Tips for Helping a Senior with Dementia Downsize

senior lady and son packing box

Following a few steps can help a senior with dementia feel comfortable when downsizing into a smaller home.

You’ve determined the family home is just too much for your mother and father to manage. A smaller home became available just down the road from you that’s ideal: a lovely flower garden in the front yard, a sunny, updated kitchen, and no stairs to navigate. Now it’s time to tackle the downsizing process. The only problem? Mom has dementia.

Change for a senior with dementia can be highly challenging. Leaving the familiarity of home and moving into a brand new one can increase feelings of agitation and anxiety, but there are strategies to ease the transition.

Go slow. You might be tempted to make the process as quick as possible – like ripping off a band-aid. Nonetheless, a much better approach in this situation is taking time to talk through the upcoming changes with the older adult, 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.

Create a system. Downsizing means many of the senior’s belongings will need to be donated or discarded. Again, include the older adult in the decision-making process to the fullest extent possible. There will likely be certain items the senior with dementia 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 older adult seldom uses or sees, however, it might be less complicated to have those removed right before 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 older loved one. This allows the senior to revisit the items whenever they would like and can also be used to spark reminiscing and conversations following the move.

Set up the new home yourself. Organize the senior’s most loved furnishings and items of comfort in the new living environment before bringing them in. Include photos of close friends and family near the bed so they can see them when they go to bed and first get up. Then, bring the senior in, and assist with rearranging anything they would like adjusted. This technique will alleviate the anxiety that can occur for someone having to unpack and figure out where to place items in a brand new environment.

Our dementia care team is fully trained, experienced, and highly skilled, and we’re here to help through the downsizing process and beyond. Contact CareWorks Health Services at (949) 859-4700 for more information about our home care in Huntington Beach and the neighboring areas.