Making the transition to community living for seniors can be both exciting and challenging. The move brings ease to aging adults’ lives, but also the challenge of building new relationships. Many older adults live alone or with just their partners or family for years. Then, their new home suddenly brings them in close proximity to neighboring residents. If you or someone you love recently moved or plans to transition to a senior living community, you may be worried about getting settled. Take into account these six tips to help first-time residents adapt to and thrive in community living.

1. Get Involved 

To get the most out of senior living, you have to get involved! One of the biggest draws of senior living communities is the opportunity to socialize. Social isolation is common in older adults and it’s linked to depression and increased advancement of memory loss. Fortunately, living close to your neighbors helps fight the effects of social isolation. While you may not know anyone in your new community yet, the stage is set for you to make new friends! 

Step out of your comfort zone and attend social events in your community. Or, try simply spending time in the common areas to meet people. Eventually, you’ll form lasting relationships that will help you settle in at your new place.

2. Introduce Your Family

As you begin to settle in, invite your family to your new community. (Given you can, depending on current regulations and social distancing practices). Have them join in a social event and introduce them to your new friends. Encourage your guests to engage with other residents during their visit. If you struggle with small talk, invite grandchildren to visit. Kids help put others at ease and are a great conversation topic. If your family lives far away, take time to share pictures and videos of them with your neighbors. As they get to know you better, your connection will likely grow.

3. Parade Your Pet

Maybe you don’t have the fortune of having your family close by, but a furry friend might be just the companionship you need. Many senior living communities allow pets to join you in your new home. Use your animal friend as a way to connect with others. For example, take extra time while walking your dog to stop and talk to other residents. People will be eager to engage your pet and to start a conversation about their own furry friends. If you’re not up for the responsibility of having your own pet, show interest in your neighbor’s animal. Equip yourself with a few treats to get on the pet’s, and its owner’s, good side!

Alternatively, many communities that don’t allow pets as residents still have animal-based activities, like visiting shelters or organizations. Everyone loves animals. Use the activity as an ice-breaker to chat with your new neighbors as you’re enjoying time with a furry friend.

4. Get to Know the Staff

In a senior living community, your peers aren’t the only people in close proximity. The staff in your new community will also be present in your daily life. Take time to engage and get to know them. Even if you don’t connect with them on a personal level, always be courteous. You never know when you’ll need their helping hand! Overall, cheerful interactions between residents and staff can make your living experience and their job more enjoyable.

5. Be a Good Neighbor

If you lived in the same place for many years prior to your move, you might be rusty on neighbor etiquette. However, living close to new people means it’s time to brush up on neighborly skills. Here are just a few ways you can help get along with fellow residents:

  • Follow all regulations of your new community.
  • Don’t hog shared spaces and tidy up after use.
  • Be mindful of noise, like a loud TV or barking dog.
  • Avoid making unannounced visits to neighbors.

Overall, be thoughtful towards your new neighbors. A little effort goes a long way and can help your new living situation be successful.

6. Welcome Newcomers

Once you’re settled in your new place, take time to welcome other new residents. Remember how you felt when you first moved in and aim to take the initiative when you see someone new. Maybe you give them a tour of the grounds or point them towards a staff member that can help with various information. Or maybe you invite them for coffee and offer a listening ear as they share general concerns. No matter the assistance you’re able to provide, take the chance to form a new relationship with your new neighbor.

Make the Most of Your Senior Living Community

Senior living is, no doubt, a new way of life for older adults. With new people, places and activities, residents may feel nervous or apprehensive in their new community. That’s only natural! Building relationships is not easy, but being social is key to living a happy and healthy life. To make a smooth transition, new residents should aim to take advantage of all of their senior living community’s services and amenities. With a little effort on your part, you’ll be loving senior living in no time!