Tips for Downsizing: Helping a Senior Loved One with Alzheimer’s

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

Let’s say hello again to guest-blogger Jim Vogel, co-founder of ElderAction. Jim and his wife Caroline dedicate their time to helping ensure that senior citizens thrive throughout their golden years by sharing pertinent resources and information. Today he provides a somber but important message:

Alzheimer’s disease is a specific type of dementia that largely affects seniors over the age of 65. Over five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s; 36 million people are affected worldwide. The disease can progress over the course of anywhere from two to 20 years, but the average amount of time people with Alzheimer’s live after diagnosis is only eight to 10 years. Early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is very important. The earlier signs of dementia are caught, the more effective medications and therapy are at treating it.

Early signs of Alzheimer’s disease include:

  • Memory loss
  • Issues with planning and problem solving
  • Ordinary tasks are suddenly difficult
  • Confusion with times and places
  • Vision changes
  • Troubles with vocabulary and communication
  • Misplacing items
  • Poor judgments concerning things like money or hygiene
  • Social withdrawal and loss of motivation
  • Mood swings that include feeling depressed, scared, or anxious


Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

Caregiving, Downsizing, and Alzheimer’s

If a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, they will eventually need a caregiver to handle their needs. Caregiving involves ensuring they make it to doctor’s appointments, and emotionally supporting them in the event of a loss, among many other tasks. An important thing that caregivers can help Alzheimer’s patients with is beginning the process of downsizing. While an Alzheimer’s patient may be able to age in place during the early stages of the disease, they will need to move to an assisted living situation for their health and safety as it progresses. Starting the downsizing process as soon as possible will make that transition less stressful.

What to Throw Out

Ask friends or family if they have a paper shredder you can use during the downsizing process, because a lot of the trash will be documents and files that are no longer needed. A lot of the information in these documents may be useless, but it’s better to shred than be sorry. Also, prepare to throw out clothes that are unwearable — things that are stained, stretched out, ripped, or destroyed. If you really hate the idea of adding more clothing to your local landfill, you can give old threads a new life through a textile recycling program. You should also be prepared to throw out memorabilia, including old trophies, medals, and awards. And while you can hold on to some physical copies of photos, you’ll want to free up space by trashing a majority of them. Consider investing in a tablet and uploading images of each photo so your loved one can have a digital photo album they can flip through whenever they want.


Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

What to Donate

Kitchen gadgets and small appliances (think: toaster, waffle iron, mixer, etc) are great donations for local charities, especially if they’re in good condition. Old holiday decorations are also great for thrift shops — just avoid donating things like strings of lights with the bulbs blown out. Finally, clothes that are in good enough condition to wear again can be donated to nonprofits. Consider looking into specific charities for certain outfits. For instance, if your loved one still has a number of office-appropriate dresses and suits in her closet, Dress for Success is an international not-for-profit that empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing them with clothes and skills they need to land a job.

What to Sell

Books and movies are perhaps the easiest items to sell, though you likely won’t make much off of what you get rid of. Contact your local used bookstores and see if they offer a pick-up service. Furniture is another smart thing to sell. List items on sites like Craigslist or Letgo to make some money off items that deserve a second chance. If you’re really motivated, try throwing a yard sale to get rid of everything from framed artwork to throw pillows. After the sale is done, you can contact a local thrift shop to pick up whatever is leftover.

Alzheimer’s patients may be able to care for themselves in the early stages, but eventually, a caretaker has to step in and help. One of the things to start with early is downsizing possessions for when they move out of their current home. Above all, caregivers should be there physically and emotionally for their senior loved ones during the downsizing process.


Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

The Best Tips For Seniors Thinking Of Buying A Home In Chicago

This week we welcome Jim Vogel, co-founder of ElderAction, is passionate about promoting senior health and safety. He focuses on helping ensure seniors are able to thrive throughout their golden years by sharing pertinent resources and information.

If you’re a senior who has recently decided to buy a house in Chicago, you might be thinking about how to downsize or how to find a home that will be more accommodating during your golden years. Depending on where in the city you’re looking to relocate, it may be difficult to find something that has everything you’re looking for, so it’s important to have a good plan in mind before you make any decisions.

Though it’s a big city–the third largest in the U.S., in fact!–decently-priced homes can still be found in Chicago’s best neighborhoods. It also has a ton of great parks and communities full of people who look out for one another, which makes it a wonderful choice for those looking for a place to spend their golden years. Here are some of the best tips on moving to the Chicago area:

  •       SET SOME GOALS

One of the most important things you can do when looking for a home is to figure out what you want from it. If your current home has stairs that will become hard to traverse every day, or a lawn that’s too much to take care of, put those on the list of things you don’t want. Think about your health and the wellbeing of your spouse or other loved ones; will it be affected by the layout of the new home? If so, it will be important to focus on that first.


You’ll want to do some research on the homes that fit your needs to find out what the price ranges are, how well-kept they are, and whether the neighborhood is right for you. If you don’t live in the area, there are plenty of online forums that can help you narrow down your search, but it’s always best to take a visit and explore in person, in part because it will allow you to see for yourself what amenities the home has and what types of repairs may need to be done.

 It’s also important to look into any state laws regarding home ownership and how the transfer of deeds is handled. Different states have their own laws where this is concerned and it will be extremely helpful to be well informed on them.

  •       SET A BUDGET

Many seniors live on a limited income, which can make it difficult to secure financing for a home. But there are some options: 

  •       Option 1: You can sell your current home and use the profits as a nice down payment, living in a rental during the time between the sales
  •       Option 2: You can ask a family member to cosign on a loan
  •       Option 3: You can borrow the money from a friend or loved one or ask an adult child to put the home in their name.

Keep in mind that Chicago offers many different homes for many different budgets, and it’s also relatively walkable with the “L” train system making public transportation an efficient way to get around and plenty of businesses and stores within most neighborhoods. 


It’s important to find the right people to help you move when the big day comes, especially if you have special needs, such as a company that can handle extra large furniture. Do some research to find the best movers for the job. Keep in mind, too, that now is a good time to downsize. While you’re packing up, consider whether some items could be sold, donated, or sent to storage. Keeping your new home organized and free of clutter will make it more livable and easier to navigate.

Remember that buying a home is a big decision, and you should never feel pressured to enter into a deal that you don’t feel comfortable with. Talk to your family before making any major decisions and make sure you’re completely happy with the final outcome; after all, you’ve earned it!

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