What’s the difference between assisted living and a retirement community? Assisted living is for adults (mostly, but not always, senior citizens) who need help with everyday tasks, like dressing, bathing, or eating, but don’t need full time nursing care. Retirement communities are for seniors who want to downsize and escape the hassle and expense of maintaining a private home, and live among other seniors with easy access to activities and socialization. A retirement community may have an assisted living facility on site, but generally the residents don’t require assistance with daily activities.
For many people, the decision to move to an assisted living facility is tough. There are a lot of questions. Do you really need the help? Will the facility have trained staff available day and night? Will you make new friends? Will it be difficult for family and friends to visit? While it seems like there’s a lot of uncertainty, rest assured that facilities want you to have a successful transition, to ease into the daily routines, and to maintain your relationships just as you did before moving in. With a little preparation, you can make the whole process go more smoothly.
Once you’ve selected a facility, start planning for your move. Ask the facility about furniture and personal items. Some people even like to see the room they’ll be moving into, and take measurements to help determine what to bring. Decide which personal items, keepsakes, and other things you’ll want to pack and bring with you. Sort through your drawers and closets, and weed out clothing that doesn’t need to move with you. Remember, closets and drawer space at the facility may be more limited than what you currently have. Ask the facility what type of move-in help they’ll be able to offer. You may need to ask family and friends to help with bulky furniture or heavy boxes. If you’re up to it, this is a great time for a yard or garage sale.
Once you’ve moved in, take care of yourself emotionally. Moving is hard, give yourself a chance to adjust, and don’t be afraid to talk about your feelings. You may want to speak to clergy or a close friend. The best strategy for getting yourself mentally readjusted may be to jump in with both feet! Introduce yourself to your new neighbors. Participate in some of the activities, even if you don’t really feel like it. Spend some time walking around the facility and familiarizing yourself with the layout. It may take a while, but eventually it will start to feel like home. Everyone copes with change differently. You’ve got a new address, and a chance to make new friends and learn new things, but it doesn’t mean you will leave your old friends, likes, and dislikes behind.