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Seniors in a care home

Your new home should feel like your own with style and setting that’s distinctly yours. Boomer Movers can decorate your home just the way you like it with your existing items or new ones.

Your new home should feel like your own with style and setting that’s distinctly yours. Boomer movers can decorate your home just the way you like it with your existing items or new ones…We want your new place to feel special and warm as your old home. We can take care of everything.

Most of the retirement homes in the Mountainview County offer the following:

  • Personalized care options
  • 24 hour access to medical professionals
  • Contract with Alberta Health services – Home Care Service
  • Transportation to appointments
  • Pharmaceutical services
  • In house wellness services including esthetic services
  • Emergency response pendants for each resident – optional
  • Many organized activities on a daily basis
  • Boomer Movers has all the answers on the individual homes in our county

Getting your mindset ready to Downsize/Right-size

Elderly couple moving with boxes

Whatever your needs in rightsizing your home, remember its never too early to start thinking-and doing, to help pave way for a well deserved time of life.

Most of us know there will come a day when we need to downsize, whether is out of necessity, or a pre-emptive strike to lessen the burden on our loved ones. As they say, timing is everything, and the best time to get rid of un-essentials is during times when you are feeling peaceful and ready to tackle what would feel un-surmountable during times of stress – such as often happens when we procrastinate until it is inevitable, due to change in health, lifestyle or an emergency dictates it to be done now.

Downsizing could even be re-named to ‘right-sizing’, having a less negative connotation will help develop the right -mindset. Once we have taken the first step, each one thereafter can and often does become just that little bit easier, especially when we feel ready. Even at the best of times, right-sizing can often be both emotionally and physically draining, but it doesn’t have to be and overwhelming process. Here are a few tips to help make the transition easier:

  • Start early. Because the process always takes longer than you anticipate, you need to allow plenty of time to get through all you have set out for yourself. After all, most of our possessions have emotional connections which we may have to learn to wrestle with to get in the rhythm of sorting into piles to either toss, keep, donate, sell, or gift to loved ones. When we aren’t rushed we find downsizing to be much less stressful.
  • Make a list of what you will keep, and another of your most precious and important items you will be letting go of, and how you wish to deal with them. Clear a space in one room where you will place all the items you plan to give to your loved ones and sort what will be placed there. If you always planned to give the silver set to your first granddaughter, start her pile and continue from there. As you go filling that room will get easier, and your lists will get longer. Or better yet, hand your list of things you are not keeping over to your children to make decisions.
  • Set reasonable goals. Be kind and gentle on yourself. Its important to remember, it took decades and generations to gather these items it takes time to decide how best to accomplish your goal of sending all that accumulation off to a place you can feel good about – for the most part.
  • Enjoy the process! Sorting through items you haven’t laid eyes on for years can be a very rewarding way to say goodbye. Enjoy but don’t wallow- remember you have set a timeframe and try to stick to it to get through to the end goal.
  • Consider asking for help – whether it be from family members, close friends, or a trusted company who you may hire to help.

Whatever your needs in rightsizing your home, remember it’s never too early to start thinking-and doing, to help pave way for a well deserved time of life.

Transitioning a Loved One to Memory, Dementia, or Alzheimer’s Care

Seniors hugging

As your loved one’s memory declines, or as the effects of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease become too much for the family or caregivers to handle, you will have to make the decision to move them somewhere with adequate care. After you have consulted your family and healthcare professionals, made financial arrangements, and chosen your loved one’s new home, you have to prepare for transitioning them to a new level of care. It may be is difficult for you to accept the decision, but understanding it is likely time and in the best of everyone.

