Moving into a senior living community is an exciting time, full of address changes and packing. Your move can also be stressful or even scary. Change and transition can certainly be difficult; while time and grace are usually the best prescription for new routines, you can also find comfort in your new home by making some new friends.
Healthy and easy socialization opportunities are often a major selling point for senior living communities. However, even with peers only steps away from your new apartment, it can be difficult to jump into making new relationships with these new faces. Check out a few of our tips for finding “community” in your new senior living community.
Don’t cozy up by yourself.
While it might be tempting to cozy up in your new apartment, resist the temptation to always stay behind your closed door. Instead, make it a point to get out and about around your new community. Find new routes to and from your apartment, getting to know new hallways and corners of your senior living community. The more you get out of your apartment, the more comfortable you will be on your campus and the more chances you have to meet people in the hall.
Eat meals in the dining room.
Meals are naturally social, and eating lunch at the same table can make for easier conversations that don’t feel awkward. Your senior living community, depending on the level of care, likely serves at least one meal per day in a community dining room. Make it a point to enjoy a meal in the dining room at least once per day. Don’t worry if you don’t know whom to sit with; staff members can hook you up with a friendly table full of welcoming peers.
Get to know the activity director.
Your senior living community likely touts an activity calendar full of engaging events, programs, and opportunities for seniors to enjoy. The person behind the planning is the activity director—at Arbor we call them Engagement Directors—and she or he is just the person to get to know. Your activity director knows the friendliest neighbors in your community and can direct you to others who may have hobbies similar to yours. Your activity director is also often a friendly face who wants all seniors to participate in events, which means she or he can best direct you to some events where you may make some new friends.
Join a new club.
During your time with your activity director, consider asking for the active clubs in the community. Find one that interests you and attend a meeting. Senior living communities are as diverse as the seniors who live there, so chances are high that you will find a club that speaks to a past or current interest you have. It’s so much easier to make friends when you already share something in common.
Explore community transportation.
Most senior living communities offer transportation to and from different spots in the greater community. Even if you have a car, try taking the community-sponsored bus to your doctor appointments or grocery-shopping runs. You will have a chance to meet other neighbors on the ride and strike up a conversation.
Finally, say hello to everyone you run across. If you are naturally extroverted, this might not seem too hard. However, it can be a challenge to say hello to new faces if you are a bit shyer. If you make the effort to say hello to everyone in your path for a few months, you start the process for people to get to know you.
Finding new friends can seem overwhelming, but it is well worth the effort you put into it. Your new peers will become your support and encouragement during your time at your new home. New friends are always worth the effort!