After moving to a senior living community, it may be challenging to meet neighbors and get involved in daily activities at first. Studies show that daily interaction and socialization can help seniors both mentally and physically. It is important to be proactive and take baby steps towards making friends and creating memories at your new home. By being proactive with the following tips, most individuals find that meeting new friends happens quickly.
Here are a few tips for residents and family members to take that first leap.
Review the monthly activity calendar - This can seem like an obvious first step, but it’s an important one to remember. Review the calendar and circle the activities that are of interest. Most importantly, keep it somewhere visible where you will see it every morning. Ask to set up daily or weekly reminder calls to help encourage participation in activities.
Look for small group activities - It is a good idea for new residents to join a small group activity in the beginning. This helps the resident make a few new acquaintances and avoid the pressure of meeting too many new faces at one time.
Find a buddy - If you or your loved one wants to participate but are shy or just need some encouragement, let one of the associates know so they can do their best to gently nudge and even escort you or your loved one to activities. Not everyone is comfortable venturing out without a buddy and usually, there is a staff member who will happily escort you to an event and introduce you to others.
Schedule social time - Medical appointments are important, but so is socialization and camaraderie with your friends and neighbors. Scheduling social time in advance, so you don’t miss out on opportunities can help you find the time to attend events and activities.
Be Proactive - Don't sit and wait for your loved ones to call. Give them an activity calendar, so they know when you are going to be busy and save those calls and visits for when you are at home later in the evening. If you are that loved one, remind your Mom or Dad, Grandma or Grandpa, friend or companion that you want them to participate and will call later. Perhaps writing on the calendar when you plan to visit is beneficial so your loved one will not be fearful of missing you while they are enjoying an activity.
Speak Up - Join in a resident council and let the Community Director or Lifestyle Director know what activities you would like to see on the calendar. If they don’t offer the activity you are looking for, perhaps they can add it.
Exercise - If you or your loved one is finding it physically challenging to participate, exercise can help. Consider utilizing therapy services if you need to improve your strength, endurance and flexibility.
Remain Positive - Moving to a senior community can be overwhelming, and there are many adjustments, so don't put too much pressure on yourself. Enjoy what you can participate in and forget about those activities that you no longer enjoy.