Questions from a loved one with dementia or Alzheimers can be difficult, especially when they ask questions that have painful answers. At Heritage Communities, we understand, and we have some suggestions to help you and your family communicate with your loved one with understanding, patience, and compassion.Memory Care Questions: Keeping the Goal in MindHelen Crunk, Regional Healthcare Specialist of Heritage Communities, and an expert in memory care, says she understands how not being totally truthful with a parent in memory care might feel like youre doing something wrong. But consider that the truth could cause them additional pain, such as reminding them someone has died, she says. And your loved one is likely to forget what you have told them, and will ask againwhy keep reminding them of a painful memory?Instead, Crunk says the goal is always to soothe, not to add agitation or anxiety. Dont try to use logic. Respond in a way that comforts and calms. For example:Validate:Nod, put your hand on their arm, offer a hug, be agreeable, do not argue. Meeting them where they are helps preserve their dignity.Redirect:Mention a favorable hobby, activity, or event. Ask about a favorite childhood memory they still talk about. Suggest an alternative activity before the one they mentioned (such as brushing their hair before catching a bus).Distract:Show them an old photo, engage them in singing a favorite song, take them for a walk to an outdoor garden or a group activity.Common questions asked by memory care residents and some possible answersI need to catch the school bus, or my mother will be angry.There is no value in reminding her that she is 80+ years old and her mother is deceased. That level of truth will only lead to more anxiety and confusion.Crunk suggests you respond with something like, Mom called me and asked me to take you home instead. But before we go, lets have a snack, and maybe finish the puzzle we started. Occupying your loved one like this redirects her attention and takes you to the next moment. Its likely she will forget once she is busy with another task.I want to go home now. Can you take me?Instead of saying that your mother is already home, try something like Tell me about where you live. Whats your favorite room? By asking about her home, you are validating her feelings, and encouraging her to share her thoughts.Or, you could say, Okay, well do that right after we have breakfast. Lets get you a sweater so you wont get cold. Then the conversation can move towards her favorite sweater, or on the way to the dining area, you could look out a window and comment on the birds, or maybe speak to a staff member.Helen Crunk says that often theres another message behind the words. Sometimes when a person says they want to go home, they are trying to communicate that they are afraid, anxious, or need some reassurance, she says. Respond in a soothing voice and if your loved one likes to be touched, try a gentle hug or hold their hand. They might just need to know they are being heard.I want to talk to my son/daughter/husband/wife.You might say, Okay, but right now, theyre probably at work or taking a nap. Well call them later, but first, could you help me fold your sweaters? Or, Could we walk over to the living room? Id like to see whats going on there.Why dont you ever visit me?This can be especially hard, says Crunk, especially when youve been visiting quite regularly. Keep in mind, your mom or dad simply cannot hold on to short-term memories. Instead of reminding them how many times youve visited, just jump right in with something pleasant. Her suggestion: Hey, lets go down the hall to the singalong. Or comment on an old photo. You look like you really enjoyed dancing when you were young. Tell me about that.Memory Care Questions: Choose Personalized Care for Your Loved OneAt Heritage, we call our memory care program Portraits, featuring multisensory activities based on the philosophies of Dr. Maria Montessori. Our care team creates an individualized plan for each resident, describing goals, opportunities and personalized activities that we believe each person will enjoy.We get to know your loved one, and we get to know you and your family as much as possible. This enables our caregivers to interact on a deeper, more personalized level. The result is less frustration and more engagement. We also offer extensive support for our familieslistening, encouraging and providing information.Our Memory Care allows residents to discover more joy in each day. Download our free Family Decision Toolkit, Your AZ Guide to Choosing The Right Senior Living Community. Or contact us today.
