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7 Tips to Minimize the Stress of Moving for Your Loved One with Dementia

Moving from a familiar environment to a new location can be difficult for any of us. However, moving for a person living with dementia can be particularly challenging, say memory care specialists. 

Individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia typically cling to their familiar surroundings and established routines. When their sense of security is disrupted, as in the case of a move, loved ones with dementia can become disoriented, anxious and agitated.

Understanding Transfer Trauma and How It Can Affect a Move

According to dementia care authorities, move-related “transfer trauma” can occur whenever a person with Alzheimer’s disease moves from their familiar environment. Its effects, they say, can be highly personalized in terms of their severity and duration. 

For example, some individuals with dementia might experience substantial transfer trauma during a move, while others might exhibit only minor emotional discomfort. For some, the stress can last for weeks, while for others, it can last for only a few days.

It is highly important for caregivers to understand and recognize the stress of a move because, if not addressed promptly, serious consequences can result. These include chronic anxiety, the risk of depression and other emotional health problems.

LaMia Johnson, MHA, BBA, Administrator at Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr, located in Bryn Mawr, PA, says, “The good news is that the stress surrounding the move of a loved one with dementia can be minimized with appropriate preparation and planning. There are helpful steps family caregivers can take to assure that moving their loved one will go as smoothly as possible. 

“Additionally, if your loved one with dementia requires 24/7 full-service care, it is important to do some research to help you Choose the Right Memory Care Community. The fact is that not all memory care communities are created equal and moving your loved one to the right community will pay dividends in the form of high-quality care, a purposeful lifestyle and peace of mind.” 

7 Expert Tips for Moving Your Loved One with Dementia

The Mayo Clinic article, “Alzheimer's: Smoothing the transition on moving day,” and the Philly.com article, “Dementia makes moving to a new place hard on everyone. Here’s how to make it easier,” offer useful advice for helping caregivers successfully move their loved ones with dementiaThese tips are especially important if you are moving your loved one to a full-service memory care community.

These include:

  1. If possible, talk to your loved one about their preferences for living arrangements while he or she can still make informed choices. It is always harder to understand your loved one’s wishes after their dementia has progressed. 
  2. Choose a professional provider that specializes in memory care and is highly regarded for their care and compassion, staff training, socially engaging activities and food quality, such as Impressions Memory Care
  3. Visit your chosen dementia care community at different times of day before the move. Speak with the staff about your loved one’s personal story, medications, mental health history and any special needs. If your loved one is able and interested, visit the community with them before move-in day to help ease the transition. Consider having lunch there, meeting the staff and other residents and participating in activities.
  4. Make their new living space feel like home. Before the move, make your loved one's new room look and feel as familiar as possible. Decorate the area with treasured personal possessions, a favorite chair or other meaningful items. Familiar belongings can trigger feelings of connectedness and ownership, as well as boost your loved one's sense of security.Also, stock the space with labeled pictures of loved ones and friends, memory books or photo albums and favorite music, which can reduce anxiety. Reminiscing about the past can help a person who has Alzheimer's bring reassuring memories into the present.
  5. On the day of the move, follow your loved one's regular routine as much as possible. Try to schedule the move during their best time of day — typically late in the morning or early in the afternoon. Also, include familiar faces during the move. This will make the transition less stressful for your loved one and everyone else involved.
  6. After move-in day, be sure to stay connected. Visit your loved one frequently during this time, and encourage friends and family to do the same. It might take your loved one a couple of months to acclimate to his or her new living arrangement. Extra care and attention can help make your loved one's new living space a home.
  7. Get support for yourself. Leaving your loved one in their new home after the move might be difficult for you — both on the day of the move and in the weeks and months that follow. Feelings of grief, loss, relief and guilt are normal. Make sure you have someone to support you during this difficult period. A social worker might be able to help.

La Mia adds, “In addition to these useful tipsthe Alzheimer’s Association® article, “Moving a Person with Dementia Into a Caregiver’s Home,” provides detailed advice if you are planning to move your loved one with dementia into your own home.”

We encourage you to contact us with any questions you have on dementia care or to schedule a tour. Also, we invite you to read our timely blog articles on current caregiver and dementia care topics posted on our website.

We Would Love to Hear from You!

If you have comments or questions about our blog, “7 Tips to Minimize the Stress of Moving Your Loved One with Dementia,” we’d love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any of your caregiving experiences in our comments section.

Engaging Days. Meaningful Moments.

Loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease or other memory impairments require specialized care and support. They also deserve a lifestyle rich in dignity and fulfillment. Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr provides residents with Engaging Days and Meaningful Moments that emphasize individual abilities, encourage socialization and promote the highest level of independence possible. We offer a complete continuum of leading-edge programs, services and amenities that address the total physical, emotional and social needs of residents in a caring setting that offers individual suites with large private baths and the comfort of home. Our memory care community touches hearts and changes lives.

Helping Families Be “Family” Again.

Memory loss caused by Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or another form of memory impairment doesn’t only affect the person who has it – it affects the entire family.

If you have a loved one with early- to mid-stage memory loss, you know how challenging it can be to provide the care that’s needed while trying to maintain balance in your life. As care needs increase, you may not be able to meet them physically or emotionally. It’s often difficult to be available to care for your loved one’s health and well-being around the clock.

If and when the time comes to seek additional help, place your trust in Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr. We lift the stresses and worries of being a caregiver from your shoulders, enabling you and your family to enjoy time with your loved one again. 

For more information, please call LaMia at 484.386.6323 or contact us online. 

Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr and Main Line Senior Care Alliance for general informational and educational purposes and do not constitute legal or medical advice. For legal or medical advice, please contact your attorney or physician.