When you move from your own home into a senior living community, the transition is often full of new experiences—some exciting, some out of your comfort zone. It’s totally normal to feel complicated emotions when making this change and leaving your previous house behind.
Beyond bringing in your furniture, maintaining traditions is a great way to carry memories of your past into a new space. To help you jump start this next chapter, here are a couple ways to infuse your favorite traditions into a senior living community:
Prepare a Favorite Comfort Meal for Your Neighbors
If your apartment comes with a kitchen or you have access to an onsite community cooking area, recreate a (literal) taste of home to share with other residents. Sharing a meal or dessert that’s important to your family’s culture is a way of keeping your favorite traditions alive. For some, that may include authentic dumplings cooked from scratch each New Year’s Eve or a crisp batch of latkes for Hanukkah. Introduce your new neighbors to these delicacies, and encourage them to share their own recipes in return.
Hang Decorations to Make Your Space Feel Festive
Festivities and special occasions are a perfect opportunity to infuse your new apartment with holiday cheer, even if the layout is a little different. Pull out those decorations from their storage boxes and hang them around your space, just like you used to do at home in years past. The craft project Christmas ornaments your grandchildren made in school? Display them with pride. The old menorah that’s been a family heirloom for generations? Find a way to make it the centerpiece of your room. The colorful lanterns you used to string up for Diwali? There’s a place for them, too.
Make Holiday Cards to Mail Out to Family Members.
If you’re not able to celebrate family traditions in person with your loved ones, make handwritten cards for them on holidays or other meaningful events. Chances are, the senior living staff will be more than willing to send out these cards on your behalf. Family members are sure to be thrilled when your thoughtful, heartfelt words arrive in the mail. You can even turn this into a community project to do with some of the other residents, so you can all feel closer to those you love most—no matter the distance.
Learn More About Your Fellow Residents’ Traditions
As you settle into this new senior living environment, you will encounter residents from all sorts of diverse, unique backgrounds with cultural or family traditions that differ from your own. An important part of keeping traditions alive is passing them on to others.
Teach your new neighbors about the traditions you cherish, and be open to learning about theirs in return. For instance, maybe a resident down the hall celebrates Ramadan in the spring, while you celebrate Easter. Ask to hear their stories, traditions and memories, then reciprocate with yours. And who knows? You just might find other residents who share similar traditions to you in the process.
Keep Traditions Alive as You Transition into a Senior Living Community
Just because you’re moving to an unfamiliar place that might not feel like home quite yet doesn’t mean cherished family traditions have to stay behind. In fact, many senior communities understand this experience and intentionally create activities and environments where your traditions can thrive. Whether it’s through formal family-friendly events or just a simple visit, your family can be there every step of the way.
Remember, keeping traditions alive will help you acclimate to this exciting stage of life and make the transition into a senior living community feel comfortable and familiar. Getting involved and getting to know others is one of the best ways to feel at home!