Preparations Before Move-In Day

  • Choose the best facility. “Do your research. Talk to your loved one first to understand their needs. Before choosing a memory care facility, research facilities and their amenities to know whether it is the right choice for your loved one. Know the community policies and procedures, the security available, and the features and treatments available.” – The Transition to a Memory Care Facility, American Senior Communities; Twitter: @ASCSeniorCare
  • Avoid telling your loved one he needs more help. “If I can, I want to avoid the conversation that says, ‘You need more help.’ Generally, by the time they need 24-hour care, people with dementia are no longer able to identify the fact that they have a problem. So, if you suggest they can’t do something, they can get very angry. People tell me they’re in denial. That’s not denial. They’re not putting this on. They truly believe there’s nothing wrong with them.” – Chris Ebell, as quoted in Advice from an Expert: Dealing with the Transition to a Dementia Care Community by Chris Harper, The Arbor Company; Twitter: @ArborCompany
  • Recognize the transition will be challenging. “While long-term care communities provide important round-the-clock care, nutrition, social activities and support services that improve your loved one’s quality of life, it is extremely important to recognize that the transition from home to residential care can be a very challenging one.” – Collin Tierney, as quoted in Easing the Transition to Long-Term Care for Your Loved One, Bryn Mawr Terrace; Twitter:@BrynMawrTerrace
  • Don’t include your loved one in planning or packing for the move. “Don’t pull your loved one into the details of the planning and packing process. Don’t ask them to decide what to bring and what to leave behind. With memory loss, decision making and any process with multiple steps will present challenges. If you don’t already know which objects or knick-knacks are most important to your loved one, spend time observing what things around their home they use and enjoy on a regular basis.” – 4 DOs and DON’Ts of Moving Your Loved One to Memory Care, Coventry Senior Livin
  • Align moving time with your loved one’s best time of day. “Schedule their moving time to coincide with their best time of the day. For example, if they are at their best in the morning and worst around sundown, plan to arrive at the assisted living early in the day. It will allow you time to get them settled and comfortable while they are at their best.” – Moving a Loved One with Dementia, Elmcroft Senior Living; Twitter: @ElmcroftLiving
  • Don’t take too many items. “First and foremost, people need less than they think. Most residents bring too much with them. Once here, they realize how few items they actually need. And for those suffering from memory loss, too many items, especially clothing options, can confuse or frustrate the resident.” – What to Take With You When Moving Into an Assisted Living or Memory Care Community, Rambling Oaks Courtyard
  • Ensure loved ones are placed in the appropriate setting. “Effort should be made to ensure that individuals are not transferred needlessly, or too swiftly…. It’s key that clients with dementia are placed in settings where people understand dementia care and appreciate the challenges and can help clients navigate in a new environment.” – Kate Jackson, Prevent Elder Transfer Trauma: Tips to Ease Relocation Stress, Social Work Today; Twitter: @SocialWorkToday
  • Work with counselors and managers to ease the transition. “Moving your family member into memory care can be uneasy. There are counselors and managers who will be able to work with you and your loved one to help with the transition. Caregivers and family members who have questions or who would like to follow closely along with the memory care program can also benefit in many ways. Everyone is going through this transitional time together, so having the knowledge to face it together will help.” – Alison McCool, 4 Things You Need to Know About Transitioning Your Loved One from Independent Living to Memory Care, Thunderbird Senior Living
  • Attend events at the care facility prior to move-in day. “Invite [your loved one] to make a few visits for lunch or to attend other events with you at the one or two places you’re looking at. Making these activities fun and social can increase warm familiarity with the communities.” – Madeline Vann, How to Move a Parent with Dementia to Assisted Living,; Twitter: @Caring
  • Take advantage of transition programs offered by care facilities. “Not every scenario allows for a gradual introduction to a memory care nursing home. In some cases, a parent needs to be moved in to a nursing home environment much quicker. In these types of cases, talk with the facility’s staff about their transition program. This program is designed to help your loved one adjust to life in the nursing home without your presence.” – Wilmington NC Memory Care: How to Move Your Loved One Into a Memory Care Facility, The Davis Community; Twitter: @julier_davis
  • Give the staff information about your loved one ahead of time. “Speak with the staff about your loved one’s background and any special needs. Provide details on your loved one’s medical and mental health history, including a detailed medication list.” – Alzheimer’s: Soothing the Transition on Moving Day, Mayo Clinic; Twitter: @MayoClinic
  • Rely on healthcare professionals for help in explaining the situation. “In the best of worlds, your parent can participate in a decision to move to Memory Care. However, dementia often causes impairment in decision-making ability, so family members may have to spearhead a decision in the best interest of a loved one. Often a doctor or other healthcare professional can be an ally in this situation, explaining to your parent in a calm but authoritative manner why a transition to Memory Care is ultimately a positive move.” – Diane Franklin, Moving from Assisted Living to Memory Care, Our Parents; Twitter: @OurParents
  • Make several visits before moving day. “Give the Alzheimer’s patient a sense of comfort and familiarity by visiting the Memory Care community as frequently as necessary, for as long as necessary, before the move. Perhaps you can talk to the staff to provide some of the care required in the old apartment while making the transition. Encourage the senior to get involved in activities and meet the other residents in Memory Care.” – Dawn Allcot, Moving to Memory Care Within Your Senior Living Community,; Twitter: @SeniorLivingNet
  • Share your loved one’s story. “One of the most important things a family member can do is to share their loved one’s story. By sharing their hobbies, likes and dislikes, passions and pastimes, this helps the staff create an environment in which your loved one will thrive. It also helps them match them with residents who have a similar background. When residents have someone to share stories with, this makes the transition much easier.” – Transition to Memory Care: Helping Your Loved One Transition to Memory Care, Tri-County Caregiver Resource Center

