How to Downsize Someone with Memory Impairment

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Helping a loved one relocate to a senior facility is hard enough. But when complications such as dementia or other memory impairments are added to the mix, the task can feel nearly impossible. Many family members struggle with the added complexity of assuring their senior loved one that they are safe and secure, all while trying to figure out which possessions should go and which should stay. In the end, your senior loved one may know best the pricelessness—whether it be monetary or personal—of household items, and yet they might at times be the least available to help you.

So what do you do? While the task ahead is certainly a difficult one, these four tips could help you make the transition a little easier for both yourself and your loved ones.

Communicate. While a senior with memory impairment issues may not always appear aware of their surroundings, that doesn’t mean they should be pushed aside. It’s always important to make sure your loved ones are kept in the loop of what’s going on with their own lives. To keep them in the dark may confuse and/or scare, causing outbursts or refusals to move. Make sure to sit them down and have a conversation that’s easy for them to follow; the shorter and simpler the conversation, the better. Also, make sure they’re the first to be notified when changes occur.  Finally, be sure to write things down (or have them write it down).  While they may not remember the full extent of your conversation, a written note or list could provide just the memory jog they need.

    Listen. With such a large job in front of you, you may find yourself tempted to plow through it as fast as possible so you can reach the other side. These feelings are valid, but it’s important to remember that moving can be very stressful for a senior, especially in situations where they’re seeing their lifetime of collectibles and possessions going away for good. It can make them feel like they’re losing their entire lives. To best avoid this upset, it’s important to stop and listen to your loved ones when they speak up about how they’re feeling and what possessions they want to go or stay. With memory impairment and confusion, sometimes these wishes can’t be fulfilled (such as wanting to hold onto a grand piano in their senior community apartment). But when a senior’s desires can be seen through, it’s important to do so whenever possible.

Make it feel like home. Don’t give up everything and start off with a clean slate for your senior loved one’s new home. Instead, make sure to hold onto several cherished possessions that are often in your senior’s line of sight. This way, when your senior is in their new home, they will have several visual memories that will make them feel better acquainted with their new place and be less confused or scared.
Don’t shoulder the task alone. Give yourself peace of mind by passing some of the responsibility onto people who make it their life’s work. Caring Transitions is the largest and most trusted name in liquidation, downsizing, and senior relocation. Many of our trained and credited professionals not only have work experience in these matters, but personal experience as well. They can help you get the job done while treating you and your loved ones like a person…and that’s something money can’t buy.

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