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  • Karen McPhail, RN, MSN

Adjusting to a Family Member in Memory Care


Deciding that a family member is no longer safe or able to be cared for properly at home or in general assisted living is beyond difficult, it is earth shattering! So many feelings of guilt, frustration, grief are felt by those effected. It is an adjustment for the individual and for family and friends who are feeling at times defeated, alone, and left behind. However, support is available and there are ways to still experience moments of joy with your loved one! There are many avenues to take in finding information, support, and guidance; be open and find what feels right for you! And expect the following when making a change such as this.

Change can be tough at first, so be patient with all aspects. It will take time for your family member to adjust to this new environment. Even with a well planned transition plan in place they will probably behave differently at first, have a slight cognitive downturn, or some new challenges initially. This is expected and natural for those entering memory care. This is a big change and adjustment for them and they will adjust over time, but may require some additional support and interventions. Avoid putting your perceptions onto the situation. Give the trained staff members time to help your loved one to adjust to their new environment, routine, programming, and more. Provide the care community with as much information s possible about your loved one prior to coming. Then take cues from your loved one's behavior and from the cae community staff on the best ways to proceed with visitation, etc.

Be realistic. Understand that you have made this decision for a good reason and that your loved one will be provided with specialized care by people trained to understand and meet their changing needs. Again, give it time and allow your loved one to adjust. Try to take a team approach, realizing that the care community is there to help and support throughout this journey. If your family member is not attending some activities initially, not bathing or changing their clothes easily the first few weeks, be realistic and try not to judge or jump to the negative. This is again a process and a big change! The staff members in place are trained in how to best approach, establish trust, and connect with your loved one at their level, but this takes time. Change cannot happen immediately or overnight. Realize that they are working through a process of adjustment for your loved one and working towards goals in a systematic and realistic manner in order to best meet their changing needs. Rushing, pressure, and stress will not assist in this process, as it takes time and patience. You have hopefully done your homework, feel good about the care community chosen, and now need to trust your decision and accept help and guidance. Be open to speaking with the care community social worker and attending family support groups to give yourself time to talk about your feelings and hear the perceptions of others who understand. Sometimes it is difficult as even your long term friends do not "get it" as they are not living your life. It helps to be able to talk with people who are walking the same path - as it is a path best travelled with others! No pressure of course! Try one support group session if hesitant, as there is no harm in at least trying one!

Finally, if you need additional support or assistance with transitioning a loved one to a memory care community, finding the best fit, coordinating the move, monitoring quality of care for a loved one, or in the coordination of clinical aspects contact us to provide you with prospective, support, and guidance! We are here to help!

Patience, time, and collaboration are key elements to having a positive change!


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