Change doesn’t come easy for some moving to senior living
There comes a time in so many senior citizens’ lives when they want a maintenance-free lifestyle, as they are simply tired of taking care of the house, the lawn, and all of the repairs and upkeep. It is just time to start a new chapter in one’s life and make a change.
So, they begin looking into the many different senior communities Houston offers and all the activities, outings, restaurants, maid service and the other amenities they provide.
But giving up one’s home after 20, 30 or 40 or more years can be difficult, and there is a transition or an adjustment period, which any move will create.
“We understand this, we understand there is a transition period for new residents, so we have a program (Treemont Ambassadors) to help them move through it more smoothly,” said Monica Muniz, director of activities at Treemont Retirement Community, a continuing care retirement campus, with a large independent living community.
“We have an ambassadors meeting each month, and we list new residents. Our ambassadors are residents who have lived her for a while. We match our ambassadors with new residents who welcome them and take them to activities until they become acquainted with the buildings and activities. They also go with them to meals and socials,” Muniz said.
Before long, the ambassador is a good friend.
At The Abbey at Westminster Plaza, a senior living community, they have a group of three residents who serve as the Welcoming Committee: Janette Bowers, Jackie Cabra and Judy Tenney.
“After a new resident moves in, one of us will go by and give them a calendar of activities. We will highlight the activities they might consider attending to get acquainted with other residents,” said Bowers.
This committee also answers questions new residents might have.
“Also, every month we have a Treemont New Residents Social where we introduce them. This gives the other residents a chance to meet them,” Muniz said.
Another community, The Abbey at Westminster Plaza, holds monthly Meet and Greet events for new residents.
“We give new residents a form, asking for information such as where they are from, where they went to school and worked, etc. This way we can find a connection with them with other residents, which is helpful. We work hard to help people feel like they belong,” Bowers said.
After Hurricane Harvey, many people moved to The Abbey after losing everything, and they were devastated.
“We helped these hurricane victims become engaged in invite them to activities and go with them. The sooner we can help them become involved, the sooner they begin to feel at home,” Bowers said.
Staff at Treemont and The Abbey are available to new residents to answer questions or show them around. Yet, many new residents turn to other residents.
“Sometimes, seniors feel like their children forced them to move into a retirement community and they may feel they have been ‘dumped’ here. We see this many times. This makes the transition more difficult, and also keeps many from coming out of their rooms to enjoy activities, socials and often meals,” Muniz said.
New residents at The Abbey that did not make the decision to give up their homes, also have a more difficult transition.
“Yet, we are there for them, and we understand this. We spend more time with these residents. We go to meals with them and encourage them to attend the different activities. The staff is great to talk to, but we are also there for them,” Bowers said.
It can also be a transition for those who were used to cooking, cleaning and taking care of everything themselves. Now, they are catered to, enjoy restaurant-style meals, have their laundry done for them, and more.
“Plus, many of these new residents are going through the transition of no longer driving, so they can feel trapped,” Muniz said.
In her 18-year career in senior communities, Muniz has arranged activities like weekly outings.
“We all will get on the bus and drive to Lake Conroe, or other calming areas and we’ll stop for something fun like ice cream. The residents love getting out and about, and it really helps them,” Muniz said.
Living in a senior community has many advantages, such as a maintenance-free lifestyle, daily activities that span the gamut, chef-prepared meals, and a social life that is important in being healthy and aging well.
So even though there may be a brief transition or adjustment period, most all residents agree on what Bowers said: “Living here is the best decision I ever made. I love all of the friends I have made, the food is great and I enjoy the many different activities. This is my home now and I love it here.”