Friday, October 24, 2014

When It Is Time to Move.

Here is another great post from The Caregiver Space about transitioning to facility care! They have asked caregivers for tips and suggestions on how to move their loved ones and make them comfortable in their new homes, and they are all great!

I've written about this before but here are a few things I did when it came time for a facility.

When I decided to move Dad, I made sure I did it while he was still somewhat lucid and able to recognize, and become familiar, with his new home. Before he even moved, the facility had me fill out a document answering many, many questions about Dad. Where he had worked, who he had been married to, where he had lived, what he liked to eat, and what he loved to do. This was intended to help his caregivers learn about him and give them information about him so they could help him be comfortable and understood. I think its a great idea and would wonder why any facility wouldn't suggest it.

I was actually able to find an apartment that was similar to the layout of his bedroom, which I think helped him become accustomed to it. I stocked the apartment with food that he liked and some comfortable furniture, and I planned to bring his favorite and most familiar furniture, books, pictures, and objects on moving day so he could feel at home. His headboard and chest of drawers, a print that had been in my parent's living room forever, a wall clock that had been in the kitchen as long as I could remember. Little touches that a lot of the time you don't even notice anymore but that soothe the eye and the brain.

We were also able to bring his beloved cat to the facility, which I knew would help Dad immensely. Finding a facility that allows pets is a great idea. Even if your loved one doesn't have one, the facility probably will, and animals have been shown to have a physically calming effect.

I did tell Dad he'd be moving, but it generated anxiety and anger in him, so I ended up moving him secretly. I packed up his room over two days, while keeping him out of the house, but made sure that he couldn't tell his room had changed. The second day, we moved everything over to his new apartment and made sure it was unpacked and comfortable before having his aide bring him there for dinner. We all had dinner together in the facility dining room and then took Dad up to introduce him to his new place. Sneaky, yes. Absolutely essential? Again, yes. It really depends on your loved one, how much they can be involved in the potential move. If they are okay with it, try to include them in a few of the decisions.

At the beginning, Del, his good friend and aide, stayed with him for a few days, in the apartment so he would have a familiar face around. I made sure to visit him a day or so after the move so he would also know he hadn't been abandoned in this new place. After the initial move in, I arranged for private aides, including myself, to be with Dad almost every day; going out for walks or lunch or to church on Sundays. If you can, and as your loved one's disease allows, arrange for visits from family and friends as often as possible so that your loved one still feels loved and part of a community. It will also show the staff that this is someone who has people watching out for them - concerned for their well-being.

A move away from familiar and loved surroundings is never an easy thing, but it is often necessary and the best choice for everyone. It can be done in a loving and mindful manner. Read the above post for tips on how to do it in a way that works for everyone - care receiver AND caregiver!


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