Moving is a stressful task for anyone, but for elderly adults it can be even more difficult. Often, adult children or family members find themselves in the position of overseeing and coordinating the move.
Over in Del Mar recently, a client needed to move her parents into an assisted living facility closer to her home in Los Angeles. She first attempted to sell the house through a traditional realtor, but the market just wasn’t working in her favor, and the house sat for months.
As time wore on, her mother began complaining of sleep issues, and she noticed that her father seemed more fatigued than ever.
A nurse by profession, our client recognized that these symptoms could be a sign of something called Relocation Stress Syndrome (RSS). It’s a condition also sometimes known as “transfer trauma,” and it primarily afflicts the elderly. Symptoms can include sleep disturbances, anxiety, depression, loneliness, and hopelessness. Though RSS usually begins to impact people following a move to nursing home, the stress of relocating can hit at any time. Our client understood that the months-long stress of selling their home of over 40 years was beginning to negatively impact her parents, and that she needed to act more quickly so that they could finally be settled and relax.
Her number one concern was to be compassionate and keep her parents relaxed, informed, following their regular routines, and as stress-free as possible during the entire process.
Reassuring Your Senior Before the Move to Help Offset RSS
Relocation is tough, but for the senior citizen—especially if they have resided in one place a very long time—it can be far worse. However, there are ways of helping keep the stress levels under control, which will make the move easier and avoid the potential of any transfer trauma. When faced with the challenge of moving a senior, here are a few things you can do:
- Involve the senior in the decision and planning process. Seniors do better during and after a move when they are included and involved in planning and decisions. This will allow them to maintain a sense of control. It can be helpful to sit down with them to create a timeline and goals for the entire process. Ask them directly if they have any concerns, as they may not want to speak up initially. Provide clear answers so they understand just how it will all work. Make them feel that everything is being managed and that there is no need for any worry.
- Maintain the senior’s daily routine as much as possible. Studies show that having an established daily routine can be an invaluable tool for mitigating stress. Try to keep the senior’s daily routine as close to its natural course as possible. Don’t let a realtor’s proposed schedule for selling the house disrupt the senior’s normal activities, which can cause unnecessary anxiety. If the senior normally has lunch with friends or takes an afternoon walk, make sure they do not cease these activities. Maintaining the things they are accustomed to can keep stress manageable and improve sleep.
- Safeguard the senior’s personal property and possessions. When a senior moves to assisted living, they will inevitably have to downsize their possessions. This can be emotional and challenging. They may also have concerns about their possessions when the house is being shown to prospective buyers. The older we get, the more stuff we collect, and unfortunately not all can be taken along on the journey. It’s estimated that about 30% of people over age 70 have done nothing to give away any of their belongings over the previous 12 months. You must assure the senior that their most important items will be brought with them in the move, but that some downsizing will be necessary.Assure them that this process will be within their control, and that the items retained will be handled safely and with care.
The process can feel overwhelming for both the senior and the caretakers. It’s very important to get help from family or friends, or even to hire a professional. The period leading up to the move can be emotional, but remaining calm and collected yourself will help demonstrate to the senior that they don’t need to worry.
Making a Smooth Transition During the Actual Move:
When moving week finally comes, it’s crucial to maintain your planning and patience. A hastily slapped-together plan could put undue stress on all parties. There a few simple tips that can help the move be completed without any issues:
- Be Kind. Moving is never easy, especially for seniors who may have been in the same location for many years. Being patient and compassionate must be your number one priority.
- Help Sort. We all accumulate stuff over time, and the older you are, the more stuff you have. Go through everything with the senior and decide is it a keeper, a discard, or a sale or donate item. You may need to be both gentle and firm during this process.
- Make a Timeline for the Move. Having a packing and moving plan will be invaluable. It will keep the senior from feeling rushed. On your timeline, lay out the suggested days for getting certain accomplishments met. There should be days marked out for particular tasks. For example, “On Monday we sort out items going to charity.” and “On Wednesday we will be packing up the bathrooms.” This timeline will save frustration and keep everything organized.
- Hire Outside Help. Ultimately, it may just be easier to work with an outside party than with children or family members. Even if you had planned to move your senior yourself and eventually find that you need more help, there is no shame in bringing in outside resources.
Sometimes the prospect of moving is just too overwhelming for a senior or the person like yourself who has taken on the task. If, like our client, you find that everything has become overwhelming, there are always other options. Sell Your House Direct will take the property as is, manage every aspect of the sale and paperwork, and even assist with the actual moving process. If you are faced with needing to relocate your senior parents, we can assist you at every step of the process. Contact us today for more information.Views: 9