Photo by Anna Auza
A report from the 2015-2016 year showed there were about 811,500 Americans living in some form of a senior community. There were 28,900 care communities housing 996,100 licensed beds.
What does this mean for you or your loved one?
If you are living in a senior community for the first time—or are moving a loved one into a senior living community—you might be wondering how to make it feel like home. Because of those that have come before you, there is a plethora of advice on how to make the space feel comfortable and personal.
We’ve taken some of the best advice and refiled it here for your convenience. Keep reading to learn how to personalize a senior community.
For Starters, Decorate the Room
The primary thing someone can do when moving into a senior community is to make their space “theirs.”
First, learn any restrictions the community might have.
For example, you may not be able to put holes in the wall—but you can use mounting putty. Rules vary on a community basis, so knowing what you can and can’t do before decorating helps keep things organized and focused. How someone styles their room also depends on whether it’s furnished or unfurnished.
Once you’re familiar with the guidelines, get to decorating!
If a room is unfurnished, that leaves some flexibility in the floor plan and allows for a familiar piece of furniture, like a beloved armchair. If a room is already furnished, furniture can still be adorned with favorite throw pillows or blankets.
Consider small but sentimental items, such as picture frames, precious knick-knacks, a plant, a small rug, books, or a hand mirror. Anything in this realm will do great wonders in transforming the space into something unique. Scent is also a powerful contributor to comfortability—so you may have a seasonal candle (or oil diffuser, if candles aren’t allowed).
Once Settled, Begin to Develop a Routine Again
Having a routine proves to be very advantageous, especially in stressful times.
The chances are that you or your loved one has a routine at home. Perhaps it looks like this: waking up early, having tea with the newspaper, walking the dog, running errands, volunteering at the library, and then coming home for dinner and TV before bed. Most people have some sort of day-to-day habits or hobbies that provide structure.
If life is feeling a little chaotic after moving, a routine can bring it back into focus. A routine provides organization, productivity, and relief from uncertainty or unpredictability. It provides much-needed comfort and control over one’s life.
Having a routine means your daily activities—but it also means things like weekly self-care acts. Perhaps that’s getting a haircut, spending the day relaxing, or enjoying a game night. Self-care should never get excluded when considering a schedule.
Remember to follow a schedule that fits your new life. Focus on things you can control, stay in touch with loved ones, and stay positive. You can prepare for challenges while also preparing to be resilient if and when things are different. Embrace change, stay active, get good sleep—and adjustment will come much sooner.
Branch Out and Make Friends With Other Residents
Personalizing a senior community is about more than decorating a room—although that’s a start.
It’s also about integrating with the community by socializing with residents, attending events, and participating in other calendar activities. A resident can spend plenty of time in the multipurpose room, café, and fitness center. There are typically many entertainment options within a senior living community, offering residents plenty of time to meet, greet, play games, and hang out together.
So, if you or your loved one finds themselves feeling isolated, encourage branching out. Chances are someone else is new and looking for a friend. Senior communities are a fantastic place to meet like-minded individuals experiencing similar situations and can bond throughout the transition.
Similarly, Get to Know the Staff of the Senior Community
Being on good terms with staff members in the community can help someone acclimate, especially if they are receiving assisted care.
Knowing the staff and engaging in conversation with them makes everyone more comfortable and the feeling more communal. Staff members can be a fantastic resource for asking questions, learning the calendar, meeting others, and other community information.
When someone moves into a senior community, it’s always helpful to learn the names of staff members and communicate any needs that you might have. Staff members can ensure the process of moving into a senior living facility is more simple.
Live Your Best Life With These Tips!
Moving into a senior community will certainly be a transition—but there are ways to make it feel like home.
Don’t underestimate the power of making friends with residents as a way to settle in. Small touches like picture frames, quilts, and oil diffusers can keep you or your loved one cozy while making the space personal. Falling back into a routine can also help the experience be more familiar, as habits establish structure.
And finally, make sure you love your staff!
At The Retreat at Alameda, we think you or a loved one will feel right at home. Our staff is dedicated, friendly, and compassionate, making the transition to senior living as smooth and enjoyable as possible.
Click here to schedule an appointment with us. We’d love to start the conversation to see if senior living is the right step for your loved one. From luxury, resort-style living to assisted and personalized care, we do it all.