Downsizing and Moving: How To Help Your Loved One

Moving is a very stressful period in life, regardless of age, whereas for older people the experience can be confusing, emotional and unsettling. This issue is emphasised when someone is frail, unwell or is living with dementia.

It’s often hard to know what is best for our elderly parents, especially when it comes to their home arrangements. Family members may question whether they should move into a smaller house, in assisted living or perhaps even a nursing home. But this doesn’t have to be the case when there’s home help services available like ours.

Before considering moving your loved one to a care home, it is important to assess whether rearranging the current living situation would make a feasible compromise. For example, a dining room that is no longer used could be converted into a bedroom and a downstairs bathroom could be refurnished as a wet room to gain easy access.

The wellbeing of those living with dementia is best when they are in familiar surroundings, such as the cherished family home.

If this is not possible and downsizing is the only option, it is necessary to sort through possessions that have been gathered over years which can take several weeks or months.

This said, there are ways to make the process easier.

Try to stick working on one room at a time, starting with the easiest as seeing evidence of your work will provide you with a sense of satisfaction.

Use coloured stickers to indicate:

  • Keep – items that are most useful, cherished or meaningful
  • Potential keep- items to be re-evaluated at the end, depending on space available
  • Donate or Sell- items that you no longer have a use for but nothing wrong with them
  • Discard- items that are broken, worn out or no longer usable

Spend time clearing paperwork and invest in a shredder to avoid potential identity theft.

Somethings may be hard for your loved one to part with, but to help ease the pain take photographs with them posing alongside them. These can then be put into an album for the memories to live on, in a small and manageable place.

Keep a to-do list and a timescale of when things are to happen to help keep you on track. It would be an idea to make a list on what is to be taken to the new property and where it should be placed.

When packing up boxes, designate different boxes for each room and ensure the contents are for the same place. For example, a box labelled ‘Bedroom’ should only contain items that will be placed in the bedroom, not mixed up with things for the bathroom.

It would also be an idea to create a ‘Open First’ box containing essentials, so you don’t have the added pressure to get everything unpacked in the one day. The box could include things such as basic bedding, bathroom essentials, kettle, cups, coffee/tea and sugar.

Be sure to take meter readings at both properties too and remember to alter addresses with any relevant organisations, i.e. NHS, banks, post office, etc.

Investing in some printed stationery will make it easier for those with memory problems or poor eyesight to inform their friends of their new address.

Remember to keep your loved one included in the decision as this will help them feel they are still in control. It will also help reduce anxiety and ensure they have their home the way they like it.

Moving is a stressful time and will undoubtedly cause mixed emotions. Your relative may feel exhausted and emotional after the move, so remember to be patient and allow plenty of time for them to adjust. Feelings of sorrow may be present at the loss of a familiar setting, as well as the friends and neighbours they had in the surroundings. Anxiety of fitting into a new community may also affect their emotions.  
Whilst many people feel a sense of grief following a move, others feel a relief and wish they had made the move years ago.

From our office in Abergele, Home Instead are proud to be able to provide help, care and support for Seniors and rewarding careers for their CAREGivers all across North Wales; including Abergele, Rhyl, Colwyn Bay, Conwy, Denbigh, Holywell, Llandudno, Ruthin, Prestatyn, Llanrwst and everywhere in between!

To find out more please contact the office on 01745 772150.

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