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Transitioning to senior living: What to expect

For many seniors, aging in place may seem like the only option. However, making the transition to a senior living community comes with many benefits, such as improved health, safety and social activity, and all without loss of independence. But even with all of the advantages, moving to a new living environment can be challenging for anyone. With proper preparation, however, you can feel more comfortable with the transition and excited about this next step in your life.

If you’re in the process of moving to a senior living community – or helping a loved one make the transition – here’s what to expect, plus tips to make the change seamlessly:

Moving in your belongings

Now that you’re ready to make the move, it’s time to start thinking about which belongings are coming with you. Downsizing is a must when shifting to senior living, so take the time to go through your furniture, decor, clothing, accessories and other items before you start packing.

Transition tip: Don’t be afraid to ask your family members for help during the initial moving process. A familiar helping hand can provide comfort in what could potentially be an uncomfortable and intimidating process.

Getting comfortable with the living environment

Once your belongings are settled, take some time to relax and get comfortable with your new living space. You can’t fully appreciate what the rest of the community has to offer until you feel at ease in the space where you’ll wake up every morning and fall asleep each night.

Transition tip: If you’re nervous about your new room or apartment, ask your family members to stick around for a few hours to make it feel more like home. You can hang your decor and lay your favorite blanket on the bed. And don’t forget to display your favorite photos of family and friends, as this is one of the easiest ways to make the space feel more complete.

If you’re having trouble getting comfortable over the first few days, ask your family members to visit on a weekly basis, or until you feel better about your new living environment. You can also ask staff members to help you get acquainted if you’re feeling intimidated.

Getting to know the staff

Caregivers in senior living communities are invaluable. Not only can they help you get comfortable with your new environment during the initial move-in process, but they will continue to assist you throughout your stay. Developing strong bonds with the staff members can bring peace of mind when you’re feeling uncomfortable or need help.

Transition tip: After you get your belongings moved in, ask a staff member to take you on a tour of the community. While you likely strolled through the place during the decision-making process, this tour can come with a new perspective. Talk to the staff member and ask questions about their experiences in the community so you can connect and get to know each other.

Meeting your neighbors

One of the greatest advantages of transitioning to a senior living community is having other like-minded individuals nearby. Residents live within walking distance of each other, which makes it easy to get to know more people and make friends. Once you’re settled in your new living space, head next door and introduce yourself. Every resident made this transition at some point, so they can empathize with your feelings and share their stories.

Transition tip: If you’re feeling shy during the initial move-in process, talk to the staff members about how you can get to know the other residents. Someone can help you get settled at mealtime with a group of residents, or guide you to the next group activity so you can meet your neighbors with ease.

Exploring the amenities

Senior living communities have so much to offer their residents. From chef-prepared meals and fitness activities to crafting groups and beauty salons, there are many different ways to spend your free time. Take advantage of the amenities and don’t be afraid to try something new as well.

Transition tip: Ask other residents about their favorite amenities and ask to join them next time. It’s a great opportunity to explore the options available and also work on making new friends!

Major changes in life can be intimidating, but with the right amount of patience and support, you can make the transition with ease. Remember: This is your new living space, so you should feel just as comfortable in your senior living community as you were in your most recent home. Don’t be afraid to ask the staff about ways they can accommodate you and help you adjust, as they want to ensure your move is positive and stress-free.

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