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Elderly parents

MCI/early dementia - moving house, for better or worse?

17 replies

Squiffle · 24/09/2023 22:02

DF has some memory struggles and I think its becoming more than that, not sure how long he will be able/want to drive for. DM is mentally fine but limited mobility & doesnt drive. DM is starting to feel very isolated and even trapped.

They viewed a house this week, its walking distance both from me & lots of shops/cafes/library etc (not much where they currently live). DM loves it.

DF keeps making ridiculous 'excuses' to put her off (didnt like the hob, patio might be hiding something). I think the reality is he's thinking the change & process will be overwhelming. Plus he'll have to ditch many of his hoarded 'useful things'. His only really valid point is that theres not enough real garden (lots of paved&pebbled areas) & he does spend a lot of time pottering- tho current garden is too big for him to manage.

Im so torn between encouraging them to move so DM can have more social contact (& I'll be able to do more popping-in for a brew) , or to stick up for DF for fear he'll be totally lost without his garden(& 3 sheds!) & the changes will speed up his decline.

Would really appreciate insights from anyone who's faced a similar situation or dealt with the fall out!

OP posts:
AngryAndAnxious · 24/09/2023 22:25

You could always get rid of the paved and pebbled areas.
Planning a new garden would give him something to focus on and keep him busy which can help slow the decline.

Beamur · 24/09/2023 22:36

My PIL.were in a similar position. MIL has dementia, they lived very remotely.
They moved to a house in a much more suitable place (and dealt with decades of hoarding useful things..)
MIL did struggle and found it hard to get used to the new house but they were there for a few years until FIL died suddenly. It was definitely a better place for them to live though despite the difficulties.
I would say it doesn't get easier to adjust with dementia, so if possible and desirable for wider reasons I would move sooner rather than later..

Theunamedcat · 25/09/2023 07:11

Are there allotments nearby?

Mxflamingnoravera · 25/09/2023 07:22

My mum and her husband made a move into the centre of their town at age 80 and 85. It was at this point when my mum's dementia became starkly evident. She couldn't cope and was diagnosed within two months of them moving in. The move and change seemed to cause a major leap in her symptoms and within six months she had to move to a care home. She is still in care four years on, has no short term memory and in her words "I live in the moment now". Her husband (not my dad) died a few months after they moved, she can't remember him any longer, they were married for 17 years.

I'd prepare for leap in symptoms, and to have to offer a LOT of support in moving in and unpacking and arranging utilities etc if they go ahead with the move.

mum11970 · 25/09/2023 07:44

Moving can be extremely upsetting to people with dementia as they rely on their long term memory for so much of their day to day tasks.
My parents moved just before my dad was officially diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and at first the confusion was a nightmare to deal with. He had terrible episodes where he seemed to regress to thinking he was a child. They have now been there around 5 years and he often has no idea where he is and thinks they are in someone else’s house or on holiday.
If they are going to move do it asap and think very carefully about the layout of the house. A bungalow would probably be the most ideal and a spare room in case they need any overnight care in the future would also be a bonus.

crew2022 · 25/09/2023 07:48

My experience is that short term the move is very disruptive but the long term benefits especially for your mum would be worth it. Eventually dementia means the unaffected partner is isolated and needs more support.

mum11970 · 25/09/2023 07:53

crew2022 · 25/09/2023 07:48

My experience is that short term the move is very disruptive but the long term benefits especially for your mum would be worth it. Eventually dementia means the unaffected partner is isolated and needs more support.

This is very true

Lovestodrinkmilk · 25/09/2023 08:00

My parents moved in their 90s. Both quite frail. DM (dementia, no short term memory) didn't want to move. They very soon loved the new bungalow and forgot all about the old house they had lived in for more than 60 years. Your DF is only going to get worse over time, possibly quite quickly. I would try to persuade him to move sooner rather than later.

GETTINGLIKEMYMOTHER · 25/09/2023 09:04

Definitely sooner rather than later, because dementia can often mean that unfamiliar surroundings throw them completely - even things like taps working a different way, let alone the loo in a different place.
Familiarity and routine are very important where dementia is involved.

greenbeansnspinach · 25/09/2023 13:45

I would say if the garden is the only real issue, to really encourage this move. Raised beds?
One of them, sadly, will inevitably be left alone eventually and everything will be more difficult then as the one left will be coping with bereavement, loneliness and possibly cognitive decline.
My parents stayed in a very unsuitable large cold house long after they “should” have done. Dad would have Moved but mum dug her heels in. After Dad died, mum still refused to move until the situation became really too difficult (cold, trips and falls, not eating properly).
It took a year of extreme tension and upset for both of us before mum very reluctantly agreed to move. At times I thought I’d ruined our relationship by not just going along with her staying in her crumbling mansion, but I simply could not face caring for her there as we both grew older.
Two years ago she moved to a warm, cosy bungalow (“You want me to end up in a rabbit hutch!”). She’s five minutes walk from me, she’s warm, she has a very small garden, everything is convenient. She no longer cooks but I bring her meals and visit daily.
Mum’s physical health has improved despite further cognitive decline and she is so happy with her home, frequently commenting “we were so lucky to get this place!” (I never mention rabbit hutches …)
I am so glad that she was able to make the move before she was too frail and confused to settle.
I hope everything works out well for you and your parents.