Advice for Family Members

  • Be prepared to take some time off. “If you work, consider talking with your employer about the possibility that you may need some time off with very little notice. Try to save a few vacation days in case the move comes up suddenly. Remember to have money saved to pay for the home’s first month rent and any other services that the person with dementia may need (e.g., phone, cable television). Also, pre-arrange for a family member or friend to be available on standby to care for children or give a hand, if necessary.” – Long-Term Care: Preparing for a Move, Alzheimer Society of Canada; Twitter: @AlzCanada
  • Remember it will get easier. “As hard as this seems right now, it’s important to know that this will not always be so hard. Your parent will get used to their new memory care community and may come to love being there, thanks to the engaging programming, other residents, and personalized care. Just remember that you made the right choice for your particular situation and are helping to give your parent the care and lifestyle they deserve.” – Helping Parents Transition to Memory Care, Travanse Living; Twitter: @tl_wheaton
  • Do not announce the move in advance. “Avoid anticipation anxiety by not telling her that she will be moving on next month or so. Wait until it is close to the date to inform her, or even tell her only at the very moment of the move. Moving anticipation anxiety can cause extreme negative feelings that may escalate into extreme behaviors. By not giving her too much advance notice you will promote a calmer state of mind for the transition. Some homes provide opportunities for socialization, such as dinner parties or day center activities, prior to residency. These are great ways of initiating the adaptation process without being too obvious about the move itself.” – Luciana Cramer, Seven Tips for a Successful Move to Dementia Care, Alzheimer’s Association; Twitter: @alzassociation
  • Make regular visits to ease the transition. “Keep in mind that throughout the first few weeks the individual will be adjusting to his or her new way of life, and by making regular visits you can help ease the transition. However, there may be a delicate balance to how often you should visit throughout this period; talk to the staff to discern the best days or times.” – What to Expect After Moving to a Memory Care Community, American Senior Communities; Twitter: @ASCSeniorCare
  • Be prepared for bad days. “During the transition, your loved one may make negative comments. You may dread these because they seem to be a judgment about the decision. When your loved one expresses dissatisfaction with something, write the comment down. Keep these comments in the proper perspective: they are an opportunity for you to help make the situation better for your loved one.” – Transition to Care,
  • Do not bend or waiver once you make a decision. “The family has the tall task of staying the course. A lot of resolve is required to not bend or waiver in the decision. Families often know the time has come for their loved one to live in a supervised, specialized community. However, staying true to this decision can be challenging.” – Kim Warchol, How to Reduce Transfer Trauma for a Person with Dementia, Crisis Prevention Institute; Twitter: @CPI_Training
  • Be prepared to hear complaints. “Be prepared for complaining, no matter what. Try to be patient and point out the advantages of the nursing home, even if a room must be shared. Note the increased medical care, the added attention of CNAs and the immediate attention if someone falls.” – Carol Bradley Bursack, Making the Transition from Assisted Living to a Nursing Home, HealthCentral; Twitter: @healthcentral
  • Use the power of music. “Many people living with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia benefit from music therapy. It has been shown to decrease stress and anxiety. It might help to bring a small CD player and some of their favorite music on CDs when they move. Talk with the staff to see if they can use it when your loved one is anxious.” – Moving a Senior to a Michigan Memory Care Community, Heritage Senior Communities
  • Use comfort food. “Arrange for favorite and familiar foods for your loved one’s first few meals in the new community. To do this, you will have to talk to the chef and kitchen staff to find out whether they can accommodate your request. You or other friends and family should join your loved one for at least one meal on the first day, and if you can stay for more, so much the better.” – Casey Kelly-Barton, Managing Moving Day for Dementia Patients: 6 Tips,; Twitter: @SeniorAdvisor_
  • Give your loved one time to adjust without you. “As much as you may want to be there every hour of every day, it’s best to give them some time to adjust on their own. Give them time to get involved in programs and make some friends. Let them get used to their new home at their own pace. If you visit too soon, according to the article, they may ask you to take them back home with you, which can make it harder for them to adapt. Try talking to staff instead to check in with your loved one. After the first week, try visiting a little at a time, and once your loved one is used to their community, you can begin making visits regularly.” – Tips to Ease Parent’s Transition to Memory Care, Travanse Living; Twitter: @tl_wheaton
  • Wait until he is adjusted before taking him on outings. “You may feel the urge to take him out for a drive shortly after he’s moved in, but it is usually better for your loved one to get into a routine and feel settled before you do that. Give him a little time to adjust to his new home before you take him on an outing.” – Esther Heerema, Help a Loved One With Dementia Adjust to a Nursing Home, Verywell; Twitter: @Verywell
  • Expect setbacks. “Just when you think you are over the hump and your parent is settling in, things will change. They will tell you they are lonely. They will decide they don’t like their new dining hall friends. They will ask to go home. These moments are heart wrenching but knowing that they are normal and that they will pass, can help get you through them.” – Moving a Parent to Assisted Living: 12 Strategies to Ease the Transition, Working Daughter
  • Move during mid-morning or mid-afternoon. “Early mornings tend to be a busy, hectic time at communities. A calm entrance will be less alarming to an elder with dementia.” – Deborah McLean, 10 Transition Tips: Advice for Moving Someone Who is Affected by Dementia, Maine Senor Guide

