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Need advice about how to convince my DH we need to downsize.
Posted: Wednesday, July 14, 2021 9:57 PM
Joined: 4/25/2021
Posts: 5

My husband was diagnosed with Alz last January. We live in a big old house with stairs and lots of stuff and an acre lot. He is 78 years old and 16 years older than me. So far he has been able to take care of the mowing and general home care, but I know this is not going to last forever.  Plus I don't want him spending all his time on the yard and house. I would rather be doing other things in the time we have before he gets bad. He is adamantly opposed to selling this home and moving to a smaller home near our current location.  We also own a home in Florida where our son and his family live.  He absolutely does not want to relocate there either.  I bought the house in Florida to be closer to family when the time comes that I need more help with his care. My DH is still in early stages (probably 3-4), but does not really talk about or acknowledge his diagnosis. Has anyone had success in respectfully guiding your LO to agree to move and/or downsize?
Posted: Thursday, July 15, 2021 6:11 AM
Joined: 3/6/2017
Posts: 2963

Laurie1282 wrote:
 My DH is still in early stages (probably 3-4), but does not really talk about or acknowledge his diagnosis. Has anyone had success in respectfully guiding your LO to agree to move and/or downsize?

No. No experience with that at all. I chose kindness and the safety of my parents over anything else. I showed my respect by getting dad out of harm's way.

That said, the early-middle stages were tough when dad had enough on the ball that some decisions could not be made. You may need to wait it out if you don't feel you can act decisively just yet.

My situation was the opposite of what you have. My parents moved away from where they raised me. They spent summers at the beach and winters in FL. Unlike you, mom didn't push for dad to be evaluated until she had a medical crisis and dad was unable to advocate for her in any way. She nearly died on his watch.

Dad was diagnosed fairly late in the game, and my mom and I made the decision to move them back north as she would need someone capable of looking out for her and help with his care. Dad was diagnosed after a hospitalization related to a psychotic episode; from there he did a 7 week stint in rehab during which we set up a nice apartment near me for them with the narrative that they needed to stay near doctors for a time. Mom used her POA to list the beach house for sale and once it sold, we bought a cute carriage house for them. I rented their place in FL for the winter season and then sold it too using the POA.

This was really hard for my mom who felt more than a little disloyal as she and dad had been partners for over 60 years but the truth would have only caused him pain. Alas, it was necessary in order to have a team looking out for both of them. Dad was stage 4-ish and we stuck to the mantra of the move being temporary until the docs said he could go home. Over time his confusion about where he was led him to believe he was in Florida which wasn't all bad except when hurricanes were headed our way. 

In your shoes, I might arrange for a trip to "visit" family in FL and just stay there. You could create a fiblet about some issue with the house up north- the sewer line to the neighborhood is being replaced or some such- and just extend the "visit". I oversaw the sale of both my parents' out-of-state homes, a good Realtor can make this easier than you might imagine. 


Posted: Thursday, July 15, 2021 7:06 AM
Joined: 2/29/2020
Posts: 785

I don't have anything specific to add about moving, but I do want to stress one thing. You are heading into a new reality where you can't reason with your DH or expect him to make rational decisions. Dementia is about so much more than memory loss ---- it includes lack of judgment, poor executive function, lack of empathy, poor safety awareness. Too many of us have gone crazy trying to get our LOs to agree to reasonable decisions. Even at an early stage, hoping  your DH will agree will only make you both frustrated and angry. You'll have to get used to making the choices that benefit both of you, and then finding a way to make them happen. That's the way to be kind and respectful. The above suggestions are a good starting point.
Quilting brings calm
Posted: Thursday, July 15, 2021 8:21 AM
Joined: 10/16/2020
Posts: 505

Similarly to HB, my parents had moved out of state to enjoy warm weather year round.  My Moms medical crisis there forced them to accept moving back. Since they had no place here, I could then move them into an assisted living center easily.  Not to say they are happy there 20 months later.  But it’s where they need to be. 

You may have to wait for a crisis to move him or you may be able to get someone else to plant a seed in his mind- a friend or relative that is not you.  Maybe get your ( his ) doctor to fib and say that You, his wife,  need a place without stairs and smaller to manage.  Maybe your knees can’t handle the stairs, etc.  that way, he moves because you need to, not him. 

You may need to do it twice. Once just to get off that property and into a single story home in the same area.  Once later to your other home. 

Right now/ get your medical, legal, and financial POAs in place.  Tell him you both need  to do them… then you call the lawyer later and revoke any authority you gave your spouse. 

Posted: Thursday, July 15, 2021 8:22 AM
Joined: 12/10/2019
Posts: 215

   I agree with everything that has been said, especially that he may never agree to move. His executive function is broken so he is missing the part needed to do that. 

  I think you are in the very beginning stages of the decision making, and unfortunately you are going to be the one that has to be making the decisions going forward. Sometimes it just evolves over time. But sometimes you just have to come to the realization that I’m in charge now.  

    In my situation, I realized my husband was sick because we were in the middle of selling our house and he seemed unable to participate properly in it. He couldn’t seem to sort through our things, hire movers, arrange things in storage, or even load the car. It was moving that showed me his executive function was broken. Your husband won’t be able to do it either.

  We were planning to semi retire, but after getting the Alz diagnosis a month after moving, we then fully retired him. I remembered talking to his Doctor about all this and her advice was this: If your going to move him again, do it sooner rather than later, and also if you can move him somewhere he has long term memories that would be better than a completely new place.  That advice turned out to be very good. We moved him close to his family in a town he had lived previously in his life. 

