Relocation Stress Syndrome

The associated symptoms of stress caused by moving are significant enough that in 1992 the North American Nursing Diagnosis Association (NANDA) added Relocation Stress Syndrome (RSS) as an official medical diagnosis.

RSS is also know as Transfer Trauma and is characterized by a combination of physiologic and psychological disturbances resulting from transferring a person from one environment to another. Symptoms can include exhaustion, sleep disturbances, anxiety, depression, grief and disorientation. In older adults, these symptoms are exacerbated by dementia, mild cognitive impairment, poor physical health, frailty, sensory impairment and lack of a support system.

Studies show that planning, along with steps taken by family members and care givers, can successfully minimize RSS. These steps include:

– Involving the individual moving in the planning and decision process

– Providing opportunity for the individual to ask questions and talk about concerns

– Honoring his/her preferences where possible

– Maintaining social connections and daily routines as much as possible

– Ensuring personal and treasured possessions will be handled with care

– Involving him/her in setting up the new home if possible

– Helping the new resident to acclimated and familiar with their new environment