Moving into Senior Living: Everything You Need to Know
Like the first day of school, moving into senior living is a first step into uncharted territory. It’s exciting, promising — and a little scary. What will your life be like? How will you get acclimated? And how will you get ready for this major transition? If you’re contemplating a move to a senior living community, here are a few suggestions to help you make a smooth transition.
Preparing for the Big Move
For most older adults, moving into senior living means leaving a home filled with memories. Understandably, there’s an emotional element to the process, as well as a lot of hands-on work to be done. Your mind will be on the past, even as you focus on your present to-do list and your future life. To help you navigate the process, consider the following:
- Give yourself a pep talk. Creativity coach and artist Jill Badonsky recommends the following exercise when you’re faced with an intimidating new project: Make a list of all the fears and concerns that arise regarding this project. Once you’ve listed all your worries, write, “This is OK. There’s nothing I need to do about these feelings — they’re a normal response at the beginning of any process.” Then grab a new sheet of paper and write out everything that excites you about this change, such as the friends you’ll make or the activities you’ll enjoy in your new senior living community.
- Create a plan. It can be helpful to buy a binder to collect the many bright ideas and snippets of information that you’ll be accumulating as you plan your move. Make lists to keep yourself organized and on task. Gather contact information for movers, real estate agents and donation centers. And create a calendar of dates — building in plenty of time for each step — to keep the process in motion.
- Get the floor plan of your new senior living residence. For many, moving into senior living involves downsizing. Having the measurements and layout for your new residence will help you determine how much room you’ll have and which of your current belongings will work in the new space. Plus, it will inspire you to think about how you’ll decorate your new home and the bright possibilities that await you.
- Take it slowly. Moving is a daunting task at any time of life. If you’re having a hard time getting motivated or find that your energy is flagging, give yourself permission to do just a little bit of work — 15 to 20 minutes — sorting, packing, or making phone calls. Most likely, once you get started, you’ll gather momentum and keep working long past the 20-minute time frame.
- Ask for help. This isn’t a project to undertake singlehandedly. Find out if the senior living community you’ve chosen offers any help with the process. Or consider hiring a professional move manager who can coordinate every aspect of the transition, from hiring movers to finding places to donate the belongings you no longer want.
- Infuse fun into the process. Order a pizza and invite friends or family to help you sort through household items. Let family members tag the items they’d like, so you know your belongings are going to a good home. Share stories and memories. Take photos of cherished items if you won’t be able to find a place for them in your new residence. And as you accomplish tasks and meet deadlines, treat yourself with small rewards — a delicious cup of coffee, a chat with a friend, or time to curl up on the couch with a good book or movie.
Settling into Your New Home
Whew! Once you’ve sold your home, packed up your belongings, and moved into your new senior living community, you’re probably ready to put your feet up and relax. And you can — the amenities and services in a retirement community mean your to-do list can now be filled with activities you enjoy. But the transition isn’t complete yet. Now it’s time to make yourself at home in your new community. Here are some tips to help you settle in:
- Take advantage of orientation programs. Everyone in your community has been exactly where you are now, feeling like the new kid on the block. To integrate newcomers and create a sense of belonging, senior living communities typically have welcome committees, orientation activities and a binder full of information about activities, amenities, services, and schedules, plus a campus map so you know where everything is located.
- Attend activities that interest you. Participating in community life will help you get comfortable in your new home. Make a list of the activities that pique your curiosity and set a goal of trying each of them out. You’ll meet new people with similar interests, get a feel for community life and have a lot of fun.
- Find comfort in the familiar. You’ll feel more secure amid the recent changes in your life if you can maintain some continuity between your former and new lifestyles. In addition to feathering your new nest with cherished keepsakes, family photos, and your favorite books and art, consider creating a routine that feels comfortable and familiar. If you’ve always walked a mile before breakfast or read the latest mystery before bed, keep those habits in your life and add new activities onto that foundation.
Moving into The Riverwalk Village, The House of the Good Shepherd
If you’re ready to make a move to senior living, you’ll want a community where the amenities and services give you the freedom and opportunity to flourish. At Riverwalk Village, The House of the Good Shepherd, our scenic location, abundant activities and welcoming atmosphere make an ideal setting for your next step in life. To learn more about moving into senior living, check out our podcasts. Or contact us to schedule a visit today.