What lifestyle changes can one expect when moving into residential care?

There are two aspects that need to be considered in this response. Generally this question is asked out of a concern that those things that that are familiar and comfortable and that give pleasure and a meaning in life could be lost. On the other hand the question could mean; are things going to improve for me?

An important and helpful principle to bear in mind is that if a careful selection of facility is made, by matching the person with the place that best suits them and their need, then the more successful the residency is likely to be. There should be fewer adjustments to make and greater potential to take advantage of new opportunities.

Some people may welcome a change of lifestyle, for example they may have had problems with mobility and found it difficult maintaining the social contacts they would have liked. With increased assistance, their mobility and lifestyle could be improved.

A new community

When someone moves into a residential care situation they are not just moving into a new neighbourhood, they are moving into an interactive community. It is this issue that often makes the selection of a residential facility so difficult. For some people this factor is more important than the physical environment such as the location, buildings, decoration, gardens etc. As people usually relate best to a community where values, beliefs and ways of doing things are similar to their own, it makes sense to remember this when the selection is made.

Increased personal interaction

One of the greatest changes in a residential care lifestyle often has to do with the increased interaction with, and dependency on others. The closer living arrangements of residential care can be more like living in a flatting, boarding, or hotel situation than any other type of accomodation. Some men say the closeness of the residential care situation reminds them of army days. This of course may have positive or negative connotations. For others, however, it has been a long time (if ever) that they have had to live at such close proximity to ‘strangers’.

You will, of necessity, have to get to know many new people; your fellow residents and staff. Some facilities are busier, livelier, bustling places than others. Choose a place that suits your personality. For example: Some people find it harder than others to ‘mix’, or they may be the sort of person who enjoys spending a large part of the day on their own. It would be wise for this person to choose a residence that can cater for and support these lifelong preferences. A busy, interactive environment may just lead to stress or unhappiness.

Certainly, for those who are lonely, residential care can provide increased opportunities for interaction and new friendships are often formed. Remember the degree of interaction varies from home to home; it’s your choice.


Maintaining privacy is also something that a lot of people moving into residential care are concerned about – personal, health and financial privacy are all important.  Discuss any concerns you have with staff and/or management and when viewing a facility observe carefully how resident’s privacy is respected before making your choose of facility.

New Activities and Interests

The facility will provide activities for residents throughout the week. This can be an opportunity for you to try some new activities and possibly introduce others to your own hobbies and interests.  Prior to selecting a facility talk to the activities coordinator about your interests and hobbies and see if these can be accommodated and incorporated into the activity schedule.  There is also usually the opportunity to go on outings or visits to local community groups which can provide you with a way to keep up your community contacts or make some new contacts.

Many facilities are also making computers available for residents to use.  This can be a great opportunity to learn something new if you are not familiar with computers.  Alternatively, staff will often be able to help you simply reap the benefits of the technology to keep in contact with friends and family.


Imposed routine and order in the day, and the ability to come and go as one pleases are significant factors to bear in mind, when making a choice of residence. Some residences have a more formally structured environment than others. Discussion with staff and other residents enables people to determine the formality or otherwise of a particular residence.

Increased Quality of Life

Ideally a move into residential care should bring about an increased quality of life for the new resident.  Provision of regular well balance meals, monitoring of health conditions and medication and medical advice when required should assist in maintaining the best health possible.

Many facilities have programs with a rehabilitative content which aims to maintain or, if possible, restore some of your physical skills or capabilities. If this is important to you ensure the facility you choose provides such a program.

Living within a facility may also provide a greater sense of security for those who were previously living alone in the community.


Hold onto the things that are important to you; try to maintain your own style, your way of dressing, your culture and customs etc. It’s what makes you you! On the whole staff want to be helpful and make your transition and life at your new home as enjoyable as possible. Help them to help you by letting them know about these things. They are less likely to offend you that way.

Updated 17 September 2012

© Eldernet 2014