Coping with Emotions

  • Remain positive. “Remain positive with an upbeat attitude. Your loved one will likely reflect the same feelings that you do about the move. If you are constantly fretting and seem anxious, they likely will too. Point out all of the positives of their new community and the amenities that this move means they will get to enjoy. Encourage your loved one to be excited about the transition.” – Memory Care: Helpful Tips for Making the Move, Angels Senior Living
  • Understand your loved one may be afraid of being lonely. “Yes. Even if your loved one has lived at home alone for years, and even if they will now be surrounded by many people, they may still be afraid of being lonely. Really, they are afraid of isolation from their family members.” – Jayme Kinsey, Moving to Assisted Living / Easing the Transition, Assisted Living Directory; Twitter: @AssistedLivingD
  • Reduce the surprise factor as much as possible. “Ideally, your loved one was involved in choosing the community; if they were not able to do so, it’s best that they visit in advance, perhaps enjoying a meal in the dining room or even spending a few nights through respite care. Respite stays are often a very successful way to ease the transition. Even if their memory doesn’t allow them to recall those events, it will still help in developing relationships and a comfort level at the community.” – Juliet Holt Klinger, Six Tips for Transitioning Your Loved One into Dementia Care, Brookdale Senior Living; Twitter: @BrookdaleLiving
  • Listen and validate your loved one’s feelings. “I’ve been called into countless situations to ‘talk some sense into’ a parent who’s refusing to move, after the family’s had no luck. Here’s where the wheels come off the bus: the family tries to sell it as a trip to Disneyland, then an act of love, then uses reason and logic.
    “Reminder #1: Reason and logic don’t work.
    “Reminder #2: Feelings just are.
    “This is what I do instead: I listen. I listen to every last bit of it. True, it’s easier for me because your dad isn’t pushing my buttons. Still, I listen. And I empathize and validate. Instead of trying to convince your parent how great it’s going to be, I listen and then I tell him I can absolutely see why he’s so upset. I’m certain I’d be upset too! I hate the whole deal for him. I reassure him he never, ever has to like it. The End. No arguing.” – Christy Turner, Moving Your Parent Into Memory Care: Insider Tips from a Former Memory Care Director, CTC Dementia Care Management; Twitter: @DementiaSherpa
  • Don’t feel ashamed. “Moving your parent from an assisted living facility to a memory care center can be a double-edged sword. Not only your loved one but sometimes even your close friends and family members will criticize your decision. This harsh criticism may force you to wonder whether or not you have made the right decision. However, don’t let a few raised eyebrows spiral you into an abyss of embarrassment and guilt. “Most people, including your loved one, have no idea what it’s like to take care of someone suffering from Alzheimer’s. You don’t need to reason with every accusation or argument that comes your way. It may take some time, but you need to learn to face facts objectively. The most important thing that your loved one needs is for you to keep fit both mentally and physically. So, instead of feeling guilty, pay attention to your health.” – Evan Thompson, 6 Ways to Ease Your Parent’s Transition from Assisted Living to Memory Care, The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver; Twitter: @rm29303
  • Be understanding in your replies. “Do reassure the person that they will be getting more help. Because of their dementia, they may bring up the same concerns or fears over and over. Let the person voice their concerns, and be understanding in your replies, i.e. ‘I can see why you’re worried about that. We’ll figure it out.’” – Moving Your Loved One into Memory Care? Four Dos and DON’Ts to Make for an Easier Transition, Ebenezer Memory Care; Twitter: @EbenezerMN
  • Put your loved one’s responses into perspective. “During the transition, complaints or dissatisfaction may be expressed. Your loved one may appear depressed, anxious, hostile, or withdrawn. This may make you feel as if the choice was not in their best interest after all. Try to put their responses into perspective. Oftentimes, these can be ways to express uncertainty or fear. Your loved one may just need you to listen and offer support and comfort. Try to really listen to the emotion behind the words. Never dismiss a negative comment or attempt to reason it away. Provide lots of reassurance. Use facial expressions, gestures, and comments to show you are paying attention. “Often listening can be the most powerful solution, along with assurance that you are there for them. Sometimes a hug says it all. After your family member has had time to express their feelings, you may be able to refocus attention to another subject or activity. You will both need time to adjust and grieve. Be patient with your loved one. Be patient with the care team. Be patient with yourself. This is new for everyone.” – Tips for Easing the Transition to a Memory Care Facility, Erickson Living; Twitter: @ericksonliving
  • Validate your loved one’s feelings. “… when parents are resistant, adult children use the opportunity to better understand their concerns. ‘It’s always better to listen more than talk,’ Gray said. ‘If a parent says, ‘No way, you’re trying to push me out,’ if they get defensive, that’s your cue to really listen and make sure you’re hearing what their concerns are.’” Jullie Gray, MSW, LICSW, CPG, CMC, as quoted by Dennis Thompson, Jr. in Easing the Transition to Assisted Living or a Nursing Home, Everyday Health; Twitter: @EverydayHealth
  • Don’t feel guilty. “While I always help these caregivers troubleshoot their dementia-related issues and provide advice about care communities or care at home, we always end up talking about guilt. All of these caregivers feel guilty, even the ones who are taking care of their loved ones at home… Choosing to move a loved one into assisted living or skilled nursing should not be a worst-case scenario. Sometimes it’s the best-case scenario for aging adults and their families.” – Rachael Wonderlin, When You are Shamed for Moving a Parent Into a Care Center, Forbes; Twitter: @Forbes
  • Avoid being emotional. “Transitioning your loved one to a memory care community can be very emotional time. You may have spent years of your life supporting and caring for each other. When moving your loved one, it is extremely important that you not show your sadness or cry. ‘When a spouse begins to cry, it can ruin it for the resident,’ says Marthe. ‘I know it is hard to do, but you have to put on a facade. You want them to be cheerful.’ “‘I tried to explain to her what was going on and I doubt she understood what I was saying,’ says Garry Wright speaking of the day he transitioned his wife Marcia into Villa at Terracina. ‘But the fact that there were people around her, she sensed the level of comfort and she wasn’t upset. I fell apart, though, when I got to my car.’” – Memory Care: How to Ease the Transition for Your Loved One, The Goodman Group; Twitter: @TGGLLC
  • Be positive about the facility. “When you go on tours, point out all the positive aspects of the facility. Be as excited as you would be about renting a new apartment or buying a new home: focus on the possibilities. Would mom’s favorite antique chair look good in the rooms of a particular facility? Does the activity room have a piano so that dad could still play?” – Five Steps to Convince Your Parent to Move to Memory Care, Raya’s Paradise; Twitter: @RayasParadise

