Transitioning a loved one to a different facility can be difficult and present a new set of challenges; so much so that there is a term for it: relocation stress syndrome or transfer trauma. The extent of the symptoms varies by person, but they can include sadness, anger, irritability or anxiousness. Behaviour changes can also occur and can include complaining, combativeness and even screaming. Physiological symptoms include, but are not limited to, confusion, rapid heartbeat, nausea and falling.
It is particularly challenging for those who do not have a choice in the matter. It is also particularly taxing on seniors with cognitive impairments as the disruption in routine can be disorienting. However, it may be comforting to know that it is possible to minimize the stress that comes with this transition.
Tips For Transitioning From One Facility To Another:
For caregivers, it is important that you involve the person in the decision to move, even if the decision was not one they would have made if given the choice. Giving them some level of control, whether it’s choosing the facility or a room in the facility, provides some stability and can lessen the effects. This also applies to those with cognitive impairments. If they know they have played a role in the decision, this can make for a more positive transition.
It is important to address any concerns that the individual has with moving and to try your best to resolve them.
If possible, it is better to relocate slowly. Perhaps the individual spends an afternoon at the new facility once a week. In addition, it is very important that their routine in the new facility is as similar as possible to the routine they had at the last facility. Even making their new look similar can be comforting.
Part of not relocating too quickly is not only visiting the facility but also getting involved in some way, such as having dinner. This will help them to get used to the people at the facility.
Helping your parent to get involved, by providing a sense of normalcy, can help in the transition as well.
It can be helpful to bring in an additional professional, such as a social worker specifically trained to deal with relocation trauma, who can work with the elderly individual. Getting them involved before the move can also be crucial as they can determine if a facility is a good fit and would be beneficial.
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