How to move mom into assisted living without a battle


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I get asked about moving loved ones to dementia care communities all the time. Families usually feel guilty, panicked, and concerned that their loved one with dementia will be very angry with them. Here are some of my favorite tips to make it go smoother!

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1. Understand that, at some point, the person with dementia can no longer make a safe choice regarding their own care. So, when your mom told you that she “never wanted to move to an old folks home” that was probably when she was in her best state of mind. Now, she’s not in her best state of mind. Now, she needs more care than you can probably give. So give yourself a break!

2. Visit a few communities before making a choice. You should look at location, affordability, levels of care (do they have resources available if mom needs some physical rehab?) and general environment, which includes smell, look, feel, and taste (check out the dining rooms!)

3. If your loved one is going to panic when they hear about the move, DON’T TELL THEM. Suggest that they are going to be staying there for a doctor’s appointment, to eat meals, or just to meet new people. Never say, “you live here now,” which implies an indefinite amount of time.

4. If they will handle the move without much trouble, let them have some control over where their new room is and how it’s set up. Put them in charge. Let your loved one with dementia feel as though she can still make some choices regarding her care.

5. Visit as often as you want. There is no right or wrong answer here. It depends entirely on you and your loved one. When can you take your loved one out for lunch? As soon as you feel it’s appropriate!

Those are just a few quick tips. If you’re considering moving your loved one into long-term care, and need some more specific advice, I recommend giving me a call! I help a lot of family members make that transition.

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Rachael Wonderlin is an internationally-recognized dementia care expert and consultant. She has a Master’s in Gerontology and is the author of three published books with Johns Hopkins University Press. Rachael owns Dementia By Day, a dementia care consulting and education company.

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