How Relocation Stress Syndrome Impacts the Elderly
As the world moves faster and faster, it becomes easier and easier to move from one place to another. In the modern world, it’s not uncommon for some people to switch addresses every couple years. But society’s casual attitude toward moving can come with negative effects, especially for the elderly. How Relocation Stress Syndrome Impacts the Elderly
Over the past few decades, researchers have begun to study a newly understood phenomenon known as Relocation Stress Syndrome. Also known as “Transfer Trauma,” Relocation Stress Syndrome is triggered by a move from one environment to another. Onset of Relocation Stress Syndrome can carry a range of debilitating symptoms, affecting a person’s physical, mental, and emotional health.
“Those of us in the home care industry are familiar with the effects of Relocation Stress Syndrome,” says Larry Meigs, President and CEO of Visiting Angels. “Having seen up close how this condition can impact a senior’s quality of life, one of our primary goals is helping our elderly clients age in place, in an environment where they feel comfortable and familiar.”
What Is Relocation Stress Syndrome?
Understanding Relocation Stress Syndrome starts with understanding its causes. This condition is caused by a change of home environment, whether that’s a move from one house to another, downsizing from a house to an apartment, or moving into a nursing or assisted living facility. When this happens, seniors can experience disorientation, confusion, and a feeling of alienation triggered by the switch from a comfortable environment to a new and unfamiliar one.
The risk of Relocation Stress Syndrome is more pronounced in the elderly than in other persons. This risk is especially high in individuals suffering from cognitive disorders, such as Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Sufferers of dementia often rely on familiar environments for comfort and emotional stability, so a change of environment is more likely to be traumatic for these individuals.
While many think of Relocation Stress Syndrome as benign or a purely emotional problem, this is not the case. Seniors suffering from this condition are at higher risk of health problems, including serious illness and injury. Studies have shown that those who exhibit the signs of Relocation Stress Syndrome are at a higher risk of mortality.
Signs of Relocation Stress Syndrome
Relocation Stress Syndrome can trigger a range of symptoms, including physical, mental, and emotional changes. The condition may be characterized by one or more of:
- Sadness and depression
- Anxiety, restlessness, and paranoia
- Anger, aggressiveness, and outbursts
- Confusion and disorientation
- Isolation or withdrawal
- Trouble sleeping
- Changes in eating habits
- Weight changes
- Signs of injury or falls
It is important to note that while these symptoms may be obvious, seniors will often try to hide the signs of relocation stress. It is therefore important that family members and care professionals stay alert after a move and check in with the senior to ask them how they are feeling.
Avoiding & Managing Relocation Stress
Often, the risk of relocation stress is best managed by making a senior’s current home environment more livable, helping them avoid the need for an unwanted move. This can be done by making safety improvements to the home, re-organizing or renovating to make daily activities easier, or by having family members or professional caregivers assist the senior. These steps are often enough to extend the years spent at home by seniors, delaying or entirely avoiding the need for a move.
In some cases, however, a senior may require facility care. In others, a senior may express the desire to leave their home. When a move is imminent, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of Relocation Stress Syndrome or to manage its symptoms.
These steps include:
- Listen to any questions your loved one may have about their new living space, and do your utmost to accommodate their concerns.
- If possible, give your loved one the chance to visit living options in person, and ensure they have a voice in where they live.
- Plan the move carefully and start making preparations well in advance to avoid unnecessary stress or complications.
- Use personal items to give your loved one’s new home a sense of familiarity.
- Take steps to ensure your loved one can preserve their day-to-day routine as much as possible.
- Have family and friends keep your loved one company to help them ease into their new space.
- Monitor for signs of relocation stress and check in with your loved one about how they are feeling post-move.
Remember that the more support a senior has after a move, the more likely they will be able to cope with the stressors and triggers that come with a relocation.
If you are worried that an elderly loved one may need to move, professional in-home care can help them extend the years they spend at home. To receive a free care consultation, conducted in the comfort of your loved one’s home, contact your local Visiting Angels office today.
How Relocation Stress Syndrome Impacts the Elderly
How Relocation Stress Syndrome Impacts the Elderly How Relocation Stress Syndrome Impacts the Elderly How Relocation Stress Syndrome Impacts the Elderly How Relocation Stress Syndrome Impacts the Elderly How Relocation Stress Syndrome Impacts the ElderlyHow Relocation Stress Syndrome Impacts the Elderly How Relocation Stress Syndrome Impacts the Elderly How Relocation Stress Syndrome Impacts the Elderly How Relocation Stress Syndrome Impacts the Elderly How Relocation Stress Syndrome Impacts the Elderly How Relocation Stress Syndrome Impacts the Elderly
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Visiting Angels is a national, private duty network of senior care agencies. We are proud to be the nation’s leading provider of non-medical at home care services. With our elder care services, seniors can remain independent and live safely at home. Our senior care services include Social Care, Dementia Care, Alzheimer’s Care, End of Life Care, Companion Care, Private Duty Care, care to prevent hospital readmission, and so much more.
Compassionate, dignified at home senior care is close to home when you connect with your local Visiting Angels office by calling 800-365-4189.View All Articles