8 Tips for Living Comfortably With Other Seniors
Last Updated: May 20, 2019
Whether due to a move to an assisted living community or the decision to live with senior roommates, many seniors will find themselves living alongside other seniors after years of only living with family. For most, it’s been decades since they had a roommate that wasn’t their spouse or lived with anyone that wasn’t immediate family.
Getting accustomed to living alongside other people again – many of whom will have different habits and lifestyles – can understandably be a challenge.
If you’re a senior facing the prospect of living with other seniors for the first time in years, or if you’re concerned about a senior loved one’s ability to make the transition, these eight tips can make a big difference to how successful you are.
1. Be aware of any noises that you make.
Anytime you live in close quarters with someone else, you have to make an effort to be aware of and minimize the noise you make, particularly at night when everyone is sleeping. Be conscientious and willing to work with other seniors anytime they ask you to keep it down.
2. Be friendly.
You’re always going to have a better experience living alongside people you’re friendly with. Start conversations with your neighbors and roommates. Some of them may become close friends. Others won’t, but you’ll still benefit from having a friendly relationship with them.
In an assisted living community, make a point to also be friendly and kind to the staff. They’ll play a big role in what your experience living there will be like. If you treat them with cooperation and respect, you’re much more likely to develop positive relationships with the people you depend on.
Communication is the secret to success in any type of relationship. Naturally, it’s one of the most important ways to stay on good terms with other seniors that you live with.
When you first start living with someone new, have a conversation upfront about your needs and priorities. Talk about any problems that arise and always be polite and diplomatic when you do so. Most people will try to be accommodating if you approach them with politeness.
4. Get involved.
Seniors living in assisted living can participate in classes and outings that the community offers, like a tai chi class or taking more trips to nearby museums. If you moved into someone’s home as a roommate, be willing to make suggestions. Maybe you could all benefit from adding a backyard garden or you can find ways to get more involved in the neighborhood.
In either scenario, if you’re treating the place like it’s not your own home, you won’t ever be comfortable and happy there. If you’re willing to put in a little effort to make it into a place you enjoy living, you’ll both grow closer to the people you live with and settle into seeing your new living quarters as a home.
5. Give others privacy.
If you’re an introvert who regularly needs your own privacy and space, this tip may come naturally. If you’re an extrovert, it may be something you need to make an effort to do. Recognize that there may be times that you want company but the people around you would prefer time to themselves.
If your roommates express a desire to be alone, let them be. If they have a space in their room they request others treat as off limits, respect their wishes. People often desire a space that feels personal and all their own, which is hard to make work and something to be aware of when living with other people.
Communicate when something’s bothering you but also listen when someone lets you know something’s bothering them, or just when they want to talk about their struggles.
Do your best to avoid any reactions when something they have to say to you isn’t something you want to hear. Part of living with other people successfully is being open to understanding what they feel and think.
7. Practice empathy.
You may sometimes find it challenging to understand where your fellow residents or roommates are coming from, but remember that any senior you live with has lived a long life full of different experiences from your own.
Do your best to be kind and sympathetic. Remember that someone who’s especially difficult may be someone that’s really suffering. That’s not an excuse for being a bad roommate, but it often doesn’t require much of you to provide some allowances to others who are having a rough time.
Whenever the opportunity presents itself, try to share some of what you have with those around you. If you cooked a big, delicious meal and have plenty to go around, offer some to your roommates. If your family visits you and brings a bunch of homemade cookies to your assisted living residence, offer some to the people around you.
Sharing’s a great way to earn goodwill and as an added bonus, you’re that much more likely to be the beneficiary of similar sharing from the people you live with.
Getting used to a new living environment is hard and having to live with other people often doesn’t make it any easier. In some cases, however, roommates can become like a second family – which is why it is important to use these tips for living comfortably with others to make the experience a great one for all.