Organizing Your Loved One’s Room and Belongings

  • Label your loved one’s items. “Having worked in long-term dementia community care, I can tell you first-hand that residents’ items go missing constantly. Typically, this is because another resident will go into a room that is not their room and walk out with a couple items. It is important to understand that this is not something malicious that one resident does to another—it is just a part of the disease process. People with dementia typically have trouble understanding their surroundings, and they may not be aware of what belongs to them and what does not.
    “Labeling your loved one’s shirts, pants, socks, towels, walkers, canes, and anything and everything else will save you a lot of pain and time. I have had many family members call and complain that a loved one’s sweater is missing, only to hear them describe a very basic sweater that could belong to anyone. It is very challenging for people who work in the community to remember what belongs to whom. A permanent marker can solve a lot of mysteries—and it can ensure that your loved one’s items will be returned to their room.” – Rachael Wonderlin, 5 Tips for People Choosing Long-Term Dementia Care, Alzheimer’s Reading Room; Twitter: @rachaeldawne
  • Include copies of family photographs. “Bring in copies of photographs. Just like clothing and other articles, photographs can also wander off. We think it’s absolutely wonderful to bring in lots of photos, both in frames and photo albums, we also recommend that you bring in copies of these pictures so as to not lose something that cannot be replaced.” – Tips for Moving a Loved One into a Memory Care Community, Arbors Memory Care; Twitter: @ArborMemoryCare
  • Create an activity box. “Did your loved one really enjoy their career as a teacher or a nurse or other profession? Did they have any lifelong or retirement hobbies and interests such as gardening or music? You can create activity boxes with the supplies they might have used. Creating a teacher’s box, for example, full of pencils, papers to grade, and an old-fashioned grade book might give them meaningful activity to do and can help calm agitation.” – Moving a Northern Michigan Senior Living with Dementia, The Brook Retirement Communities
  • Make it feel like home. “Move in the good memories. Schedule a time that you and your family can move in your loved one’s favorite belongings. Try to arrange the items in a way that reminds your loved one of their prior home. Seniors with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia take comfort in what they recognize. Help them decorate a room that will be calming and comfortable.” – Beginning the Transition, Brookdale Senior Living; Twitter: @BrookdaleLiving
  • Create a Reminiscence Board. “Create a Reminiscence Board full of photos of the important people and events in your senior loved one’s life. Label each photo. It can provide conversation starters for staff when they are first getting to know your family member.” – Helping Seniors Transition to Memory Care Assisted Living, Five Star Senior Living; Twitter: @5StarSenior
  • Decorate your loved one’s door. “Decorating the front door to their room with a wreath or other personal item can help your loved one remember which room is theirs. These visual cues will be helpful.” – The Cottages Senior Living, Tips for Helping a Loved One Downsize to Residential Memory Care, Seniors BlueBook; Twitter: @alzcottages, @seniorsbluebook
  • Recreate as much of the home environment as possible. “People living with Alzheimer’s disease benefit from familiar surroundings. Before moving day, work with the staff at your senior loved one’s new home to try to recreate as much of their home environment as possible. It can help to decrease their anxiety and agitation. Think about what some of their favorite things from home are and try to have them in place at the assisted living community before they arrive. It might be their favorite rocker or recliner or a television they’ve watched Wheel of Fortune on for many years.” – The Alzheimer’s Caregiver Dilemma: How to Transition a Loved One with Dementia to Assisted Living, Seniors in Transition, LLC


