Recent studies have shown that Americans find that moving is life’s most stressful event. A change of a residence tops even other known stressors such as divorce, death of a loved one and job loss.
Why? Change, while inevitable, is hard for people. Having all the familiarity of our environment change—from the routes we take to work or shopping, to neighbors and neighborhoods, to the layout of our houses and rooms—messes with us. For the lucky few, this complete change is a welcome new adventure. For the rest of us, it can be terribly alienating, at least temporarily.
All of our residents have moved from one location to their current home at Flatrock, and many have had to move several times. For many of our residents, the emotional resources to cope with this kind of stress is limited. Their routines are disrupted, the people surrounding them are strangers and everything is different.
LifeStorage, a storage and moving company, recently conducted a study on the stress of moving. Some of the emotional and mental symptoms occupying the stress of moving include:
- Inability to relax or focus
- Avoiding other people
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Quick to anger or irritability
- Feeling worthless or depressed; excessive pessimism and worrying
- Impaired judgement
For some, this stress can manifest physically and behaviorally and include: aches and pains; insomnia; low energy; increased susceptibility to sickness or infection; shaking; avoiding duties; and changes in eating habits.
So what can we do to ease the move for new residents? Here are some suggestions:
- Turn our focus to the positives of the move. Perhaps there is an activity or an area that might be particularly attractive to the resident.
- If possible, help them say goodbye to friends or favorite places at their old residence.
- Make sure their favorite items are easily accessible (last thing packed and first thing out).
- Give them choices. Let them pick decorations, or if possible, pick their room.
Our patience, understanding and warmth when welcoming our new residents to our care homes during this transitional period will go a long way to help our new residents settle into their new homes more comfortably.