If you’ve read my book, attended a lecture or training I’ve given or read these articles, you already know that the number one thing your loved one is looking to you for is to feel safe.
One of the biggest challenges you will have with their perception of “safe” is when you change their environment. I knew of a well meaning son who would visit his mother weekly and take her for a drive. The minute he crossed the State Line and she no longer recognized where she was, the “wheels came off.” The answer? Turn around and get her back into familiar surroundings and refocus her.
Some loved ones seem to deal with going out to a restaurant very well while others find the whole experience overwhelming. Remember that one of the early signs of dementia is their becoming anti-social. Not recognizing people who obviously know them, being asked questions they don’t have the answers to and dealing with overall excessive stimulation is not something they’d like to deal with…ever.
If you’re in the time when you now realize you need to be taking the next step in the caregiving process and transitioning them into a dedicated community, then you need to pay particular attention to how you deal with this. Before I go any further, I want to commend you for making this decision and doing what is clearly best for your loved one and you. If your doing this under normal circumstances, you’ll have plenty of time to do it well.
A woman with dementia that was coming to us from a Hospital. She had fallen but was doing well, but being home was no longer the answer. She came to us because we were near her niece and nephew and they did a spectacular job of listening to us so her transition would go smoothly.
She was transferred in an ambulance to us directly from the hospital and was asleep when she arrived. The ambulance crew and my staff did a wonderful job of getting her out of the ambulance and into her bed without even waking her up. My concern was, what would happen when she did wake up and not have any idea where she was? This is where our advice and the help of the family came in. They had done advance work in her room before her arrival. There was the 8×10 photo of The Army General she had dated while serving in The Red Cross during WWII. There were family photos of her father, sister, brother and of course her many nieces and nephews. And there was one piece of artwork that she adored. In other words when she woke the next morning she was surrounded by all the signs that said, “You’re in a good place.”
Sadly the other side of this situation is when you don’t have the opportunity to plan ahead. We had an emergency move in and when he arrived, he was confused and terrified. From his home of 45 years to our community in 10 minutes. Where am I?, where’s the bathroom?, where do I get something to eat? Who are you and how do I know you won’t hurt me? My team knew how to deal with him and all went well until the shift change. All new faces and once again, who are you ? What happened to the nice lady that brought me ice cream? How do I know you won’t hurt me? He ended up hitting the 2nd shift nurse.
Whether it’s a transition to Assisted Living, Memory care or Skilled nursing care. Do everything you can to assure them and that you make it as warm and comfortable for them as possible. Pictures, favorite knick knacks, stuffed animals along with a positive supportive attitude from you will go a long way.
Questions? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Join the Journey.