8 Ways to Minimize Transfer Trauma


Relocation Stress Syndrome or Transfer Trauma

Relocation Stress Syndrome (a.k.a "Transfer Trauma"), is the combination of medical and psychological reactions to a sudden physical transfer from one environment to another. In extreme cases, it may increase the risk of grave illness or death. Learn the signs and symptoms, and how to make the transition easier on you and your loved one. 

Signs and Symptoms

  • Sadness
  • Crying
  • Despair
  • Confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Withdrawal
  • Depression
  • Restlessness
  • Falls
  • Loneliness
  • Resistance
  • Anger
  • Aggressiveness
  • Change in eating habits
  • Weight change
  • Hallucinations
  • Negative comments about staff
  • Stomach problems
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Insecurity
  • Decline in self-care
  • Changes in family relationships

8 Ways to Minimize Transfer Trauma

1) Make the move a team approach.

Work together with the senior, their spouse/family/agent, physician, pharmacist, AHS Transition Coordinator, and/or Case Manager (as applicable). 

2) Don’t assume the senior can’t participate. 

Keep the senior as involved as possible in the decision making, Let the senior pick his or her favourite belongings and ask he he or she wants to help set up the new home. 

3) Try to recreate their old home in their new home. 

Take pictures of the old room, and when setting up the new room, put items in the same place. 

4) Try to retain their daily routine as much as possible. 

This may bring comfort to the senior. 

5) Engage with the senior. 

Allow the senior to verbalize his or her feelings and fears, and openly discuss concerns. It could take 30-90 days for a senior to feel settled after a move. 

6) Ensure someone familiar stays with the senior all day on moving day.

This will help reduce anxiety and overall trauma. 

7) Communicate with the care team.

Ensure they are aware of the senior’s routine, likes, dislikes, and other helpful information. 

8) Follow up with the care team.

Ensure all care is being completed and answer any questions they may have.