The transition from living independently to a senior living community can be tough for both new residents and their family members. Thankfully, there are several ways that senior living providers can help reduce stress for new residents and to improve their overall experience moving into their new home.
My community in Cincinnati, The Kenwood by Senior Star, begins taking steps to ease the transition process before a new resident even moves in, working closely with seniors and their families to make the transition as smooth as possible. Here are a few of the ways we help our new residents adjust, and how they might work for your community:
- Adopt an individualized approach: Each of our residents has circumstances and reasons for transitioning into a community. That’s why it’s important to take a resident-driven approach to understanding their unique needs as they move into your community — and tailor a transition plan specifically to them.
- Earlier often is easier: The happiest residents I have worked with are the ones who made a move to their senior living community before they had to. They did it on their time rather than because of pressure from family or a health-related occurrence. Make sure you’re taking steps to inform seniors in your city / location about your community and services, which gives them the option to move in and settle before it becomes a necessity.
- Schedule advance visits: It’s natural for unfamiliar surroundings to fuel anxiety, especially for people transitioning from a single-family home to a vibrant and active community. Encouraging potential residents to visit your community before they move in will help them get acquainted with their new home and familiarize themselves with the layout, services and amenities. At The Kenwood, we even encourage potential residents to attend a few of our group activities before they move in. Doing so allows them to see how members of the community interact with one another, and to meet fellow residents who can serve as friendly, familiar faces during their first days.
- Create a familiar living space: There is a reason people tend to sleep less well in hotels. The layout is different, sounds and smells are sometimes strange, and we all love the feeling of our bed. The same is true when moving into a new home or bedroom. The more you can help your new residents mimic the surroundings to which they are accustomed, the easier it will be for them to settle in. To do this, you might consider recreating the floor plan of their bedroom from home, hanging familiar artwork on the walls and encouraging them to move in with some of their own furniture.
- Encourage activities and socializing: One of the biggest benefits of senior living communities is just that — the community. Encouraging new residents to take part in daily group activities during their first few weeks is an excellent way for them to minimize feelings of loneliness, make new friends and increase their general comfort level in their new home. At The Kenwood, we offer diverse activities to fit the interests of almost every person, from music classes to field trips to local art institutions to lifelong learning lectures and yoga. Be sure to ask new residents what activities they like to do, then offer them a tailored itinerary they can consider following.
Transitioning from home into a senior living community can be a major challenge, but it doesn’t have to be. By following these tips and working closely with your new residents and their trusted family members, it’s possible to not only ease their arrival, but to lay a foundation that will help them remain comfortable, happy and thriving in their new community.