Helping Your Parents Adjust to Retirement Community Living


With over 50 million Americans living in their senior years, more families than ever before are having to make the hard decisions about senior living needs. While most seniors claim to prefer to age in place, enjoying their family home is not always possible. Family members may have serious concerns about the safety and security of their senior parents.

Retirement communities have sprung up in nearly all towns and cities to accommodate the high number of seniors looking for independent living choices. While most seniors may not be enthusiastic about moving to a retirement community, it is something that your family must face together. 

Helping your senior family member to adjust to a new home and lifestyle will have many challenges for you both. Moving to a senior living facility will require change, and change is not easy for anyone, especially seniors. The adjustment period can be tough, and it’s going to take effort to ensure that your senior parent becomes comfortable in their new home.

Moving a senior parent into an assisted living facility like Riverview Retirement Community will be a challenging experience for the both of you, but in the end, you are there to provide them with support and encouragement. Let’s take a closer look at how you can help your parents adjust to retirement community living:


Acknowledge Their Feelings

Seniors who understand that moving to a retirement community is a wise decision may still harbor feelings of grief, abandonment, and confusion. Seniors who feel like they are being forced into a move will find it more challenging to make the transition. You should expect a lot of pushback from senior parents that are set against making a move to a retirement living community.

Frustration is a common emotion felt by seniors moving to a retirement community. They may feel that they are being forced to give up their regular routines, including meal times and the overall loss of independence.

Resentment at having to leave their home where they hold their memories and feel the most comfortable is also common. It’s important to acknowledge these feelings, allow them to vent their emotions, and show your support. 


Parents Adjust to Retirement Community Living

Selecting a Senior Retirement Community

To help your senior parents feel like they are maintaining some control over their lives, it’s important to have them participate in making the selection of communities. Include them on the tours of each facility and talk to the management about the details of what each facility has to offer. Your senior parent will be able to make the best choice for themselves. If they have been included in the selection of retirement communities, they are more likely to settle in a bit faster. 


Personalize Their New Home

While it won’t be possible to transfer all your senior parents’ belongings to their new home, it’s incredibly important that you help them attempt to personalize their space. Take some time to ask your senior parent about what specific items they would like to take with them when they move. These items should have significance or special meaning that will bring them comfort and make their new space feel more like home

When it comes to decorating, leave the choice of colors and styles to your senior parent, as this will allow them to feel like they have more control over their environment. Don’t forget to include photos of family and friends. 


Visit Often

Your senior parent’s worst nightmare is to be dropped off at a new retirement community and then forgotten about by their family. It’s up to you to ensure your parent that they are not being discarded or abandoned by the younger generation. Make a schedule that is easy for both of you to follow for visitation times.

It’s best to visit regularly at the beginning of your senior parents’ adjustment to their new retirement community. Your presence can help them to feel more comfortable and willing to embrace their new environment. You can suggest that you accompany your senior parent to new activities and groups to help them settle into the new routine. 


Send Care Packages

Your senior parent may feel anxious and slightly abandoned by their family when they first move into their retirement community. These feelings are natural, and it’s up to the rest of the family to ensure that they are giving the needed attention. Everyone likes to receive mail and packages. You can prepare a care package of some of your senior parent’s favorite things and treats and send it to them with a note of love. This will help remind your senior parent that they are still a vital part of the family life. 


Encourage Independence

The loss of independence is one of the greatest fears of seniors when making the transition to retirement community living. Your senior parent has had control over all aspects of their life and may believe that they will lose that control. Encouraging your senior parent to invoke their independence within these new circumstances is an important step towards acceptance. 

If your parent is still able to drive, maintaining a sense of independence is easier. For those who cannot drive on their own, it’s up to you to find alternate forms of transportation so they can still enjoy the things that are important to them. 


Give It Time

Whether your senior parent was in favor of the move to a retirement community or not, it will take time for them to adjust. There will be new people, new schedules, and a new environment. These are major changes to a normal lifestyle and can upset many seniors. It’s important to be patient. Experts say that it can take several months to become fully integrated into a new environment. It’s essential during hard times to remember the main reasons behind the decision, including your senior parent’s safety and security. 


Gather Your Village

It takes a village to help any family member adapt as they go through hard times. Don’t take on the full responsibility yourself, as it can become overwhelming for you both. Gather your family members and come up with a schedule where they can all make visits to your loved ones in their new home. 


Expect Setbacks

Many seniors are willing to give retirement home living a try. It’s important for adult children and other caregivers to anticipate and expect that there may be some setbacks in attitude. Your parents may complain about the staff, their dining room company, or their neighbors and ask to go back to their home. This type of setback is entirely normal. While these types of issues can be heartbreaking for family members, it’s essential to know that it will pass as the process of acceptance continues.


Set Your Boundaries

Adult children have many responsibilities to their own families and careers. It’s okay to prioritize so that you are meeting your own needs. While you may want to schedule frequent visits with your senior parent as they adjust to retirement community living, it’s a good idea to start pulling back a bit as they get settled. This will give them a sense of independence and free up more of your time to take care of your own business. 


Swallow Your Guilt

Adult children who are helping their senior parent adjust to retirement community living can deal with a lot of guilt. While these feelings may be natural, especially if your parent is having difficulty adjusting, it’s not healthy to focus on them. Guilt is a powerful emotion that can affect your decision-making process. It’s important to remember what led to the decision to have your parents move to this new environment. 


Be an Advocate

There are bound to be issues when you are moving your senior parent to a retirement community. It’s important that you work with the staff on behalf of your parent. Let your parent know that you will take care of any issues and be on their side. Your parent may feel a sense of loneliness or abandonment when they first arrive at their new home, so it’s important for them to know that they have an advocate that will help them deal with any issues. 


Limit New Things

You may be tempted to fill your parent’s new living space with new technology or other items to make their life comfortable. While this is a nice thought, it can be too overwhelming for your parents. Keep it simple with the things that are normal for them. A new television with a complicated remote or a fancy coffee machine may be too much for your senior parent to handle. It’s best to keep things as normal as possible for your aging parent as they adjust to their new environment. 


Moving to a retirement community is a huge adjustment for both seniors and their family members. If you are moving your senior parent to a new retirement community, follow these tips to help them adjust to the newest chapter in their life.