Does an Alzheimer’s Diagnosis Mean a Move is Needed?

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Today’s guest post is brought to you by Jennifer Tucker, Vice President of Homewatch CareGivers, who provide compassionate care for anyone in need of home care services.

A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is a time for many decisions about your future and the future of your family. One of the decisions might be whether or not you need to move—to be closer to family, to be in a professional facility, or whether you can stay put and establish a safer home with reliable professional help as the disease progresses.

alzheimer's-moving-homecare

Photo from Smanatha Ing/Flickr

Not everyone gets diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at the same point in this progressive disease. For those diagnosed in the earliest stages, there is time to talk with loved ones about personal preferences when the disease is advanced. Such talks can—and should—include time spent researching all of your living options and costs. There are generally three stages of Alzheimer’s disease: early (mild), middle (moderate), and late (severe). The disease progresses differently in each person and your loved one may live for anywhere from another four to 20 years.

The choice to move is personal—one individual may choose to move to another state to be closer to family whereas another might choose to stay where they are for as long as possible. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, a person in the early stage of the disease can still live independently and a person in middle stage will begin to need more care as confusion increases in daily life. One option may be to make your home more adaptable, hire professional in-home caregivers, and establish new routines during these early and middle stages of the disease.

Although research shows that the vast majority of us prefer to remain in our own homes as we age, the final stage of Alzheimer’s can be very challenging and some type of professional care is mandatory to keep you or your loved one safe. This may be the time to be closer to family or move to a facility that specializes in memory care.  Often, a professional caregiver who is a familiar constant in daily life, can still provide care after a move too.

Here are four tips to help you and a loved one who is living with Alzheimer’s disease prepare for moving:

  1. In the early to middle stages of the disease, research all available options and discuss a possible move with all parties that will need to help.
  2. Visit a future home together while your loved one is still able to play a key role in their living decision. Whether this is the home of a relative or a facility, meet the people you or your loved one will be spending time with so that you each are sure it is a safe place.
  3. If the family or caregivers decide to move during the early to middle stages of the disease, invite the person with Alzheimer’s to participate in the process. Choose a time of day that suits them for activities like packing boxes. Some people living with Alzheimer’s suffer from sundown syndrome, which means they can become agitated in late afternoon or early evening, so you might consider morning or midday if that is when they are at their best or most rested. One of the worst things for a loved one with Alzheimer’s would be to pack things up without their involvement or knowledge so that what’s familiar to them “disappears.” This can cause anxiety and a worsening of symptoms.
  4. When you are moving in to a new place, it can be helpful to keep rooms and objects as familiar as possible. For example, the painting that hung in your bedroom should be situated where you will still see it every day. A favorite chair or bedspread can also provide comfort on many levels for someone who is adjusting to a new environment. Photographs can still be important to people with Alzheimer’s, even as they struggle to remember their loved ones, so bring some framed photos to put on tables or hang up in your new home.

Regardless of the stage of the disease, always consider the person and not just their disease as you find ways to make their living environment safe, happy, and comfortable.

About the author

Interested in sharing your tips or advice with our readers? Contact our editor, Michelle, with your ideas at michelle.moore@imove.com.