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Moving A Relative With Memory Loss

Reviewed by: MySeniorCare Staff
Last Updated: 4/14/2010 9:35:13 AM

To prepare for moving a loved one with memory loss, the entire family should be involved to the greatest extent possible. Any disagreements within the family must be ironed out so that all family members are on the same page.

A loved one diagnosed with memory loss still may have a keen sense of what is taking place. The transition will be difficult, and confusion will only add to any anguish that may occur.

Caregivers may at least benefit from some reassurance as they enter the moving process for a loved one with memory loss. Most people with memory loss will adjust to a new environment within a week or 10 days. Patience is vital.

Explanations Should Be Simple & Short

Simplicity also is crucial as moving day approaches. Caregivers don't want to cut their loved ones short, but at the same time, once the decision has been made, long philosophical discussions will only add to the trauma. An explanation for the move should be basic, such as, "We are concerned about your security and safety in living alone. You are preparing to enter a secure, safe and friendly living arrangement. You will meet really friendly people. You can watch TV or play card games whenever you like."

In other words, don't try to explain every single detail of the move, and don't try to repeatedly justify to your loved one why the move has been arranged. This will only contribute to frustration and confusion. By and large, less is more.

Many ask how far ahead of time should the loved one be informed of the move. Each family must make this decision, but as a general rule for a person with memory loss, it's best to wait until just a few days beforehand.

Understand (and Don't Avoid) Emotional Reactions

A person with memory loss may react to a move with anger, sadness, fear and loneliness. These emotions may be expressed with more fervor than a caregiver ever has experienced with a loved one, because that's part of the nature of memory loss. Caregivers will feel their own pain in observing these reactions, but they are only natural. In many cases, it's best for the loved one to get these emotions out of their system, even if repeated scenarios take place. Always keep in mind that, more often than not, your loved one will adjust to the new living situation within a week or so.

As the loved one protests, acknowledge their feelings. Don't try to make anger or sadness disappear. But in the process of acknowledging, repeat those simple reasons with the same words: "We are concerned about your safety. We have found a friendly place for you to live."

On moving day, caregivers should take loved ones to an alternative location or activity while the movers are at work. Hopefully, the new place to live will allow you to bring furniture, a television set, pictures and other everyday items. This will make the surroundings seem more familiar.

A family dinner at a restaurant or a shopping trip are also a great idea on moving day. This means there is a time gap from moving from their old home and moving into their new one.

After The Move

Visit frequently during the transition, while following the advice of the facility's staff. Plan a time of day when the loved one is at their best. Plan activities such as paging through photo albums. Maintain eye contact, and use the loved one's name over and over.

You won't need to visit for long periods of time, but frequent visits can make all the difference!

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