The 3 BEST Things to Say When Transitioning Someone to a Dementia Care Community


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What do you do when someone you care for – a parent, spouse, or friend – who needs to transition into a dementia care community but is not going to do it without a fight. What do you say? Because the last thing we want to do is something like, “Mom, you have to move to dementia care because something’s wrong with your brain.” Remember, unfortunately, a lot of people actually do this because they want to tell the person the truth. And that doesn’t go really well as one may anticipate. So what we’re going to do instead is we’re gonna use my three-prong approach to deliver this information to the person living with dementia. Now, this also means that you need to understand how to embrace somebody’s reality, which I have way more about on this channel and all my blogs, and my podcast. And you also need to know that it’s time to transition the person living with dementia to a dementia care community.

And the best way to know if it’s time is to check out my first book, When Someone You Know is Living in a Dementia Care Community, or my upcoming third book. So once you figure all that out, what do you do next? One, we want to blame it on someone who’s not you. I love blaming things on the third party. A doctor’s a great one. The doctor wants you to, blah, blah, blah. Blame it on a third party. Step two. We’re going to name an undefined short amount of time, such as a little while, a few months, something like that works. Step three, we are going to name something physical, like arthritis, your broken hip, something they can see or feel – not your mind. Because if you say you have to move here because you have dementia – well, we can’t see that. Right? We can’t see that.

They can’t see that either, so it’s not a good argument. So we’re going to instead blame it on a doctor or someone else, you know, an undefined short amount of time, and name something physical. So here’s your sentence. Something like, “The doctor wants to evaluate you for a little while in this building here in this community, while your arthritis heals.” Arthritis may not be solvable, but it doesn’t matter. We need something physical that they can feel or see or both. That is the approach. The approach is not to remember you have to move here because you have dementia. Something’s wrong with your brain and you’re going to be living here forever. And it’s also my choice. No. So that three-prong approach is really going to help you out. And if you know, it’s time to make that transition, do this, do this, do this, do this. I know it works. I guarantee it works. You may need to adjust it depending on you and your relationship with your loved one but try this. Thanks.

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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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