If you ask them if they want to move…

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…they are going to say no.

If I had a dollar for every time that someone said to me, “Well, I’d move mom to assisted living, but she says she doesn’t want to go,” I’d be incredibly wealthy.

I don’t say this to diminish the anxiety, guilt, and pain that comes with moving someone. I do say it, however, to assure you that if you ask your loved one with dementia if they “want to move,” they will say no.

You don’t trust them to make safe decisions, so why trust them with a choice like this?

As hard as it is, you need to make it a point to stop asking your friend with dementia for “permission” to do things: selling their house, moving them to assisted living, hiring in-home care, taking their driver’s license. All of these things are challenging, but none of them should be left up to the person with dementia. 

Here’s what you do need to do:

– Try blaming the move or major life change on a physician. If possible, even get the doctor to address the issue with the person with dementia in the room.

– Don’t tell the person with dementia that they need help. They aren’t going to believe it, and you’re just going to start a fight.

– Don’t tell them that they have dementia. It’s not going to work out.

– Try to make the decision feel as though it is not permanent. Example: “You’re going to stay there until your [name a physical issue, such as a leg break] heals.”

– Don’t guilt-trip yourself. You are doing the best, safest, healthiest thing for your loved one with dementia (whatever that may be!) even if they aren’t happy about it.

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Rachael Wonderlin has a Master’s in Gerontology and is the author of two published books with Johns Hopkins University Press. She owns Dementia By Day, a dementia care consulting company.

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