olderbutwiser · 25/09/2023 13:56

PIL moved when FIL was in the early stages of Dementia. It was very stressful for them at the time but their previous home had a lot of steps that were becoming unmanageable so it had to be done. They actually upsized a little - we leant them some money. They are now happily settled.

However, for me the lack of garden would be a dealbreaker and make the property unsuitable for your DF. If your DF is happy pottering in the garden then as things progress his pottering is going to be a godsend to you - somewhere safe and familiar, doing things he loves and understands and skills he is likely to keep for a long time when other cognitive processes go. A couple of raised beds just aren’t going to cut it.

If the garden can’t be made gardenable and interesting for him then I would move on to find something with more garden.

Mischance · 25/09/2023 14:01

Having worked with people with dementia, I have to say that a move of home can precipitate a decline. Sometimes they are only holding it together because everything around them is familiar and engraved on their brain.

JamieJ93 · 25/09/2023 14:01

Practically it would be good in terms of being so close to you. However in my experience, people who are suffering with dementia do not cope that well with change, that's not to say that would be the case in your situation.
Overall, I think it would be a good idea to move them closer to you however, I'd suggest you'd put "familiarities" in place i.e.
Furniture in a similar set up, similar decoration ( wallpaper etc) also I would recommend, carpets being a in a plain,bold colour. Also not too much "bisiness" in ornaments etc as that is also not great for someone suffering from dementia to process.
Hope this helps.
(Was a senior carer for a long time before I got Ill)

lowryvanservices · 25/09/2023 14:43

Moving house with MCI/early dementia should prioritise familiarity and support. Evaluate benefits like accessibility, safety, and proximity to loved ones, while minimizing disruption to routines.

MenopauseSucks · 25/09/2023 15:17

Personally I would expedite a move.

As you say, your DM is feeling isolated & trapped. As your DF worsens, she'll be even more isolated, trapped and with added caring duties thrown in for good measure.
If your DF has dementia & maybe goes in a home, your DM might not be up to moving at that point - it might be too much for her - so she'll remain isolated.

A lot of the burden with your DF will be on your DM so you need to think of her needs first.

I know I sound pretty brutal. I've dealt with being sole carer for a parent with dementia & it almost broke me.
Always put your oxygen mask on first.

greenbeansnspinach · 25/09/2023 17:59

There’s a good and helpful range of views here, giving different points of view, all very valid.
On the garden issue, I would just add that although the garden is so important to your father now, you did mention it’s getting too much for him. As I mentioned above, my mum moved to a house with a much smaller garden. Her previous garden, although not huge, had meant everything to her and she has been very knowledgeable about plants and very active in her garden. Three years later, now aged 92 and with further cognitive decline, she has forgotten all but a few names of plants and potters about weeding rather ineffectually and admiring the flowers. It’s unlikely that many people would remain active gardeners into their nineties … although your dad may be one of them!
This is such a hard decision for your parents and you, supporting them, to make.
In my mind at all times in the discussions running up to my mum’s move was how important it was to her to remain as independent as possible. I knew, although she wouldn’t acknowledge, that in her big old house, as she became less able, this would be hard to achieve. It was such a painful wrench for her to leave the house she and my dad had shared for fifty years. Still she is genuinely happy now. And rarely if ever mentions the old house.
The fact she’s within close walking distance is wonderful. When she rings with some concern, or thinks she’s lost something, I can be there in 6 minutes. It’s so reassuring for both of us.
Only you know your parents the best and whether they are still able to cope and adjust.

Squiffle · 27/09/2023 21:27

Just to say thanks for everyone's insights, many of the same thoughts were already chasing each other around my head but its been really useful to hear the actual experiences. A bungalow would definitely be better, but after the last decade in detached neither wants to go back to a semi & there arent any suitable ones on the market(for over 18 months). There would be 2 spare bedrooms tho and space for a stairlift if required in the future. The garden is a reasonable size, just feels small & uninteresting compared to their huge one - but I think we can reinstate enough planting & a water feature to make it worthy of pottering.

When I called in the next day, dad had done a complete about face & was also enthusiastic (or at least readily agreeable!) about it - and has stayed that way since - so an offer is in!

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