August 19, 2022 by Dean Bellefeuille

senior lady and son packing box

You’ve decided the family home is just way too much for your mother and father to manage. A small house became available just around the corner from you that’s ideal: a beautiful flower garden in the yard, a sunny, cheerful kitchen, and no stairs to navigate. Now it is time to start the downsizing process. The only problem? Mom has dementia.

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

  1. Go slow. You may well be inclined to make the process as swift as possible – like ripping off a band-aid. However, 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 older adult to maintain as much control over the required 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 greatest extent possible. There will very likely be specific items the individual can’t 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 infrequently uses or sees however, it might be easiest to have those removed prior to 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 senior to revisit the items anytime they would like and can also be used to spark reminiscing and conversations following the move.
  4. Set up the new home yourself. Arrange the older adult’s favorite furnishings and items of comfort within the new living environment before bringing them in. Include photographs of friends and family next to the bed, so they can see them when they go to bed and first wake up. Then bring the senior in, and assist with rearranging anything they’d like adjusted. This process will lessen the anxiety that may occur for someone needing to unpack and think through where to place items in a brand new environment.

Our dementia care team is thoroughly trained, experienced, and highly skilled, and we are available to help through the downsizing process and beyond. Email or call us at (315) 579-HOME (4663) to discover why we are one of the top home care agencies Syracuse, NY and nearby areas choose first. To learn more about all of the communities we serve, please visit our Service Area page.