You’ve come to the realization that the family home is just way too much for your mother and father to take care of. A smaller home became available just around the corner from you that’s ideal: a lovely 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.
It’s not uncommon for seniors with dementia to struggle with change. Leaving the familiarity of home and moving into a brand new one can increase feelings of agitation and anxiety, but there are strategies to help ease the transition.
- Pace yourself. It’s natural to want to rip the band aid off and make the downsizing process as quick as possible for seniors with dementia. However, a better approach in this situation is taking time to discuss 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.
- 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 helps aging loved ones to revisit the items anytime they would like, and can also be used to spark conversations and reminiscing after the move.
- Create a system. Donating and discarding seniors’ possessions are necessary parts of the downsizing process. Again, include the individual in the decision-making process to the greatest extent possible. There will probably be specific items the older adult can’t stand 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 might be easiest to have those removed before involving the person in the process.
- Set up the new home yourself. Arrange the senior’s most loved furnishings and items of comfort in the new living environment before bringing them in. Include photographs of friends and family near the bed, so they can see them when they go to bed and first wake up. Then bring the senior loved one in, and help with rearranging anything they’d like adjusted. This process will lessen the anxiety that may occur for someone needing to unpack and figure out the best locations to place items in a brand new environment.
Our Alzheimer’s care team is thoroughly trained, experienced, and highly skilled, and we are available to help through the downsizing process and beyond for seniors with dementia. Reach out to us at (954) 486-6440 or online for more information about our caregiver services in Fort Lauderdale, FL and the nearby areas.