Moving during retirement is much different than moving as a young or middle-aged adult. When older adults are relocating, they may find their emotions tougher to cope with than the physical challenges of the move.
For a senior who has lived in the same home for many years, moving can feel like they are leaving behind all the happy memories created there. Feelings of grief and sadness may also be triggered if family members who used to live in the home have passed away.
Relocation Stress Syndrome and Seniors
Relocating can cause anxiety for the senior and stressful days for the family members who are assisting them. This clouds what could be an exciting new chapter in life. Psychologists refer to this anxiety as relocation stress syndrome (RSS).
If you are an adult child or other relative trying to help someone you care about cope during this transition, we have a few tips to help:
- Encourage community involvement
Getting your family member involved at their new senior living community before moving day may lower their anxiety. Talk to the staff about upcoming events and activities your loved one can attend. The staff can also help connect your family member with residents who share their interests and hobbies. When the senior has made a few new friends and learned how to navigate their way around the community, the fear of change can be minimized.
- Include the senior in decisions
When you have a busy career and a family of your own, you may be tempted to make decisions about the move without consulting your senior loved one. While it may be faster, it can also intensify your family member’s feeling that they are losing their independence. That can increase their anxiety. Unless your loved one has a health issue that makes it challenging for them to participate, include them in the decision-making process.
- Be patient and respectful
Sometimes the process of downsizing an older adult’s house can become a little contentious. What you see as something to donate or discard might be a treasure to your family member. Try to stay patient and respectful.
If you are concerned your loved one isn’t being realistic, work with them on a floor plan of their new apartment. Identify and mark locations where furniture and other belongings will be placed. To make this step easier, some communities, including Clearwater Living communities, post floor plans online.
- Create a plan for moving day
Finally, work with your family member to create a plan for the day of the move. Doing so can help reduce stress and anxiety for both of you. A few helpful tips for preparing include:
- Pack a suitcase with things your family member will need right away. Suggestions include prescription medications, toiletries, personal care items, a change of clothing, and other daily necessities.
- Assemble a supply box that contains items you may need on moving day or before you are completely unpacked. A coffee pot and coffee supplies, favorite treats and snacks, towels and washcloths, cleaning products, and trash bags are a few suggestions.
- Put both the suitcase and the supply box in your car instead of sending them with the movers.
Our final tip is to try to maintain a sense of humor and encourage your senior loved one to do the same. Despite your best attempts at planning, things may go wrong. Being able to laugh about them can help ease the anxiety you both may be feeling.
Life at Clearwater Living
If you or a senior loved one is just beginning to search for a retirement community, we invite you to consider Clearwater Living. We offer independent living, assisted living, and dedicated memory care for older adults in California and soon to be in Nevada.
Our holistic approach to senior living offers unique culinary experiences, luxurious amenities and services, and a robust lifestyle program. Contact us today to learn more or to schedule your private tour!