The move to an assisted living or memory care facility will undoubtedly have a significant impact on not just the individual moving into the facility, but their entire support system including family members, friends, and any professionals involved in their care. Adding memory issues including Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia into the mix can potentially create extra complications, especially during the first few days and weeks after moving into the facility. Most families have little to no experience helping a loved one make the move to assisted living and may feel apprehensive about this specific part of the process. But with the proper education, and a little (or a lot) of guidance, it is not impossible to overcome these potential problems.
Transfer Trauma Recovery
Many seniors making the move to an assisted living or memory care facility may experience what is known as transfer trauma. Thankfully, the stress created by the move is typically temporary. With a little help from the team in the facility, and the resident’s support system, most people are able to adjust to their new environment within a matter of days or weeks, depending on the individual. There are several different approaches that can be taken when attempting to help a resident just moving in acclimate to their new surroundings in a facility. One way is through helping to establish a new routine. Speech language pathologist, Carmen, with Encompass Home Health, explains, “One thing that’s really important when you have a new move in at a facility is to make sure that you use repeated practice to navigate the new environment. These individuals have just come from a home environment, which is super familiar. And they’re now in a new environment. So making sure that you walk with them repeatedly to where they need to go, whether it’s the dining room or the activity room, or wherever it might be. Take a walk and keep doing it because that’s what’s going to help them understand the new routine.” As you are walking with the resident, try pointing out objects that can become familiar in helping them to remember which way leads them to certain areas of the facility. Focusing on a picture on the wall, or some other permanent fixture along the way, are good options for this practice. Reminding them of their room number and decorating their doorstep with familiar items (if allowed by the facility) are other helpful tips you can try. Some facilities, especially homes that specialize in memory care, encourage shadow or memory boxes. These can be placed outside each resident’s door that can include familiar photos and other items to make it easier for them to locate their respective spaces.
Helping your loved one adapt to assisted living includes much more than just helping them to become familiar with their new physical surroundings. The move to a facility will require that the resident’s mental, emotional, and spiritual needs be identified and met, in addition to their physical and medical needs. Everyone involved will need to work together as a team to strive to meet those needs throughout the resident’s stay in the facility. But during those first few days, weeks, and even months it is especially important. You can help them transition more smoothly to their new environment and establish a new routine in other ways as well.
Through the years, we have gained a considerable amount of experience and knowledge at Gables as we have assisted individuals and their families adapt to assisted living and memory care homes. We would love to share our extensive understanding with you to help better prepare you and/or your loved one who may be moving into a facility sometime in the future. Continue to follow our Gables blog at www.thegablesfamily.com for more helpful hints and information on this topic and much more. You can also speak with a member of the Gables team by calling 208.357.3323.
Carmen, Speech Pathologist, Encompass Home Health http://encompasshealth.com/-/media/healthsouth/project/healthsouth/images/hero/q3-home-health/home-health.png