Understanding and Preventing Relocation Stress Syndrome

elderly lady

Moving can be a stressful event in anyone’s life, so it’s no surprise that some seniors have trouble adjusting to their new senior living community. Many older adults move after an injury, medical diagnosis, or the loss of a family member. These events are stressful alone, so when relocating is thrown into the mix, seniors could become very overwhelmed.

What is relocation stress syndrome?

RSS is a condition that can affect older adults moving to senior living facilities, according to the Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services. Seniors with a previous history of depression, anxiety, pain, PTSD, and general health problems, as well as those who have pre-existing health conditions, have lived through traumatic events, or those who tend to avoid stressors or experience neuroticism (negativity, self-doubt, etc.) could be more prone to developing RSS.

For example, if a senior had a traumatic experience prior to their move, such as the loss of a loved one, a violent encounter, or a serious medical diagnosis, they could already be experiencing an acute stress disorder, making them more susceptible to developing RSS. Seniors with chronic physical pain and also women are more susceptible to developing RSS.
RSS was first discovered by nurses who witnessed it manifest while they cared for seniors in nursing homes and senior living facilities. The condition became recognized as distinct enough a syndrome to be classified on its own in 1992, when it was added as an official nursing diagnosis by the North American Nursing Diagnosis Association (NANDA), according to the journal Geriatric Nursing.

Typical RSS reactions include stress, depression, anxiety, or confusion, and they usually occur in the initial month after a person is exposed to what they perceive as a traumatic event, e.g., a move into a senior living facility. Ongoing symptoms can be as major as anxiety and depression, or as minor as changes in eating or sleeping habits. These symptoms can influence your loved one’s overall behavior, mood, and physiological well-being.

Relocation stress syndrome symptoms

RSS can present itself in various ways. It’s important to recognize the signs of transfer trauma to prepare your loved one for their move to a senior living community. According to the journal Geriatric Nursing, the stress of relocating can look different for everyone, but here are a few common psychological symptoms to keep an eye out for:

  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Apprehension
  • Confusion
  • Dependency
  • Depression
  • Insecurity
  • Loneliness
  • Withdrawal

According to this helpful pamphlet on RSS awareness published by the State of Wisconsin Board on Aging and Long Term Care, the physical signs of stress in the older person experiencing RSS could include the following:

  • Body aches
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Falls
  • Headaches
  • Stomach problems
  • Weight change

Dangers of a misdiagnosis

“The effects of stress on the mind and body are well known,” said Tracy Mintz, a California-based social worker and a nationally recognized expert in relocation stress syndrome.

“This particular stress is a little bit different in that it is so easily misdiagnosed as a problem to do with aging. When people have stress, they tend to get angry or irritable, they can’t focus, they can’t think clearly, they have trouble making decisions. These are all also symptoms of dementia.”

The symptoms of dementia and RSS can overlap, which may cause a misdiagnosis, according to Mintz. RSS can often go unseen, with symptoms instead attributed as delirium or dementia. A senior may not have dementia but may simply be confused by waking up in a long-term care facility they don’t remember choosing.

This is why it’s important to be prepared when moving your loved one to a senior living community and to support their continued involvement — so the necessary precautions can be taken to avoid confusing them to a point of delirium, risking a dementia misdiagnosis.

For seniors already with a dementia diagnosis, the risk of RSS is greater as they are unable to participate in decision-making and have difficulty assimilating new information. Their limitations in short-term memory and new learning memory disrupt their ability to cope with change, said Kim Warchol, founder and president of Dementia Care Specialists.

Ways to prevent relocation stress syndrome before a move

You can be proactive about your loved one’s move and take preventative measures to lessen the chance of RSS and transfer trauma. The hardest part about moving your elderly loved one is getting them to feel at home.

