But symptoms aren’t limited to obvious outward emotional signs. Relocation Stress Syndrome can also disrupt sleep resulting in exhaustion and low energy, which can “enable” the depression cycle, particularly if there is already dementia, cognitive impairment, poor physical health, frailty, or some form of sensory impairment.
Tips to Ease into New Living Environment
There are many things you can do to ease the stress of moving.
• Start packing early – Much of the stress of moving is deciding what to take and what to give away before even really getting to the packing stage. So make sure you start this sorting process well in advance. Putting it off for whatever reason until the very last minute will only increase your stress.
• Do your homework – Learn everything you can possibly learn about your new living environment. Visit frequently to get used to the layout and people. Make sure all your questions have been answered.
• Stay busy – Depression begets isolation which begets depression. It seems so natural when dealing with all the grief and stress to just hide away in your apartment until you “feel better”. The only problem with that is research shows that depression cyclical and often worsens with prolonged isolation. Getting yourself involved as quickly as possible can help alleviate stress, and help make connections with other residents and staff.
• Be patient with yourself – “Everyone adjusts to change differently, so give yourself a break, no matter what you’re feeling. However, if you feel like you’re taking longer than you think you should to adjust, it may help to talk to your family members, the director of the facility, or a trusted friend” (Helpguide.org).
There are also many things that caregivers can do to ease the transition for their loved one.
• Involve your loved one as much as possible in the decisions.
• Ensure that the new facility easily accommodates any visual, audio or physical disabilities.
• Arrange to help with sorting and packing and moving and unpacking of items; when arranging items in the new apartment, try to set them out as similar as possible to the previous home.