Downsizing With Dementia
You have finally accepted that the family home you know and love is just way too much for your mother and father to take care of. A small home is for sale just around the corner from you that is perfect: a beautiful flower garden in the yard, a sunny, cheerful kitchen, and no stairs to navigate. It’s time to being downsizing. The only problem? Mom has dementia.
Seniors with dementia often struggle with change. Leaving the familiarity of home and moving into a new one can enhance feelings of anxiety and agitation, but there are ways to help ease the transition.
Take your time. Although you may want to make the process as swift as possible – like tearing off a Band-Aid, a much better approach in cases like this is taking time to discuss the upcoming changes with the older adult, one step at a time. Maintain a consistent and calm demeanor, and empower the person to maintain as much control over the required decisions as possible.
Keep the memories. Take pictures and/or videos of some of the items being discarded or donated and use them to create a memory album for the senior. This allows the senior to revisit the items anytime they want to, and they can be used to spark reminiscing and conversations after the move.
Set up the new home yourself. Organize the older adult's favorite furnishings and items of comfort in the new living environment before moving 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 in, and assist with rearranging anything they would like modified. This will help lessen the anxiety that can come up for someone having to unpack and think through where to place items in a new environment.
Create a system. Downsizing means many of the senior’s possessions will need to be donated or discarded. Again, involve the individual in the decision-making process to the greatest extent possible. There will probably be certain 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 hardly ever sees or uses however, it might be less complicated to have those removed prior to involving the person in the process.
The dementia care professionals at The Care Company are thoroughly trained, experienced, and highly skilled, and we are available to help through the downsizing process and beyond with our Alzheimer’s care in the Greater Toronto area. Reach out to us online or at 416-422-2273 for more information.