The move to a senior living community can be an emotional one. If you are downsizing from a family home to an apartment, you might feel like you are leaving behind a lifetime of memories. Alternatively, you may be relocating from one senior living community to another, either because you need more support than that facility can offer or because it was not a good fit. This change, like all life changes, can be unnerving.
The fear of the unknown deters many older adults from transitioning to senior living. Each year, seniors’ reluctance to leave their homes forces 70 percent of families to postpone their search for senior living options. And yet this much-needed life change can provide aging parents with the daily support and social engagement they need.
That being said, moving to a senior living community does not need to be scary or anxiety-inducing. To help you or your parents make this change, we have compiled tips for transitioning to a senior living community in Concord, New Hampshire.
- Why Move to a Senior Living Community?
- 3 Tips To Ease the Transition to Senior Living
- Tips for Moving From Home To Senior Living
- Tips for Moving From a Caregiver’s Home To Senior Living
- Tips for Moving to a Different Senior Living Community
Why Move to a Senior Living Community?
While nearly 90 percent of Americans age 50 and older want to age in place, staying at home is not always an option. Unlike continuing care retirement communities like Havenwood Heritage Heights, which offer residents a continuum of care, at-home caregivers often struggle to provide adequate support as the senior’s health declines. This can strain families.
Financial stress can do the same. Though many believe that aging in place is more affordable than moving to a senior living community, the opposite is true. Many senior living communities provide an all-inclusive fee structure, bundling recurring expenses like rent, utilities, lawn care, housekeeping and laundry into one flat rate. This flat rate is typically cheaper than if a senior paid for these services à la carte.
Senior living communities also offer invaluable peace of mind. With 24/7 security and, in some cases, an onsite team of nurses, seniors and their families can rest assured that someone is always nearby should a medical emergency occur.
3 Tips To Ease the Transition to Senior Living
When you or your aging parents decide now is the time to transition to a senior living community, you will likely have conflicting emotions. Older adults may worry the move will compromise their independence. Adult children may feel guilty that they can no longer provide the care their mother or father needs.
Though these feelings are valid, it is essential to remember that this transition is for the best. Keep reading for other tips that will ease the stress during this major life change.
1. Find the right fit
Not all senior living communities are created equal. While assisted living communities provide services like medication management and assistance with activities of daily living, most independent living communities do not. Similarly, while some communities have swimming pools and onsite libraries, others do not.
Before beginning your search, consider your needs and wants. What level of care is best for you? What services and amenities are you seeking? You should also be honest with yourself and set a realistic price point.
After thinking critically about what you expect from a senior living community, create a shortlist of communities that meet those parameters and tour your top choices. During the tour, be sure to speak with current residents, taste the food and ask lots of questions. You may even ask for a second tour at a later point. After all, this is a big decision.
2. Plan carefully
As soon as you select a community to call home, start planning your move. You should give yourself adequate time — at least three months — to downsize your belongings. We suggest recruiting friends and family members to help sort, sell, donate and throw away unwanted items. Though sifting through a household full of memories can be overwhelming, this is a critical step.
During this time, you should also be making plans to handle the logistical aspects of moving. As with all moves, you will need to cancel recurring services like cable, internet, power, trash removal and lawn care. You will likely need to hire a professional moving service as well.
3. Be patient with yourself
Adjusting to a new space is stressful, so much so that there is a name for it: relocation stress syndrome. Symptoms include anxiety, confusion, hopelessness and loneliness. Older adults can help alleviate these feelings by grabbing dinner with neighbors, participating in daily activities and joining clubs. Spending time alone, decorating and settling into your new space can help too.
However, if you still feel out of place or homesick, remember to be patient with yourself. You just experienced a major life change and your feelings are valid. Give yourself time to adjust. After speaking with other residents, you may be surprised to hear that they felt the same way at first but now love where they live.
Tips for Moving From Home To Senior Living
Many older adults who are transitioning from their family home to a senior living community worry they will lose their independence. They fear the community will feel regimented or that they will not have alone time.
If you find yourself in this situation, here are some suggestions for feeling more comfortable in your new space.
- Maintain your hobbies. Moving to a senior living community does not mean you have to overhaul your life. If you love to run, find new trails. If you love to fish, find new lakes. Keep doing what makes you happy.
- Stay connected. Similarly, you can maintain existing friendships, even if those people live outside the community. In fact, many senior living communities encourage residents to invite friends to share a meal in the dining room or to attend events.
- Check your rights. If you are concerned about your legal rights to privacy and independence, meet with a staff member. If you ever feel like these rights are not being honored, file a complaint.
Tips for Moving From a Caregiver’s Home To Senior Living
About 17 percent of adult children will serve as their mother or father’s caregiver at some point in their life. Though many caregivers take great pride and joy in giving back, there typically comes a time when they can no longer provide the support their parent needs.
In these cases, both the parent and the caregiver benefit from transitioning tips.
- Communicate regularly. Caregivers often develop deep bonds with the person they are caring for. When a life change forces that person to transition to a senior living community, regular visits and phone calls can ease the sense of loneliness or isolation the two may feel.
- Set boundaries. Nevertheless, it is also important that aging parents be given the time and privacy to settle into their new space. That being said, while weekly visits are appropriate, daily visits may not be.
- Grow individually. The caregiver and their aging parent may experience a sense of loss during this transition. As such, both parties should explore new hobbies or interests, rekindle old friendships or find other ways to grow as individuals.
Tips for Moving to a Different Senior Living Community
If an older adult moves to a senior living community that does not provide a continuum of care, they will likely need to move if and when their daily needs change. This can be an uncomfortable transition, especially if you are, for example, transitioning from independent living to assisted living and are unsure of what to expect.
Here are some recommendations for making the move easier.
- Recognize you need support. Maybe you struggle to bathe yourself or remember to take your medications. Whatever it is, accepting that you need extra help will make the transition to a higher level of care much easier.
- Build relationships. Though it can be disheartening to leave a community behind, you should be excited to foster new friendships with staff members and fellow residents.
- Expect setbacks. You may begin to acclimate to your new setting only to feel a twinge of loneliness or to miss a ritual at your past senior living community. Understand that these feelings are natural but that you made the move to receive the care you deserve.
Feel Right at Home at Havenwood Heritage Heights
At Havenwood Heritage Heights, we are proud to offer seniors access to a welcoming, safe and comfortable continuing care retirement community in Concord, New Hampshire. Our skilled staff is trained in the best ways to support individuals as they navigate the transition to a senior living community.
We understand that this is a huge life change — one that can be quite stressful for both prospective residents and their families. To help you make this move, we have created a downsizing guide for seniors in Concord, New Hampshire.