Everyone experiences change and the challenges that come with starting over or transitioning to a new phase in life in different ways. No matter your age, moving to a new environment and starting over in a new community can be both rewarding and overwhelming, at least in the beginning. For older adults, moving to an independent living community often requires finding a workable balance between leaving behind a house full of memories and experiences, with an opportunity to pursue a new lifestyle and longstanding interests.
If you or someone you know is planning a move to an independent senior living community, planning ahead and taking a proactive approach can help make the process less stressful and more enjoyable.
6 Tips for Meeting New People and Staying Social in a Senior Living Community
Some people are naturally more outgoing and extroverted, which makes jumping into new social settings and communities easier than it is for shy or more introverted folks. But making new friends and social connections is possible (and recommended!) at any age. One of the many benefits of moving to an independent living community is the built-in social network that allows seniors to meet and interact with neighbors.
Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
Fear and apprehension over the possibility of being uncomfortable can keep people locked in old routines and make it more difficult to be open to new experiences and people who can broaden their worldview and social circle.
Some people may be a bit more resistant to change or used to doing things a certain way. Simply acknowledging it can take some time to adjust to a new environment and committing to taking small steps can help with the transition.
Set small and attainable goals, such as making a point just to introduce yourself to a certain number of new people every week after moving in, and signing up for activities that will get you up and out of your apartment on a daily and weekly basis.
Share Your Interests With a Discussion Group
Sharing interests or talents with others in your senior living community is a great way to break the ice. If you love reading and sharing your ideas and opinions with others, a casual and informal book club can be a great, low-pressure way to connect with like-minded people, as well as get a new perspective from those with differing opinions.
Check to see if your community offers one, or take the initiative and volunteer to get one off the ground! And if you happen to be more of a solitary reader or are not much of a reader at all, discussion groups can involve virtually any topic or activity under the sun!
Try New Things Often
In addition to the built-in community aspect of an independent senior living situation, another major benefit for residents is access to a wide variety of interesting physical and recreational activities. Already an avid piano player or accomplished oil painter? Challenge yourself by trying something that you think you may not be interested in and see what happens. In senior living communities, as in life, you often make new friends and discover new interests and opportunities where you least expect them!
Just the act of signing up for a dance class in a new style or trying to learn a new language, even if you decide that it is not for you and move on to something else later, can help remove any fear or anxiety around trying new things and interacting with new people in an unfamiliar environment.
Stay Physically Active
Taking a walk around the new neighborhood is a great way to meet new neighbors and to become familiar with landmarks and what the community has to offer on a daily basis. It can also be a good way to find new routines to help you or your partner get comfortable and put down roots in your new community, from finding a new coffee shop to eat breakfast in every morning or a bench or patch of grass under a shady tree to listening to music, enjoying a book or practicing meditation while getting fresh air and people watching. Or if you’ve always enjoyed walking, consider shaking things up and riding a bike for a change if it is safe to do so. Getting outside on a regular basis and staying physically active can help manage stress and potential feelings of isolation after a big move.
Being the new kid on the block can be difficult at any age. In order to break the ice and make meeting your new neighbors easier, consider hosting a little meet and greet of your own to introduce yourself and meet the neighbors in the comfort of your new home
Get to Know the Staff and Community Volunteers
Take advantage of the support and resources your senior living community provides. From helping you to navigate all of the activities and community events to help with introductions to your neighbors, senior living communities are designed to make sure your needs are met so you don’t have to go it alone.
For more information about independent senior living in active retirement communities, and a variety of services for seniors, contact us today by calling 800-464-4730 to learn more.