   So that would be my advice. Move during the early stages to a place he is somewhat familiar with . Once he is settled it will help him to navigate and enjoy some good times.  

Posted: Thursday, July 15, 2021 8:35 AM
Joined: 4/2/2018
Posts: 4515

Laurie, I don't have much to add, but wanted to welcome you to the forum. We have a lot of good people here, willing to help and share experiences.

Here is a link, since your profile said you wanted to know as much as possible. This should help.  

Posted: Thursday, July 15, 2021 9:53 AM
Joined: 12/4/2011
Posts: 20034

Hi Laurie....

I was able to sell a home by convincing my husband that the reason was my health. I used altitude as the might use stairs.

Posted: Thursday, July 15, 2021 11:19 AM
Joined: 2/1/2018
Posts: 731

Hi Laurie and welcome! Good advice here from knowledgeable folks.  We (I) downsized several years ago from a 4 bedroom, 2.5 bath lovely Victorian home surrounded by lavish gardens and lawn to a renovated carriage house on my daughter's property in the same neighborhood.  You are early into the Alz diagnosis and reasoning and discussion will be fruitless at this point.  I started little by little.  Began by disappearing "stuff", hired grasscutters and finally landscapers to tend to the property; DH was at the stage that he was somewhat aware, but didn't resist. (5 years later, he is solid stage 6).  

The coup de gras was my daughter's ambivalence about re-locating back to town and buying a huge, old mansion with a carriage house on the property.  We sold our house in six days, helped her with the purchase, had the carriage house renovated and within 5 months were moved in and never looked back.  Occasionally, we drive by the "old" house (the buyer let the gardens and landscaping go to pot, sadly); DH has no recollection of having lived there for 32 years.  We are "down the driveway" from our daughter and family, gated, and enjoy an in- ground pool and lush landscaping here.  I have my own little flower garden and patio and couldn't be happier.

Our son and family moved about 1 1/2 blocks from us so we are within walking distance of two kids and 7 grandkids which makes all the difference in the world when caring for DH and having distraction and support.  If you can manage to pull it off, and it may take time, patience and cunning to do so, I would seriously consider the move to FL and proximity to your family.  It makes a world of difference!    Good luck, keep us posted! 

Posted: Thursday, July 15, 2021 1:56 PM
Joined: 2/19/2019
Posts: 1

My husband was “officially” diagnosed 3 years ago, although he was showing signs several years prior to that. He is now only 65. 

We also had a large house with 1.5 acres, but he was struggling with lawn tractor and other mechanical items. I convinced him to downsize/move because I had knee replacements and struggled with stairs. Ask him to think about YOUR needs. Possibly he doesn’t  want you to think he is too old to do things because of your age difference? (Male pride) 

We ended up in a condo  shortly after his diagnosis  where someone else does mowing and snow removal. He is now very happy watching them  mowing in heat, and shoveling snow. 

Posted: Friday, July 16, 2021 9:26 AM
Joined: 4/25/2021
Posts: 5

Thanks for all the great advice.  I'm so new to all of this and appreciate your comments and suggestions.  I do have our will and POA's updated.  

I didn't realize that even in these early stages that his ability to reason and make good decisions can already be diminished since he usually seems to function almost as "normal" most of the time.  I need to keep that at the forefront of my mind. 

I also like the ideas of using ME as an excuse to move instead of implying that he is not capable of still caring for our property, etc. I think I will just keep selling and donating things little by little.  Staying in our current home and waiting until he doesn't want to mow or loses interest is also an option.  My head is spinning...

Again, thanks for all the support. I'm sure I'll be spending lots of time on this forum going forward!


Rescue mom
Posted: Friday, July 16, 2021 11:46 AM
Joined: 10/12/2018
Posts: 2144

Nothing to add, but I strongly, strongly agree with what Cynbar said. The time is coming sooner than you hope, when you have to decide. He can no longer be involved, in a rational way, with decisions. You can’t really “convince” or persuade or use rational arguments. They are not able to grasp that. You have to just do it, and hopefully be able to coax him along with the least amount of upset. That often involves fibs. Better than having him upset.
Posted: Saturday, July 24, 2021 9:24 PM
Joined: 4/24/2021
Posts: 1

Laurie1282 wrote:

I also like the ideas of using ME as an excuse to move instead of implying that he is not capable of still caring for our property, etc. I think I will just keep selling and donating things little by little.  Staying in our current home and waiting until he doesn't want to mow or loses interest is also an option.  My head is spinning...

I totally agree with those who suggested using your health or your needs as a way to convince your husband. And also, I think, the sooner the better. 

Late in 2015 I had noticed my DH was really struggling to remember things, but the doctor evaluated him and didn't see any major problems. In December of 2015, we purchased and began remodeling my parents' home. We set a move-in date at the end of November, 2016. By late October we were ready to schedule the movers. But then suddenly one morning, my DH woke up and had almost no short term memory. He forgot that we had been remodeling or that we were packing to move. He couldn't help decide which things to keep or get rid of. He would start a give-away box, then put things in it he wanted to keep. He couldn't help pack. 

When I talked about scheduling the movers, he said, "We don't need to get in a big hurry to do this." Wow! Talk about total panic! So suddenly everything fell to me to make all the decisions. Fortunately, since this had been my parents' home, and my sister lives next door, it has felt more familiar to him. He often forgets this is home, but I think familiarity has helped. He thinks it's my family's home.

I realize ours was an extreme case, but I really suggest you try to get moved as early as is practical so he has time to adapt.

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