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Tuesday, 05 September 2017 00:00

Moving Elderly Parents: Tips on Settling In

Moving elderly parents or loved ones into an assisted living facility or retirement community is never easy. It’s also not just a matter of packing up a few boxes and locking the door behind you – there is almost always a deep sense of sentimentality attached to every move. Whether it’s from your own home, a previous retirement community or transitioning into higher or frail care, moving out and settling in can be fraught with emotional traumas.

The key to transitioning through a move is to treat it as though it were the first time your loved one or patient is moving. Most elderly parents benefit more from having your physical assistance and presence there throughout the move, rather than a to-do list you have drawn up.

Creating a new home or personal space can be a highly emotional and not-to-mention confusing process for many Alzheimer’s and dementia sufferers – the key throughout it all is patience and understanding.

Tips on establishing a familiar environment

Encouraging a farewell

Hosting a small farewell may help them to come to terms with their departure from a particular place. It can help to deepen their understanding and may also foster a sense of excitement around creating a new home in a new place.

Hold onto possessions

When in doubt about what to take, what to sell or give away, it may be wise to err on the side of caution and hold onto possessions, even if space is a little tight. Personal effects can always be removed or sold at a later stage, perhaps after thoughtful contemplation and a sense of acceptance has been established by your loved one.

Targeted arrangement

Instead of buying a new couch, book shelf or carpet, it is wise to re-purpose what your parent has grown to love. When setting up a room, try and arrange furniture, ornaments and book shelves in a way that will be familiar and comforting for them.

Simplicity is key

Establishing a familiar environment is important for nostalgia and feelings of comfort. You may also need to consider the amount of space in a new living facility and what you will be able to fit into this space, without too much clutter. Remember that simplicity is key with many Alzheimer’s or dementia patients, the more clutter, the more chance for accidents and further confusion. Try and involve them in to selecting the most sentimental items of furniture and décor and stick to keeping things neat, tidy and simple.

Many elderly parents will have to face the decision of moving into an assisted living community at some point in their lives, especially if they suffer from Alzheimer’s or dementia. While this may be a hard decision to come to terms with, it doesn’t have to be a difficult process. All your loved one needs is your support, patience and understanding during this time.

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