Leaving home or familiar surroundings, whether off to school, on vacation or moving into a new home can be a stressful or exciting time depending on the circumstances. Many times, it’s both combined with a lot of other emotions.
Many senior citizens are rethinking their retirement years by opting out of staying in their long time family home with all the responsibilities involved. Many times as they age, they also find that they are unable to keep up with the chores and daily activities by remaining there. Simi Valley Hospice
The choice to move into an independent or assisted living community undoubtedly brings with it, feelings of uncertainty and the melancholy of missing familiar friends and family whose faces will be replaced by strangers.
In the beginning, as the regular routines are replaced with new social and practical activities, homesickness -- the longing ache for the familiar can set in.
Homesickness is nothing new. It is mentioned in the Bible's Old Testament book of Exodus and Homer's "Odyssey," and happens to just about anyone away from home. Athletes and actors who are frequently away from home for long periods have expressed these sentiments.
Even so, only lately has there emerged a clearer sense of what homesickness is: distinct adjustment disorder with identifiable symptoms.
In a paper cowritten by Chris Thurber and Edward Walton published in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, homesickness is defined as "distress and functional impairment caused by an actual or anticipated separation from home and attachment objects such as family."
Those who suffer from the condition feel some form of anxiety, sadness and nervousness, and most distinctly, obsessive preoccupation with thoughts of home, Thurber said.
Yet despite the way it is coined, homesickness is not necessarily about home. And neither is it exactly an illness, experts said.
Instead, it stems from our instinctive need for love, protection and security -- feelings and qualities usually associated with home, said Josh Klapow, a clinical psychologist and associate professor at the University of Alabama's School of Public Health. When these qualities aren't present in a new environment, we begin to long for them -- and hence home.
"You're not literally just missing your house. You're missing what's normal, what is routine, the larger sense of social space, because those are the things that help us survive," Klapow said.
Klapow offered an alternative way of viewing homesickness: It is merely an emotion that comes in waves. "Very few emotions stay with you all the time, they come and they go," he said. But when it strikes, both children and adults often are caught off guard by it, he added.
"They think something's terribly wrong. Nevertheless, it is normal and adaptive to feel homesick for some period of time. It's just your emotions and mind telling you you're out of your element."
The staff at assisted living are hyper vigilant for signs of depression and anxiety, especially in new residents because they are aware of the emotional byproducts of making such a big change. Hospice Granda Hills
New residents attend orientation sessions and faculty and staff help them adjust to their new surroundings and introduce them to new activities, new friends and opportunities. The staff encourages outside friends and family members to visit their newly relocated relative to help them ease into their new environment.
Not surprisingly, in a short period of time, many new assisted living residents are so involved in the activities and pleasures of their new surroundings they begin to wonder what they were homesick for.
The reduction in responsibilities attached to staying in and maintaining a residence of their own is often a huge relief.
Recognizing that they have as much freedom as they choose, together with peace of mind knowing that help is available if they need it, makes the freshman residents begin to experience that same old feeling of familiarity that feels like, well, ”home.” Moorpark Hospice