The transition to senior living can bring up some unexpected emotions. The idea of a fresh start can be exciting, even if you aren’t moving far from your hometown. At the same time, you might feel nervous as you anticipate what your new life will look like… Will you make new friends? Will you feel at home?
It’s completely normal to feel uneasy about change—moving is a big decision, after all. But, like many other big decisions in life, deciding to move to a senior living community can be very rewarding. Here are five steps to help smooth your transition to senior living:
1. Downsize Beforehand
Even if you aren’t planning to move for several months, downsizing now will relieve some of the pressure and make your move a lot less complicated. Take note of the layout, size and storage space available in your new home, then spend a day—or a week—evaluating your own belongings to figure out just how much you’ll need to part with. This will help you set your goal on how much you must give away or throw away before you’re ready to move.
All of this is much easier said than done, of course. With so many memories attached to personal belongings, it can be especially hard to part ways. For some, it’s easier to start by identifying which items are most precious to you or which items you plan to give as legacy gifts. That way, you know your keepsakes are safe while you start parsing out what to send to donation and which items can just go in the trash.
Downsizing can be a major undertaking, but starting earlier will make moving day—and all the days spent unpacking your new home—that much easier.
2. Do your research
If you’re having mixed feelings about what your life in senior living will look like, try connecting with your community about any questions or concerns. For those still in the process of choosing the right community, make sure to schedule plenty of visits with your top choices, and don’t be afraid to go more than once! Take a tour, attend an event, have a meal in the community dining room—these are just a few ways you can get a good feel for the “right fit.”
After you’ve picked your new home and even set a move-in date, don’t be afraid to schedule more visits. It’s normal to have more questions, even if you’re feeling confident about the community you’ve chosen. Schedule some time to meet with staff members and find ways to spend time with current residents who can give you all the insights about day-to-day life at your community.
Ask about the most popular activities or find out what everyone thinks is the best item on the menu. Figuring this out now will help you piece together your own calendar and give you an idea of what your new neighbors are like.
3. Put yourself out there
Senior living communities are a great place to make new friends and find people who you can connect with. It can be hard to get used to a new routine but having friends can make it much easier.
One of the easiest ways to make great connections is to put yourself out there. You can start introducing yourself to others on your floor, even if you’re just going door to door to say hello, or try joining a group at mealtime so you can get to know everyone.
Most communities have a busy social calendar of groups, clubs, activities and meetings. Find what sparks your interest and find out how you can get involved. Challenge yourself to try new things, too. You can even invite a neighbor or someone you’re comfortable with to join you, so you have a guaranteed conversation partner. This can be a great way to learn something new and build great friendships.
4. Invite your family
After you’ve taken some time to unpack, meet new people and establish your routine, don’t forget to reach out to your family and friends. Invite them for a quick visit, even just for lunch, so they can see how well you’re settling in. Having familiar faces around will make your community feel even more like home, plus they can offer some advice on any final decisions you still need to make, like where you should hang the big family portrait or what color curtains will look best in the living room.
If they’re spending the day, invite them to join you at one of your favorite activities or events. This is a great way to show them what your new routine is like, and even introduce them to some of the new friends you’ve made too!
Staying in touch with family and friends is important, even if you’re mostly relying on phone calls or letters between a few visits a year. Strong relationships with your loved ones make it easier to stay connected to family traditions, milestones and celebrations—and stave off feelings of isolation.
5. Make time for you
With much to do in the way of unpacking, settling in and adjusting to your new routine, it can be easy to forget to set aside time for yourself. If you’ve been filling your calendar with activities and social events since day one, it might be time to consider taking a day to recharge.
Let yourself sleep in an extra hour or just set aside some time to read a good book. While there are so many ways to get out and connect with friends around your community, it can sometimes to be exhausting to spend so much time socializing with new people. It’s important to find and maintain the right balance for you, even if that means spending a few hours every day to feel energized for all the items on your calendar.
At The Lodge at Grand Junction, we’re committed to helping our residents live well and age well. This means that from the moment you enter the lobby, we want to ensure you not only feel comfortable but also feel at home. If you have questions about transitioning to senior living or would like to learn more about what our community offers to help ease your transition, visit thelodgeatgrandjunction.com or call (970) 470-8428 to speak with one of our staff members.