Alzheimer’s: Smoothing the transition on moving day

Moving a loved one who has Alzheimer’s into a new home or facility is a daunting task. Here’s help planning ahead.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Moving from one home to another is never easy. For a person who has Alzheimer’s disease or another disorder causing dementia, changing the routine and moving into a new or unfamiliar environment can be especially stressful.

If you’re helping someone with dementia move into your home or a care facility, find out how to make the transition as comfortable as possible.

Plan ahead

If possible, talk to the person with dementia about preferences for living arrangements while he or she can still make reasonable choices.

When planning the move, be honest with the person and provide as much information as is appropriate. You might consider allowing the person to make some choices in the process. If the person becomes angry or resistant, ask other caregivers, family members and the person’s health care provider for help explaining the importance of the move.

If the person with dementia will be moving into your home, discuss with other family members how you will all handle the expenses as well as the time commitment. Be prepared to make changes to your routine to provide care and bring the person to medical appointments. It’s also important to think about how to make your home safe for the person with dementia.

If the person with dementia will be moving to a care facility, speak with the staff about the person’s background, hobbies, interests and any special needs. Provide the person’s medical and mental health history, including a detailed medication list.

Add familiar touches

Before the move, make the person’s new room or space look and feel as familiar as possible. Decorate the area with a favorite chair or other meaningful possessions. Familiar belongings can trigger feelings of connectedness and ownership, as well as boost the person’s sense of security.

Stock the space with pictures of loved ones and friends or photo albums. Play favorite or familiar music. Reminiscing about the past can help a person with dementia bring reassuring memories into the present.

The big day

On the day of the move, follow the person’s normal routine as much as possible. If you can, handle the move during the person’s typical best time of day — whether it’s in the morning or the afternoon. Or you might consider having friends or family take the person out for the day so you can complete the move.

While you’re moving, do your best to stay positive. Try not to argue with the person about why he or she needs to move. Your attitude can help the person with dementia feel safe and secure in the new environment.

If the person is moving into a care facility, once the person is settled trust the staff to help with the next big step — your departure. Rather than making a big deal about your leaving, the staff might engage the person in a meaningful activity while you walk away.

Leaving a person with dementia in a care facility might be difficult for you — both on the day of the move and in the weeks and months that follow. Feelings of grief, loss, relief and guilt are normal. Make sure you have someone to support you on moving day. A social worker might be able to help.

It might take time for the person with dementia to get used to his or her new living arrangement. Be patient. If the person is living in your home, tell him or her that you’re glad about the move because it means spending more time together. If the person is living in a care facility, visit often and encourage friends and family to do the same. Extra care and attention can help make the new place a home.

Nov. 20, 2020

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