How to place an elderly parent with dementia in a nursing home?

If your loved one has Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, you are probably having trouble keeping them safe at home and engaged in activities that calm them down. This is not an easy task, as it requires constant attention which is difficult these days, whether because of our hectic daily lives or because of the fact that you leave home to go to work. Most often, people with dementia refuse to eat regularly, do not want the food that is offered to them, or leave home and wander aimlessly. This, of course, is frightening for their families and they are afraid to leave them home alone.

This is one of the reasons why people in Bulgaria are increasingly looking for and asking about special programs to help care for the memory of their mothers and fathers. Blocks Memory Care aims to improve the quality of life of people with dementia. It provides a safe environment in which they are monitored 24 hours a day, while having company (other people living there) and assistants dedicated to their hobbies, interests and activities that keep their minds awake. Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of Blocks and nursing homes of this type is the spacious campus which has everything you need – nature, a place to relax and walk, great views, a medical center, and soon a rehabilitation hospital whose mission is to become the most modern rehabilitation center in Southeast Europe.

However good it may sound in theory we know that placing a parent with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia in a nursing home can create additional stress and anxiety. Not only for the elderly but also for their families who often feel guilty for not being able to take care of their parents. The question is how can you be calm and help your mom, dad or grandparent successfully become part of a new environment that serves them and their specific needs? Here are some tips that may be helpful to you.

Turn the unknown in familiar

For adults who often forget and have more serious memory problems, familiar things reduce stress and anxiety. This becomes more difficult as dementia progresses, so you need to be careful and observant of your loved ones’ behavior. Look around and think about the items they use most often or spend the most time while alone. It can be a photo that stands in a certain place or a specific blanker with which they wrap themselves on the sofa, but they also carry it with them to the bedroom. Try to recreate their home environment in their new house – keep it as close as possible to what “comfort” means to them. Before they arrive, cover their new bed with a blanket they can recognize. Place pictures of their dearest people around the room, let their favorite food be waiting for them there too. In Blocks, for example, next to each room, one can find a box for memories, the so-called “memory box” in which each of the residents leaves favorite small items. As soon as they see it while walking out of the room, they feel warm, calm, home.

The time for relocation/accommodation matters

Adults with Alzheimer’s disease have the so-called “good” and “bad” hours of the day. Although the disease can be unpredictable, it will help you to some extent to plan the accommodation in the new home, according to their best time of day, when they are happy and calm. For many people with dementia, mornings are more favorable, especially if they suffer from sundown syndrome. Behavioral changes are observed in the afternoon or dusk – dementia patients become more confused, agitated and aggressive as the night approaches. If you have the opportunity, move their belongings, clothes and everything you need to the new place in the hours of the day when they are peaceful, feel good and when they are focused on a specific activity.

Create a canvas of memories

When adults suffer from dementia, they may have verbal difficulties. This makes it more challenging for the adult home team to get to know them. You can help by creating a board, canvas or an album of memories. Put photos of family members in them, write names, short descriptions or events. Share it with the team or assistants to let them learn about the memories and life of your loved one or parent before he or she arrives at their new home. Then put it in a prominent place in their room – it will be useful for both him and the team.

Music is therapy

Many people believe in the healing power of music. It has been proven to work extremely well for people with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia (read more about the power of music “How does music overpower dementia”?). During this transition to the new home, play one of their favorite songs. This can help reduce anxiety, relax and focus on what is happening now. Pick their favorite music and give it to the team at the adult home. They will play it whenever your loved one needs it.

We know that the factors are many, the advice cannot be applied and valid for every situation, but they are tailored to the experience of dementia patients around the world. If you are worried about how to talk to your loved one, wondering if the time to seek additional help has come or you just want to know how to recognize dementia from the beginning, contact us! The Blocks team is available for conversation and ready to share experiences without engaging you further.

In the meantime, read “Five symptoms by which you will recognize Alzheimer’s disease”.



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