“Even if a move is eagerly anticipated, anxiety and depression can hit a senior suddenly, much like post-partum depression can surprise a new mom,” Mintz said. “I tell people [that] home is a feeling. You should be able to achieve the feeling of home anywhere, but when you yank people out of what their concept of home is, it can be very traumatic.”

Sometimes the stress of a move can overshadow the positives. It’s important to show your loved one that moving also comes with opportunities to refresh an old routine, pick up new hobbies, make new friends, and more. Shifting the perspective to the positives can help ease the transition for seniors to avoid any added trauma or stress.

To help the transition go smoothly, you can try the following steps with your loved one:

  1. Talk to hospital advocates. If your loved one is being released from a hospital, the hospital will typically have advocates or “navigators” on staff to help make the transition into a senior living facility as smooth as possible.
  2. Involve your loved one in the decision-making. If they insist on going home, allow them to try it out. When the need to move to a long-term care facility becomes obvious, work to include them in the decision process to help ensure their preferences are accounted for.
  3. Make sure your loved one knows exactly what’s happening. Keep them in the loop. Never just drop them off at a facility they haven’t vetted. “I don’t believe in infantilizing seniors,” Mintz said. “They are adults and they deserve the dignity of being told honestly what’s going to happen.”
  4. Acknowledge your loved one’s fears. If they ask, “What if I don’t like anybody there?” Mintz suggested not to lie or sugarcoat the situation. Instead say, “I’m not sure. We’re going to find out.” Try to keep an open mind, remain flexible, and present it as a process you are going through together.
  5. Validate their feelings. “Allow them the space to feel whatever they’re going to feel. Maybe they’ll feel excited. Maybe they’ll feel relieved because they were just barely holding it together at home. Maybe they feel nervous and terrified. These are all perfectly valid feelings,” Mintz said.
  6. Where possible, try to recreate their old home in their new home. “We don’t invest enough time in recreating that [home] feeling at the new location,” Mintz said. Take pictures of their bedside set-up and the top of their dresser, and work with them to recreate it with the same items.
  7. Encourage them to get involved in their new community. Communities offer a range of activities, so make sure to coordinate with staff to help your loved one continue their favorite hobbies and pastimes. This will also help them form new friendships and get familiarized with staff.

“There are two magic words in all of this and they are ‘you’re right,’” Mintz said. Your elderly loved one wants to feel heard more than anything, so make sure not to dismiss their thoughts and complaints.

If you can afford it, consider hiring a senior move manager. There are more than 900 move management companies in the U.S. devoted to moving seniors and setting up the perfect space for them, according to the National Association of Specialty & Senior Move Managers. Move managers can even help your loved one clean out their old home.

Treating relocation stress syndrome

“So what to do if you suspect a loved one has RSS? You can connect them with a therapist to help them work out the underlying issues with the move. Larger assisted living communities may have groups to welcome new members. Sign your parent up and encourage them to mingle with others,” Mintz said.

Perhaps the biggest thing you can do is change the way you address the issue with your loved one. Instead of forcing them to embrace the change, acknowledge their personal fears and sadness related to the change.

The best way to help your loved one overcome RSS is to get everyone involved. The senior’s family, friends, caregivers, and staff members should learn to recognize the signs of transfer trauma, so they can be prepared to help them through it, according to the journal Canadian Nursing Home and the Journal of Practical Nursing.

Here are specific ways that caregivers, staff, friends, and family can help:

  • Professional guidelines. Some professional staff may have been trained to recognize RSS symptoms and best practices, so they are equipped to work with new residents, their families, and caregivers to develop a plan to keep transfer trauma at a bay.
  • Workshops. Communities may set up workshops that incorporate the topic of RSS. This gives the senior, their caregivers, family, and staff an outlet to express their feelings, which can help residents feel less alone in their situation.
  • Control and self-identity. It’s important for staff and loved ones to help seniors feel in control by enabling them to make decisions when it comes to organizing their personal space, picking out what to wear, choosing what to eat, and more. Staff should also take time to learn what residents prefer to be called – some prefer their first name or nickname, while others prefer Mr., Mrs., or Dr.
  • Privacy. It’s hard for some residents to feel a sense of privacy in senior living communities, especially if they’re sharing a room or apartment. It’s important for families and staff to help roommates establish boundaries so everyone can live harmoniously together.
  • Making friends. Many senior living residents experience loss prior to their move, such as the loss of a spouse, their previous good health, or the many possessions that filled their home. These losses can delay their interest in making new friends, so it’s important to acknowledge these losses while consistently presenting them opportunities to get involved in activities they love.
  • Celebrate contentment. It’s important to celebrate small pleasures and joys. If you or a staff member sees the senior enjoying themselves, positively comment on it so they can see how far they’ve made it. Staff and family should remember to celebrate progress, too, since they’ve played an integral role in the senior’s well-being.

