10 Tips to Assist Your Parent Transition to Memory Care
The number of people in memory care in the United States has been steadily increasing due to the growing elderly population and improved diagnostic processes for diagnosing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. According to a 2020 National Institute on Aging report, an estimated 5.8 million Americans aged 65 or older have Alzheimer’s or related dementia. Of those individuals, approximately 1.3 million are estimated to be living in memory care communities, which offer specialized assistance for the particular needs of persons with dementia.
Senior citizens often find the transition to memory care particularly difficult. It can be a frightening and isolating experience, but some steps can be taken to make the transition smoother and more comfortable. Here are 10 tips to help senior parents transition to memory care:
- Make sure your parent is comfortable in the new environment
- Take time for yourself as well as your parent
- Encourage your parent to participate in activities offered by the center
- Communicate regularly with staff members at the facility
- Create meaningful connections for your parent with staff members
- Make sure important items from home are present in their room at the facility
- Involve parents in life decisions
- Find ways to keep parents connected
- Develop a plan for visitors
- Identify challenges proactively
What Is Memory Care?
Before considering each of these tips, we provide a brief overview of what is involved with memory care. Memory care is an area of expertise found in senior living communities and other healthcare organizations that specialize in providing supportive services for seniors with memory impairments. These conditions include dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. Memory care services provide a secure environment to help individuals manage their symptoms and maintain independence.
Memory care programs often involve a multi-disciplinary approach to care, including activities focused on maintaining mental acuity, physical health, and emotional well-being. These activities are tailored to meet the unique needs of each individual while also concerning themselves with environmental factors like lighting, noise levels, meals, and snacks that accommodate dietary restrictions, restorative therapies, and recreational opportunities.
In addition to regular social activities designed to promote relationships between residents with similar interests, memory care facilities may offer specialized programming for those with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Examples include music therapy, art therapy, or other forms of creative expression that focus on memories from the past and new experiences in the present. This activity is believed to help relieve stress, reduce agitation, and recharge cognitive functioning by stimulating neural pathways.
Other types of therapies provided by memory care centers can include occupational therapy, which focuses on aiding individuals with daily tasks like dressing or bathing; physical therapy, which helps people maintain mobility through exercise sessions; speech therapy which aids in communication; nutritional consultations; spiritual counseling; and psychotherapy which aims to address feelings related to the diagnosis. Although medical professionals are not always present at memory care facilities 24/7, they can be available for medical emergencies or prescribed treatments.
Make Sure Parent Is Comfortable in the New Environment
Make sure your loved one feels comfortable with their new living environment. Visit often and allow them time to adjust so that they can become familiar with the facility, staff, and other residents.
Take Time for Yourself as Well as Your Parent
Memory care facilities have professionals who can help with medical care, activities, and other daily needs. This allows you to take some necessary respite.
Encourage Your Parent to Participate in Activities Offered by the Center
Participating in activities helps keep a parent’s mind active while providing social interaction with other community members.
Communicate Regularly With Staff Members at the Facility
Regular communication will ensure you’re aware of any changes or issues regarding your parent’s health or well-being.
Create Meaningful Connections for Your Parent With Staff Members
Make sure there is a bond between caregivers and your loved one so that it feels like home for them in their new setting. Also, ensure each caregiver is aware of any special needs or habits that may have been established before moving into memory care.
Make Sure Important Items From Home Are Present in Their Room at the Facility
Items to include in your parent’s memory center room include family photo albums or other treasured items. This will make your parent feel safer and more secure when transitioning into memory care living arrangements.
Involve Parents in Life Decisions
Even though your parent may be dealing with memory loss, it’s important that seniors remain involved in decisions about their lives and remain engaged with those around them; ask them questions about what they would like and provide choices whenever possible regarding daily activities or events they would like to attend within the facility grounds.
Find Ways to Keep Parent Connected
Research local support groups or services where seniors can connect and interact socially; in addition, consider finding a hobby that incorporates both creativity and physical activity, such as art classes or gardening groups available at nearby community centers; this helps keep minds sharp while providing a social connection.
Develop a Plan for Visitors
Set up a plan on how visitors will come into contact with your parent. Develop guidelines on how visitors should conduct themselves when visiting. This includes speaking clearly or limiting sudden movement (if necessary). Communication is key during this process, so ensure all involved parties are aware of expectations before visits.
Identify Challenges Proactively
Memory Care facilities often require special assessments before admission. Speak directly with staff at the current residence (if applicable) and the new facility regarding challenges that could arise while transitioning. These challenges might include behaviors related to dementia, medication management, and wandering potential. This way, everyone is prepared before moving day arrives.
Regardless of whether someone lives in a residential facility or receives home-based memory care services, they must have access to compassionate caregivers who understand how best to support them as they cope with changing abilities associated with their condition. With such attention given towards safety measures both indoors and outdoors combined with personalized activities that encourage meaningful connections between residents and staff members, memory care centers strive to provide dignified living arrangements for those with dementia or Alzheimer’s diseases so they may age gracefully while comfortably surrounded by the people who mean the most to them.