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Decisions about moving into assisted living facilities are never easy. However, when your elderly parent or grandparent is struggling with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, they can be particularly challenging.
Challenges of Moving with Dementia
For those with dementia, being in new places and surrounded by unfamiliar objects may lead to a great deal of anxiety. Furthermore, it can be difficult to know what people are asking for and what might help calm them down, if they struggle with expressing themselves verbally. These communication issues can also make it harder for nursing home staff to get to know them.
Yet the challenges of moving with dementia are not just about the struggles of the elder loved one. Adult children often also have a hard time due to the guilt they may have about not being able to manage their parents’ or grandparents’ care at home. But caring for someone with dementia can easily take over your life, and they will often be much safer in an environment that is dedicated to serving their needs.
The good news is, there are a few things you can do to help the moving process go more smoothly.
1. Make It Familiar
When helping your loved one move, begin observing the objects and items they use and touch most often. This could be a blanket they often cover up with while watching television, a photo of a spouse, or a favorite sweater. Make sure that they have immediate access to some of these items during the move. Take care to place familiar objects in their new home, so that they can see and feel these things as soon as they arrive.
2. Choose the Right Time of Day
If you have been spending a lot of time with your loved one, you have probably noticed that their memory is better at some portions of the day than others. Often, the morning is best. If possible, try to time the move to coincide with the part of the day at which your loved one is at their most lucid.
3. Play Familiar Music
Familiar music can help adults with dementia feel clearer and improve their experience of the move. As your loved one transitions to a new home, playing some of their favorite music in the background can help to ease their anxiety. You can also ask the care team at their new home to play these familiar tunes for your loved one when you are unable to be there.
4. Work with a Geriatric Care Manager
Geriatric care managers “are usually licensed nurses or social workers trained in senior care. They act as private advocates and guides for family members who want to ensure their loved one is in the best hands….” See How Geriatric Care Managers Can Help Family Caregivers (aarp.org).
Geriatric care managers can offer moving advice that is tailored to your loved one’s specific circumstances; for example, after making a home visit and evaluating the new living arrangements.
Contact an Experienced New York Estate Attorney and Elder Mediator
If you are having trouble reaching agreement on care and living arrangements or whether a move is necessary, an elder mediator can help your family generate and evaluate options. An elder mediator can also bring in a geriatric care manager, accountant, daily money manager, or other professionals to support you.
An estate planning attorney can use techniques such as a Medicaid trust to help ensure long term care arrangements remain affordable.
When it comes to making such an important transition, speaking with an experienced estate planning attorney and elder mediator about the move and other aspects of your loved one’s life can help. Please contact our law firm at (347) 640-0993 if you wish to schedule a consultation. We offer consultations by video, in our Manhattan and Long Island offices, or in your home.