retirement living

Adjusting to Life in a Retirement Home

Change, no matter what the reason, is always difficult. A transition to a retirement home, assisted living, or independent living facility is fraught with many emotions which may make the adjustment period longer than we might expect or desire.

A typical adjustment period can be up to six weeks as new daily routines are adopted, new friends are made, and new activities are undertaken.

Here are some helpful guidelines that you can use that help you from the very beginning of the process:


Make it a Joint Decision

Your loved one needs to be involved in the decision of moving and the discussion should begin with an explanation of what a retirement community or assisted living is. You can look at brochures or websites together and when ready, you can visit the facilities together. Observe the staff and residents. Look at the apartments or units.  See what is happening in the recreation or activities room. You want your loved one to experience the daily activities during your visit and become familiar with the surroundings.


Planning the Move

Encourage your loved one to decide in which retirement community to live, if he or she is able. Give your opinion, but being able to make the decision is a sign of independence that is very important during this time when the feeling of loss is high. Be sure to include them in the planning and moving process.  A Senior Move Manager can help in the emotionally-charged procedure of deciding what to take and what to give away or dispose of. They may only be able to do this in small blocks of time which will allow them to process memories and the emotions of moving.


Settling In

Stay actively involved in your loved one’s new life during the first few months by calling and visiting. This will help avoid a feeling of isolation or loneliness during the time before he or she adjusts to the new routine and activities. However, it is important to give them the space they need to explore their new surroundings and make new friends.

When you visit initially, have your loved one show you around. Have lunch together. Watch a movie. Visits that include a meal out or a trip to the store provides assurance that this freedom is still available. If you think your departure at the end of your visit will cause anxiety, ask the staff ahead of time to divert your loved one to an activity as you leave.

Getting Active

Assisted Living and Retirement communities offer many activities that appeal to many interests, whether physical, mental, or creative.  Group arts and crafts, lectures, movies, exercise, and more are available within the community.  It is also important to encourage your loved one to interact with their friends and relatives and to maintain relationships both in and outside the community.


Addressing Concerns

If something doesn’t feel right or there are continuing bouts of agitation, sadness, confusion or anger, talk to staff members.  Rule out a health issue and address any social problems that may be inhibiting the adjustment to retirement living.



Making the transition to an assisted living or retirement home can be emotionally overwhelming.  The adjustment period may be two weeks or four weeks or even six weeks for some. Give your loved ones the time they need to adjust with compassion and understanding.  Don’t minimize or dismiss their feelings. Be sympathetic but stress the positives with encouragement.

Remember that life transitions are difficult and emotional upsets are normal. Your loved one needs time to acclimate to a new life. Expecting overnight happiness isn’t realistic, but it will happen and soon your loved one will greet you with a smile and the latest news of what’s been going on in her new life.


Let Us Help

If you have questions regarding these or other concerns about assisted living communities in the Aurum Network, contact us at 978-282-9551 or on our website.  To locate a community within the Aurum Network, use our facility locator tool.  

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