Downsizing the Home for a Parent With Dementia

a senior lady and her son packing a box
It’s important to find ways to ease the transition when downsizing the home for a parent with dementia.

You have determined the family home is just too much for your parents to manage. A smaller home became available just down the road from you that’s perfect: a beautiful flower garden in the backyard, a bright, cheerful kitchen, and no stairs to navigate. Now it’s time to begin the downsizing process. The only problem? Mom has dementia. 

Change for a loved one with Alzheimer’s can be extremely challenging. Leaving the familiarity of home and moving into a new one can enhance feelings of agitation and anxiety, but there are strategies to help ease the transition when downsizing the home for a parent with dementia.

  1. Go slow. You might be inclined to make the process as quick as possible – like tearing off a band-aid. Nonetheless, a better approach in cases like this is taking time to talk through the upcoming changes with the older adult, one step at a time. Keep a consistent and calm demeanor, and empower the person to maintain as much control over the required decisions as possible. 
  1. Create a system. Downsizing means a number of the older adult’s possessions will need to be donated or disposed of. Again, involve the senior in the decision-making process to the greatest extent possible. There will probably be certain items the senior 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 senior rarely uses or sees, however, it may be less complicated to have those removed before involving the person in the process.
  1. Maintain memories. Take videos and/or pictures of some of the items being donated or discarded and use them to create a scrapbook for the senior. This enables the person to revisit the items whenever they would like, and can also be used to spark reminiscing and conversations after the move.
  1. Set up the new house yourself. Arrange the older adult’s most loved furnishings and items of comfort in the new living environment prior to bringing the person in. Include photographs of close friends and family next to the bed, so they can see them when they go to sleep and first wake up. Then bring the senior loved one in, and assist with rearranging anything they’d like modified. This technique will lessen the anxiety that can occur for someone having to unpack and figure out the best locations to place items in a new environment.

Our Alzheimer’s care team is thoroughly trained, experienced, and highly skilled, and we’re available to help through the downsizing process and beyond. Contact us at 213-383-2273 for assistance and to learn more about our home care services in Encino and the surrounding areas. Please visit our website to see our full service area.