So, you’ve made the decision to move into a senior living community. What now? What are the next steps?
After moving from your longtime home into senior living, it's normal to feel nervous, or even to experience tinges of regret or buyer’s remorse. That’s common. You are, after all, finding yourself in an entirely new social setting, after years of comfortable routine.
Never fear. Our staff and residents have deep experience dealing with such feelings, and we have a few insights to share with you. Here are some things you can do to ease the transition.
1. Make your new space feel like your space
You’ve probably brought with you your most important and sentimentally significant possessions when you moved. Now it’s time to put them in order.
When you’re arranging your new apartment, it might help you to transition if you can create some sense of familiarity. If you can, arrange your furniture in a manner similar to your old home.
Decorate with things you were used to looking at in your home. Place cherished knick-knacks in their usual spots. If you used a particular household cleaner, potpourri or air freshener, or scented candle in your old home, use the same one in your new senior apartment home.
The more you can make your new quarters feel like the old, the easier your transition will likely be. Remember, all you’ve really changed is your address. Home is where you make it.
2. Introduce yourself to your neighbors
The newcomer’s welcome group here has a mantra: “A big move, like the one to Deupree House, can make one feel like a freshman again.”
Gosh, ain’t that the truth?
Moving to a senior community can feel a lot like moving to a new town or starting at a new school. And many of our residents haven’t experienced that sort of uncertainty since they were young adults, or even since they were children.
But, really, aren’t strangers just people you haven’t taken the opportunity yet to meet? They’re people, not grizzly bears. They’re not going to growl at you or bite you just because you waved hello.
You won’t feel out of place long if you get to know your senior living neighbors and find out what they’re like. Take every possible opportunity to socialize.
If you’ve moved here to Deupree, wake up early on the last Friday of the month and come have coffee and donuts with our newcomer’s group. Go on group outings. Take your dinners and breakfasts in the Dining Room and sit at a different table each meal. Go to game nights, coffee hours, lectures — do anything you feel comfortable doing to widen your social circle.
Once you’ve met a lot of your neighbors, you’ll quickly figure out which ones you feel the most affinity for, and the faster you’ll build your social support network. The more people people you meet, the more likely you are to develop a few new best friendships.
3. Be flexible
This might be the best advice for virtually any uncertain circumstance a human being might find him or herself in, ever. The more open you are to change, the easier it will be to accept it.
That said, at a retirement community like Deupree, you’ll probably find that most of your neighbors are very much like you in many respects. Most of the residents you’d meet in any independent living community you’d choose would probably share similar values with you.
They’ll love their families (especially their grandkids). They’ll like having a quieter, easier-going retirement lifestyle. They’ll love living in a social, apartment-style setting and seeing many different folks out and about every day.
They’ll enjoy going out on the town, shopping, seeing shows, or having a leisurely coffee or drink at a café in the afternoon. They’ll enjoy travelling. They’ll enjoy storytelling and chatting about the issues of the day.
But even if the people you meet in your new senior home initially seem drastically different from you, if you remember to be flexible, you’ll find something of value in every encounter. You’ll find common ground. Heck, you might even learn a few new things, and show others a few new tricks, too.
Recall how you used to feel on the first day of school, or when you took new positions in your career: with new circumstances come new opportunities. Now, get out there, meet your fellow seniors and have a great time!