Its a moment many family caregivers eventually face having the conversation with parents about moving to assisted living or memory care. It can be difficult to know how to approach the senior living conversation, what to say, and how to be sure your Mom or Dad knows you are coming from a place of love and care.At Heritage Communities, we are here to listen, support, encourage, and provide information. To begin, weve put together some suggestions that might help you with the senior living conversation.Understanding their emotions is essentialWhile a move to senior living might be the most practical choice, its also an emotional one. As you think about how you will bring up the subject with your loved one, consider some of the common fears that many seniors have about growing older, such as:Loss of independenceFailing health, particularly memoryRunning out of moneyHaving to leave their homeLosing loved onesHaving to depend on othersNot being able to driveBeing isolated and lonelyFalling or becoming incapacitatedTake these fears to heart as your family discusses the future together. Showing empathy and patience will provide comfort that youre on their side, can strengthen your relationship, and even help them warm up to the idea of moving.Having the senior living conversation: what to doSpend some time thinking in advance about what you want to accomplish in the talk. Understand that it may take several conversations over time; dont try to cover everything in one session. Here are some senior living conversation Dos:Make a list. Write down talking points about why it is time to consider senior living to help guide the discussion and to help you remember important questions. For example, have you noticed red flags, such as your parent is isolating or withdrawing, they dont seem to be eating regularly, they may be wandering or becoming lost, there are signs of a fender bender or personal injury (such as bruises from a fall), their home is messy, and so on. If you bring up specifics, do it in the context of your concern for their health and safety, asking them if they could use a helping hand with daily life.Pick a good time. Have the senior living conversation when your loved one is free of distractions or pending appointments so you are not rushed. Be sure they are rested, and not hungry or anxious. You could initially bring up the subject casually, such as on a walk, sitting on a park bench, after a happy family event, or other comfortable setting.Have back-up. Be sure to include other family members when appropriate. You might want to approach your Mom or Dad first, and then bring in another sibling or relative at the next conversation. Just be sure to keep it casual and open, so your parents do not feel pressured in any way.Its also a good idea to consult with a professional such as their physician, a case manager, social worker, lawyer, financial advisor or even a therapist or spiritual leader. Having input from a neutral party, particularly one your loved one trusts and respects, can go a long way in a senior living conversation.Keep it positive. Yes, its a change, but be sure to mention what lies on the other side of the decision: a worry-free lifestyle where they can enjoy a range of amenities and services without having to clean, cook, or take care of a home. Reinforce how much you want to give back to them, in terms of safety and wellbeing, and how knowing they were benefiting from 24-hour support would free all of you to enjoy your relationship (as a son or daughter) more than ever.If you know of someone else who recently went through the experience of a parent successfully moving into senior living, you might bring that up, especially if its someone they know. Describe how they are enjoying life more than ever without worries of home maintenance or isolation.What NOT to do in the senior living conversation:Do not dictate a plan. You want to have an ongoing, honest discussion that includes their thoughts and opinions. Share information with them, include them when you are researching online if it is feasible, and let them accompany you on tours of potential senior living communities.Do not take over and become the parent. Its very important for your Mom or Dad to feel respected and heard. Dont speak to them in a tone that suggests they are giving up control. Reassure them you are their son or daughter, and you want to be sure they are safe, well, and happy.Do not feed the fear. Its important to guide the conversation around your concerns, but in a way that youre collaborating together to help your loved one live their best life, not scaring them into a move.Senior living can help them live betterAll Heritage Communities share a single mission: to create the senior living experience that each person wants and deserves, and to help them remain as independent as possible for as long as possible.Heritage Communities throughout the Midwest and Southwest offer vibrant Independent Living, with Assisted Living, and Memory Care. We invite you to learn more please call us at 712-221-2448.
Among the over 25 designations that Realtors can earn to increase their skills, proficiency, and knowledge, is there one that focuses on working with seniors? YES, there is! Every senior home seller and buyer should know about the SRES label, which stands for Seniors Real Estate Specialist. SRES agents are well versed in the areas of retirement, downsizing, and more.At a minimum, the training an SRES certified agent receives includes: Understanding the key life stages, viewpoints, and transitions for the 50+ age demographic The downsizing options available in the community Recognizing how to replicate and adapt the new home for the comfort and safety of a seniorHiring a quality real estate agent to help you with any transaction is very important. But for seniors that have specific needs and life circumstances, having an SRES-certified agent is even more vital.Editor's note: This article was submitted by Lisa Hubschman, Realtor, SRES. She is also the owner of A Simple Nest, LLC and can be reached at 402-850-5660 or Lisa@a-simple-nest.com. See ad on page 41.