Tips for Transitions
So the holidays are over and if you’re on the East Coast, you experienced a record-setting blizzard! But let’s be real. How many of you were worried about your parents? Do they have enough food? Are they going to try to shovel themselves? What if something happens can I get to them? Can an ambulance get to them? Will they have power? Maybe now that you’ve lived through it, you’re wondering more about the health and well being of your parents. Many families consider Assisted Living for older adults after the holidays or after a major storm. Any major move can be difficult for a person with Dementia. Today’s blog post is about making any transition a successful one for someone with Dementia.
Some of the most common questions I have heard from families are:
- Am I doing the right thing?
- What is the alternative?
- Why is Assisted Living better than their home?
- When is the right time?
- How long will the transition process take?
So as your trust Dementia Expert, I will give you some advice!
First off, only you can determine whether or not you’re doing the right thing. But information about alternatives can be helpful. Read back to my post about living options for someone with dementia “Home is where the heart is.” That can help you decide what is best for you! Alternatives may include a group home or private duty. If you decide to stay in the home with private duty, be prepared to make some changes to the home!
As for the “right time”, well that varies with each person. To me, a good rule of thumb is to take a look at the behaviors you’re seeing. Ask yourself if it is a problem behavior. You may remember from other posts (“Let’s Talk about Sex Baby!”! And “Home is Where the Heart is”), you should ask yourself:
“Is it harmful to the person performing the behavior? Is it harmful to someone else (Physically or Mentally/Psychologically/Emotionally)”
The transition process time will vary with each person but there are some things you can do to make the transition easier.
Some simple Transition Tips include:
- Get to know the person.
- Go with the flow
- Take a deep breath. It takes time and although it may go exactly as you planned and expected, it probably won’t. But that’s OK!
- One size does not fit all
- Everyone is different. So just trust the path and the journey. It may take a day or it may take weeks.
- Stay away
- You may be asked to stay away during the transition period. If you are bringing in home care, you may need to be less prevent as you allow those caring for your loved one to become more aware of their likes and dislikes and the techniques that work. It is all about trial and error.
- Be Present
- On the contrary, your presence may be helpful. Certain interactions may stimulate the amygdala, which will help the person create positive associations with their new environment (From “Ice Cream for Breakfast” and “Let’s Talk about Sex Baby!” “The part of the brain that regulates emotions (Amygdala) remains active throughout the entire course of dementia. So things that bring someone pleasure, like sex or ice cream, will continue to bring pleasure to someone with Dementia.”)
- Or “Little Lies” can be helpful. I suggest using simplistic, short-term, fiblets. For example, “I am running an errand and I will be back after you have dinner.” Most people with Dementia will want to know the “WHEN.” I like to use after meals as that “WHEN” so that they continue to eat during the transition period. That is important.
- Other techniques will depend on the person.(See Dementia Interactions: 5 Mistakes and 5 tips for more instructions on how to PROPERLY use these techniques)
During the transition process, or even before, a doctor may suggest medications. A few things to remember about medications:
- They should be a last resort
- Consider them when it will make the person feel better. Medication shouldn’t be used to sedate the person to a point that they are unable to interact. That is why it is important to use a Therapeutic dose and start Low and go Slow!
- Be aware that the same medication will not work the same way for each person. Sometimes, you will see a change but it is really just symptoms of the medication (such as lethargy) rather than a side effect or the medication “working.” Give it some time to enter the system before you determine whether or not the medication is effective in treating the behaviors or transition symptoms.
My final pieces of advice for a successful transition are:
- It’s OK to make a move before “they’re ready”
- Make a move before a crisis.
- Trust the professionals and use us as a resource.
- Educate yourself.
- Attend a support group.
- Take care of yourself.
In addition to Trovato, LLC, the Alzheimer’s Association is a great resource. Their 24-7 helpline has been very helpful to family members who were transitioning someone into an Assisted Living Community! It is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week and is 100% free! You can call them at 1-800-272-3900. If you need more specialized assistance, contact Mikki@TrovatoLLC.com and Trovato, LLC can help guide you!