To move? or not to move?
Welcome to part 2 of our transitions series from Central Otago Community Educator, Donna Watt. This edition discusses the challenging decision many face upon a dementia diagnosis. Do we need to move?
Following a diagnosis - should we move?
In these times of increased mobility many of us move to another location at or near retirement, in search of lifestyle or recreational options. This sometimes means that a subsequent diagnosis of dementia makes you realise that you don’t have access to adequate local support from family or community networks, or you may realise that distance from base hospitals and specialist services is now a greater concern.
What does this transition look like for the carer?
You may be worried about your capacity to care for your loved one without wider family and community support. If your children live overseas or in another part of NZ, you may not be able to call on them easily, or it may be that they are very busy with their own lives, still working and raising children of their own.
Many people find that if they have moved later in life, they have not been able to establish strong friendship networks in their new location, and so have no-one that they can call on for help.
Returning ‘home’ or moving to a retirement or lifestyle village with assisted living or care facility options may be something that you wish to consider. However, you may already be aware that if you do need to move, most of that enormous task will fall on you, as the symptoms of dementia begin to limit your loved one’s capacity to fully contribute to this kind of project.
What does this transition look like for the person with dementia?
Routine and familiarity become increasingly important for anyone with memory issues or a diagnosis of dementia. Any change in environment or living situation will have a significant effect on your comfort and independence. You may be very worried about the prospect, and struggle to understand and remember the why, how or where of any planned move.
For some people, however, a return to their old ‘stomping grounds’ can be beneficial. This is especially the case if you were in the early stages of memory loss when you made your last move. You may not have been able to develop feelings of familiarity in the new home or locality, but may still have strong memories of the place that you used to live.
How can the team at Alzheimer’s Otago help with this transition?
Moving at this stage is a very big decision. It is very likely that most people with dementia will eventually face a move into the unfamiliar environment of a care facility, and each move that your loved one makes may set them back in terms of independence and comfort in their living environment.
We can talk through the pros and cons with you, and may be able to offer tips and suggestions that will help you to feel confident in your decision making process. If you do decide to move, we can help to prepare you and your loved one for the smoothest transition possible and link you into the local Alzheimers organisation.