Part 4: Creating a Successful Transition

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Part 4: Creating a Successful Transition

Even with careful planning, extra attention and reassurance, the combination of dementia and a major life change can temporarily produce an even greater level of anxiety and agitation for new residents. Many older people accumulate a variety of prescribed medications for age-related disorders which may contribute to panic, confusion, restlessness and insomnia–all of which could add to the new resident’s anxiety. If your loved one seems overly anxious about the move, ask your physician to review his/her current medications and consider additional medication to ease symptoms for the initial transition period.

Consider a Companion or Personal Aide

Under some circumstances, it may be useful to engage the services of a private aide. If your loved one is prone to wandering, panic, or getting up in the middle of the night, you and the new resident may feel more reassured by the presence of one-on-one companionship for a few days. Typically, a resident begins to accept the new surroundings, new faces and new routines very quickly, but you may want to consider this short-term comfort measure. We can help you make these arrangements.

Bring familiar and personally important items from home: All of our Elders have their own rooms, which not only allow for privacy, but provide the opportunity to truly individualize one’s living space. Furniture, artwork, photographs and personal mementos help create an atmosphere that affirms the individual’s past and present and helps reassure the resident.

Please understand that change is difficult for everyone involved. It is not uncommon for family members to experience a multitude of unexpected, even conflicting emotions when the move to a facility becomes real. If you have been the primary caregiver, you may experience everything from sadness and anger to guilt and relief. These feelings are all part of a normal grieving process. This is a major change for the entire family, and even members who have not expressed interest in the planning stages, may suddenly become involved once the decision is made.

Not only the timing of the move, but the location of the facility, payment arrangements, Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy issues can all come into question at this time. RPH staff will meet with any friends and family significant to the new resident to help facilitate appropriate, informed decisions.

Helping the new resident adjust to staff as caregivers

For some new Elders, it is appropriate for the family to arrange significant visiting time during the first few days; others find it is best to allow time for the resident to transfer dependence and trust to the new caregivers. Each move is different, and the RPH staff will collaborate with you in evaluating what appears to ease your loved one into the new surroundings.

Share with the staff. Prior to admission, each family is asked to complete a social history. From this history, staff can appreciate everyday preferences as well as introduce familiar names, places and occupations into their daily interactions. This social history can be especially helpful during the initial move to understand what will calm and comfort the new resident. At any point, families are encouraged to contact the staff with additional information or concerns.

At RPH, we consider family and friends as partners in care. We value your insights to create the best possible home for your loved one. We encourage friends and family to visit their loved ones at anytime, to attend monthly support group meetings and participate in any of RPH scheduled social and recreational activities.

To learn more about RPH, please call Nancy Smyth at 585.509.3987 or e-mail her at [email protected].