Do You Know When and How to Downsize for Seniors with Dementia?

Do You Know When and How to Downsize for Seniors with Dementia?
A senior with dementia packs up her home with her son as she downsizes.

Seniors with dementia can benefit from downsizing.

It’s clear that the family home is just too overwhelming for Mom and Dad to care for. A small home is for sale just around the corner from you that’s ideal: a beautiful flower garden in the front yard, a sunny, cheerful kitchen, and no stairs to navigate. Now it is time to begin the downsizing process. The only problem? Mom has dementia.

Any level of change can be very challenging for a senior with dementia. Leaving the familiarity of home and moving into a brand new one can enhance feelings of anxiety and agitation, but there are strategies to ease the transition.

  1. Take your time. It can be your natural thought to make this process as quick as possible – like ripping off a band-aid. However, a much better approach in this instance is taking time to discuss the upcoming changes with the older adult, one step at a time. Keep a calm and consistent demeanor, and empower the older adult to maintain as much control over the necessary decisions as possible.
  2. Preserve the memories. Take videos and/or pictures of some of the items being discarded or donated and use them to create a scrapbook for the senior. This enables the person to revisit the items anytime they would like, and can also be used to spark reminiscing and conversations after the move.
  3. Establish a system. Moving into a smaller space means that many of the senior’s belongings will be donated or disposed of. Again, include the senior in the decision-making process to the greatest extent possible. There will very likely be specific items the older adult cannot bear to part with, which can be placed into storage if the new living arrangement is unable to accommodate them. If there are items the individual infrequently uses or sees, however, it may be least complicated to have those removed right before involving the person in the process.
  4. Set up the new house yourself. Set the older adult’s furniture and decor up in the new home before they move in. Include photos of friends and family near the bed, so they can see them when they go to bed and first wake up. Then bring the senior in, and assist with rearranging anything they’d like adjusted. This process will ease the anxiety that may occur for someone having to unpack and figure out where to place items in a brand new environment.

Our Alzheimer’s care team is thoroughly trained, experienced, and highly skilled, and we are available to help through the downsizing process and beyond with our home care services. Reach out to us online or at (866) 940-4343 for assistance in your area.

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