How To Talk To A Parent With Dementia About Memory Care
It happens a lot – your parent or other aging loved one is showing signs of memory impairment or cognitive decline and nobody wants to talk about it. It’s true that moving a loved one to memory care is a difficult decision, but simply avoiding the conversation doesn’t make matters any better.
So how do you start a conversation with someone with dementia? Taking the initiative and starting the conversation yourself isn’t easy. To help you, we’ve put together this short guide for discussing crucial next steps with your family. You’ll get new perspective on how to talk to someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s along with some tips to ease the transition.
Moving Parents to Memory Care: Two Common Scenarios
No two families are alike, but there are a couple of likely scenarios that will frame your family’s dialogue about long-term senior care. The first is that the senior in question – whether that’s your parent or other aging loved one – is only demonstrating the early signs of cognitive decline. While they’re more forgetful and find themselves getting confused more often, they’re still sharp and capable of making their own medical decisions.
If you’re reading this now, it’s very possible that your family is experiencing the second scenario – that your loved one is showing serious symptoms of Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. If they’re experiencing serious decline in their ability to take care of themselves and their space or demonstrating other worrying signs, it’s time to get the family together to make a plan for their well-being.
In the next section, we’ll go into detail on these two scenarios with a few ways to start the conversation with your family.
Talking to Your Loved One Directly
Let’s be upfront – this isn’t going to be simple. When you approach a loved one to express your worries about their brain health, it’s very possible you’ll get some severe pushback. No matter the age and health of an individual, nobody likes having their mental state questioned. Unfortunately, there isn’t a magic set of words you can say that will ensure a positive reaction.
Start slow and be gentle. You might begin the discussion by expressing your concerns with their health in general – leaving out any mention of dementia, memory care or moving. Come with specific examples of worrying behavior, but don’t push too hard, especially if they’ve never been diagnosed or observed by a medical professional.
And to that point, it’s important not to jump to conclusions. You might suggest a visit to the doctor – after all, changes in mood, memory and behavior aren’t necessarily linked to Alzheimer’s or other neurodegenerative conditions. Keep an open mind, be kind yet firm, and remember that moving is ultimately their decision. Try to avoid agitating them but be prepared if they do become overwhelmed by the conversation. How do you calm down someone with dementia? WebMD has a few suggestions, including outdoor activities or music therapy.
For additional tips for preparing to communicate with a person with dementia, check out this article from the Alzheimer’s society.
Getting the Whole Family Involved
In the second scenario – where your parent or loved one is experiencing more pronounced cognitive decline – it’s time to expand the conversation to the whole family. Be sure to know who has power of attorney for your loved one, but don’t do anything unilaterally. You want everyone on board with medical decisions whenever possible, especially when legalities are involved.
Beyond that, getting your family on board with moving your loved one to memory care is usually less emotional than speaking to that loved one directly. Most conflicts at this stage involve finances. Be sure to keep in mind the value proposition of the community you choose – not just objective cost, but things like amenities, services and quality of life.
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, so be sure to weigh the opinion of your loved one, too. Even in the case of medical incapacity, their feelings matter, and their happiness deserves to be protected. It’s a delicate balance to strike, as people with severe dementia can be incredibly resistant to any change in their environment, but it’s still important to keep them involved.
Easing the Transition to Memory Care
No matter what symptoms your loved one is experiencing, it’s absolutely vital that you spend time with them and listen to their concerns. In doing so, you remind them that you care for them and that this move is an expression of your love and concern for their well-being. By truly listening, you’ll get a clearer picture of the things that matter most to your loved one at this stage of their life – giving you a better idea of how you can make them feel happy and at home.
When it comes to the move itself, familiarity is key. Moving all of their prized possessions, mementos, photos and other key decorations can make their new place feel more welcoming and natural. Science has demonstrated a clear link between music and memory, so providing them with a music player preloaded with their favorites can go a long way. And of course, don’t forget to visit as frequently as possible.
Stratford Commons Is Here for You
Not sure if your loved one needs memory care? Check out our top 7 signs it might be time to make the move to a memory care community.
You don’t need to figure out every step of the senior living journey on your own. At Stratford Commons Memory Care Community, we have the experience to help you handle difficult discussions, make a solid plan for the future and give your loved ones the care they deserve. Whether or not your family decides that our community is the right choice, we’re here to support you.
To learn more about what our care can do for your loved one, call 913-851-8660 or reach out on our contact page. We’ll get in touch to discuss what comes next.