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How to Transition Alzheimer’s Patients into Memory Care

A senior woman and younger woman hold hands.

If you’re caring at home for a family member with Alzheimer’s disease or other form of dementia, you may come to a point where you’re struggling to meet their needs as a caregiver. Perhaps your loved one’s memory is significantly declining. Or your own emotional, mental or physical health is at risk.

Whatever the reason, you want to understand how to transition a senior experiencing Alzheimer’s into memory care. And you want to ensure it’s a successful transition, both for the safety of your loved one and for the peace of mind for yourself and your family members.

It can feel like an overwhelming process, especially when there are many decisions you’ll need to make. However, take heart: Many, many people before you have made the exact journey you’re on right now. From their experiences, you’ll find several helpful tips below on how to successfully transition an Alzheimer’s patient into memory care.

Educate yourself about memory care and what it offers.

You may not understand the difference between assisted living and memory care. You may not know the difference between Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Or you may believe you’ll be completely surrendering your loved one’s independence once they move in. One of the best things you can do for yourself and for your family member is to educate yourself on memory loss and the benefits of choosing a memory care community.

Assemble a supportive team of friends or family members.

Moving a parent, spouse or other loved one into memory care can be incredibly difficult for you, even if you know it’s the right decision. Well before the actual move, ask people who know your loved one to be part of the support team. Not only will you need someone to lean on during this difficult time, so will your loved one. Your loved one may not understand why they need to move; they may become angry, confused or combative. Having a supportive group of familiar people can also help reinforce the importance of making a move.

Start visiting memory care communities.

Once you know it’s time to transition a dementia or Alzheimer’s patient into memory care, you’ll want to begin visiting different communities. Look at communities in your area, and ask people you trust for recommendations on communities. If you don’t know anyone personally who has had experience with memory care, talk with your loved one’s physician, personal lawyer or a clergy member of their church.

Make a list of what questions to ask.

Chances are good this is your first time moving a parent or other family member into memory care, or possibly into any kind of senior living environment. So it’s only natural to wonder what questions you should be asking of the memory care communities you plan to visit. There are many helpful resources online to use as resources; you may also choose to tap into friends who have made a similar move for their loved ones. Common questions should cover topics like staffing to resident ratios, types of amenities and services offered, what meal plans are offered and what types of dishes are served, and what types of daily, weekly and monthly activities are provided.

Learn about the costs of memory care, how to pay for it and what’s included.

You may be surprised to discover that not all memory care communities are created equal. Some may offer semiprivate rooms, while others may be fully private suites. One community may have many group social activities to keep residents from feeling isolated, while another community may have more one-on-one activities between residents and staff members.

There’s also the question of how you or your family member will pay for the care they receive.

Two ways to pay for memory care include long-term care insurance or from the sale of a home and use of personal assets. Before you choose a memory care community, you’ll want to have a clear understanding of all the fees you’ll be responsible for paying.

Once you’ve chosen a community and a residence, decorate their living space with familiar items.

Most communities encourage family members to furnish their loved one’s memory care residence with furniture, bedding and photos from home. Memory care residents are comforted by familiar items, and personal mementos can stimulate memories.

Make the move as smooth as possible.

Any kind of move is stressful; for a family member moving into memory care, especially when they’re struggling with dementia, the process can be terrifying. Try to make the process as comfortable as possible on moving day. Set aside a special box of familiar items to help keep your loved one as calm as possible. Items may include a favorite blanket or quilt, a photo album or a picture of loved ones, favorite clothing, and maybe a music player loaded with your loved one’s favorite songs.

Understand that transitions to a community can take time, so be patient.

It will take time for your family member to feel more at home and acclimated in a new environment. Give yourself some grace in your decision, knowing you’ve done the right thing in seeking out the best care possible for your loved one. You learned how to transition a family member with Alzheimer’s into memory care; now you must learn how to let your loved one settle in and establish a new routine.

Discover how Oaks Senior Living can provide a successful transition to memory care.

At Oaks Senior Living, each of our memory care communities in Georgia and South Carolina focuses on a person-centered lifestyle. Our compassionate, highly trained staff members believe that consistency in our care partner program creates an environment where every resident thrives, and that meaningful daily interactions can truly change the way people age. If you have questions about memory care, we invite you to contact our care team online. You may also call us at 770-796-5871 to schedule a personal visit to one of our communities close to you.

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