Seniors can help make their retirement community feel more like home

Transitioning to a retirement community provides older adults with many benefits. They often have more opportunities for social engagement, enjoy greater access to health care and can receive assistance with activities of daily living. Yet, despite all the positive aspects, some seniors may be hesitant to make the move because it requires them to live somewhere new. It’s certainly an understandable concern, especially if they have lived in the same house for decades. While nothing can replace a family house, there are some steps seniors can take to feeling more at home once they move to a retirement community.

Get involved
One of the easiest ways for seniors to feel more at home in retirement communities has nothing to do with the residence itself – they should get to know those around them. The opportunity for social engagement is one of the most significant advantages of living in a retirement community, and seniors should be sure to take full advantage of it. Whether it is reaching out to like-minded individuals simply to talk or joining one of the many clubs and groups that retirement communities offer, getting involved will certainly go a long way toward helping older adults feel more at home. It will also improve their health, as social interaction can help prevent depression and offer a boost to overall well-being.

Bring the right items
Many seniors elect to downsize to retirement communities because it makes little sense for them to live in a large home when it has long outlived its need. Not only that, but the maintenance and upkeep may be difficult for seniors to perform with limited mobility and similar health issues. But while they may have left their home behind, it doesn’t mean they can’t take some of it with them. Pieces of furniture, art, photos and any other decorations associated with their house can come with them and help lend a sense of familiarity to a new location.

Importance of visitors
Although many people may associate a sense of “home” with a physical building, oftentimes it’s the people who spend time in its walls that are most responsible for fostering this welcoming atmosphere. So while seniors may have moved from their house, they can still welcome friends and family to their new residence. These relationships are especially important to seniors, according to a recent study from the U.S. National Council on Aging. The 2013 poll of 4,000 older adults found that approximately 40 percent of seniors cited maintaining connections with friends and family members as their top concern. Many retirement communities provide residents with the opportunity to invite family and friends over, whether it’s simply to spend time with one another or to enjoy a meal.

Be open to new things
Above all else, the most important aspect of feeling more at home in retirement communities is to be open to the change. A number of seniors may resist such an upheaval in their everyday lives, but the ones who thrive are more likely to welcome the retirement community living experience. For instance, while it may be unusual to have someone take care of homemaking duties or cooking, looking at the positive aspects of the experience may be the best course of action. Being more open to new things may also encourage seniors to get socially involved.