Though so many of our residents tell us they wish they moved into our senior living communities sooner, like a lot of older adults, some of them were hesitant about making that transition in the beginning. While we’re confident that once you get a taste for the fun, family-like atmosphere our communities offer you’ll love your life here, we know that this decision is a tough one that often comes with mixed emotions.
We’ve put together some tips that can help you feel more confident about your decision to move, less overwhelmed with logistics, and at ease in your new home.
#1 Talk to Someone Who’s Been There
Taking a tour is the best way to get a sense of the independent living or assisted living community you’re considering, but chatting with someone who actually lives there is a great way to get a firsthand account of what day-to-day life is like.
At Holiday Retirement, we’d be happy to connect you with one of our resident ambassadors if you’d like to speak with a future neighbor. Resident ambassadors volunteer to make new neighbors feel at home by showing them around, making them feel welcomed at mealtime, and introducing them to all the different activities and amenities. They’d love to answer your questions, give you some tips, and share about their transition to senior living.
#2 See Yourself in Your New Home
Some think visualization is just new-age hype, but there’s actually science behind it. Neuroimaging studies show that mental imagery trains the brain for future tasks by working on the same cognitive processes like perception, memory, motor control, and attention. Visualization can increase self-efficacy, motivation, and confidence in the situation you’re imagining.
Spend time each day seeing yourself in your new senior apartment. Think about how you’ll decorate it and arrange the furniture to make it feel homey. Picture yourself having fun in the community -- making friends, sharing meals, and attending activities. To make visualization more effective, engage your five senses. What’s the aroma of the delicious chef-prepared meals? What do they taste like? How does the comfy furniture in your apartment feel? What does your new friends' laughter and conversations sound like? Practice visualizing yourself in your new home several times a day.
#3 Set Small Moving Goals
Let’s face it. Moving isn’t exactly a bowl of cherries in any circumstances, but breaking it down into small, realistic tasks can make it feel less overwhelming. Pick one item each day to tackle.
Here are some ways to break down moving tasks by day:
Contact utility companies and the post office with a date to shut off service and begin forwarding mail to your new address.
Tackle one room each day. For big rooms allow a couple of days. Pack the items you want to take to your new home and make one pile for donations and another pile for things to give to loved ones. Start in one room and finish packing it before moving onto another room. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, you’ll feel a sense of progress.
Schedule pick ups or drop offs from the organizations where you wish to donate items.
Update bank accounts and credit cards with your new address.
Schedule movers (note: Holiday Retirement works with a moving company for seniors that will help coordinate the move with the community, move your items, as well as pack and unpack if you wish.)
Learn more tips for packing and moving to a senior living community.
#4 Acknowledge Your Emotions
No matter how positive this change will be for you, it’s important to acknowledge any conflicting emotions you have about this move. It’s normal to feel attached to your current home where you’ve made memories, celebrated firsts, and weathered challenges.
Give yourself permission to grieve a little and also commemorate your home. Write in a journal about special memories of your home. Take photos of the rooms and exteriors to make a scrapbook. Sit in each room and let yourself relive moments spent there. Throw a goodbye celebration, having friends and family stop by.
Don’t get stuck in the negative though. It can be easy to dwell on challenges in times of transition. Allow yourself to enjoy some excitement for all the good changes ahead. Whether it’s moving closer to family, having more time to focus on hobbies and interests, or living in a community filled with future friends, keep reminding yourself about the positives.
#5 Make Your Place Feel Like Home
Take some time to make your new senior apartment feel like home. Set up your space close to the way it was in your previous home. Put up your favorite decor and family photos, and treat yourself to some new decorations like a comforter or framed artwork. There’s something exciting about organizing and decorating a new place to make it just like you want. Learn some tips for creating a welcoming, homey feel in your senior apartment.
#6 Branch Out a Little Every Day
Being the new kid in town can feel intimidating, but remember everyone was there once and knows what you’re going through. As you get settled in, make it a goal each day to venture out into common areas, try an activity, or meet a neighbor. Talking or chatting over meals with neighbors is a great way to make friends.
Many of our Holiday Retirement residents say their neighbors become like family members. Your neighbors are great people to count on for a laugh or to lend a hand when you need one. They can also introduce you to their friends, which helps your circle of friends grow. Get out and get to know the people in your hall. When you see someone, stop to introduce yourself.
#7 Get Involved
Being social isn’t just a great way to make friends, it’s also important for your physical and mental health. Research shows that engaging with other people can help lower the risk of age-related disorders, increase quality of life, improve memory, and mitigate depression.
The Holiday lifestyle is anything but dull thanks to the full calendar of events giving you lots of opportunities to have fun and meet friends. Every community has a selection of carefully planned activities that appeal to all types of interests. Activities are intended to enhance residents’ physical, emotional, mental, and social wellness. Check your local events calendar for activities like bean bag baseball, happy hour, and chair yoga. Try out a fitness class, or join the Walking Club or Gardening Club. Many of our communities have volunteer opportunities that connect you with the surrounding area and expand your circle of friends. Giving back is great for your physical and mental health.
#8 Give Yourself Time
Moving is a major change, and it may take some time for you to adapt. Change, whether good or bad, can be stressful. Be patient and kind with yourself. One survey of UK homebuyers found that it might take up to four months for a new home to really feel like “home.” The time it takes is different for everyone.
Don’t put pressure on yourself to have the perfect experience right away or feel discouraged if you don’t find a close group of friends the first week. You’ll get there. Attend meals and activities as much as possible. Focus on the nice changes like having more time to do things you enjoy now that cooking, cleaning, and maintenance are all handled for you. Take it one day at a time, and before you know it, you’ll have a close group of friends that feel like family, and you’ll be making new memories.
We’re Here to Help
Our team is here to answer your questions and do anything we can to help you transition to senior living with ease. Our hope is that Holiday will emulate some of the positive emotions of your previous house and create a new sense of “home” for you. Each day may look a little different, but the constant of your community is being surrounded by staff who care and neighbors who grow from acquaintances, to friends, to family.
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