Change is a part of life, but knowing that doesn’t make major transitions like a move to senior living any easier. While you or your loved one may fully appreciate the benefits and opportunities that senior living provides, a move is likely to be stressful. Stress can be detrimental to anyone; however, seniors are even more susceptible to the health risks it can create. Here’s how to manage that stress during a move to senior living.
Causes of Stress for Seniors
It’s natural to worry about the future – we all do. While our younger selves are stressed over what college to attend, job success, and rearing children, as we get older the stresses related to aging move to the forefront. In fact, some of the most common aging fears include:
- Loss of independence
- Declining health
- Running out of money
- Losing loved ones
- Depending on others
- Not being able to drive
- Being isolated and lonely
- Falling or becoming disabled
Moving from home is also a big stressor, especially when it’s to a senior living community – it’s often seen as a tipping point to many of the above fears being realized. Then there are also the stresses a move brings, like being in a new environment, being out of your comfort zone, not knowing what to expect, and in a community setting- being the new kid so to speak.
The Impact of Stress on Seniors
There are a number of mental and physical health issues that can impact seniors as a result of prolonged stress including:
- High blood pressure
- Increased risk for heart disease
- Weakened immune system
- Anxiety and/or depression
- Poor concentration
- Heartburn and/or indigestion
Navigating Stress During a Move to Senior Living
Now that you can certainly see why it’s so important to manage stress during you or your loved one’s move to senior living, the question becomes, how? These tips can help:
- Learn All You Can – Fear of the unknown feeds stress, so do all you can to educate yourself or your loved one on what to expect at the senior living community you’ve chosen. Visit to participate in activities, if possible. Follow their social media accounts, and talk to other residents as well as staff to get a feel for what daily life is like. Also, ask for a copy of the activity calendar and menu. And don’t hesitate to ask any questions you may have!
- Start Planning – Along the same lines, it can be helpful to go ahead and start planning your or your loved one’s new space. Not only is it another way you can get a sense of what to expect, but it’s also a way to have a little fun deciding how you’ll personalize the space. Senior living communities often have interactive floor plans on their website, or you can just ask for a copy. By also asking for a list of what items they recommend you do or don’t bring, you can go ahead and start packing as well.
- Maintain Good Health Habits – Exercise releases endorphins which can help with stress, so make sure to stay as active as you can, whether it’s making time for a daily walk or something as simple as parking further away while you run errands to get some extra steps in. Along with that, continue to eat nutritious meals, drink plenty of water, and get enough sleep.
- Find Your Zen – We know relaxing is likely easier said than done right now. But it’s important you try to find activities that can help put you in a more relaxed state, such as taking deep breaths, meditating, connecting with your spiritual side, and/or even doing activities you enjoy like gardening or other hobbies.
- Think Positive – Staying positive makes it easier to cope with stress and nerves more easily. Not to say you shouldn’t fully process all your feelings about the move, but rather don’t let the negative ones get the best of you. One way to do so is to focus on what you have to look forward to in senior living, like the resort-like amenities, services that make life more convenient, a lifestyle that helps residents make the most of life, and peace of mind that support is always at hand.