Moving With Dementia

Changes in the environment can be challenging for people with Alzheimer’s or another dementia.

If your loved one with dementia is moving to a nursing home, how can you help with that transition? 

Try these six tips to help him adjust:

1. Choose a few familiar items and pictures to bring  

Space in a nursing home may be limited, but it’s important to bring a few things that your loved one is familiar with and can recognise.

For example, rather than going out and buying a new bedspread, bring the one from home. Are there particular pictures or photographs they are particularly attached to, just ask the home about hanging them in their new room.

Chose a home that sits best with your family members way of life  – what is most familiar such as location; homely environment; etc

2. Give the home all the information you can    

You have the advantage of knowing your family member, their history, their likes and dislikes. Share that information with the staff as this makes it easier for staff to get to know your loved one to ensure they are giving the appropriate care.

Share things such as the best time of day for a shower, what they really like/dislike to eat, or the nickname that they loved to be called. When you share these things, your loved one is more likely to respond positively to the staff and the staff to your loved one since they know him as a person, not just a resident.

3. Visit frequently for short intervals

Typically, people with memory loss adjust better to changes if a reassuring, familiar face is near them. You may need to remind them several times that this is their home. Spend time with them in their room and go through some pictures together. Remind them that you love him. If leaving is hard initially, either for you or for your loved one, you may want to have staff assist by distract them in activities or conversation and then you can leave.

Also, be aware that occasionally people can become very frustrated or angry with them about moving into this unfamiliar environment. If your visits increase your loved ones anger and frustration, it’s okay for you to visit less frequently initially to lower distress and triggers. However, this should not be used as a punishment or a threat. Remember that people with dementia often don’t have control over their emotions and behaviours.

4. Wait until they have adjusted to their new living arrangements before you take them for an outing  

You may feel the urge to take them out for a drive shortly after they move in, but it is usually better for your loved one to get into a routine and feel settled before you do that. Give them a little time to adjust to their new home before you take them on an outing.

5. Encourage participation in activities

Maybe you’re not sure what to do or say when you visit your loved one in their new home. Consider going with them to an activity. Nursing Homes offer several activities and becoming involved in them can help foster socialization and provide stimulation. You can go with them to exercise class or the music session. This is a positive way to spend time with them and help in their adjustment to their new home.

6. Remember that this may be harder for you than for your loved one.

Often, the transition of someone with dementia to a nursing home is harder on the family members visiting than the person experiencing it. While you continue to wonder how your loved one is doing and if they are sleeping and eating well, they might already be adjusted and feel at home. You will continue to remember the way it used to be, but people with Alzheimer’s typically live in the present.

If your loved one continues to struggle with adjusting to the facility, consider speaking with staff so you can work together on developing a plan to help your loved one feel at home.

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