Retirement communities are an increasingly popular option for aging adults who want to maintain their independent living, while also having fewer responsibilities and greater support available. Once you have made the decision to move to a retirement community, or if you are assisting a loved one who is making that move, your next steps are to prepare for the transition. You may wonder how to prepare logistically, physically, and emotionally. Utilize this guide to ease your transition:
Your first order of business will be to select a retirement community that offers the right balance of independent living with support, so that you can age in place. You also want to select a setting that will fit your interests and needs. Many retirement communities offer common areas and amenities. So be sure to take tours and look for the amenities that will match your or your loved one’s interests. Talk to the staff and current residents to get a feel for the community.
Once you have selected a retirement community, your next decision may be to select your specific accommodations. Many retirement communities offer multiple floorplans to choose from. Considering your independent living needs, you may want a studio, one-bedroom, or a space you could share with a roommate. Your next step would be to streamline your belongings and prepare for the move.
One of the best things about a retirement community is that you will have fewer responsibilities around your living space—no more lawns to mow or sudden costly home repairs. You also do not want to bring unnecessary baggage that would overwhelm your living space and ultimately diminish your quality of life. Of course, it may be challenging to reduce a large collection of items down to the essentials.
Most residents choose to bring those items that have sentimental value and those that will help them turn their new residence into a home—for example photos, cozy blankets, and a favorite armchair. As part of promoting active and independent living, residents may also want to bring any necessary supplies for hobbies or favorite past times, so they can continue to enjoy those activities.
Of course, moving into a retirement community, even one that seems like a perfect fit, will bring with it some emotional consequences. Many older adults do struggle with the idea of giving up some of their independence, even when moving into an independent living setting. The potential of leaving behind their former home, friends, and other community supports may also be upsetting.
Choosing the right retirement community does play a big role for emotional preparation. Some communities offer amenities that help the resident to feel at home and connected to peers. These can include not just common areas, but also planned activities and transportation to local attractions. Many communities now also permit residents to bring their pet, which eliminates that emotional loss.
Planning for these factors will help aging adults transition into their new setting. Once moved in, supportive staff will help residents become oriented to the available amenities. Retirement communities that provide more opportunities to socialize, allow their residents to build friendships with one another and enjoy spending their time together. When you find the right place for you and your needs, settling in and creating new routines is a lot easier.