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Ways to Make a Senior Living Facility Feel More Like Home: Part 1

Moving into an assisted living community or nursing home can be a difficult decision. If it becomes necessary, though, you can ease the transition by making your new dwelling feel like home right from the start. Here are a few things you can do to help accomplish that.

While a nursing home room may never replace your family home, it doesn’t have to feel like a hotel room, either. No matter your reasons for moving into assisted living, your space can really become your space — a place where you feel comfortable and secure. Over the course of two blog posts, we’ll look at ways you can make your new area, whether that’s in a senior living community or skilled nursing facility, feel more like home. In today’s post, we’ll be focusing on how to make your individual space as homey as you can. Join us next week for ways you can integrate yourself in your new community and avoid homesickness!

Add Your Style to the Room

Everyone has their own decorating style, whether they know it or not. This just means you have a specific way you like a room to look and feel. One of the reasons a nursing home or retirement community can feel like a hotel is because, like hotels, they’re generally designed to be inoffensive to everyone. You can make your room or apartment feel more like home by adding a bit of your preferred style to the room. How can you go about doing that?

Learn the Restrictions

The first step you should take before decorating your space is to discuss what you can and can’t change with a knowledgeable staff member. Some communities will have restrictions like you can’t put holes in the walls or you must use specific furniture or window dressing. Others may allow you to paint the wall with approval. Some may even put restrictions on what types of electronics they allow, for safety reasons. These rules will give you a template that you can work off of when decorating your apartment in a way that makes it feel more like home.

Change the Aesthetics

Generally, the rooms and apartments in a nursing home or retirement community have beige- or bland-colored walls. This gives you a blank slate to work with when it comes to decorating. If the facility allows you to, paint the walls (or request that someone paints the walls) a color that you like. If your new living place does not allow this, find other ways to change the color scheme as much as you can to suit your style. Websites like Pinterest can give you inspiration on ways you can decorate your space to feel more comfortable to you.

Don’t Forget Smell!

One oft-ignored way that home can feel like home is a comforting or familiar smell. Many people fill their house with scents they love (e.g., flowers, scented plugins, essential oils, etc.). If the facility allows you to have these scents in your space, filling your room with your favorite candle or scent can instantly make you feel at home. Please note, though, that not all facilities may allow you bring in candles or other items, due to safety restrictions (e.g., being a fire hazard).

Bring Your Favorite Items & Memories

One of the things that make a house a home is the items and associated memories that fill it. When you move into a retirement home or senior community, you don’t leave them behind. Take them with you!

Bring Your Favorite Furniture

There are few better ways to bring your old home with you than to move in with some of your favorite furniture. This is where knowing the rules and restrictions of your community becomes important, since some facilities may not allow outside furniture. If you can bring it, though, your favorite sitting chair or loveseat can help your space feel more lived-in and bring a sense of familiarity to your new room.

Decorate with Photo Frames

Even if you didn’t hang photos in your old home, sharing your experiences in frames around the room is an excellent decoration idea. We think it really makes the room yours. Anyone can decorate with a set of colors or themes, but nobody can decorate with your personal experiences, captured in photos! This personal touch also can also help alleviate any homesickness you may feel. Finally, the photos can act as a jumping-off point for conversations with guests. (“I didn’t know you went to Paris. How’d you like it?” You may hear this when your new friend sees that picture of you at the Eiffel Tower!)

Bring Your Favorite Paintings or Artwork

Along with furniture and photos, paintings that you have around you home can often be brought to your new community to decorate your space. Like your furniture, your artwork is a part of your old house that you can move with you. For many people, the artwork they decorate their walls with will have sentimental value as well, making it all the more valuable to take along to their new home. Even if you didn’t have art in your old home, it may be helpful to put up some art that reminds you of your old home, since art has been shown to improve mood and happiness.

Don’t Forget to Make New Memories

Filling your new home with memories can help you to get comfortable, but it’s important not to dwell on the past. You can still live your life and make new memories. While this certainly means getting out into your community and enjoying your life (more on that later), it can also be literal in terms of decorating. For example, instead of purchasing new artwork for your walls, hang up a painting you made. Knit a blanket to embellish your recliner for those cold nights. Creating your own decorations offers many benefits over simply purchasing them, from saving money to adding a personal attachment to each piece. It’s a way to really put an element of you in the room.

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Feeling a little homesick is natural in a new setting, so don’t get too down if you feel a little uncomfortable at first. What’s important is that you make your new home feel like home on your own schedule and when you’re ready. These are only a few examples of the many ways you can make a senior community feel more like home when you first move in. Check back on our blog next week for a few other ideas!