One of the most difficult parts of moving into an assisted living home is leaving behind neighbors and friends where you might have lived for many years. Or, if you're the child of a senior who is facing a move to assisted living, you might wonder what social opportunities there are for your parent. Remaining social is one of the keys for reducing depression among seniors.

The good news is that most assisted living homes -- and there are more than 31,000 different options -- have many planned activities and chances to interact. In fact, the availability and type of activities can be one of your criteria for choosing a facility.

Evaluating the Activities at an Assisted Living Facility

The key to deciding whether the event calendar for a particular assisted living facility is a good fit for your needs is to ask!

  • Talk to the staff at the facilities you're considering. Most homes have an activity coordinator on a full- or part-time basis, and that person should be willing to meet with you and share some sample activity calendars.
  • Chat with residents that you meet in the halls, or ask specifically to meet and talk to residents. You can ask about available activities and their experiences. Watch a class or game that is on site and in session.

You might also choose to participate in an activity at the one or two assisted living homes you're most closely considering. They may require a small fee to pay for supplies or transportation, depending on the type of activity you're taking part in.

Moving In and Meeting People

It's common for people to keep to themselves when they first move into a new place, whether that's a home or an assisted living facility. A typical adjustment period is two to four weeks. Many facilities have shared dining space where you'll be assigned a table, and this is an early opportunity to make friends. Learn the names of the people at your table and find out whether they take part in activities. You might get an invitation to tag along!

Look for activities on the calendar that involve something you already know how to do. Your first activity doesn't have to be a class or a planned outing. Perhaps the home has writing groups, knitting circles or scheduled game times.

You can also spend time in common areas, chatting with others who are hanging out in the lounges or hallways.

Some people have a harder time making friends, and the activity coordinator can be a real help. Talk to him or her about introducing you to some like-minded people who enjoy being active.

Putting out the effort to meet new people can be challenging, but almost all assisted living facilities offer excellent opportunities to meet new people and make friends.