Leaving Home

If your loved one has reached the point where he or she can no longer live at home, be prepared to help him or her deal with a difficult emotional adjustment.

Helping your loved one come to the realization that he or she must give up his or her home is a difficult experience for you both. Giving up a home represents different things to different people, but generally it means a loss of personal freedom and independence. For this reason, your loved one will probably experience strong negative emotions about having to move, regardless of whether he or she is moving in with you or to a retirement community or other type of care facility. Your loved one may be sad or depressed that he or she must leave a place that holds many memories—the story of his or her life. Or, your loved one may be angry at you for suggesting that the move is necessary and insist that he or she shouldn’t have to move. Generally, emotions experienced by your love one may include:

  • Anger
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Disorientation
  • Grief
  • Idealization of the lost environment
  • Illness

Regardless of the emotions attached with your loved one’s move, it is important to remember that his or her health and well being are the most important factors. In addition to keeping this in mind, there are several other things that you should remember about the emotions that your loved one might experience when he or she is forced to leave home:

  • Feeling a sense of loss, sadness, or anger is normal, although some individuals may feel relief at not having to maintain a home any longer—help your loved one to understand that what he or she is feeling is normal.
  • Your loved one may feel lonely for familiar surroundings, known rituals, or people—encourage your loved one to keep in touch with old neighbors and friends, as well as to meet individuals near his or her new home.
  • The negative and positive feelings that your loved one experiences are associated with change. They are not your fault as the caregiver—you have done nothing wrong in looking out for your loved one’s safety.
  • Learning about the area with your loved one can be a great way of helping him or her to adjust to a new environment.
  • Helping your loved one to remember the old living residence, which can be accomplished by maintaining familiar pictures or furniture, may lessen the loss your loved one feels.
  • Helping your loved one to understand and deal with the emotions associated with moving will require patience.

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