The stars have finally aligned and after 3 months of work, I got a call today to say I could take my dad to the SNF tomorrow. Now I'm looking for advice on how to handle the move.

My dad is unlikely to go willingly (I have guardianship) and so I've not told him this is about to happen. He also wouldn't remember if I did or he would get agitated and stay that way even though he'd forget the reason why.

Unfortunately, I have to go to the pre-admission meeting first and meet with the staff to create his care plan. The SNF is 25 miles from where we live and my sitter is unavailable, so my plan is to take him with me, but rather than have him sit in the SNF during the meeting, a friend has offered to stay with him at a nearby restaurant and have lunch. After the meeting, I will pick him up at the restaurant and drive him to the SNF.

At some point I plan to tell him he is there for rehab - he's been very weak lately and a PT has been coming out twice a week to work with him so this seems like a reasonable thing to tell him. If he gets upset or refuses to go in, I plan to tell him that he has the choice to do it there or at the hospital (he hates the hospital) - but I don't know if I should do this on the drive from the restaurant, in the parking lot, or once we've entered the building.

I know some people think you should explain everything as you do it, but his dementia means this is a conversation we'd have over and over and there's a very good chance he'll get agitated, angry, obstinate, or all. I think telling him at the last minute is the best approach.

I know he needs to go because his health and the dementia are pretty bad and he can't look after himself and I've almost exhausted myself in the last 3 years of caring for him, but I know he's going to be pitiful to leave behind.

Does anyone have any advice, tips, tricks for making this easier for him?

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Unfortunately, I have no family to help. I do have a friend helping today. I agree it seems rushed, but it doesn't seem like it will be much better if I do it next week - the larger problem is explaining why we're there! I also didn't want to cross off the last day of October and not have him moved so I'm going for it. I barely slept last night because I was playing out all the options in my head. At this point, I don't want to delay because I know I'd have another night like that! I am taking some items to make him feel more at home so hopefully that will help.
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I know it's a little late to make any difference for you pyrrhe, but I'm just wondering why the rush? Would they not hold the room (with pay, of course) a couple of days until you could recruit more friends/family to help get the room set up before he arrives? As jeanne says, having the room seem more homey and familiar would make the transition easier and help him feel less lost.
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What does the SNF suggest? Is he on any meds for anxiety or agitation; you might want to call his doctor and see if you can give him a bit more that will kick in on arrival to ease the transition. We've always done the care plan meetings after they've gotten her settled, but that's when she's come from the hospital.
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It really helped a lot (I think) that my sisters moved my mother's things in hours before I arrived with Mother. The bed had her familiar spread, family pictures where on the walls, her clothes were in the closet, etc. I know you have a very short window to work with, but do you think your friend could encourage Dad to have dessert and linger over coffee while you have the meeting and then do a little decorating in his room? You can bring bigger items later if they are needed, but a picture or two now might be worthwhile.

I agree with you about not explaining over and over and not giving much advance notice. It is just kinder when the loved one has dementia.

I know that a lot of advisers say to not visit for a couple of weeks so that your loved one gets to settle into a routine. In our case we decided that visiting lots would be good, and we did it. We didn't necessarily stay long, but enough to convince Mom we hadn't abandoned her and were still part of her life. We even attended some activities with her, like bingo a time or two, and crafts. But each person is different and you'll have to judge what will be best for Dad.

For you, I suggest this mantra: "I am doing the right thing. I am doing the right thing. ..."
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