Senior couple packing boxes

Moving Tips for People With Alzheimer’s

Moving is a stressful event for anybody, but for a person living with Alzheimer’s, it can cause distress that leads to intense emotional reactions: fear, anxiety and even lasting trauma.

However, while change is an inevitable part of life, trauma isn’t. And, it can be minimized if moving your family member to a new active retirement facility or assisted living home is done with the right amount of care and consideration.

As you’ve probably already experienced in the beginning phases of the Alzheimer’s diagnosis, part of leading a fulfilling life is adjusting to the “new normal” and ensuring everyone in the family can do the same.

Knowing what to expect and what resources and strategies to use make the process easier for everybody involved, and it’s the same when moving a loved one with Alzheimer’s.

What to Consider When Moving a Patient with Alzheimer’s

Relocation stress syndrome and transfer trauma are the most common side effects of an unexpected, or even expected, major move.

Tracy Greene Mintz, LCSW, is an expert in relocation stress syndrome and notes that symptoms of transfer trauma may occur before, during and for several months after a move.

These symptoms can range from mild to severe depending on the condition of the person and the circumstances surrounding the move. Greene Mintz categorizes the typical reactions into mood, behavior and physiological symptoms. The most common mood symptoms you might witness your elder experience are feeling sad, angry, irritable, depressed, anxious or tearful.

“That’s very common because they don’t know what is happening to them,” notes Greene Mintz.

These are all normal, common changes and behaviors exhibited by people living with Alzheimer’s, which is why it’s so important to select the right long-term care facility.

Tips for a Smooth Transition Day

Planning ahead and being prepared for the inevitable challenges of a big move will help you and the person with Alzheimer’s lessen the impact of a major transition.

By following these tips, you will be able to provide emotional support to your senior while also providing a calm environment in which they can begin to adjust to their new home.

1. Focus on Your Loved One’s Comfort and Independence

This should be your very first step. If it’s possible, involve your family member in the planning stages as much as you can from the get-go. While some circumstances prevent a person with Alzheimer’s from being able to select their new home, long-term care facility or even hospital, there are still probably small choices that you can allow them to make themselves.

The ability to make decisions and be involved in the transition process, no matter how big or small, will give the person moving a sense of control and independence that will be crucial in the move. Focusing on their comfort through open communication will make the moving process easier for everybody involved.

2. Prepare Yourself for a Wave of Emotions

If you’ve ever had to move a child into their college dorm or have even experienced a life-changing move yourself, you’ll know that moving is scary and emotional for anybody. For seniors with Alzheimer’s, moving is even scarier. As mentioned above, your loved one will likely experience some sort of transfer trauma accompanied by a range of mood, behavioral and physiological symptoms.

If the person living with Alzheimer’s having a difficult time with the move and expressing fear or anger, be sure to listen to them and validate their feelings. It’s important to let them express themselves and know that you are understanding and not disagreeing while still providing words of encouragement about the positivity and impact of the move. Provide reassurance in ways that you can, like scheduling visits and making plans for activities in their new assisted living home.

3. Pre-Move Without the Patient

The entire transition can be made easier if you pre-move a little bit before actually moving your elder into the new home. Try to arrange their new room, if you can, with objects and photos that will make your family member feel comfortable upon arrival. Familiarity will be key in a smooth transition process.

Decorating their space with a special heirloom, their favorite blanket, or photos that help them feel at home will trigger feelings of familiarity and ownership that they will need during the process to increase their sense of overall security. This is not only crucial during the transition phase, but after the move is over as well.

4. Allow for an Adjustment Period

It typically takes any individual about 30 days to adjust to a new home, and this time period can be lengthened for someone living with Alzheimer’s. Help your loved one turn their new location into a home by visiting them frequently.

It’s also important to keep in mind that every individual handles change and major life transitions differently, and the adjustment period will need to be altered depending on your loved one’s personality, need,  and specific situation.

Assisted Living in Massachusetts and Quality Memory Care

If a loved one is preparing for a move to a new memory care facility or Alzheimer’s assisted living facility in Massachusetts, Aurum is here to help.

Our residences work to preserve self-esteem, maximize independence and enhance the personal satisfaction. Specialized Alzheimer’s and memory programs are provided with your elder’s specific needs in mind, making the transition process smoother on them as well as family members like you.

We aim to help establish an ideal care plan while allowing the senior to adjust to their new surroundings and ultimately create a space in which they can foster new relationships, make new memories and thrive in their new community.

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