How can I help my mom, who has dementia, deal with selling her home and possessions and moving?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 18, 2017
A fellow caregiver asked...

My mom has not been able to care of herself since the end of April due to a few falls and the onset of dementia. I have been caring for her at her home in Arizona.  My husband and son have moved to Denton, TX, where we have purchased a new house. The move will be difficult but I need help in priorizing what to do first. I have some repairs that need to be done to her house, I have a yard sale that needs to happen and I know that will upset her. What do I do first? She is aware some days that she is going to move. If I have a yard sale and sell everything and the house will be empty that will upset her also. Help!!

Expert Answers

Beth Spencer is a social worker in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with more than 25 years of experience with families who have a member with dementia. She is coauthor of Understanding Difficult Behaviors and Moving a Relative with Memory Loss: A Family Caregiver's Guide. Previously, she directed Silver Club, early-stage and adult day programs serving individuals with Alzheimer's disease and related illnesses.

Moving a person with dementia can be very difficult even though it's often necessary. My suggestion is that you find a way to have the yard sale and empty the house without your mother present. It's undoubtedly going to be extremely stressful for both of you and it could escalate her anxiety if she is there. Is there another relative or friend who could take her for a couple of days? Or could she move to Texas ahead of you and be looked after by someone there? If not, can you hire a companion to spend time with her and at least get her out of the house during the sale? It’s important to find a way to make her as comfortable and safe feeling as possible during this process. My book on moving someone with memory loss goes into a lot of detail about other things to think about before, during, and after a move.