Imagine learning it was no longer safe or comfortable to remain in a home of several decades. Many do not find this a challenge but instead an adventure. Here is an opportunity to meet new friends and a chance to discover a new lifestyle which could also be fun. Many Seniors, after living in their new home for a short period, state they wish they had moved sooner!
Change is Difficult
An AARP study reveals 88% of Americans have the desire to “age in place” and want to stay in their home. A household where a family has grown is tough to leave. It is hard to part with treasured items if downsizing, especially when the move requires a significant change in square footage. Changes, even with the support of a professional staff and peers as neighbors, may still be worrisome.
Relocation Stress Syndrome
In 1992, Relocation Stress Syndrome (RSS) became an approved diagnosis for the North American Nursing Diagnosis Association. This stress sometimes follows a move and particularly Seniors are affected when starting a new lifestyle. A serious condition, RSS commonly manifests itself prior to a sudden move or up to three months after a relocation. Symptoms of RSS are physical changes, anxiety, depression, and forgetfulness.
Relocation Stress Syndrome is not limited to the triggers of unexpected moves such as a serious fall or stroke. Even if a move is being looked forward to, RSS may still occur. The challenge is knowing RSS is the disorder troubling the person and not dementia. Unfortunately, symptoms are similar and many are diagnosed with dementia when the true issue is RSS. Stress causes people to act out. They may become agitated, irritable or angry with others. Focusing, making decisions; experiencing “brain fog” and unclear communication are all manifestations of stress. They are also symptoms of dementia. It is important to be able to differentiate between the two. When significant changes are recognized, such as a difference in cognition, changes in eating habits or sleep patterns, RSS may be the underlying cause.
Working through RSS
Address changes in a manner you yourself would want someone to talk to you. Fear is involved. Discuss and acknowledge this emotion. Moving may signal the end of an era in life. This is a time for grieving loss. Accept the negatives but accentuate the positives. Allow your Senior to express themselves and be a listener, not a fixer.
Options for Help with RSS
If there has been an illness or injury and your loved one is moving directly from the hospital to a care facility they will typically insist on returning home. Discuss the reasons as to why this choice is not safe or realistic Allow your loved one to be part of the decision-making process by visiting about more than one community option. If possible tour beforehand and take pictures or videos of communities to share. Let them be a part of the discussion.
Often in the case of a hospital discharge, there will be an advocate who is available to help with the transition. If this option is available, use it. The process of moving will be much easier. Transition Consultants, such as those from Bridge to Better Living, enable families to make the transition from a current home to a new one with ease.
Make It Seem Like Home
Setting up a new residence to appear like home helps battle RSS. Favorite pictures, afghans, pillows and Knick knacks should be used in the new quarters. Bring them. Use familiar pieces of furniture such as a chair, lamp, desk or bureau in the new residence and make it seem like home.
Spend time with your loved one in their new place. Converse about their feelings and validate concerns. Their apprehensions should fade in time and soon they hopefully will adjust to the new surroundings. If adjustment does not seem to be happening after a significant period has passed you may need to enlist the help of a physician.
Bridge for Better Living has resources to help make transitioning to a new home easier. Use their expert guidance, compassion, and understanding when moving your loved one to a new Living Option. Although moving may be a challenging and stressful time for everyone involved choosing the assistance of Bridge to Better Living assures you this is a move for the better. Contact us now for a consultation. Remember, our services are always free to the client.