Most older adults, if asked, will say they wish to remain in their homes for as long as possible. But sometimes, when seniors can no longer drive or lose a spouse, staying in their home can be isolating and a move into a retirement or healthcare community can be beneficial – if they develop hobbies that encourage socialization as well as physical and cognitive well-being.
Moving can be stressful, especially for older adults leaving their long-time homes to relocate to a retirement or assisted living community. Research shows that participating in group leisure activities can help new residents overcome fear and anxiety, develop a new social network, create a sense of belonging and maintain their independence.
According to a recent McMaster Optimal Aging Portal Blog post, structured leisure activities provide an opportunity for older adults to learn new skills while participating in their living community’s social life. When researching a senior’s residence, it’s essential to consider the social features and rules of the community in addition to the physical environment or health care services. Matching individual needs with the community helps seniors adapt more easily and stay actively engaged.
Many senior housing communities offer a variety of activities for residents that might include a community garden, book clubs, educational workshops or support groups for the recently bereaved. When residents embrace the volunteer and leisure activities in their new environment, older adults can continue to feel valued, keep learning, and create new friendships that provide a sense of belonging and enjoyment.
By proactively moving to a continuing care retirement community, older adults can take the time they need to find a senior living environment that meets their needs and has a culture in which they will thrive. Scheduling tours, having a meal, taking a look at the monthly events calendar and comparing costs and services are all part of the planning process – much like college tours help prospective students make their decision. Amenities like walking trails, dining options, or on-site yoga classes can have a big impact on maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle. A little research and a commitment to getting involved go a long way to a smooth and happy transition.
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