Did you know: Changing nursing home or assisted living facilities can be hazardous to a resident’s health? That would certainly appear to be the case and now there is science to back that fact up.

A recent article in the Science Daily, describes the results of a study by the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. The study concerned nursing home residents who required evacuation from their facilities and who were relocated to another facility. Of course, because the residents were relocated, they received care from different people than they were otherwise used to.

"The displaced participants experienced delirium, cognitive changes, hospitalizations, and death." Although the study sample size was small-17 long-term care residents-its results are still worth noting. "The study, published in September 2011 issue, found that more than half the residents were negatively affected by evacuation and showed signs of delirium within the two weeks immediately following — two participants were hospitalized and one died."

According to Pamela Cacchione, PhD, APRN, GNP, BC, the lead author of the study: "Older adults often have visual and hearing deficits, making it more difficult to interpret their environments and precipitating increased stress," which can also "exacerbate chronic illnesses, further precipitating delirium."

It would seem to me, no matter the reason for a nursing home resident’s relocation–evacuation due to natural disaster or a simple change of facilities–the concerns would be the same. If the decision has been made to change facilities, make certain extra care is taken at the new facility so that your loved one is properly cared for during and following the oftentimes difficult transition.