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6 Tips to Help a Loved One With Memory Loss Adjust to a New Community

Sherry Christiansen
By Sherry ChristiansenApril 4, 2018
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Moving a loved one to a senior living community can be difficult for everyone involved and managing the transition for a senior with memory loss can be even more stressful.

These tips from Carolyn Rosenblatt, former RN and senior care advocate, may make the process easier during this time.

Providing a Smooth Transition to Senior Living

Rosenblatt took on the task of helping her 63-year-old brother, Robert, transition to senior living when he suffered a sudden stroke that paralyzed him on one side of his body. The stroke was so severe that physicians were unsure Robert would survive. Fortunately, a few days after his stroke, Robert began his “remarkable road to recovery. He’s still on it,” Rosenblatt writes in her article on Forbes.

Three months after his stroke, Robert was discharged from a skilled nursing facility to a senior living community. Figuring out where Robert should move took the help of several family members, but finally, a good community was located and it was time for Robert to make the transition to senior living. Rosenblatt says of the experience:

“If your loved one is moving from a 24-hour, skilled nursing facility request a meeting with family members and the staff at the old facility, Carolyn advises. This is called a care conference. The goal of the meeting is to get the staff’s professional input on discharge planning. What is your loved one’s medical status upon discharge? What recommendations are there for ongoing care?”

Ask the hospital or nursing home for a written list of all medications and medical procedures. In addition, request discharge plans in writing that include your loved one’s status at the time of discharge and recommendations for future care. This documentation should be immediately submitted to the staff upon arrival at the new community your loved one is moving to. The reason for getting everything in writing is to reduce the breakdown in communication that commonly occurs during the transition while ensuring continuity of care in the new community.

Then, coordinate a target move date. Plan who will do what (such as who will pick up belongings needed at the person’s home residence. Then, confirm who will transport your loved one to the new senior care community. The person who will be physically helping to transport your loved one needs to have time to stay for the entire day, which provides a familiar face (to help lower anxiety) to your loved one while ensuring someone is there to have important communication with the staff. In Rosenblatt’s scenario, another brother helped Robert on move-in day, showing Robert how things worked and where to find things in his new room, as well as helping him settle in.

“After that, there was the seemingly endless round of phone calls I had to make to coordinate care,” said Rosenblatt. The final step in the process involves staying available to help with any questions the staff might have about new medications, preferences and more. The family must be the voice of their loved one during the transition. This enables the new caregivers a better understanding of the needs of the new resident.

The transition seems to have gone well, Rosenblatt says. She adds, “So far… He is doing very well. He likes it there and it is a huge relief.”

6 Tips to Help a Loved One With Memory Loss Adjust to a New Community

Rosenblatt emphasizes how important it is for families to begin this process with a list to guide them through the transition.

She highlights these six tips, which helped her brother adjust from skilled nursing to a senior living community:

  1. First, request a care conference from the facility your loved one is moving out of.
  2. Don’t forget to ask for a written list of medications (and medical procedures) your loved one will need after discharge and check to ensure all medications are there.
  3. Ensure that someone familiar stays with your loved one all day on moving day to reduce anxiety and overall trauma for your loved one (and for you).
  4. Follow up to ensure that the staff at the new community is following through with all care required and to answer any questions that may arise.
  5. Remember to communicate with the new caregivers and senior living community to ensure that they are aware of your loved one’s likes and dislikes and any other pertinent information to help the staff become familiar with the new resident.
  6. Remember that a senior living community often provides for daily activities and needs, but it does not provide 100% of the medical management. The family needs to ensure that the overall medical needs of their loved one don’t fall through the cracks. Oversee the transition and how your loved one is doing on an ongoing basis to ensure a better adjustment to the senior living environment.

Have you helped your senior loved one with memory loss adjust to a new senior living community? What tips would you like to share with other families going through this transition? We’d like to hear your suggestions in the comments below.

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Sherry Christiansen
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Sherry Christiansen