In a previous article, we shared a checklist on how to help your aging parents relocate from their family home to an assisted living apartment. And although there are many tools and services we mentioned that can help you stay organized and keep the relocation process running smoothly, moving is still a big change—at any age.
For aging parents, the move to a new community—no matter how well planned out and organized—can still create stress and anxiety.
Though everyone will respond to moving differently, experts recommend that adult children pay careful attention to symptoms of relocation stress syndrome, as these can greatly affect a loved one’s mental and physical wellness.
What Is Relocation Stress Syndrome?
Sometimes referred to as “transfer trauma”, relocation stress syndrome typically occurs after someone makes a big move from one familiar environment to a new location. In this case, we’re referring to the transition from a private residence to an assisted living home.
But it’s important to note that relocation stress can affect anyone. It can affect a child attending a new school or a young professional moving from a rural environment to a big city.
Signs of Relocation Stress
Everyone will experience relocation stress individually. Symptoms may occur during the move itself or within the first three months of the relocation:
“These symptoms can influence our behavior, mood, and physiological well-being…[and] can lead to decline in physical and psychological well-being…”South Dakota State University
In addition to feeling more anxious about his or her new surroundings, other common symptoms that a loved one with relocation stress may develop include:
- Weight gain/loss
- Refusal of care
Note that changes in eating and/or sleeping patterns or general self-care may also alert you to the fact that your loved ones are experiencing anxiety about the upcoming move.
How to Support a Loved One with Relocation Stress
As with any major life event, it’s normal to feel a bit apprehensive about what the future holds. But when these feelings become long-term and start affecting our quality of life, we need the support and care of those we trust most.
The important thing is to be conscious about what relocation stress is. Next, you want to find ways to check in with your mom or dad without seeming overbearing. Also, be sure that their primary clinician is aware of the upcoming move, too. He or she may have tips for your family to help the transition.
In our recent article, we stressed the importance of making your parents active participants in every decision relating to the move. This is the best way to ensure that they feel their voices are heard and respected.
Why is this so important? One of the biggest components that play into relocation stress is the fear of losing one’s control and independence.
To help alleviate this concern, we recommend the following:
Have your loved ones meet with a community sales director.
This interaction will present a great opportunity for them to ask questions, express concerns, and put their minds at ease.
Our team at Sweetwater has helped many families throughout the relocation process. We understand the worry about losing one’s self-autonomy.
But we’re here to help put that common misconception to rest. At Sweetwater, our communities are designed to promote independence and empowerment among each and every resident.
Have your loved ones tour their new apartment homes
At Sweetwater, you can do this right away with our virtual tour tools, photo galleries, and in-person tours we have available at our community.
Make your loved ones’ new home “feel” like home.
Help your parents decorate their new apartment home. Also, be sure to help them set up their electronics, hang family photos on the wall, and find ways to bring that familiar environment to their new surroundings.
Make sure that all of their belongings are unpacked, too. You want them to feel moved and at home when they arrive.
Start introducing routines into their schedules
At Sweetwater, we pride ourselves on encouraging our residents to live life on their own schedules. And we provide a large variety of weekly events, amenities, and activities to do just that.
But we’re also familiar with the benefits of having a routine each day. This gives ourselves a sense of control and familiarity.
We recommend scheduling regular visits to see your parents. And guess what? The fun activities we have planned for them, we want you to partake in them, too. This is a great way to meet our community with your parents. You’ll get to know the friends they’ll be making and the fun hobbies they’ll be doing each day!
Contact Sweetwater for Questions
We understand that this is not only a big move for your parents, but it’s a major life event for you, as well. If you’re in the process of moving your parents to Sweetwater Retirement Community, we encourage you to contact our team for questions and support!
We look forward to welcoming your parents to our community, and we look forward to making your family a part of ours, too!