Helping a Senior Manage Anxiety Before a Move to Assisted Living

April 29, 2019

manage move anxiety

Moving can be distressing. Use these tips to try to help manage move anxiety and make a smooth transition to assisted living.

Moving during the retirement years is much different than moving as a young or middle-aged adult. Seniors who are relocating might find the emotional issues they encounter to be more difficult than the physical challenges moving presents.

For an older adult who has lived in their home for many years, parting with the house can feel like letting go of the happy memories created there. It can also trigger grief and sadness if members of the family have passed away.

The relocation process can lead to anxiety for the senior and stressful days for those who love them. It can make the transition to what should be a new and exciting time in life overwhelming.

Managing Move Anxiety During the Retirement Years

Psychologists call the anxiety seniors encounter before a move relocation stress syndrome (RSS). There are a few ways you can help your elder loved one manage this transition:

  • Include them in decisions: When you are busy juggling a career, a parent’s care, and your own family’s needs, you might try to make most of the decisions about the move yourself. That can make the senior feel like they are losing their independence. Unless your loved one has a health issue that prevents them from participating in the process, include them in as many decisions as seems reasonable. Your goal should be to find the balance between including the family member and overwhelming them with too many unimportant decisions.
  • Maintain an attitude of respect: Sometimes the process of downsizing a senior’s home can get a little contentious. What you see as something to throw away or donate might be a treasure to your aging loved one. Work with the senior and the team at the assisted living community to determine what furniture and belongings will fit and what will need to find a new home. As you do so, remember to be kind and respectful.
  • Create a plan for moving day: Carefully planning for the day of the move is important for reducing stress and anxiety. Pack a suitcase filled with everything your family member will need right away. These supplies may include medication, toiletries, a change of clothing, personal care items, and other daily necessities. Also, assemble a supply box that contains items you may need on moving day, such as a coffee pot and coffee supplies, snacks, towels and washcloths, cleaning products, and trash bags. Put both the suitcase and the box in the car with you instead of sending them with the movers.

Our final suggestion is to encourage your senior loved one to maintain their sense of humor. Despite your best efforts, things may go wrong as the older adult makes this transition. Be patient and try to laugh off the small inconveniences.

Questions about Moving to Senior Living

If you have questions about moving to a senior living community, one of our experienced team members will be happy to provide answers. Call the Legacy Senior Living community nearest you for help!