The transition into long-term care can be difficult for anyone, especially those suffering from dementia. Individuals with dementia are most comfortable with a familiar and predictable routine; this scenario changes when an individual moves into a long-term care residence. Leaving the world they know — and people they have seen on a daily basis — can be scary and overwhelming. Fortunately, there are many ways that families and staff can smooth the transition for loved ones with dementia:

  • Offer a calm and reassuring presence. 

This will help normalize the situation and put the resident at ease.

  • Allow the resident to direct the conversation and engage him or her in the topic.  

This will give the resident more confidence that he/she can communicate with you in a meaningful way.

  • In times of confusion, agree with the resident.

Dementia residents tend to live in the past. It can be upsetting for them to be reminded that family members have passed away or that the resident no longer lives with their parents. In situations like these, it is best to agree with the resident and follow their lead in the conversation, even if what they are remembering is no longer true.

  • When reminiscing, tell stories or give examples of past experiences.

This allows the resident to freely share their memories without the burden of complete accuracy. Avoid asking the resident questions about specific experiences—this only reminds them that they cannot remember certain people, places or details.

  • Remain upbeat and positive.

This is very important because dementia residents are very sensitive to changes in mood. Remaining upbeat and positive will prevent the resident from interpreting a reaction as judgmental or disapproving.

If you are looking to move your loved one with dementia to long-term care, the Chelsea Jewish Foundation has several options for you. Among our three Skilled Nursing Facilities in Chelsea and Peabody, we offer two secure memory care units for individuals with cognitive impairments such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. Call today to learn how we can meet your loved one’s needs.

This blog is courtesy of Janice Cole, Social Worker at the Leonard Florence Center for Living in Chelsea, MA.