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How to Move a Parent with Dementia to Assisted Living?

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A senior woman and a young woman smiling while embracing each other.

Transiting a parent living with dementia into an assisted living community can be a challenging journey. The process is often emotionally draining for both. Every parent wants to maintain their independence for as long as possible, but in some situations, it can be impractical and even unsafe for them to do so.

Dementia can be unpredictable. Its symptoms blur the line between good and bad days, making undertaking any sudden change an unexpected prospect. But you can take steps that may make the move easier for everyone involved: 

  • Communicate clearly
  • Time and plan it well
  • Find a community that fits your loved one’s lifestyle

Assisted living isn’t simply about finding a place to live; it’s about finding a place to thrive.

What Is Dementia?

Dementia is not a single disease but a collection of symptoms that affect cognitive function, such as memory, language, problem-solving, and attention. It’s caused by damage to the brain cells, which can be brought on by various diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or stroke. Many seniors experience some age-related cognitive decline; however, dementia’s impact is more severe and interferes with daily life.

Types of Dementia

Various types of dementia exist, but Alzheimer’s is the most common, accounting for about 60–80% of dementia cases. Vascular dementia, another common type, occurs when the blood flow to the brain is interrupted, leading to cognitive impairment. Other forms of dementia include Lewy body dementia, frontotemporal dementia, and mixed dementia, which is a combination of 2 or more types.

Signs & Symptoms of Dementia

The signs and symptoms of dementia vary depending on the type and severity of the condition. However, they typically involve increasing difficulty performing the activities of daily living (ADLs).

Here are some examples of dementia signs your loved one could experience:

  • Losing track of a purse or wallet
  • Forgetting to pay bills
  • Difficulty planning or preparing meals
  • Forgetting appointments
  • Problems traveling out of a familiar neighborhood

What Is Assisted Living?

Assisted living is a residence option for seniors requiring help with daily activities such as cooking, bathing, and medication management. This type of care can benefit those who don’t require full-time medical attention but may need assistance with their ADLs. 

Assisted living communities usually have a team of caregivers who assist residents according to their personalized care plans. They can have trained medical professionals available 24/7 to help with medical needs and emergencies. 

Assisted living residents can enjoy the freedom of living in a community tailored to their needs while having access to assistance when they need it. But more than simply care, living within an assisted living facility can help seniors stay active and socialize with others. 

A personal trainer assisting a senior with his exercise in an indoor gym.

Meanwhile, families have the peace of mind of knowing their loved one is well taken care of and has regular access to medical care and attention.

Advice for Moving Parents to Assisted Living

As with any significant life change, moving to assisted living should be treated with care. Here are some ways you can help ease the transition:

Talk About It Early

One of the best ways to start the transition is to begin communicating with your parent as early as possible about moving to assisted living. If surprised, they may be more likely to resist the idea and feel like they are being stripped of their independence. Starting the conversation early gives you both time to process and adjust to the idea and make the necessary arrangements.

It also helps to involve your parent in the decision-making process by having them visit potential communities and participate in selecting their new home.

Timing Is Key

Timing is a critical factor when moving a parent with dementia to assisted living. The timing of the move can significantly impact how well your parent adjusts to their new environment. Consider moving them during a time when they are most comfortable and alert.

For example, avoid moving them during holidays or family events, as this may increase their anxiety and confusion.

Keep Their Routine the Same

When moving a parent with dementia, try to keep their daily routine as consistent as possible. Some of the routine will inevitably get thrown off, but focus on the tasks you can manage. By doing so, you can help them maintain a sense of familiarity and control.

You can also bring some of their belongings, such as favorite books, blankets, or photos for comfort and a reminder of home. Your preferred communities should be willing to help maintain this familiar routine.

Plan Carefully

When dealing with the physical act of moving a parent to a new home, professional movers can be a big help. If you plan on moving your parent’s belongings by yourself, keep the process as organized and straightforward as possible.

Label boxes clearly and minimize changes that may confuse your parent, such as rearranging the furniture.

Reach Out to a Support System

Moving your parent to an assisted living facility can be mentally and emotionally exhausting. It’s essential to have a support system in place to help you. You can consider joining support groups for families with parents with dementia or work with a professional caregiver who understands the challenges you are facing and can offer much-needed support.

Choosing Assisted Living

Moving to assisted living can be a stressful experience for everyone, but you’re not alone. Fox Trail Senior Living at South River can help your parent find their place in our vibrant community. We offer assisted living designed for those with dementia, supporting them physically, mentally, and spiritually.

When you and your loved one decide it’s time for assisted living, contact us and book a tour. We’re ready to help make this next step a gentle one.

Ryan Donahue

Written by Ryan Donahue, Regional Vice President

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