Downsizing and Dementia: Follow These Guidelines for a Smoother Transition

Downsizing and Dementia: Follow These Guidelines for a Smoother Transition

You’ve decided the family home is just too much for your parents to manage. A small house is for sale just down the road from you that is ideal: a beautiful flower garden in the front yard, a bright, cheerful kitchen, and no stairs to navigate. Now it’s time to start the downsizing process. The only problem? Mom has dementia. And while the combination of downsizing and dementia isn’t easy to navigate, there are steps you can take to help.


Change for a loved one with dementia can be extremely challenging. Leaving the familiarity of home and moving into a brand new one can enhance feelings of agitation and anxiety. Try these approaches to help ease the transition.


  1. Go slow. You may be inclined to make the process as quick as possible – like tearing off a Band-Aid. However, a better approach in this situation is taking time to discuss 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 many of the older adult's possessions will need to be donated or disposed of. Again, involve the senior in the decision-making process to the fullest extent possible. There will likely be specific items the older adult cannot bear to part with, which can be placed into storage if the new living arrangement can’t accommodate them. If there are items the senior infrequently uses or sees, however, it may be easiest to have those removed before involving the person in the process.
  3. Maintain memories. Take pictures and/or videos of some of the items being discarded or donated 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 conversations and reminiscing after the move.
  4. Set up the new home yourself. Organize the older adult's most loved furnishings and items of comfort within the new living environment prior to bringing them in. Include photographs of close 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 loved one in, and assist with rearranging anything they’d like modified. This process will ease the anxiety that can occur for someone needing to unpack and think through the best locations to place items in a 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. Call us at 519-915-4370 for more information about our Windsor, Ontario senior care services and to find out if our services are available in your area.