August 24, 2022

Family caregiver helping senior woman unpack boxes

When a loved one is diagnosed with dementia, these tips for downsizing can help make the transition more manageable.

You have determined the family home is just way too much for your mother and father to take care of. A small home became available just down the road from you that is perfect: a lovely flower garden in the backyard, a bright, cheerful kitchen, and no stairs to navigate. Now it is time to begin the downsizing process. The only problem? Mom has dementia. 

Change for an older adult with dementia can be exceedingly challenging. Leaving the familiarity of home and moving into a brand new one can increase feelings of agitation and anxiety, but there are tips for downsizing can help ease the transition.

  1. Go slow. You may well be tempted to make the process as quick as possible – like tearing off a band-aid. However, a much better approach in this instance is taking time to talk through the upcoming changes with the senior, one step at a time. Maintain a calm and consistent demeanor, and empower the person to maintain as much control over the necessary decisions as possible. 
  2. Create a system. Downsizing means a number of the older adult’s belongings will have to be donated or discarded. Again, involve the older adult in the decision-making process to the fullest extent possible. There will likely be certain items the older adult cannot stand to part with, which can be placed into storage if the new living arrangement can’t accommodate them. If there are items the individual seldom uses or sees, however, it might be less complicated to have those removed before involving the person in the process.
  3. Maintain memories. Take pictures and/or videos of some of the items being discarded or donated and use them to create a scrapbook for the senior. This allows the older adult to revisit the items whenever they would like, and can also be used to spark conversations and reminiscing after the move. 
  4. Set up the new house yourself. Organize the older adult’s favorite furnishings and items of comfort within the new living environment prior to bringing them in. Include photographs of close friends and family next to the bed, so they can see them when they go to bed and first get up. Then bring the senior loved one in, and assist with rearranging anything they’d like modified. This process will alleviate the anxiety that can occur for someone needing to unpack and think through where to place items in a new environment.

At Continuum, a trusted provider of home care in Chesterfield, MO and the surrounding areas, our Alzheimer’s care team is thoroughly trained, experienced, and highly skilled, and we are here to help through the downsizing process and beyond. Contact us at (314) 863-9912 or (636) 861-3336 for assistance.