You’ve done it! You’ve selected an independent living community, downsized your belongings like a champ, sold your home and moved successfully. You’ve turned the page to a new chapter of your life, and it’s time to get out and enjoy everything retirement has to offer. However, after the initial rush of your move, you may find yourself feeling a little lost, discombobulated … even a little melancholy. That’s completely normal, says Judy Given, Senior Director, Campus Development at Abe’s Garden Community (formerly Park Manor), the most trusted retirement community in Nashville, TN.
“Big changes always require a bit of adjustment time,” she says. “Living in an independent living community after decades spent in your private home can feel very different. Your schedule may be different, your neighbors are new, and the food is definitely a change – it can take some time to find your rhythm and get settled into a new normal. Just know that you’re not alone in this. There are many people who have experienced the same things as you, and have gotten through the adjustment period to find a way of life that works perfectly for them.”
If you’ve just moved into independent living and are trying to find ways to become more involved and make the place feel more like home, here are some ideas for helping you get started.
Give yourself grace – and time.
Moving into independent living is a huge change. Don’t feel like you have to rush through your adjustment period, and don’t feel like you have to be supremely happy and carefree right away. Understand that this is a journey, and some journeys can be pretty exhausting if you try and barrel through them. There’s no timeline for when you have to be adjusted. Instead, take small steps and give yourself time to appreciate the newness around you. Take some time each day to make the community feel like home, but don’t feel like you have to do it all at once. You may want to ask family and friends to come over and help you unpack your boxes and decorate your new space. Turning the journey into a fun event can help you create new memories that will grow into a strong foundation for your future.
Peruse the activity calendar.
One of the best and easiest ways to dip your toe into life in the community is by attending one of the many events or activities that take place every day. From book clubs to gardening groups to lecture series to cooking classes and so much more, you’re sure to find something that meets your interests. Look through your community’s calendar or contact the concierge at your community to find at least one activity per week that sounds interesting to you. Pick an old favorite or try something new that you’ve always been interested in. Not only may you find a new hobby or reignite an old interest, but you also will have the opportunity to meet other community members and start forming connections and friendships.
Find your routine.
We are creatures of habit, and having a routine will immediately help you feel more at home and more “normal.” It can take some time to find the things that truly speak to you, but once you find a rhythm that works for you, do what you can to keep it up. Find a few things that you enjoy doing and make it a priority to attend them regularly. Look for social gatherings that you enjoy so that you can become a regular and start to get to know other people in the group. At the same time, figure out a daily routine with mealtimes, exercise and other things you enjoy doing. You’ll quickly find yourself with events and activities to look forward to.
Meet your neighbors.
One of the great things about independent living is that you’ve suddenly been dropped into a community of like-minded people in the same stage of life as you. In other words, it’s just like going to college … only this time you don’t have to leave after you graduate. Everyone in your community has the potential to be a new best friend, and the nice part is that everyone you meet has been the “new guy” at some point – so they know exactly how you feel. Even if you’re a naturally shy person, do your best to reach out and get to know your peers. Start with someone in a class you enjoy, or knock on the door of the person who lives next to you.
Join the gym.
Physical exercise is one of the best things you can do to help you feel good, age well and stays healthy, no matter how old you are. When you feel good, your mental health improves, so you’ll be even more willing and ready to check out your community and get integrated into daily life. You’ll also have the opportunity to meet new friends – always a good thing.
Invite friends and family to visit.
Just because you’ve moved into a new community doesn’t mean that you have to close off everything from your previous life. In fact, by inviting friends and family members to your new community for socialization, events and other fun activities, it’ll be that much easier to make the place feel like home. More than likely, your loved ones will want to and be excited to see your new community. It’s also a lot easier to talk to new people if you have a buddy or a “wingman” to help you out.
Make goals for yourself.
Change can be overwhelming, so instead of going full-bore and trying everything new all at once, think about small, realistic goals that you can achieve. Much like losing weight or learning a new skill, setting smaller goals can help you gain the confidence and boost you need to keep moving forward. Maybe your goal can be as big as learning a new hobby, or it can be as big as introducing yourself to your next-door neighbor. Remember, small goals lead to bigger goals, and bigger goals lead to a whole new world of opportunity for you.
For more information, please call 615.997.3030.