My dad (69) has been staying with my family for the last six weeks while we transition him to an assisted living facility close to our home. January 3rd is the much anticipated move-in date. Before this, he lived alone (out of state), with various paranoias and delusions, and no close family or support for the past year. He was diagnosed with ALZ in September, resulting in losing his driver's license, and we were unable to allow him to stay in his home with in-home assistance due to hoarding conditions.

He has (for the most part) been a champ throughout all of this, given how scary and disorienting it is for him (he's lived in the same house for 40+ years). For those that have made this transition, what physical items did your LO find comfort in (and what are things to avoid)? Dad is used to being surrounded by lots of "stuff" and is comforted by sorting and straightening activities, so I don't want the apartment to feel empty. Would love ideas and to hear your experiences.

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When we moved mom and dad into their apartment at YB's home--we tried really hard to keep the amount of 'stuff' to a minimum--and failed. Mom refused to give up any of her Tupperware, despite the fact that she didn't have a fridge big enough for storing these. TONS of books, cds, and just..stuff.

After dad passed mom has the whole apt to herself and she complains constantly that she has 'no space'. Well, you cannot create closets out of thin air.

If I were to have the power to clean and organize mom's living space, I would first empty and clean the whole place--then I'd get her a power recliner/lift chair that would be able to help her get up. She has trouble getting up on her own. I'd get rid of the couch and the end tables and the enormous dresser/shelf system she can't reach the top of. (No judgment, I can't reach the top of my stackable w/d system!!) All the extra little stacking drawers and rolling carts she has that hold...junk..would be gone. She'd have the space she really needs. One thing--at least with a semi-hoarded home, when she falls, she inevitably hits something on the way down. That a plus and a negative.

Time will show you what dad needs and doesn't need.
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Reply to Midkid58

i can heartily recommend a magnifying glass with handle (in my family we all love this type

…and perhaps a large soft-cover atlas of USA and one of the world. In my family we have both (they’re approximately 12” wide by 17” tall thus easy to hold onto, and rather than logging into a computer or tablet when we want to refer to a town or country’s location mentioned in the news, we whip out our atlases.

Finally, please buy your dad a soft squishable small lap-size pillow similar to the one I linked to below, as it will help him prop onto his lap (without slipping) his atlases and books and tablets or phone or whatever.

We like the lap pillows that have the soft mini pellets in them, to help the pillows conform on our laps to whatever we need them for, this one’s a dandy:

Best wishes!
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Reply to BeenThroughThis

havoor: Imho, bring with him items that he has memories from.
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Reply to Llamalover47

Just a few thoughts: family photos, music player and his favorite music, favorite blanket.
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Reply to shedwells

Two of the most used items I was able to give my sister while in assisted living (a single room with bathroom and kitchenette), we're a quality, 10 plug power strip with surge protector and bathroom/toilet cleansers and a good toilet bowl or disposable wand cleaner. Her AL was older and had only 4 electrical outlets. The additional plugs allowed us to make sure she had sufficient night lighting lamps, plugs to recharge her phone and laptop computer, hookups for her nebulizer, a see the need. They were always under-staffed and her room always needed some type of cleaning...but especially the toilet area. If The AL allows, wall shelving is also a bonus and can help as added storage.
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Reply to Judycares

To the point, the obvious like hanging pictures, couch, recliner, small desk with an office type chair, book case with her favorite books. Until it became difficult for my sister to read, I kept most of her books in storage at my home. I would rotate out every three/four months even if she wasn't reading. Rotate out seasonal clothes. Go by occasionally and have lunch or dinner (supper for some of you). You can have the meals brought to the apartment so a small dining table with two chairs makes it feel homey. Her TV is on top of the book case. The couch is positioned to provide a feeling of separation from the small kitchen/2 chair dining table.
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Reply to Rick10

I set up an office near my Dads chair with organizers for papers, mail etc. he had a two tiered table for his magazines and his walker had a lift up seat with a basket. Another side table was for his eye vitamins etc.

I moved two parents to AL from their home of 60 years. It was a severe hoarding situation so it was a. It more difficult to decide what to bring. Art work came down, tv, chairs and each had a dresser and bedside table. I used a wood card table for a dinette and little by little I tried to make it nice.

they had a two bedroom apartment and when Dad died at the end of September I moved my Mom. She had become bedridden and was tucked in her room and not using the space. She was resistant to the move. I knew I needed to set it all up before I moved her to her new efficiency apartment. The space is smaller but yet bigger for her as she is confined to one room anyway.

I moved everything down to the room myself. Pictures were hung, tv set up etc. we purchased the furniture in the room, it was the model for the AL facility.

we wheeled her down the hall and the look on her face 😂 she was not happy.

