Alzheimer’s Insights: Moving a Person with Alzheimer’s
Published 11:44 am Saturday, December 21, 2019
If you are an Alzheimer’s or other dementia caretaker, the time will eventually come when the person you take care of can no longer live alone. That’s when it’s up to you to make alternative care arrangements to ensure the individual’s safety.
After considering emotional and financial issues, some families decide that moving the person with Alzheimer’s disease into a loved one’s home offers the best solution. It’s a difficult time for all concerned. Here are some tips for dealing with this emotional issue.
Acknowledging the impact on the household
- If the person with Alzheimer’s is moving into a family situation, the adults and children should have open discussions about why the move is necessary and the impact of having a person with confusion and memory challenges living in their home.
• The noise and activity level of young children or teenagers may cause increased stimulation and confusion in the individual with dementia.
• Certain behaviors of a person with Alzheimer’s may puzzle or alarm young children.
• Caregiving can take time away from family and leisure activities and increase stress in the caregiver’s relationship with other members of the family.
Discussing the move with the person who has dementia
- Try to include the individual with Alzheimer’s in the decision-making process, but avoid providing an overwhelming number of details. Manageable kinds of involvement could include letting the person choose which favored items—such as pictures, blankets, pillows, and sports or craft items—to take to the new home.
• Despite the caregiver’s best efforts, dementia may limit the affected individual’s ability to participate in the decision. Impaired judgment and reasoning may prevent an understanding of why the move is necessary.
• The person with Alzheimer’s may agree to the move in one conversation then refuse to move during the next discussion.
• The caregiver must proceed with plans to move regardless of whether the person is willing or able to participate in the decision. Once safety concerns about the person’s remaining alone have been identified, the caregiver must take responsibility for ensuring that the affected individual moves to a safer environment.
• The person’s physician may be willing to write down the need to move as a “prescription” on a prescription form, communicating the idea that the move is the medically responsible and necessary thing to do at this time.
The impact of moving on the person with dementia
If you’ve ever moved – and who hasn’t – you know that it’s a challenging event. Like anyone else, the person with dementia may experience a profound sense of loss when having to move out of his or her home.
- The move forces the person to confront the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and its implications for health and independence.
• The person has to give up a place that may hold many memories.
• The person loses the sense of safety and familiarity of being in a place where he or she knows all the rooms and landmarks.
Helping the person adjust to the new living arrangement
∙ Stress the positive aspects of the move — tell the person with dementia that you’re glad he or she will be living with you because you can spend more time together. Whenever possible, place less emphasis on the person’s mental state and safety issues.
∙ The unfamiliarity of the new environment may make the person with Alzheimer’s more confused and they may benefit from increased assistance and patience.
o Try to spend extra time with the person to help him or her adjust to the new environment.
o Label the main rooms — such as the bathroom, bedroom, and kitchen — with large-print, brightly colored signs to help the person become oriented to the new layout.
∙ Finally, never threaten to move a person with dementia in an attempt to change his or her behavior, as in, “I’m going to put you in a nursing home if you don’t behave better.”
There’s no question that dealing with Alzheimer’s or other dementias can be difficult. However, a little forethought goes a long way in helping to ease the path.
If you have questions, call the Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 helpline at 800-272-3900 for more information.
The Alzheimer’s Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research, to provide and enhance care and support for all affected, and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s®. For more information, visit alz.org or call the 24/7 helpline at 800-272-3900.
Scott Finley is Media Relations Manager for the Alzheimer’s Association® in Texas. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org