Adjusting to Senior Living: What to Expect
It doesn’t matter what age we are or even how ready we might be to leave our homes—moving to a new place is often awkward and uncomfortable, just like any big change. Leaving your familiar home filled with memories, learning new spaces and routes, meeting new neighbors, and making new friends are all experiences that are loaded with excitement, stress, and anxiety.
But knowing what to navigate and feeling prepared, both mentally and emotionally, can help ease the transition tremendously. Here are a few experiences you might have, and remember that talking about them with friends and family may also help you feel more comfortable:
That ‘new kid in school’ feeling
It is intimidating to be in a place where everyone may already know each other. But here’s the good news: that first hurdle of bravely introducing yourself and starting some conversations—maybe at a meal or at an activity—can open up the avenues of friendly interaction.
However, being that ‘new kid’ in a small place can also mean an overwhelming amount of attention, with staff and residents excited to meet you and asking many (and sometimes repeated) questions. It can be very helpful to pay attention to your energy levels while socializing, especially during this time of change. If you start to feel overwhelmed or drained, needing alone time is perfectly okay and recommended, and that may be a good time to politely excuse yourself to go sit or lie down in a quiet space.
And remember to check out the activity board; trying out activities that match your interests will help you get to know others who share them. It may take some time, but before you know it, you’ll be able to greet others confidently and find your best partners for lunch or the outdoors.
Settling into a new (and likely smaller) space
Wherever you may be coming from, you will miss things about your old home. Before you move in, talk with your loved ones about what you will miss the most, and work out a plan to be able to feel at home in a new place. You and/or your caretaker can go through the room’s layout to know what you can bring with you.
In most cases, moving to a senior living apartment is a move that requires some downsizing. It can be tough to let go of a favorite couch, table, or even throw pillows. When there are several items within a set (like heirloom silver or matching loveseats), keeping just one or two pieces is one way to bring that part of your life with you. It’s also likely that you may have to replace larger furniture items with smaller ones; when this is the case, you can decide on the most important pieces that will help you feel at home.
As you move in, there are small ways that may help the new space feel familiar and feel like you. You might recreate your bedroom setup, set up photos of loved ones, and put up reminders of important parts of your life. It is sometimes said that home is a feeling, not attached to one place or time. Think about what home really means to you, and what you and others can do to help that feeling grow.
Learning new surroundings and new traffic patterns
Your daily routines may stay the same, but the way you go about and complete them will likely change. It’s important to give yourself plenty of time to adjust and learn the lay of the land, including the hallways and different floors, the grounds, and the neighborhood. Seeking out someone to walk with you through the building or take a drive with you around the neighborhood could be a relaxed, safe way to learn your way around. It’s important to ask either a staff member or long-term resident to help you navigate—someone who not only knows the area well, but also knows where to point out all the safety measures.
Keeping your hobbies going
Lastly, you may be in a new place, but you don’t have to give up the hobbies that are important to you. Keeping your daily, weekly, or monthly activities can help retain a sense of normalcy and continuity. At Era Living, residents are free to come and go with a safety checkout, allowing them the flexibility to maintain and change their schedules, explore new areas and activities, and keep doing the things they love. Your hobbies also may help you find new activity partners, continue your work with the local chapter of your favorite organization, or discover new ways to volunteer your time.
Enjoying the benefits
Moving is one of the biggest changes we can make in our lives, but there are many good things that can come out of it. Count the positives and think about why you decided to move to senior living. Your reasons may include that you’re gaining a safe community with care, reducing the risk of isolation and depression, and able to easily access ways to stay active, healthy, and connected to others. Whatever the reasons, there are ways to make the best of the adjustment to a senior living community.
Era Living understands the adjustment of moving into a senior living community and we want to help make it as smooth as possible. Contact us today to ask any questions you have about your upcoming move.