How to Make the Most of Assisted Living
Guest Blog by Sharon Wagner
Moving to an assisted living facility is a wonderful way to find an instant community of people who are in your age range and share your interests. Such a built-in social network becomes especially valuable in your golden years.
According to this National Poll on Healthy Aging, one in three adults aged 50 to 80 feels lonely. It’s further been shown that older adults who are isolated from the world are more likely to experience depression. Get inspired by the tips below and make the most out of the wonderful opportunities offered by assisted living.
Take Advantage of a Chance for Exercise
Most assisted living centers offer some sort of physical activity program. This could include anything from nature walks to senior yoga or even swimming excursions. If you’re able, take part in these course offerings on a regular basis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, exercise has many benefits for older adults, including reducing the risk of heart disease and nixing anxiety.
What’s more, exercise actually appears to slow down physical aging. A survey of runners showed that they had less age-related DNA damage than sedentary individuals. More precisely, the physically active people’s telomeres — the protective ends capping DNA strands that keep them from wearing down — were longer.
Participate in Communal Activities
Such exercise programs are also beneficial because they allow you to connect easily with other residents. If you aren’t the most mobile, however, assisted living facilities offer plenty of other opportunities to make new friends. A weekly schedule might include group activities like bingo or movie nights, for example.
Also, keep an eye out for special festivities. Holidays can be tough for older people, especially if they’ve lost a spouse or close friend. Stave off feelings of sadness by getting involved: Thanksgiving dinners, Halloween parties, Christmas caroling fests — these fun breaks from everyday life are a great way to keep your spirits high. Such holiday traditions are usually also open to family visitors. The more the merrier!
Bring Part of Your Old Home to the New One
Even though you know assisted living will benefit your mental and physical health as you get older, leaving your old house behind for a new one isn’t easy. If you can, incorporate pieces of your former living space into the new one. You probably can’t bring big items like a bed or couch, but familiar homey touches are enough to create a personal feeling.
Maybe you have a favorite pillow or throw blanket you like to curl up with when chilly, for instance — such smaller items are easy to incorporate into a pre-furnished space. Here’s another idea: You might not have space to store boxes of photo albums, but you can choose your favorite shots of family and create a collage for your room. This Caregivers.com blog has more great tips for personalizing a senior care room, which include adding a bulletin board to display photos, adding seating for guests, and purchasing an indoor plant.
Give Yourself Time to Adjust
Moving to a new home is difficult at any age. Maybe you can remember being a kid and having to switch to a different school — it was likely terrifying! Just because you’re all grown up now doesn't mean a transition will be easier. In fact, it’s been suggested that moving gets harder the older people get, so be patient; you won’t feel at home overnight.
Choosing the right facility will make a big difference in your comfort. Assess what’s important to you when looking at options, whether it’s in-house yoga classes or your ability to keep a pet. Budget is also a factor. There are so many options available, you’re sure to find one that suits you. Don’t get discouraged, and take your time to find one you like.
With time, you will start to feel at ease in your assisted living community. Research shows it takes around two months for people to form a new habit. So, give yourself at least 60 days to settle into a new routine and get a feel for your surroundings. Follow the tips above and soon enough you’ll be thriving in this wonderful new environment!