Down to the wire, moving to assisted living, and dementia-affected parents are panicking. How can we help them through this?

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Our parents, in their early 80s, both have dementia and physical disabilities. We've been looking at ALF buildings for a year at the recommendation of their doctor. They have good long term care insurance that will pay 100% of the cost for a good assisted living apartment, but there's no way they could afford round-the-clock care at home, even with the insurance. And the house would need some serious renovations in order to be a safe and healthy environment for them, even if they could afford to stay there. We've discussed this lots of times with both of them, and have done our due diligence on the buildings we've looked at.

When a nice apartment became available in the building he liked best, Dad decided to put everything in motion. This was about a month ago, and since then we've been working on getting all the screening and paperwork done, and now it's time. They move in a few days, and both of them are nervous wrecks. They forget why they're moving, and worse, they even forget that dad made this decision in a lucid moment, so they think they're being evicted, which is of course very upsetting to them because they don't understand why and they don't retain our explanations, even if they seem to understand it briefly.

We're using a senior transition company to help them plan where the furniture can go and what to keep and put in storage, and we have gone over the details with them like the floor plan and the apartment number and everything, and reminded them that they've already spent lots of time there at the building having meals and meeting people. We've also tried just reassuring them that this is the right thing to do and that everything is going to be okay. It adds so much emotional strain to an already difficult situation that I'm very worried about how they'll make it through this. If you've helped parents with dementia make this type of move, do you have any tips for keeping them calmer through the process?

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I wrote out big print signs with our names and phone numbers on them and taped them to the door. Another sign said "Bathroom". Wrote her name, facility name, address and phone number on another, taped them all up. Some new residents are OK for a few days, then blow their stack. Some act up right away, but I think they all act up big time when moved. Keep their ID cards and credit cards with you if at all possible. So they can't book a ticket, get a taxi, and fly to Florida (like my mom did!). They may tell you the place is awful, the people are mean, the food is bad, there's nothing to do, etc. Stay in close touch with the staff and hang on without changing course. Good luck.
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Glad things are going well. Gives me courage to begin thinking of assisted living for mom...I would like her to have help outside the door.
Sounds like you have been working the systems well. I hope your parents get out to meet others (activities) so they can feel like they are in a community. Perhaps your dad can meet some guys and your mom some ladies...to play cards with or something...then things will level out.
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It has calmed my mom a lot to talk with her about this transition as a "let's see how this goes" kind of thing. That it's just to help Dad with this situation. And to Dad, that it's just to help mom with her situation. That it will provide a better environment for her to get better. The reality is neither of them can get along at home independently, and neither can act as caregiver for the other due to their different impairments. The only issue that we've had with this strategy is that Mom became so convinced that this was temporary, that now she's convinced Dad -- whose idea it was to move to assisted living in the first place, because he's so overwhelmed with caregiving for her -- that this is just a temporary visit and they're going to move all their furniture and stuff back to their house in a week or two! We are just hoping to keep them in there a few months, until their long term care insurance starts to pay for it, and hopefully by then, they'll get used to the lifestyle and make some friends, and won't want to go back to the difficult and isolated life they had before.
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My mom's financial planner had to tell mom she has to use her Long term care insurance for a facility because she would be broke in two years using it just for home care since she requires more and more. That was last week. Planner even got a list of nice ones close by. Mom is in denial and wants yo "think of something else". There is "nothing else". Good luck Helper mom. Sounds like you are doing all the right things. Hope it works out for me as well.
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HelperMom. That is great news! I'm so happy for you and your parents. We will be moving Mom to AL this week. She doesn't know because if she did she would have a fit, have anxiety attacks and calling us crying every hour, day and night until she made herself sick. Her dementia is bad enough that she has to move, but she has been fighting us for years about it. We are going to give her a tranquilizer, tell her and just do it. She has given us no other choice. The only saving grace is the IL said she has to move so we have that as a good reason, but she will probably throw a fit anyway and blame us, as she always does.
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The adjustment seems to be going well. There is no way to know how this will all turn out, because it changes from day to day, but overall they seem to be at least liking the place. It certainly has been good for them physically, and possibly also psychologically -- it must be very comforting knowing that help is right there in the building whenever they need it. On the other hand, the dementia is affecting their reasoning ability to the extent that they really don't understand why they're there, even though they've both separately talked to me in private about how much they think being at this place is helping the other. This transition has been so much more difficult than I expected. But we are not giving up. The thought of them being isolated again 20 minutes from the nearest hospital or services is just not something that we can accept.
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Thanks Rockrobin! Yesterday was supposed to be move-in day, but it was too much for the moving company to complete in one day so we ended up finishing today. We asked the movers to bring their big microwave oven from home, so while I left Dad with my brother, I took Mom shopping for a microwave cart. In the meantime, my brother put up every painting they had, plus some family photos. All the furniture was already set up in familiar configurations, as much as we could. (Mom did not participate in ANY of the room design, and I'm sure she will have ideas of her own once she decides to invest an ounce of her attention to it.) Mom was in pretty good spirits looking at furniture with me, but when we got there, she sobbed and sobbed. Dad was contented, watching TV, enjoying my brother's company, and looking forward to a good night's sleep and breakfast. It was just heartbreaking watching her cry on his shoulder, and him saying, "Oh, honey, it's nice - it's going to be fine". She did eventually put on her pajamas (already hung up in her closet by the moving folks) and went to bed. By the time it was bedtime, Dad had started to do his usual obsessing over something missing/"stolen". I have to think that even in spite of the pain of leaving the home she loves, she must have felt a measure of reassurance, sleeping beside him, that right outside the door there were staff who could help her with him if he got very agitated. (I met one of the night staff members, who called himself a "knock worker". He checks each door to make sure the residents are inside their apartments and, he said "puts out fires".) My brother stayed overnight with them tonight. I feel so sad for mom but at the same time, much more relaxed knowing that he is contented at least.
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There will be a period of adjustment after the move. This is normal. Give them a few weeks to settle in. Don't panic. Stay calm. You can do this
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Thanks all of you! It's the big day today. Dad is excited and looking forward to the move now, just antsy about normal things (like making sure the movers arrive on time and get the furniture all set up the way they planned) and not so normal things (for whatever reason, this has been a spectacular week for him to lose stuff and he is certain that the things he's misplaced were stolen). Meanwhile Mom learns anew every day that they're about to move (she keeps forgetting) and every day she gets terribly upset again. We are going to try to keep everyone on an even keel as much as we can. I'll talk to their doctors in the morning and see if they should have any extra medical help ... both are on antidepressants and anti anxiety medicine already. The community is great and they will be ready to welcome them this afternoon, and I feel confident that they're professionals at this transition process. I've been doing my best to project confidence myself, and to reassure them, especially mom, that everything is going to be okay. Wish us luck!
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Be as upbeat and excited about their move in front of them... tell them all the new friends they will meet.... talk about what activities are available for them.... and the fun of trying out all the meals in the dining room.... make it sound like a cruise ship with you being the cruise director. I realize with dementia you might have to keep repeating these things on a regular basis.

Their fear of moving is normal, even those of us who moved when we were in our 20's and 30's to a new home worried about if it was the right place, what if we don't like it, oh gosh having to meet the new neighbors, etc.
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