Being active in the transition to memory care can help you feel more comfortable with the process. Take your loved one on multiple visits so you can both become familiar with the space. Work with the on-site team to make sure you understand the move-in process. Helping your loved one move in and get settled can also help you feel like you're doing something productive during a time that's likely emotionally difficult for you.
High-quality memory care communities personalize care to each resident. Doing so is easier when the caregivers know your loved one's preferences and needs. Individuals with cognitive decline can't always express those things clearly, especially if their dementia is advanced. As their previous primary caregiver and loved one, you can share detailed insights that can support the caregivers in the services they provide.
You can't be with your loved one every minute, but you can learn about their new routines in their memory care community, which can help you feel closer to them. Visiting the location before your loved one moves helps you become familiar with the community amenities, dining facilities and activities the residents normally do. You can also ask lots of questions at that time to get an idea of the normal schedule and what your loved one's day might look like. When you visit, encourage your loved one to take part in their normal routine and go along with them so you can experience it.
Creating a comfortable space can help your loved one transition to the new living arrangements more easily. They may feel more at home when they're surrounded by familiar things. Help them decorate their space when they move in with photos and important items. You could create a photo album with captions and stories written in it that they can look at.
Stopping in to see your loved one helps you see what they're doing and talk to them in person. You can hear their stories about how things are going and talk to the caregivers. Meeting other residents can also help you feel more connected and involved. While you're there, you might ask your loved one to show you around. Alternatively, bring activities you can do together during your visit.
You may not be a full-time caregiver anymore, but you can still go places and do things with your loved one. Occasional outings give you time to bond and offer a break from the memory care community. Plan the outings for times when you know your loved one is usually alert and in a good mood to make the excursion easier and more enjoyable for both of you. It can be helpful to wait a few weeks or months before going on outings to let your loved one settle in and feel comfortable in their new home.
You might feel more removed from your loved one if you don't live close enough to visit regularly. It's not the same as seeing them in person and giving them a hug, but video chatting can let you have a face-to-face conversation. Plan the calls based on your loved one's schedule and typical moods to make the calls more productive.
Another way to stay connected if you don't live close enough to visit frequently is to send care packages. You can include special snacks or activities your loved one enjoys to make them smile and give them something to do. Including photos and letters can add a personal touch to the care package.
Keep in touch with the caregivers who work with your loved one to stay on top of what's happening to them. When you visit in person, you can have face-to-face conversations with various team members. If you're far away, that communication might have to take place over the phone or email. The team should keep you updated on changes in your loved one and concerns they may have.
A meaningful way you can continue to help your loved one is by serving as their advocate. Individuals with memory loss might not be able to advocate for themselves effectively. If you have concerns about something your loved one says or issues you notice when you visit, bring it to the attention of the staff in a productive and respectful way. Working together can often resolve issues or clear up miscommunication.
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