Would my mom with Alzheimer's benefit from moving to a smaller facility?

A fellow caregiver asked...

My mother, whose dementia and agitation have increased noticeably in the past year, is in an assisted living facility that houses about 40 people. She often thinks she is in a hotel or hospital. Would there be any benefit in moving her to a smaller facility with only 12 residents, or would the move just add to her confusion and agitation? She has been in the current facility for 3 years. They have a few activities, but she seldom participates. She spends most of her time in her room alone. The smaller facility offers more one-on-one attention.

Expert Answer

A social worker and geriatric consultant who specializes in dementia care, Joyce Simard is based in Land O' Lakes, Florida, and in Prague. She is a well-known speaker and has written two books, one focusing on end-of-life care and the other, entitled The Magic Tape Recorder, explaining aging, memory loss, and how children can be helpers to their elders.

Your mother needs to be in a facility that has a good activity program designed for people with dementia as they rarely if ever self initiate activities. The facility must be aware of this and offer appropriate "meaningful activities" for her. Sitting in her room is isolating and can lead to depression while doing nothing to keep her brain active. Television is the only activity that does nothing to stimulate the brain. I don't think the size of the facility is as important the programming they offer. I have two articles on programming on my web site www.joycesimard.com One is the Memory Enhancement Program for people with mild dementia the other is The Club for those with moderate dementia. They may help you assess programming in any facility you are looking at for your mother.