassionate Memory Care in Waterford, Michigan

Our Care Team at Caterbury on-the-Lake understands that it can be incredibly difficult making the decision to move your loved one from their home into an assisted living community. This is why we provide the highest quality dementia care for our residents and offer an assortment of activities and programs, including Heartfelt CONNECTIONS - A Memory Care Program™, to help ease this emotional transition and enhance the overall quality of life for our seniors.

If you would like more information on the services, programs, and amenities we offer at Caterbury, or would like to schedule a visit to our community, please call us at 248-791-9737 or fill out our convenient online form. We look forward to hearing from you.