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Transfer trauma is difficult to deal with. Moving a senior from one home to the next can be jarring and cause stress and anxiety. It can be even worse if that senior has dementia. Here are ways we combat senior trauma, and make transfers easier and more comfortable for seniors.
Understanding What Transfer Trauma Is
Transfer trauma is a term used to describe a state of anxiety or stress that a senior may experience when being moved from one environment to another. It’s common for patients in the early stages of dementia who are being moved into a new environment and don’t entirely understand why. Especially if they’re moving from their lifelong home into a new facility.
Transfer trauma manifests itself differently in each patient. But there are a few key symptoms you should keep an eye on if you are moving an elderly relative into a nursing home or assisted living facility.
Symptoms of Transfer Trauma
- Loss of appetite
- Irritability or combativeness
- Nausea or weight loss
- Sudden anger
- Incessant comparing or refusal of care
Some of these symptoms are a normal part of aging, especially those dealing with dementia. But if the patient is experiencing any of these problems to the point that it’s disruptive to their lives, there is a good chance they may be suffering from transfer trauma.
Who Suffers from Transfer Trauma The Most
Patients who are sick, frail, or experiencing dementia often suffer the worst effects of transfer trauma. Especially if they were not part of the decision to leave their homes. It can be jarring for those suffering from memory loss or some other impairment to suddenly be in an entirely new environment.
There is even an official diagnosis called relocation stress syndrome. This diagnosis relates to a patient suffering from the physiologic and psychic disturbances that come with being moved from one environment to the next. That’s why it’s vital to exercise care and caution when moving an elderly relative into a facility.
How Transfer Trauma Affects Dementia and Alzheimer’s
Transfer trauma can exacerbate the symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s. For patients already struggling with memory loss and physical deterioration, moving to an entirely new place can be stressful. This is especially true if the senior wasn’t entirely aware that the move was taking place or wasn’t able to be involved in the decision-making process.
Ways to Reduce Transfer Trauma
The good news is that there are plenty of ways to avoid transfer trauma. Moving can be stressful for anyone, especially seniors. But if you take the appropriate steps to ensure a smooth transition, the change does not have to be traumatic.
- Take Seniors on Tour of a Community or Home: Getting them used to their new home or facility gradually can be a good way to reduce the risk of trauma. One way to do this is to take them on a tour of the facility. That way, they can mentally prepare themselves for the move and don’t feel overwhelmed when they arrive.
- Help Seniors Join in Events: Socializing can be a great way to reduce transfer trauma, especially if the senior has been used to living on their own. Helping them stay active and take part in community events can be a great way to show them that the change is for the better and not to be feared. Especially if they can find friends who relate to the struggles they are experiencing.
- Organize Their Room So it Feels More Like Home: Making their room feel more like home can go a long way toward easing the transition. This could include bringing along some pictures, furniture or special belongings to make it feel more familiar. This will make the move seem more like a natural transition than a sudden change.
- Visit Your Senior Loved One More Often: Be sure to visit your senior as much as possible, especially in the beginning. Seeing a familiar face on a regular basis can go a long way toward making them more comfortable. Plus, it will give them something to look forward to if they are still getting used to their new home.
For those seniors living with Alzheimer’s or Dementia:
- Don’t overwhelm them with multiple tours of facilities and definitely don’t ask them how they feel about the move. This can be confusing for them.
- Visit your loved one often but if the visits are too overwhelming and cause them more confusion or behavioral issues, allow them some time to adjust in their new environment.
Transfer trauma is stressful for everyone involved, but it’s the most stressful for the senior. For free expert help give us a call and you’ll be connected with one of our senior advisors who will help you find the perfect home for your senior!