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Tips to help elderly parents transition to long-term care

Even when seniors have long ago made arrangements for long-term care, coming to terms with the necessity for transitioning to the chosen facility can still be fraught with anxiety and fear.

"Transfer trauma" is the name for the aggregation of psychological and physical symptoms that can accompany the move, even when it has been planned in advance. The symptoms include:

-- Agitation

-- Insomnia

-- Depression

-- Short-term memory loss

-- Withdrawal

-- Nausea

-- Anorexia

-- Irritable bowel syndrome

Seniors fear the loss of control over their lives the most, one licensed clinical social worker from California postulates.

Below are a few tips for the adult children of senior citizens to employ to make the transition go smoother.

-- Preparation is key, as are choices, even in small matters. Consider their preferences always. A pet lover may willingly move to a facility where her pet is allowed to accompany her, an avid gardener might be swayed by a room with pretty window boxes to tend.

-- Validate their feelings. Allow them to share their doubts and fears about the move without recriminations. Understand that this can be a very sad time for them. Allowing them to grieve for the loss of their former lives is part of the transition process.

-- Encourage their participation, however limited. Letting dementia patients have a say in what they will take with them, even if their choices don't appear entirely rational, can allay fears of the unknown. Pillowcases worn thin from decades of a marriage may bring a modicum of comfort to a grieving widow.

-- Stay abreast of their progress during the first days and weeks. Other accommodations may be found for those who are truly miserable in their new surroundings.

-- Keep their doctor in the loop about personality and other changes. Medications may need to be added or tweaked, but alternative therapies and mild exercise routines can also do wonders.

Establishing your preferences for long-term care while you are in excellent health and still in possession of your faculties can alleviate many of the difficulties associated with transitioning.

Source: Francisparker.com, "How to Help Mom and Dad Move to a New Home," Emily Gurnon, accessed Sep. 03, 2015

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