Strategies to Help an Older Adult with Dementia Downsize

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

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

  1. Go slow. You might be tempted to make the process as quick as possible – like tearing off a band-aid. Nonetheless, a better approach in this situation is taking time to talk through the upcoming changes with the senior, one step at a time. Keep 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 senior’s possessions will need to be donated or disposed of. Again, include the individual in the decision-making process to the fullest extent possible. There will very likely be certain items the older adult cannot stand to part with, which can be placed into storage if the new living arrangement is unable to accommodate them. If there are items the senior rarely sees or uses, however, it might be less complicated to have those removed right before involving the person in the process.
  3. 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 allows the older adult to revisit the items anytime they would like, and can also be used to spark conversations and reminiscing after the move.
  4. Set up the new home yourself. Organize the older adult’s favorite furnishings and items of comfort in the new living environment prior to bringing them in. Include photos of friends and family next to the bed, so they can see them when they go to sleep and first wake up. Then bring the older adult in, and assist with rearranging anything they’d like adjusted. This technique will alleviate the anxiety that can occur for someone needing to unpack and figure out the best locations to place items in a brand new environment.

Our dementia care team is thoroughly trained, experienced, and highly skilled, and we’re here to help through the downsizing process and beyond. Contact Seniorcorp at 757-640-0557 for more information about our comprehensive senior services in Chesapeake, VA and neighboring communities.