Moving to Assisted Living IS Traumatic

Moving to an assisted living community can be is traumatic.

We are often asked to provide project management services for elders transitioning from their independent residence to an assisted living community. Recently, the request has been to provide professional services for elders moving from one assisted living community to another. Our first message to the elder, caregiver, or family member is to anticipate an adjustment period in the new residence.

We have discussed issues associated with the decision to move in previous conversations. Transition Trauma, also known as relocation stress syndrome (RSS) is manifested in anxiety, confusion, and hopelessness. When combined with the physical issues of moving, the recovery can take months. Keep in mind; the notion of transitioning to an assisted living community is most often viewed as helplessness and the loss of empowerment.

Our task is to lift the weight of the move off the shoulders of the elder, caregiver(s), and family. Success requires a team approach. This begins with selecting the assisted living community that meets the elder’s needs today and during the next five-year period. Taking the time to discover the best community will pay off in a year or two.

Once the community has been selected, there are a number of things elders and family can do to enhance the adjustment.

  • Stay positive about the move. Understand what is happening and prepare.
  • Search for answers. Ask questions of everyone. Keep a list of questions with you so you don’t forget.
  • Meet people. Don’t sit in your apartment or residence all day.
  • Remember WHY you/your elder is moving. The new community offers the services, privacy, care level, and safety that is necessary for quality of life.
  • Make a home. The move to assisted living requires right sizing. Determine what household inventory is the most meaningful and take it with you. Photo albums can be digitized, wall hangings can be rehung, a favorite chair can be moved,
  • Remember going to summer camp or sending a child to college? You want to keep in touch but not hover. The same holds true with the move to assisted living.

Our transition team is adept at asking questions and uncovering what is important to the elder, caregiver, or family member at this moment in time. If we all are successful, the transition will go relatively smoothly and the elder will discover a new community and home.