Helping Your Loved One Manage Transfer Trauma

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Did you know that many individuals with dementia and other memory-impairing ailments often experience transfer trauma, even if their move is voluntary? Transfer trauma is the stress that occurs when one changes their living environment. But seniors with dementia can be particularly susceptible.

Symptoms of Transfer Trauma:

• Mood swings

• Weight loss/gain

• Increased mental confusion

• Withdrawal and isolation

• Falling

• Wandering

Minimizing stress is the key to decreasing the likelihood of transfer trauma occurring. And when transfer trauma is minimized, your loved one has a better chance of quickly building friendships and developing a sense of belonging in their new community. Here at Concordia, we understand that this may be a difficult time for them, but we have the resources, staff and expertise at our memory care locations to make the most out of a potentially difficult situation.  

Tips for Minimizing Transfer Trauma:

  1. Try to maintain their daily routine and pay attention to details as much as possible.
  2. Start small. Do small meaningful activities like going through old pictures, singing a song, decorating their new home with the things they like or taking them for a walk around the building.
  3. Don’t put them under the spotlight by asking direct questions that they may not remember. Give them the opportunity to ask questions and discuss their concerns.
  4. Involve them in decision making and planning. This validates them and helps ensure that they feel valued and honored.
  5. If you are overwhelmed then reduce the days you visit. Someone with dementia will notice your emotional state, body language and the tone of your voice. Be careful about the language you use in front of them. Avoid using phrases like, “What are you talking about?”, “Who is working this floor?”, “My mom is not the same person anymore.” This language does not convey a feeling of home, security or well-being.
  6. Try not to always take your loved ones away every weekend or holiday. Sometimes family members feel guilty for their loves ones new living arrangement and try to get them to go out to eat or visit places. Once they are back after their visits, though, they often feel exhausted, nervous and confused.
  7. Be present. Sometimes just being there for them goes a long way. You don’t necessarily have to start conversations- instead be an active listener and hear what they have to say.

Finally, it’s important to understand that it often takes time for someone with a memory impairment to adjust. Give them some space and be patient. It is crucial to keep in mind that they may not have the same personality they used to and we cannot expect them to behave and act in certain ways. We want family members to be a part of their journey.

The staff at Concordia tries to ease this process by learning and understanding their habits, preferences and routines, and try to incorporate them as much as possible into their new home. We can give you the guidance you need to move your loved one to a loving environment. The goal for those in our care is to thrive.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us anytime via our online contact form or by calling our administrative headquarters at 724-352-1571. Or visit our Locations Map to learn more about the types of care we offer, including In-Home Care, Memory Care, Long-Term Nursing Care, Adult Day Services, Hospice Care and more.

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