Leaving familiar surroundings and relocating to a new place can be scary at any age. As you get older it gets even more frightening as you worry about stepping into the unknown. While a senior will, in all probability, end up being happy with the new place and enjoy the many opportunities to socialize, exercise, and make new friends, it can take some time to get accustomed to the idea. Before they get there, the thought of leaving their home of years can be terrifying, leading to sleepless nights, anxiety and even ill-temper.
There are ways to help a senior manage moving anxiety, but first, it is important to understand more about moving anxiety, which is medical terms is called relocation stress syndrome.
What is relocation stress syndrome?
Also known as transfer trauma, relocation stress syndrome is the term given to psychological and physiological upheavals that a person experiences when they are shifted from one environment to another.
Some of the symptoms of this syndrome include a combination of the following:
These symptoms will often be worse in seniors due to their other accompanying age-related health conditions, which may include dementia, frailty, cognitive or sensory impairment.
Moving anxiety can lead to several different issues in seniors like confusion, getting agitated and even depression. This can increase the likelihood of weight loss, falls and even problems with self-care.
Helping a senior during this transition period is important so they may feel more confident and also for their overall their sense of well-being.
Tips on how to help seniors manage move-related stress and anxiety
Here are some things you can do to help seniors manage stress and anxiety due to relocation:
- Empower them: You may be busy with work and family and this can easily cause you to make a decision for an elderly parent without involving them in the discussion. Unless a senior has a health-related condition that prevents them from making a decision, it is important to involve them in all the decisions rather than deciding by yourself what is best for them. Give your parent a free hand to decide what to take along with them, how to sell their home, and which things need to be distributed among the family members.
- Give them due respect: Your parent will have many memories attached to their belongings. Don’t ignore them. Instead work with them to find out which things can easily be accommodated in the retirement home or assisted living facility and which things can be given to a favorite niece or grandchild. Allow them to decide so that they feel happy finding the best home for some of their favorite items.
- Give them a sense of familiarity: It is easy to buy new furniture rather than lugging the old one. Refrain from it. Remember, the senior will be leaving familiar surroundings, and this is where the stress comes from. However, if they have familiar items around them, the transition is easier on them emotionally.
- Involve them in making a practical moving plan: Have a proper moving plan so that on the day everyone is organized and knows what they are supposed to do. Seniors love to plan and let them do it while you supervise to ensure everything goes off without a hitch, though that is hardly possible. Take any issues while moving with a pinch of salt instead of getting worked up. It will stress out your parents and make them antsy.
Use these tips to minimize moving anxiety and you will notice a remarkable difference in your parent’s demeanor. This itself will be worthwhile.