Helping New Residents Adjust To Continuing Care Retirement Communities

NOT in the slow lane, YET

The blog is about living life after 70 with joy, resilience, and purpose. NOT in the slow lane, YET is a source of positive, helpful advice encouraging people to set and achieve goals and find joy in life. The blog will cover personal experiences and thoughts and concerns. Topics of blogs will be health, retirement, fashion, travel, and living in continuing care retirement communities. The blogs will be short and appear at least once a month on my website or by email if you choose. Come walk with me.


Wine and Welcome gatherings for new residents: Block Mixed Media

I have lived in a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) for almost two years.  I chair our care community’s Ambassador Committee. The committee is composed of a dozen gregarious, helpful, and caring residents who volunteer to  help new residents make a comfortable adjustment to our CCRC.  As residents, we know the community and have memories of our own adjustment here.  We make new residents  feel safe and comfortable.

Ambassador Committees are an important part of most CCRCs.  Adjusting to living in these communities requires a substantial change in life for most people.  Most new residents in our community are moving  from single family homes. They are unaccustomed to living in multi-dwelling buildings.  I lived half of my adult years in condominiums so the transition to the CCRC multi-family dwelling facility was easy. 

The move to CCRCs requires a great deal of thought and planning.  Before moving here, I consulted family and professionals to help me wade through contracts, financial commitments, health care options,  and  living unit options. I  made heavy financial, social and health-care related decisions.  I  took  a risk, trading the known for the unknown. I  hoped I  made the right decision.      

Like others entering CCRCs,   I wanted a home, not just a place to live.  Like most of our residents, I  had relatives nearby but  did not want to have to rely on them for most of my social needs.  I  hoped to make new friends in my final home.    Friendships take time.  It takes time to  develop trust in one another and feel comfortable sharing ourselves with others.  

Friends are a buffer against loss and sorrow.  At our age, we have experienced many happy memories, but we have also experienced loss, grieving, failure, and sorrow. When I moved in two years ago,  I had recently  lost my youngest son to cancer. My  husband had advanced vascular dementia and was in an assisted living facility. I was not alone in shouldering loss and carrying sorrow.  I had company.

How do Ambassadors contribute to making a senior care community a home?

Ambassadors are chosen for their ease in meeting people, their kindness, and their willingness to spend as much time as needed with new residents to help them get to know the campus and the activities here.  They attend monthly meetings and help develop informational materials for new residents.  They  share information on health and safety,  how to get maintenance help, and how to contact staff who can help them. We alert them  to helpful  community  publications. We offer personal tours. We help them make social connections through dining, interest groups, and  events.  Our Ambassadors try to put themselves in the shoes of  new residents who might lock themselves out, be scared by fire alarms, do not understand the dues billing, and how to get their state driver’s license.

Ambassadors introduce new residents to other residents. An example of an Ambassador welcoming activity in our community is “Wine and Welcome.”

“Wine and Welcome” is a monthly affair with wine and appetizers. It is sponsored by the community marketing department. Parties like this one are well attended.  Ambassadors introduce residents who have moved in since the previous month. Usually they are entertaining as well as informative.  I recently began to introduce  a new resident who announced that he preferred to introduce himself.  I asked him if he knew about the “Two Minute Rule” (keep the introduction short).  He said he was a judge, and I was overruled.  

Ambassadors play a vital role in making senior care facilities more welcoming, and interesting places to live. Ambassadors help the retirement community to  meet the needs of its residents and their families. 

If you are interested in a continuing care retirement community, check out their Ambassador program.