Downsizing With Dementia and Helping a Loved One Relocate

senior lady and son packing box
Although downsizing with dementia can be challenging, there are approaches to help ease a loved one’s transition to a new home.


You have determined the family home is just way too much for your parents to take care of. A smaller house is for sale just around the corner from you that is ideal: a lovely flower garden in the backyard, a bright, updated kitchen, and no stairs to navigate. Now it is time to start the downsizing process. The only problem? Mom has dementia.

Change for a senior with Alzheimer’s can be extremely challenging. Downsizing with dementia, leaving the familiarity of home, and moving into a brand new one can enhance feelings of agitation and anxiety, but there are approaches to help ease the transition.

  • Go slow. You may well be tempted to make the process as swift as possible – like ripping off a band-aid. Nonetheless, a much 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 older adult to maintain as much control over the necessary decisions as possible.
  • Create a system. Downsizing means many of the older adult’s belongings will have to be re-homed or disposed of. Again, include the older adult in the decision-making process to the greatest extent possible. There will very likely 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 seldom uses or sees, however, it may be easiest to have those removed right before involving the person in the process.
  • 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 senior. This allows the person to revisit the items whenever they would like and can also be used to spark reminiscing and conversations following the move.
  • Set up the new home yourself. Organize the senior’s favorite furnishings and items of comfort in the new living environment before bringing them in. Include photos of close friends and family near the bed, so they can see them when they go to bed and first get up. Then bring the older adult in, and assist with rearranging anything they would like modified. This technique will alleviate the anxiety that may occur for someone having to unpack and figure out where to place items in a brand new environment.

Our Alzheimer’s care team is thoroughly trained, experienced, and highly skilled, and we’re here to help through the downsizing process and beyond. Reach out to us at 919-426-7522 for more information about our care services in Raleigh and the surrounding areas.