The transition to senior living has the potential to bring significant positive change to an older adults life.Reaping the most benefits from this lifestyle, however, may largely depend on an individuals ability to adapt to change.A seniors openness to change may even be linked to better mental health and lower risks of depression and anxiety.

In this article, well explore some of the many changes senior loved ones may face and offer strategies for strengthening emotional resilience to best cope with these transitions.Emotional resilience is a persons ability to cope with difficult, stressful, or unexpected situations.The American Psychological Association (APA)defines resilienceas the process and outcome of successfully adapting to difficult or challenging life experiences.This process includes mental, emotional, and behavioral adjustments as well as healthy coping strategies.Having strong emotional resilience does not mean an individual is unaffected by setbacks or crises.

What resilience shows, however, is an ability to bounce back and recover from these challenges.Higher emotional resilience can help your aging loved one maintain a flexible mindset to manage whatever comes their way.Building resilience can also help older adults avoid the tendency to turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as social isolation and withdrawal, avoidant behaviors, negative self-talk, and drug or alcohol use.Strategies to improve emotional resilience can include emotional regulation, self-care strategies, coping mechanisms, and support networks.

Below are a few approaches your aging loved one can take to develop greater emotional resilience.Practice self-care.More than just bubble baths and brunches, engaging in self-care means nourishing your mind, body, and soul.Eating healthy food, tending to your feelings, spending time outside, engaging in hobbies, setting boundaries, getting a good nights sleep, trying relaxation methods like yoga and meditation, and incorporating physical activity in your routine are all ways to engage in self-care.

When you are treating yourself with kindness and feeling your best, it becomes easier to deal with lifes challenges.Build connections.Social bonds and human connection are an essential part of life and can have adeep impact on seniors health.Take time and effort to nurture close healthy relationships with your family and friends.

Research suggests these face-to-face interactions may even have a stronger impact on a seniors longevity and well-being than healthy habits like exercise! Make new connections by seeking out people with similar interests, attending group activities or support groups, volunteering, and joining faith-based or spiritual groups.Connect to a sense of meaning.As we grow older, it might feel like youve already lived out your best days, but giving each day meaning can help stave off that feeling.Find ways to do at least one thing each day that helps you connect to a sense of success and purpose.

Set a few small goals for yourself that you can look forward to completing and spend time reflecting, praying or meditating, enjoying nature, or serving others.Develop healthy coping mechanisms.Change can be difficult and disorienting, but learning healthy ways to cope can strengthen our ability to navigate it.Healthy coping mechanisms might look like sharing your feelings with a trusted friend or therapist instead of trying to avoid them.

Taking time for self-reflection can help you process and reframe your perspective about a situation while encouraging a solutions-focused mindset and hopeful outlook.Maintaining your old routines can add a sense of normalcy, making it easier to adapt to new situations.Deep breathing exercises, journaling, and practicing gratitude can help you regulate your emotions.

Since change often comes with loss, honoring this loss is another way to cope.You might honor the loss by creating a scrapbook, quilt, poem, or painting.Learn from the past.Emotionally resilient people often take lessons from the past to apply to the present and future.

Think or journal about previous situations youve handled.What strategies did you employ? Were they helpful? Would you do the same thing again or something different now? Knowing youve been through similar situations before can also reassure you that you can handle these challenges too.Some changes and challenges your aging loved one may face when they move into a senior living community may include the loss of a cherished home or belongings as they downsize or the transition to a new living space with different people and routines.Cultivating relationships and integrating into a new community, while adjusting to a new sense of independence can also take time and require intention and additional effort.Exercising emotional resilience muscles can help the senior in your life navigate not only these challenges but any stressful situation that comes their way.Coping With Loss.

Although moving to a senior living community brings benefits and new beginnings, this transition can also be a time of loss for older adults.Leaving the home theyve known, where they are surrounded by familiarity and memories, can be hard, especially if theyve had to downsize their belongings in the process.But along with this perceived sense of loss, older adults can also gain a renewed sense of community and independence and do not have to feel like they are losing themselves.

There are a myriad of ways to ease thedownsizing and moving process including practicing positive self-talk, engaging in social activities, and building routines, all of which are part of emotional resilience.Maintaining and Rebuilding a Support Network.Your loved one will be moving into a new community and may fear leaving old relationships behind, having difficulty staying in touch or finding it hard to build new friendships.Fortunately, it is easier than ever to stay connected thanks to digital communication.

As the baby boomer generation enters their golden years, both senior living communitiesandseniors themselvesare embracing technology as a means to stay connected.Outside of the digital world, seniors can join groups and activities that reflect their interests.If the senior in your life enjoys reading, for example, joining a community book club can help them bond with new friends over a shared love of literature.Navigating a New Sense of Independence.

Whether a senior living community is an independent living facility or an assisted living facility, it is common for seniors to believe they are losing some level of independence.Older adults may increasingly rely on others as they age or develop health issues that limit them and while there may be activities your aging loved one now struggles to do, moving to a senior living community offers support that may actually help themgain independence.In addition,there are steps that canbe taken to help your aging loved onemaintain their sense of independence, such as keeping their environment safe and encouraging an active life.Strengthening emotional resilience can provide older adults with confidence, support, and an optimistic perspective when adapting to change, especially the transition to community living.

The shared life experiences and emotional support gained from a community living environment can also foster helpful coping mechanisms, connections, and self-care to promote your senior loved ones overall independence and well-being.To further explore how a senior living community can help, reach out to a UMH senior care advisor today orschedule a tourto learn more.

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