“But he’s not going to do it,” she insisted. “He’s stubborn and he won’t want to move out of his house and move into a community! He will refuse.”
I hear statements like this pretty frequently. How can you get someone with dementia who doesn’t want to move out of their home to do just that?
Here’s the simple answer: it is not up to them if they move or not.
That may sound cruel, but it’s true. Your loved one with dementia cannot make decisions like that for themselves any longer. You know it’s true because you see it all the time: your loved one is putting socks in the fridge, she’s forgetting to use a fork, he’s getting lost in familiar places, she’s not able to fill out checks or manage a bank account anymore. You know all of this, but still, it feels like that person has to make the tough decision to decide whether or not to move to a memory care community.
And here’s the bottom line: they can’t make that decision. You have to make it.
Here are my tips:
1. Don’t tell that person that they have a memory problem and have to move to a community. That’s always the first thing to avoid.
2. Suggest that they will “be staying at this place” until their: leg heals/dizziness stops/high blood pressure drops/the doctor is done seeing them, etc., etc. These are all measurable, physical things that you can blame a care community for. “You have a memory problem” isn’t a measurable, physical thing for someone who has dementia.
3. If they are agreeable, go visit communities with them! Make your loved one feel like moving to a care community (for a temporary stay!) is their choice. Have lunch there and meet some other residents!
4. Create a plan with the marketing team and the care workers at the community for the first day. Have the paperwork done in advance so you aren’t sitting around trying to fill out paperwork while your loved one is stressed about a big move.
5. Be the Power of Attorney. This is important for now and for the future of your loved one’s care.
6. Remember: this is for their safety and for their healthcare.
Rachael Wonderlin is an internationally-recognized dementia care expert and consultant. She has a Master’s in Gerontology and is the author of two published books with Johns Hopkins University Press. Rachael owns Dementia By Day, a dementia care consulting and education company.
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I wrote this poem years ago, but to date, it’s the most popular piece I’ve ever created.