A retirement community provides lots of opportunities to make new friends. That said, when you first move in, you may be worried about whether you’ll find your crowd. Will people accept you? It can feel a bit like being the new kid at school.
On top of that, you’re probably still recovering from your move and getting used to the idea of living in a smaller space. You may even find yourself thinking back fondly to your old home. It’s only natural.
So, with all those thoughts swirling inside your head, how do you make the most of your new home?
Don’t let negative thinking take over
Most communities have very busy activity schedules, and taking part is a great way to meet your new neighbors. There’s also mealtime if you take your meals in the dining room.
If you find yourself reluctant to socialize, it may be that you’re worried about how you’ll be received. The trick is not to let negative thinking take over. Don’t start by assuming people won’t like you. Try to avoid reading something negative into people’s reactions by default. Go in giving them (and yourself) the benefit of the doubt.
Be open and friendly. It can be as simple as having a smile on your face and showing an interest in people. Strike up conversations by asking people about themselves.
At the same time, accept that not every interaction will go as planned. You may hit it off with some folks and not with others. And that’s okay.
Give yourself time if you need it
Another thing: be patient with yourself.
You may sense an expectation – from your adult children, from staff, or even from yourself – that you should be fully settled and plugged into community life within a matter of weeks.
You’ve just made a major move. It may have been planned or not. You may be coping with other things at the same time, like a recent change in your health or the loss of a spouse. That’s a lot to process. If you’re not jumping into community life with both feet, who can really blame you? You’re feeling vulnerable enough as it is.
So long as you’re not isolating yourself completely, take things at your own pace. Start with small steps to begin with, if that’s what you need to do. Small, steady efforts. That’s the ticket.
And remember, some of your new neighbors have likely gone through what you’re going through now and may be a good source of support and encouragement.
Retirement Community: Making a start
Also, there are probably other newbies like you who have just moved in. Because you’re in the same boat, it may be easier to form a connection with them.
If attending an activity on your own feels intimidating, invite a friend or family member to come with you the first time. That way you’ll have someone to talk with until you get enough confidence to strike up conversations with other people in the group.
Stay open to Making New Friends in a Retirement Community
Whether you dive right in or follow a slower, more deliberate pace, the main thing is to be open to the social opportunities your new home offers.
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