I got a beautiful bookshelf, I put her things out and that room was beautiful. Word got put among the staff and they all came t check it out and commented on it.

it took a few days but she absolutely loves her space. She has a new larger tv as that is her life now.

stay positive even if you are exhausted and they aren’t quite ready to adjust. Good luck and my best to your Dad. This is always a tough road but my parents who were very difficult ended up very happy and they got to spend lots of time with me which I am thankful for
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Reply to Grandmaofeight

Ok so this is a thing with all Alzheimer’s patients hoarding is a real problem they will try to save everything from napkins and cups from Trips to McDonald’s to tissue boxes literally anything those things gotta go and they will get made. However I did set up a spot beside his chair where his stuff goes what I used was a Child’s toy storage shelf with boxes on it he also has a 3 tier shelf for his other stuff weather station clocks outdoor camera viewer and mini drawers and papers. I let him keep his news papers in a basket and when it gets full out they go. Everything becomes his friend and Pops believes he can’t live without them. But he soon forgets the little things. Your road in live will change sometimes daily find a way to keep your humor and you will save your sanity. This road is not easy we have been on it for Nearly 8 years we have been lucky Pops has been happy and mostly non violent but we are seeing changes now which are not either happy or pleasant just do what you can show him love and respect and that will be the best for all. Best wishes and good luck. Melody
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Reply to happyharry

Havoor, not to be critical, but I'm not sure that mixing bowls, etc. would be appropriate for a man.  I think tools and "man toys" would be though.   Did he ever do woodworking, worked on his vehicle, or garden, or anything that's not directly related to cooking and kitchen activities?

Think back to what he enjoyed before his current condition, and consider buying things that fall in those categories.

Something I remember from childhood and which I'm getting for my niece's boys are kaleidoscopes.   It doesn't require any effort to turn the scope and view new configurations of beautiful stones or jewels.   As children we really enjoyed them.  They're relaxing, don't require any maintenance, and might distract or at least provide relaxation for your father.
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Reply to GardenArtist
havoor Dec 30, 2021
Very good points. I did get my dad one of those storage containers with various compartments for nails, washers, and stuff, so maybe we can fill that up (so long as he doesn't see fit to make repairs to his apartment!).

I love the kaleidoscope idea, as well. He does seem to find comfort and amusement in simple things like this.
Thanks, everyone - all very helpful advice. The challenge has been not having access to the things in his home. It's an 800+ mile drive and I can't go back to retrieve anything sentimental until he moves in. But yes, out of sight out of mind is a good reminder for me.

We gave him many things for his apartment for Christmas (made a big deal to hype it all up as his bachelor pad), but that night at the family get-together he told everyone he got nothing for Christmas because he forgot to put out his stocking. The next day as we were loading some of those things in bins to take to AL, anything he did recall as familiar was things he had created new memories for (e.g., the coffee cup was one he found at a thrift store years ago).

The apartment feels empty to me, so I'm filling the kitchenette with measuring cups, mixing bowls, etc. (things he will never use) - but maybe that's just to make me feel better.
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Reply to havoor

If he likes his current room set-up in your home and can take that furniture, I'd copy the same set up there so it feels familiar. He can make any changes later once he settles in.
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Reply to Geaton777

Maybe you can get dad a small hamper of washclothes and towels to sort? He will find things to take back to his room there--My mom brings back about 15-20 books a week that I have to sneak back to the common areas.

Those aren't always the biggest places, so less is sometimes better. You can always add something later if you want to, but you'll have a heck of a battle removing something once he's moved in, right? Plus, no trip or bump hazards helps make it safer, and if things are too cramped it makes it hard for staff to clean. My mom's little entryway/den/ kitchenette feels a bit cramped if there's more than two people in it-it has her favorite rocker, a small cabinet she uses as a tv stand, a loveseat and two side tables with her favorite lamp, and her favorite pillow and throw. I put her pictures up, trying to keep her 'bedroom' pictures in the bedroom and den pics in the den. I downsized her to a full bed, so couldn't use her old comforter, but she got to pick out a new one. I took little sentimental knick knacks she had and put them out on the surfaces I could. I was able to use her bathroom things, so that looked familiar to her. I did take some boxes of old photos and letters, and some drawing books, etc, but she hasn't touched them. It's easier to keep them there, and we can look at them on a rainy day. Pretty much if it's out of sight, it's out of mind. I did set her up for a little tea & coffee in her kitchenette, plus plates, cups, etc,. but she hasn't used any of that, though she will find any snacks I put up for her.

Take over familiar funtional things if you want them to get used. I bought mom a cute hamper but she wasn't using it. Replaced it with the same type of white plastic laundry basket she's used for years and voila--clothes started going in the hamper.
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Reply to ElizabethY

I would allow dad to pick and choose what he'd like to bring to the ALF with him, providing it's not too much stuff that would clutter the new apartment. Hopefully he won't have access to acquiring new things so the new place won't get hoarded like his house was? Hopefully the new AL also has a Memory Care building so if dad's Alzheimer's worsens he can transition to the MC section for safety reasons. He's so young for such a diagnosis.

When I moved my parents into AL, they had a 1 bedroom apartment and moved from a 2 bedroom apartment in senior Independent Living. So I moved their bed, nightstands, dresser, a curio cabinet (for mom's Lladro collectible figurines), 2 recliners and tray tables, a TV and a table with drawers to hold it and 3 baskets underneath to house magazines, etc., 2 small tables to house photo books and odds/ends & lamps, 2 floor lamps, and a small 2 person cafe table and chairs for meals. I think that was about it, if I recall. Think small and compact and only the necessities based on what he uses most.

Also pack pictures for the walls and things to make the new place feel homey.

Sending prayers that he adjusts to his new home well.
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Reply to lealonnie1

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