Transfer trauma will typically subside within a few months. The first six to eight weeks are typically the most difficult for new residents, according to the Journal of Gerontological Nursing. Difficulty can last up to several months for some, according to The Gerontologist. What you don’t want to do in the meantime is move them again.

“That is just layering trauma on top of trauma. Moving again is not the anecdote to moving,” Mintz said. “If, after six months, your loved one hasn’t been able to settle in — or is constantly sick or very depressed or there’s some really big significant change like they used to be independent in toileting and now they’re not — then that’s significant.”

In this case, Mintz recommends seeking out the help of your loved one’s family doctor, the Family Caregiver Alliance, or, if your loved one has Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, the Alzheimer’s Association.

Whether your loved one has transitioned to assisted living or independent living, it’s crucial to involve them in any way possible. Including them in small and big steps can help ease relocation stress and help them adjust sooner.


Packing Tips And Tricks To Your New Home

Packing a box

Bundle breakables together. For dishes, put packing paper around each one, then wrap bundles of five or six together with more paper. Pack dishes on their sides, never flat.

Packing tips and tricks

  • Tips to make sure valuables come out of their boxes in good shape
  • Use the right size boxes
  • Put heavy items in smaller boxes like books and put lighter items like linens in bigger boxes.
  • Also put heavier items in the bottom of the box and lighter items on top. Fill in gaps with clothing, towels or packing paper. DON’T leave boxes loosely packed.
  • Avoid mixing items from different rooms in the same box.
  • Label each box for the room it’s destined for. Tape the boxes well.
  • If you’re moving expensive art, get special crating.
  • Bundle breakables together. For dishes, put packing paper around each one, then wrap bundles of five or six together with more paper. Pack dishes on their sides, never flat. Use plenty of bunched up paper for padding above and below.
  • Treat TVs like any other piece of furniture, wrapping them in quilted blankets or furniture pads. However plasma Tvs must stay upright and can be ruined if laid flat…
  • Collect your valuables in a safe lock box.
  • Get a large cooler for moving day, maybe two or three for all your fridge and freezer items.

Pack a Moving Truck Like the Pros

Moving by yourself can be a challenging task on many levels. Not only do you need to know how to properly pack your belongings so they stay safe in transport, you also have to know which size moving truck you have to rent so everything fits. And of course you also have to know how to load the truck in the right way so that you can maximize the space you have while reducing the amount of damage during transport.

It’s a lot of work, which is why it’s a wise idea to hire professional movers. Here are some tips on the best ways to pack a moving truck.

Before Loading the Truck

There are a few things to handle before you even start loading your belongings. This will ensure a quicker and safer truck-loading procedure.

Get the Right Size Truck

This is a Goldilocks and the Three Bears scenario. You don’t want to choose one that’s too small because you’ll have to cram everything inside, and you don’t want one too large because you’ll be paying for space you don’t need. Not to mention, your belongings may shift too much with all that space, leading to damage.

Disassemble Large Furniture

You’ll want to take apart large furniture items so they are lighter, smaller and easier to pack. Not only is it easier to take smaller pieces out of the house, it’s easier to load them onto the truck, with reduced risk of damage to large and cumbersome parts. Cover the main part of the furniture with thick moving blankets for added protection.

Pack Boxes Safely

Pack the rest of your belongings in cardboard boxes. Leave plenty of time for this task. Start it early and chip away room by room so you’re not rushed in the end.

Load moving boxes

You’re going to want to pack everything tightly to avoid movement in transit. Load boxes one at a time, placing them in the gaps between the furniture and appliances. Load heavier boxes on the floor, and stack lighter boxes on top. Pack moving boxes and containers in rows going from the floor to the ceiling.

Boxes with fragile items such as glasses, plates, and lamps should be placed beneath hollow pieces of furniture like tables, chairs and desks. Lastly, you should load your essentials box so you can quickly grab it when you open the truck door at the new place.

Arrange heavy items in a triple T-formation

Arrange tall furniture and appliances in the front of the vehicle so they’re touching the wall closest to the cab. These include dressers, china cabinets, grandfather clocks, bookcases, refrigerators, washing machines, dishwashers and dryers. Arrange long items such as mattresses and headboards along the sides.

Place tables, desks, and chairs in the middle area so that everything together resembles a triple-T (TTT)

How to Pack Dishes For Moving

When packing for a house move, fragile items arguably are the most challenging tasks in the whole process. Dishes in particular pose a big challenge not just because they’re so delicate but because they’re awkwardly shaped. You likely have a large number of plates, glasses, saucers, cups, bowls, pots, pans, and silverware that you need