Ask The Expert: How to Help Dad Move to Memory Care

Dear Allie,

After trying for years to help my dad stay at home, my wife and I have determined he’s not safe in his home. We’re moving him to memory care at West Park in Columbus.

However, he doesn’t want to move from his home. How can we make the move easier on him?

How can we make him more agreeable to the move? Should we move all his things and just take him there?

Signed,

Gary

How to Help a Senior Move to Memory Care

Dear Gary,

Most older adults don’t want to move from a home that has so many memories. Many seem to believe that they will remain safe and healthy at home even if facts indicate otherwise.

The Alzheimer’s Association offers some advice on moving. However, since your father is already scheduled to move in, it’s important to acquaint him with the community and offer him some level of choice.

Tour the Community with Your Father

If he didn’t tour West Park with you, bring him over for a tour. Give us a call to find out what entertainment or activities are taking place, so he can participate if he’d like.

Perhaps, in addition to services at his regular church, he’d like to attend a church service here. As a resident, he can attend any of our programs.

During his tour, ask him questions to interest him in his new home.

  • Where would you like your room to be located?
  • Where do you want to hang family photos?
  • Do you think your armchair will fit better here or here?

Our staff and residents will be sure to greet him and give him their names, so he’ll know some people there. Team members have received special training in how to communicate, too.

If you make us aware of his interests in advance of your visit, we’ll know of a resident with similar interests to whom we may introduce him.

Moving In

Moving can be traumatic for a senior with memory loss. Some children move their parents’ belongings with their help and some without. We encourage you to get your father involved in the move if possible. However, you know your father best, so it’s your decision.

We recommend you include as many mementos in his room as possible.

  • Hang family photos on the walls.
  • Bring his favorite armchair.
  • Put a favorite quilt on his bed.

If his room has items he remembers, he’ll feel more at home. Try to keep everything in his new home similar to his former residence.

We Can Help

We’re accustomed to helping seniors with memory loss, so we’ll help him adjust to his new surroundings. There will be a period of adjustment as he becomes accustomed to changes in his environment, but we’ve developed procedures to help him feel comfortable.

Depending on his personality, we’ll introduce him to new routines and new friends. Within a few weeks, most residents feel right at home.

During this time, it’s important that you, as the caregiver, try to reduce the stress in your life. Just remember that moving is traumatic for everyone, and your father will probably forget it before you do.

I hope this advice helps to make your father’s move as stress-free and comfortable as possible. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any additional questions.

Sincerely Yours,

Allie Zinn
Social Services