Helping Seniors Make the Transition From Home to Facility
Moving is a difficult transition in life, at any age. But when that move means leaving your home of may years and going someplace new and foreign to you, the transition can become traumatic. This is the trauma that affects many seniors moving to assisted living or skilled nursing facilities. Relocation stress syndrome is a diagnosis characterized by syndromes such as anxiety, confusion, hopelessness, and loneliness and may occur in older adults when moving from home to a facility, while transfer trauma is what a dementia patient may experience when changing living locations.
Even though there are usually many valid reasons that have prompted the necessity to make some drastic changes, such as falls, hospitalizations, episodes resulting from lapses in memory, or just physical weakness-overall isolation may lull the senior into believing they are fine-unable to recognize the signs of needing help. While there are many circumstances that lead to the need to move a loved one to a place where care and help is readily available, all the logic in the world doesn't alleviate the trauma your resident may experience.
Fortunately, most facilities have a person and/or program in place designated to help alleviate the stress and trauma seniors may experience and aid in the smooth transition from home. It's still good practice for anyone who is in contact with the resident to have knowledgeable and compassionate insights on what the resident is going through to help make their transition easier.
The following acronym provides some key points when assisting new residents.
Losing their voice. Your resident may feel like their life is no longer under their control and that they are losing their voice-that what they want no longer matters. Listening, really listening to your resident will help them realize they are still being heard and what they say matters.
Ownership of their new home. Many people work for decades to have a beautiful residence and hate to leave their place of comfort. Working with the resident and their family will allow you to help them "re-create" their comfort zone in their new location-showcasing family pictures and heirlooms that are significant part of their previous life.
InVolving your resident in the decision making process, inviting them to activities and functions, and introducing them to others who may have shared interests while paying close attention to their preferences can help integrate your new person into the culture of your facility.
Envelop them. The newness of meeting staff and other residents can help alleviate the feelings of loneliness. Ask them about their life, family and interests-really try to get to know them. Encourage family to visit often, getting to know the people in their loved ones' new world.
As you can see, the acronym spells out LOVE. This is the most important gift you can give your new resident. Small acts of kindness goes a long way. Before long, your resident will not only acclimate to their new surroundings, but will learn to enjoy life-able to see the great benefits they experience by living in your facility.
The Rebuild Me Wellness Program was actually named(unknowingly) by a resident. She had recently moved to a facility and was trying to adjust. After a few months she stated, "I just didn't realize how far down I had gone before I came here. Now, I love living here and I feel like the exercise program we have is rebuilding me." That's how the ReBuild Me Program got its name!
Helping our seniors live well,
Bev Stephens, Founder
RBM Wellness, Inc.
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