How To Tell A Dementia Patient They Are Moving With Kindness And Respect

Telling parent it is time to move
When a person has dementia, remaining at home may be unsafe - even if you try to care for them. After deciding that they may need to move to the protective environment of assisted living or a nursing home, how do you tell the patient? What should you do if they are reluctant to refusing to move?

It’s never easy to witness a loved one lose cognitive function. If you’re caring for dementia-affected older adults at home, there might come a time when this familiar space will be unsafe for them for various reasons. 

While one of the best options is to move them, discussing living in a new environment with them can be challenging.

When Is It Time To For A Dementia Patient To Move?

About 42% of nursing home residents have Alzheimer’s disease or some form of dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, 

Nursing homes offer 24/7 care and long-term medical treatment. Some have dedicated memory care units to look after dementia patients properly. Meanwhile, assisted living facilities are safe, well-monitored spaces where residents can get support services and basic health care. Some even have memory units.

But when is it time to send someone to these communities? It’s when they’re at one of the stages of dementia where they can’t live independently.

State of confusion

Here are signs to watch out for:

  • Their memory loss issues become more severe.
  • They often get lost and exhibit sundowning (or confusion at a late time of day.)
  • They display behavioral and personality changes (e.g., delusion, hallucination.)
  • They have trouble sleeping or with their bladder or bowel control.
  • There’s no dedicated caregiver in the family who can look after them round-the-clock.

Should You Tell A Dementia Patient They Are Moving?

The last thing you want to make an Alzheimer’s or dementia patient feel is a lack of sense of control. 

In senior care, you must involve the patient in critical decision-making situations whenever possible. This includes moving to a senior living or memory care facility.

A hearty and healthy discussion among yourselves and other family members will reassure them that you’re on the same page. This will also show them that you’re trying to understand their emotions and sentiments.

Resistant to moving

What Should You Do If The Dementia Patient Is Resistant To Moving?

Specialized facilities help dementia patients socialize with others while receiving appropriate care and assistance. They’re designed to enhance these people’s quality of life.

Despite this, most adults aged 50 years and above hope to age in their own homes. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise if your loved one refuses to move to a care facility.

In this situation, you must remain understanding of your loved one’s initial decision. 

Observe and identify what causes their resistance: Don’t they want to be a burden knowing that moving (and selling their current home) can be daunting? Are they afraid that their new space wouldn’t be as comforting?

Be patient, and then discuss other possible options with them.

Involving mom in decision to move

What Options Should You Present To The Patient?

Transparency is key when talking to a patient who may need to be moved to a dementia care facility. Here are some options you may present to them.

1. Professional Home Care Services

If your loved one wishes to age in place, your best option is to enlist home care help

You and other family members can take turns taking care of the patient, with professional assistance from home health and care auxiliary support providers (e.g., meal plan providers.)

2. Continuing-Care Communities

Gently bring up again the possibility of living in communities dedicated to aging adults — especially those diagnosed with dementia disorders.

3. Short-Term Stay

Sometimes, it could be wise to use short-term language when trying to move them to a memory care community and the like. Instead of asking them if they want to move permanently to that place, consider letting them stay for only about a week or two. 

In many instances, the patients themselves proactively say that they want to be in that residence in the long term.

4. Knowing When Assisted Living is The Best Choice

Compared with the more-equipped nursing home, assisted living facilities are generally more focused on helping old and new residents with their activities of daily living. They also provide social and recreational opportunities.

However, some assisted living centers can provide skilled nursing and other necessary long-term assistance to dementia patients. Hence, assisted living can sometimes be the best choice for a dementia-affected individual. Consider it if:

  • You want your loved one to get proper long-term care and individualized attention
  • You want them to maintain a social life and some level of independence
  • You want them to have access to recreational amenities and activities 

How Do You Convince A Dementia Patient To Move To Assisted Living?

Brain disorders under dementia are progressive. And as a patient’s disease progresses, they will face cognitive, physical, and mental health challenges that would make it unsafe for them to live in their homes.

As one of their adult children, you share the responsibility of convincing them to move to an assisted living community. Below are some helpful tips:

  1. Minimize the surprise factor by getting them involved in the discussion.
  2. Talk about the benefits of moving. Highlight how the facility can better take of their well-being. Paint it in a good light by saying it’s a place where they can enjoy creating a new memory.
  3. Visit the facility and let them meet the care team. It might help them better understand the benefits you’ve mentioned.
  4. Get help from a dementia care coordinator. These experts have technical and practical know-how in helping different types of dementia patients to move.
  5. Join a support group and take cues from others’ experiences.
Packing to move

How Do You Get A Dementia Patient To Pack?

Convincing dementia patients to move is just one part of the whole picture. You must set aside time to pack their things in the days leading up to the moving day. Throughout the process, set your expectations and recognize that the move will be challenging.

To “psyche” them up, involve them in identifying items they want to bring along with them. Familiar and favorite possessions like a chair, pillow, or blanket can minimize Alzheimer’s and dementia patients’ risk of having “I want to go home” yearnings. 

But in doing so, make sure not to overwhelm them. Ask one question at a time and do it in a clear, easy-to-comprehend manner. Keep in mind that people with dementia have decreased thinking, reasoning, and concentration abilities. 

Also, take note that you should start packing early on. Taking advantage of any transition program offered by the facility is advisable. The goal is to make the transition as smooth as possible.

How Long Does It Take For A Dementia Patient To Adjust To A New Home?

The adjustment period once they start to live in a new location varies from person to person. Some would only take a few weeks, while others may need a month or more.

It’s why you have to be careful when choosing the facility in the first place. Inquire about their services and their dementia caregiver experience. 

According to experts, those more involved in the decision-making process tend to adjust better than those left in the dark by their family members or guardians.

Adjusting to assisted living

How Can You Help A Dementia Patient Adjust To Moving?

First, choose a moving time that aligns with the best time of day for your loved one. Doing so will give them ample time to feel settled at the living facility.

If possible, request their room’s layout to have some semblance of their old home (e.g., the placement of their bed or dining table). You should also add décor and spruce up their space with the personal belonging that you packed. 

Another important thing is to not visit them immediately after moving day. Your visit could trigger their wanting to return to their old home.

Randell S.

Randell Suba is a former Physiotherapist who returned to his first love, writing. He has over a decade of online writing and research experience. Randall has experience managing the care of elderly parents who lived with his family and other relatives with dementia, so he writes in the area of senior living and care with considerable experience.

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