Moving to senior living has lots of benefits. Many older adults choose to move to a community because they want the safety and security, or because they don’t want to deal with the chores of owning a home or because they want the convenience and social opportunities that come from moving to a place populated by others in the same stage of life. But moving to a senior living community can feel, in the beginning, like being the new kid at school.
“One of the benefits of a senior living community – being in a place where everyone is looking for new friends and is at the same stage of life as you – is also one of its biggest downfalls for new residents.” says Angel Van Horn, Community Relations Specialist at Park Manor, the most trusted retirement community in Nashville, TN. “New residents find themselves thrust into a situation where there are many others who’ve already formed social groups, activity groups and have existing relationships. For individuals who are a bit out of practice when it comes to forming new friendships, the situation can seem intimidating and overwhelming.”
Angel reminds future residents that, even though it may feel awkward at first, they are in the same position as everyone else was when they moved to the community. “Everybody you see was the ‘new kid’ at one point,” she says. “They were able to move past it, and you will too – it just takes a little time and a few strategies, and sooner than you expect, you will find that you’re right at home in your new community.”
Tips for Breaking the Ice As a New Resident
1. Join social activities and events.
There’s always something fun happening at a senior living community, whether that’s a yoga class, ice cream social, happy hour, book club, day trip or what have you. Since you don’t have to plan or organize the activities, they’re some of the easiest ways to get involved in the life of the community and meet other people. All you have to do is show up and participate. Even if you’re not sure you’ll like the activity, be brave and give it a try. Socializing with other residents is more important than the activity itself. As you continue to try out activities and events, you’ll end up forming relationships and friendships with other residents.
2. Seek out those with similar interests.
In the same vein as trying out different activities, look for others who have similar interests and shared passions as yourself by starting a new activity group or specifically finding existing ones that match up with what you love. For example, if you enjoy true crime podcasts, talk to the activities director about starting up a club based on your interest. You may be surprised at how many other residents are interested in the same things you are – forming an instant foundation for friendship.
3. Make it a family affair.
Family members are usually welcome at senior living activities and events. If you’re feeling shy or awkward about going to a group activity, ask a family member to come with you at the beginning. By having someone there to play wingman (or simply to have a familiar face), this will allow you to more easily start conversations with others at the event. Then, once you’ve broken the ice, it’ll be easier and easier to have natural conversations with those who are attending. Eventually, you should feel comfortable enough to attend the events by yourself.
4. Enjoy a meal together.
Mealtimes are some of the best times for new residents to make friends with existing residents. Many senior community dining rooms are restaurant-style and will assign individuals to specific seats so they never have to dine alone. By sharing a meal together, residents have the opportunity to chat, share stories and bond – forming the basis of a new, potentially lifelong friendship.
5. Get out.
Instead of sitting in your home or apartment, get out and get around others. Sit in the library and read a book, or play a game in the game room. You may even consider going up to a group and introducing yourself if you’re feeling bold. Simply getting out and about can spark conversation – you may find that other residents will come up to you and want to talk to you because you’re new and they want to get to know you.
6. Form a buddy system.
Even if you’re the new kid on the block right now, you won’t be for long. Senior living communities often have new residents coming in on the regular, meaning you may be “old hat” to a new resident. Consider introducing yourself to another newish member and bond over your “newness.” By forming a buddy system and working together to integrate yourselves into community life, you’ll form camaraderie and make it easier to meet others.
7. Be patient.
Although you or your loved one may want to make things happen immediately, don’t be discouraged if it takes some time to make new friends. After all, it’s not like you’re on a schedule – it can take a little time to adjust to senior living and get to know others. The best advice we can offer is to be patient, pleasant and open to new opportunities. Be willing to take risks and talk to people you don’t know, even if it might seem scary at first. Pretty soon, those passing conversations will turn into acquaintances and then relationships. You’ll start to learn routines and meet others who share your interests, and before you know it, you’ll have made some friends and made your new community feel more like home.
If you have more questions about adjusting to life and making friends at our senior living community, please contact us at 615.997.3030.
Love Where You Live!
Have you ever asked yourself the question, “Do I love where I live?” If you ask that question of the residents of Park Manor, Nashville’s premier retirement community, the answer would be a resounding, “Yes!” For over 50 years, Park Manor has served Nashville’s seniors by providing a community designed to support an active, independent, secure, healthy and worry-free lifestyle. Located on seven spacious acres in the desirable Nashville neighborhood Belle Meade, we’re proud to provide a lifestyle our residents love each and every day.
Park Manor’s approach to senior living is simple: exceed our residents’ expectations. We strive to provide everything you could possibly need and want to live your life the way you choose. At Park Manor, you will enjoy a standard of living reminiscent of a luxury resort – but it’s not a vacation – it’s your lifestyle! This commitment is why we are held in such high regard by our surrounding community and are known as thepremier retirement community offering Independent Living and Assisted Living lifestyles.
For seniors requiring memory care, Park Manor is associated with the prestigious Abe’s Garden® Memory Care Center of Excellence. Abe’s Garden® is committed to transforming the care of those with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia by establishing a national model of residential living and day care programs for those suffering from the disease. Abe’s Garden® provides an unprecedented level of care in addition to a comprehensive array of services and lifestyle options.
At Park Manor, your continued independence is our top priority. Enjoy living life as you choose … in the comfort and privacy of your own apartment, while having the peace of mind of knowing help is available if and when you need it.
For more information, please call 615.997.3030.