Moving can be a daunting task at any age. For seniors, the emotional toll of moving can cause anxiety about relocating and leaving behind a family home tied to happy memories. Psychologists call the anxiety a senior feels about moving relocation stress syndrome (RSS). This term is used to describe the unique challenges an older adult faces when they are making a move. Even if there is excitement for a new chapter at a selected senior living community and all the life enrichment opportunities it offers, anxiety may still be a factor. As moving day gets closer, it is common for stress and anxiety to increase. So, what can be done to help ease move-related stress and anxiety? Here are seven suggestions to help seniors and their support teams through the transition.
1. Surround yourself with support: It is so important to involve supportive family, friends, perhaps a neighbor or even financial advisor in the process. When surrounded by the support of the valued people in your life, it will help ease anxiety and make for a smoother transition.
2. Start downsizing: It is never too early to start downsizing! This recommendation cannot be stressed enough. Whether you foresee a move next month or in five years, the more downsizing steps you take now the easier your transition will be when you are ready to make the move. Consider starting in the kitchen by sorting through your entertaining pieces. Trust me, you will not be needing all 10 skillets, 5 baking sheets, and a 60oz crockpot. Your future self will thank you for the proactive steps you are committing to today.
3. Approaching the sentimental: As you work through the process of downsizing and relocating, be respectful of the sentimental attachment your loved one might have for certain belongings. While it might look to you like something that should be pitched, forcing them to part with treasured mementos can increase their anxiety. You may need to box a few things up and place them in your garage until you find a place for them in the senior’s new residence. Perhaps, start with the non-emotional areas of your home, like your laundry room. It’s much easier to downsize on items that have little to no emotional value rather than tackle the family photo albums.
4. Gear up for a game plan: Don’t worry, most senior living communities have a move in-coordinator and/ or a transition team that will put together a game plan. But, to personalize your space to your liking, some decisions will need to be made. Ask to see how other residents set up the same space, which can help determine what furniture and belongings will fit in each room. Senior living communities typically work with recommended and trusted moving companies that know the building. Ask for their contact information to schedule a consultation and get quotes from a few different movers before a decision is made.
5. Find new homes for treasures: It is difficult sometimes to transplant every single possession into a space within a senior living community. The goal is to simplify your life so understanding that some items will not make the move is a realistic expectation. Furthermore, it can be rewarding to find new homes for cherished items within the family or with a close friend. Think about those who are close to your family member’s heart and what items they might enjoy receiving. This process can be a rewarding one.
6. Familiarity is important: Families are often tempted to buy new furniture and décor for a loved one who is making a transition. But for the senior, sticking with familiar things is important during this time when everything is changing. Having their favorite chair to curl up in next to their old, familiar end table and lamp can make the new space feel like home faster.
7. Sense of humor: Finally, head into this process knowing things will go wrong along the way no matter how carefully you prepare. Make a pact to try to laugh off the small inconveniences and work together to solve the bigger ones. While the days might be quite hectic, remind yourself it is an opportunity to spend meaningful family time together.
As you can see, there are many ways to help ease stress and anxiety during a transition to a senior living community. Most communities understand that a support system coupled with experienced helping hands, result in the best moving experience. St. Mark Village has over 40 years of experience fine tuning the senior relocation process and assembled transition teams that are ready to help you make your next move to the Village the easiest move you’ve ever made. Call 727-464-1750 to learn more and ask about our moving incentives.