Last week, I shared How To Know When It’s Time For Memory Care: 4 Things To Consider. This week, I discuss what happens when you’ve made the decision to do it.  Note: The video below discusses this week’s and last week’s blogs.

 

What To Expect: Emotionally

A tsunami of emotion. Making the move is one of the most difficult things you’ll do during the entire disease process. Most people approach the move as a task that needs completion (yes, it is that), but are unaware of (or try to suppress) the tsunami of emotion that comes with it.

Remember, feelings just are. There’s no right or wrong here.

Your childhood “stuff.” This is going to bubble up to the surface, whether you’ve dealt with it or not. If you’ve already addressed it, you’ve got a leg up. If you haven’t, here’s another opportunity presenting itself. Either way, know this is totally normal. Ask yourself, “What’s the kindest, most loving thing I can do for myself in this moment?” Then do it!

What To Expect: Inside The Memory Care Community

As I started writing this list, I realized I could do an entire blog post on this one piece alone. Instead, I’ll just touch on a few points. (Tune in to The Dementia Sherpa Show on Blab.im to hear all of them–and ask questions.)

The closets are unbelievably small. Pack accordingly. Ask the memory care director if she has a “recommended items” list for guidance.

You’ll hate the laundry system. Either make the decision to take it home to do it yourself, or understand that clothes are not going to get ironed, delicates aren’t going to be hand washed, and this is no place for “dry clean only.”

Unauthorized shopping. Another way to say that when you have a group of cognitively impaired people in close proximity to one another, the lines get blurred about who owns what. As you know by now, reason and logic don’t work, and neither does arguing. The staff will sort it all out at the end of the day, but do everyone a favor (most especially yourself) and don’t move in with priceless heirlooms.

Waiting to be found. You call it “lost.” We know it’ll eventually show up–but that could mean 100 years from now when the building is demolished and all the treasures dropped down vents and into plumbing are finally revealed. Or it could mean when someone else’s family is collecting their belongings after they’ve passed and find unfamiliar objects well-hidden in drawers. Again, do everyone a favor (most especially yourself) and don’t move in with priceless heirlooms.

How To Talk To Your Parent

Remember who powdered your butt. Technically, you’re in charge of your parent now. However, anyone who changed your diapers is always going to feel like she’s in charge. Modulate your tone accordingly.

Use my secret to success. I’ve been called into countless situations to “talk some sense into” a parent who’s refusing to move, after the family’s had no luck. Here’s where the wheels come off the bus: the family tries to sell it as a trip to Disneyland, then an act of love, then uses reason and logic.

Reminder #1: Reason and logic don’t work.

Reminder #2: Feelings just are.

This is what I do instead: I listen. I listen to every last bit of it. True, it’s easier for me because your dad isn’t pushing my buttons. Still, I listen. And I empathize and validate. Instead of trying to convince your parent how great it’s going to be, I listen and then I tell him I can absolutely see why he’s so upset. I’m certain I’d be upset too! I hate the whole deal for him. I reassure him he never, ever has to like it. The End. No arguing.

When To Talk To Your Parent

It’s all about you. We know that oversharing causes extreme anxiety in people living with dementia. The extreme anxiety is almost always manifested by repetitive questions. So ask yourself how many times you want to answer repetitive questions about the move.

If, like most people, your answer is “next to never,” then don’t share the information before it’s actually happening. Also keep in mind that once you’ve made the decision to overshare, you’ve committed yourself to answering the same question with patience and kindness, as though every time is the first time.

Instead of oversharing, think about when your kids were little and they had to get shots. Did you tell them a month in advance? A week? The same day? Or did you follow the nurse’s lead and it actually turned out okay? Same goes with your parent. Follow your placement consultant and/or memory care director’s lead on this.

Except for the part where it’s actually all about your parent! Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you need to be completely open and honest about this with your parent, otherwise you’re a horrible person. Again, go back to the kids getting shots example above. Some people get stuck on the “but I could never lie!” point. Think about it like this: What’s the KINDEST, most LOVING thing you could do for your parent in this moment? If you can say something nice (or nothing at all) when an acquaintance is sporting a hideous new hairdo, you can do the same for your parent, right?

REMINDER: you are never, ever alone! No matter how isolated you may feel, the truth is that I’m right here on the other side of the screen and I am always rooting for you! Reach out any time, social media links are below:

Christy Turner is the founder of DementiaSherpa.com (CTC Dementia Care Management) and has enjoyed the privilege of working with over 1,045 people living with dementia and their families. Follow on Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Periscope, Pinterest, Twitter, and YouTube. Content varies daily across platforms.