Michelle has been taking care of her aging mother for a while.
At first, mom just needed help with physical things, but now she has been having trouble with her memory, too. It started with not remembering names, but lately, it’s progressed to not remembering if she took her medicine or not and a few times Michelle has caught mom about to take her pills when she had already taken them. Recently, Michelle’s mom was officially diagnosed with dementia. Michelle worries about her mom when she is at work and is not able to be there. Some friends have been telling Michelle that she should put her mother in a nursing home facility, but that idea doesn’t sit right with Michelle. Michelle is worried about what effect the move would have on her mother’s memory and overall well-being. She wants to know what the experts say.
Should a dementia patient be moved?
Think back to the last time that you moved. Do you remember the stress that the move caused you? Even if a move is a good one, there is still stress involved because of getting used to new surroundings. The very basics of life take mental effort because there is a new spot for everything. If you want a bowl of cereal, you have to remember where the spoons are, where the bowls are, and where the cereal is now kept. The same stress occurs for dementia patients although the stress is amplified since their memory is already impaired. Moving means that even the things that were easily retrievable in their memory have now been taken away from them.
Deborah Cooke is a certified dementia care provider and specialist through the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. She shared that “stability and routine are imperative for dementia persons.”
Moving upends their life and changes all routines.
In a facility, the timing of the daily routine will be changed. They are not able to control their own schedule to regain stability and routine that works best for them. They are at the mercy of the schedule of the nurses on duty at the facility who, sadly, are often overworked taking care of a whole floor of patients at the same time.
Helene Bergman, a certified geriatric care manager, notes that “relocation for an older adult with or without Alzheimer’s Disease can be ‘traumatic’.” She explains that the severity of the effects of moving can depend on how advanced they are in their memory care journey. The more aware they are, the more traumatic the effects.
“Transfer trauma” is a common term used to describe the cascade of consequences unleashed when a dementia patient is moved during the early stages of dementia. The complications include loneliness, depression (which requires drugs or therapy to combat), anxiety, guilt due to moving, and agitation.
Although some experts and facilities are equipped to navigate the dementia patient through the trauma of moving, inviting the help of in-home care can avoid the trauma of moving altogether.
Without a move, there is no trauma to recover from. The journey of dementia can be a heartbreaking and scary road for the whole family. Homecare services allow your senior loved one to receive memory care in the comfort and familiarity of his or her own surroundings. Contact Community Care of the Northeast to find out how we can work together to develop a personalized care plan for your senior loved one.