When is the best time to move after a dementia diagnosis?

Our Ask an Expert column explores the subject of moving home after a diagnosis. 

Moving and packing tools

Q: 'My wife has vascular dementia, and I expect we’ll eventually need a smaller house closer to our son’s family. Should we move now or wait until we really have to?'

After a dementia diagnosis, many people think about moving home when planning for the future. Moving home can have a big impact, and being concerned about how the person with dementia might cope with it is understandable.

Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to when you should do this. It depends on your individual situation, and you’ll need to balance the benefits, such as being closer to family, with any drawbacks.


Generally, a person in the earlier stages of dementia is likely to cope better with moving home than someone in the later stages.

However, other aspects of your wife’s life could also make a difference. For example, has she been used to moving home often, or is it an unusual experience for her? Does she have many important memories associated with where you are now?

If you decide to move later on, when her dementia is more advanced, there are still things you could do to make it easier for her.


With preparation, time and support, you could help your wife settle into a new home.

Keep the environment as familiar as possible by using furniture or decorations that she’s used to. This might include painting or changing the front door to match the old one.

Leaving the bathroom door open and a light on at night may help her get around a new layout, as could signage and automatic sensor lights. Other technology, such as clocks that tell you whether it’s night or day, may help her orient herself. An occupational therapist should be able to advise on devices – ask your GP or local authority to be referred to one.

A person’s behaviour may become out of character as they get used to a new home, and it’s worth being prepared for this. Your wife might be more confused and disorientated, or she might seem less able to cope. There could be more distressing aspects to these changes, such as accusations or repetitive questioning.


If the person with dementia isn’t able to make a decision for themselves about moving home, a decision will need to be made for them.

In England and Wales, this would usually be by an appointed attorney or deputy for health and welfare. If there is a financial element to the decision, an attorney or deputy for property and affairs would be involved.

In Northern Ireland, the decision would be made using a best interests decision-making approach, and any financial aspects would involve someone appointed through an enduring power of attorney.

Decisions made on a person’s behalf must be based on their best interests, taking into account their past or present opinions. It’s important to involve the person in the decision as much as possible.

Dementia together magazine: April/May 18

Dementia together magazine is for everyone in the dementia movement and anyone affected by the condition.
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Dementia together magazine is for everyone in the dementia movement and anyone affected by the condition.
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Help. My dad has advanced Alzheimer's and my stepmother has recently announced she and he are moving to a new home 60 miles away. Dad has major anxiety about being away from home - like most Alzheimer's sufferers, he craves familiarity - and is distressed about the proposed move. Major declines in his health have all come during or immediately after stays away from home. And yet my stepmum is pressing ahead, even telling me she wants a change while she's young enough to move on (they're both in their 70s and she's in good health). She barely mentions the effect it will have on Dad, saying he soon won't remember where he is anyway. I have a good relationship with her and don't want to burn bridges (I'm terrified any fall-out will lead to her stopping me seeing Dad), but I need to frame any argument with some genuine facts. Please can someone advise.

Hi Nick. We're so sorry to hear about your difficult situation with your Dad, stepmum and the potential house move.
We strongly recommend speaking with our National Dementia Helpline advisers - they will be able to discuss this matter further and provide you with support. Please call 0300 222 11 22 from Monday to Wednesday (9am-8pm), Thursday to Friday (9am–5pm) and Saturday to Sunday (10am-4pm). We also have a live online advice service. Find out more about our helpline services here: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-support/national-dementia-helpline
Additionally, you may benefit from joining our online community where you can share your experiences with other people affected by dementia. Learn more about Dementia Talking Point: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-support/dementia-talking-point-our-on…
We really hope this helps, Nick. Wishing you the best of luck.
Alzheimer's Society Blog Team

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