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Moving can be a stressful life event regardless of the reason for it, or when it happens. However, the reasons for moving, and when they occur, can certainly add to pre-existing stressors. Emotional attachment, combined with the feeling of security that can be felt in the home, fosters strong bonds with existing living spaces. Because of this, moving into a new environment can feel devoid of emotion and security; at least during the early stages of the transition.
When understanding how pride plays a role in emotional wellbeing during moments of change, it is important to understand the concept of self-reliance. Self-reliance is essentially the ability to solve problems and make decisions on your own. For many people, self-reliance is established in early adulthood and is a central theme in life until outside factors begin to limit the ability of people to function independently. Outside factors that limit self-reliance, and are commonly associated with advanced age, include the deterioration of physical and mental wellbeing.
As outside factors that limit self-reliance begin to become more prominent, so too do feelings of worthlessness and depression. Feelings of pride and feelings of worthlessness are two sides of the same coin. It is often feelings of pride in one’s own self-reliance that form the emotional conflict when losses of physical and mental wellbeing are manifested.
One way to overcome feelings of pride, that cause barriers when confronted with the prospect of moving into a new environment, is to reintroduce the sense of security that was lost in the move. To do this, the lost feelings of emotional attachment need to be replaced with familiar people, places, and things. Recreating a home-like atmosphere can advance feelings of security in a new environment. For seniors, who are transitioning into community living, this process can be further expedited by filling the new space with comforting décor items, lighting, and pictures of loved ones. Additionally, items like specially designed spoons can allow seniors with issues such as minor tremors, to be able to eat without assistance.
Other accents, such as plants, have been shown to have a positive effect on mood and specifically help to make the environment comfortable. This is evident by a major movement, within the senior living market, that is emphasizing home-like approaches to interior design and décor.
Many senior living communities have programs in-place to help support the integration of new residents. Make sure that the new resident has information on all of the upcoming events and that the list can be refreshed and kept in plain sight. Prominent placement of signage can work well to keep upcoming events fresh in the resident’s mind. Be sure to use a countdown to the event to ensure residents who struggle with dates and times can remain involved.
The sooner the new resident begins to take part in the community, the sooner they will begin to regain the lost feelings of emotional attachment and security.