How to Make a Smooth Transition

Patient Expert

The third time will be a charm. For the past three weeks, Mom and I have been focusing on her upcoming move. The nursing home where she lives is closing the secure unit and transferring these residents into another portion of the retirement center. We thought the move was going to happen on two previous dates, but remodeling issues kept delaying the transition.

So this Thursday is the new move-in date, which actually is going to work better for both Mom and me. First of all, the delay has allowed me to talk to Mom (several times) about the move. Recently she has been mentally attuned to what has been going on, so it's been especially important to tell her about the move. I've explained that she will be closer to the activities area and beauty salon, and will have the opportunity to meet new friends.

I've also been able to take Mom over into the new area on several "field trips" prior to the move. One evening last week I took my dog, Zoe, to visit Mom. When we got to the secure unit, Mom was finishing dinner, but obviously the move was on her mind. So I put Zoe on Mom's lap and then pushed Mom's wheelchair over to the new area. This "just-in-time" visit helped ease Mom's anxiety - and Zoe's presence meant that residents in the section where Mom will be moving came over to pet the dog and meet my mom.

The delay also will give me some time to set up her room so she will feel welcome. My dad has brought a bunch of family pictures in a large frame; I want to add some additional photos and then hang the picture on the wall over her bed. I also plan to take the quilt she puts on her bed as well as some of the trinkets she's won in bingo, and have them in place for when she moves.

Finally, I'm happy about the delay because it means I can be there during the transition period. I've been on the road lately, so I was somewhat worried that Mom would be alone during part of this transition. Now I can be there if needed. I also can be a visible presence at different times of the day so that the nursing staff and aides (some of whom will be new to Mom) on all the shifts are aware that I am an involved caregiver.

I've learned that being in a new situation can be discombobulating to people with Alzheimer's Disease. A transition plan should include conversations and visits prior to the move. Setting up the room with photos and keepsakes also helps ease anxiety. Lastly, a regular presence by family members and friends is important not only for your loved one, but also so that the nursing staff builds a relationship with the caregiver.