You have determined the family home is just too much for your parents to take care of. A smaller home became available just down the road from you that is perfect: a beautiful flower garden in the yard, a bright, updated kitchen, and no stairs to navigate. Now it’s time to tackle the downsizing process. The only problem? Mom has dementia – and downsizing for someone with dementia raises a number of unique challenges.
Change for a loved one with Alzheimer’s can be difficult. Leaving the familiarity of home and moving into a brand new one can increase feelings of anxiety and agitation, but there are approaches to ease the transition.
- Go slow. You may be tempted to make the process as swift as possible – like tearing off a band-aid. Nonetheless, a better approach in this situation is taking time to discuss the upcoming changes with the older adult, one step at a time. Maintain a calm and consistent demeanor, and empower the older adult to maintain as much control over the required decisions as possible.
- Create a system. Downsizing means many of the older adult’s possessions will need to be donated or disposed of. Again, include the older adult in the decision-making process to the greatest extent possible. There will likely be certain items the older adult cannot bear 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 sees or uses, however, it may easier to have those removed prior to involving the person in the process.
- Maintain memories. Take pictures and/or videos of some of the items being donated or discarded and use them to create a scrapbook for the senior. This enables the senior to revisit the items whenever they would like, and can also be used to spark conversations and reminiscing following the move.
- Set up the new house yourself. Organize the older adult’s favorite furnishings and items of comfort in the new living environment before bringing the person 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 have the senior assist with rearranging anything they would like modified. This process will alleviate the anxiety that may occur for someone needing to unpack and think through the best locations to place items in a new environment.
At Amy’s Helping Hands, the leading caregivers in Victoria and nearby areas, our Alzheimer’s care team is thoroughly trained, experienced, and highly skilled, and we’re available to help through the downsizing process and beyond. You can reach us at 250.590.8058 for more information on our dementia care services.