Helping Your Loved One Adjust to an Independent Living Community
Embracing change is often easier said than done. While major milestones in our lives are usually celebrated by those close to us, actually going through the change in our situation can be stressful and difficult. For older individuals, transitioning to an independent living community can be a source of tension.
If you are the child or family member of an older adult who is making the change to independent living, here are many things that you can do to help ease this transition. At Harwood Place, we have helped many local families adjust to our beautiful, comfortable Independent Living community in Wauwatosa — click here to learn more. While everyone’s situation is different, below are some ideas that we know can help when moving loved ones into their new home:
Be Smart About Downsizing
When preparing to move into an independent living community, there is a good chance that your loved one will need to downsize their belongings. At Harwood Place, our Independent Living apartments are spacious and comfortable, but they are likely a decrease in living and storage space for someone who is used to living in a single-family home.
One thing you can do to help ease your loved one’s transition is to help them see the downsizing effort as a fresh start. Help your loved one determine what items mean the most to them (e.g., photo albums or family heirlooms) so they can ensure to keep those items with them when they make the move. Other items that may be too big for the new space, like large furniture pieces, can be distributed among family members so they know they will be loved and looked after.
If this process gets too overwhelming, you can also help your loved one with this transition by arranging for a storage service to do this task. Downsizing into an independent living community is also a great chance to donate useful items to organizations like churches or nonprofits that support families in need.
Take an Active Role on Moving Day
To the extent possible, new residents can ease their anxieties about moving to a new independent living community by taking an active role in the moving process. Loved ones should be intentional with how things are initially arranged in their new living space. If they are physically able, they should drive their own car to the new residence and personally bring in the items that mean the most to them.
For loved ones who lack the capacity to physically participate in the move, encourage them to write down or dictate any special intentions or plans they would like to have carried out on the day of the move. To the extent possible, have them be physically present during the move if they prefer.
Consult with Other Residents
For newcomers, chatting with current residents is one of the best ways to quickly get the low-down on the best features of the community. Advice on navigating the facility, taking advantage of the best menu items, and the best classes for exercise and recreation can all be gleaned from those who have lived there for some time.
This also gives your loved ones the chance to socialize and connect with their new neighbors. The quicker your loved one can feel like part of their community, the easier it will be to feel assured they are at home in their new residence.
Schedule Plenty of Visits
As your loved one makes the transition to their new home, consider how often you should schedule visits. Typically, families visit more frequently as their loved ones get acclimated to their new environment. Be open and communicate with your loved one about their preferences in the early days and weeks after moving in, and try to accommodate these preferences to the best of your ability. If physical visits are not possible on a routine basis, consider ways to set up virtual visits using common technology such as tablets or smartphones.
Encourage Your Loved One to Have Fun
Most senior living communities offer activities and outings so residents can socialize and stay connected to the community. At Harwood Place Independent Senior Living in Wauwatosa, we provide our community members with an array of amenities and services dedicated to keeping them comfortable, independent, and happy. Harwood Community Amenities include At Your Service transportation to community destinations, a beauty/barber shop, a business center, a chapel (all faiths), and a community room for comfortable socialization. Residents can also visit the fitness room, game room, gift shop, or library. For added convenience, grocery staples are available on-demand in addition to restaurant-style dining and a fun pub. We offer a robust events calendar so residents never get bored. A state-of-the-art wellness center and clinic services round out this impressive list of amenities available at Harwood Place.
Above All, Listen To and Validate Their Feelings
Moving into an independent living community can be both exciting and overwhelming for your loved one. It’s important to talk openly about the feelings that come up around this transition. Whether they’re worried about leaving their home, concerned about the new surroundings, or excited at the opportunities ahead, let them know that you are there to listen and offer support without judgment. Ask gently how they are feeling, acknowledging whatever emotions they experience. Reassure them that while it may feel different than they expected, many people find peace of mind, security, and a renewed sense of purpose in their new home. Most importantly, let them know that you will always be there for them as they make this big change in their life.
Ready to get started on this exciting next chapter in your loved one’s life? Click here to learn more about Harwood Place: Independent Living in Wauwatosa.