Finding Joy: What to Bring When Moving to a Memory Care Community

Finding comfort in the familiar

At first glance, it may not seem like Kondo’s philosophy of tidying up is relevant to planning a move to a memory care community. But according to Juliet Holt Klinger, a gerontologist and Brookdale’s expert on dementia, Kondo’s advice to surround yourself with things that bring joy resonates as great guidance for Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care residents and their families. “For people living with dementia, familiar things spark joy,” Juliet says.

Can it be that simple? Surround yourself with things that spark joy. Of course, there are many things to consider when preparing for a transition to a dementia care community, but what to bring is an essential part of that move.

As you and your loved one sort through a lifetime of belongings, choosing items that bring him or her joy can be a north star by which to navigate tough choices about what to bring and what to let go.

Tips to help with the transition to a memory care community

“Keep in mind this is not the time to redecorate. You want to create a comfortable and familiar space,” Juliet says.  “We tell family members there are a lot of things we can do together — you, as their family, and we, as their new care partners — to make residents feel at home. The more this new space looks, feels, smells and sounds like home to your family member, the better they will adjust to their new surroundings.”

Making this new space similar to the old space is comforting. Here are a few tips on what to bring:

1.     Plan to set up the new space so that it’s familiar.

Set up the new apartment as close to the layout at home as possible. For example, put the nightstand on the same side of the bed, and decorate the room with familiar items. Consistency helps those living with dementia manage daily tasks with more ease.

2.     Keep the room simple.

Allow for plenty of room for clear, wide walking paths.  Bring a favorite pillow, blanket and chair, but skip bulky pieces of furniture like large dressers.

3.     Include favorite personal items.

Again, choose items that bring your family member joy. Maybe it’s an art piece, a souvenir from a favorite trip or family photographs.  Photos are a great way to help residents connect with their new environment, their family and friends.

4.     Some items will need to be left behind.

You should avoid anything breakable or irreplaceable, like family heirlooms or high-valued jewelry. And in keeping with another tip from Marie Kondo, use what you already own.  Avoid purchasing too many new items until you get settled in and see what your family member may still need.

5.     Ask about your community’s policy on medications and medical equipment.

Most of the time, medications, even over-the-counter supplements, need to be approved and ordered by the health and wellness director.

“Ultimately, it’s about creating a space where residents feel at home. When we train our Clare Bridge associates, we often ask them, ‘What does the word ‘home’ mean to you?’ The answers aren’t usually about a specific location. Instead, home is a feeling or a connection to favorite things,” Juliet says.

“We remind them that the same is true for our residents.”

“For our residents, home is about their favorite keepsakes, enjoying their favorite foods, in the company of people who know them well and with a sense that they are being heard.  It’s where they have a voice,” she adds.

If you or your family are facing a dementia diagnosis, or you want to learn more about how to support those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia, we can help. Click here for more articles on Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Brookdale is not endorsed or sponsored by, or affiliated with KonMari Media Inc. KONMARI and KONMARI METHOD are registered trademarks of KonMari Media Inc.

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