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Moving to a Senior Living Community On Your Own Terms

What does it mean, why it's the best, and how to do it

August 16, 2021


“I’m moving.” 

The statement can come with mixed emotions, depending on the circumstances. It can be said with a huge, contagious smile, or with downcast eyes and a shudder of anxiety. 

For some, it’s exciting. For others, it’s worrisome. A move is a big deal, no matter who you are, where you are moving to or from, or what the situation is. It can mean an upgrade in amenities, more or less space to meet a changing lifestyle, a new geographic location, and more.

Keys to a brand new senior living apartment
Moving to a senior community or assisted living can be an exciting, empowering time.

Moving to Senior Living

For an older adult who is moving to a senior community⁠—whether that’s to an independent senior apartment, assisted living, a continuing care retirement community, or something similar ⁠—the whole experience can and should be a good one. 

In this case, the statement should be:


I"m moving; I'm so excited and proud about it!


How? It starts with the person making the move.

What’s the most crucial part of the process that can be 100% in their control and set them up for a positive experience?

Making the decision on their own. 

A Page from SueAnn's Book

Take it from SueAnn, a delightful, independent woman who resides at Three Pillars. She moved to Village on the Square Independent Living in the spring of 2017 with her late husband, Norm. After SueAnn, Norm, and their four children lived the first chapter of their busy, fulfilling life in rural southern Indiana, Norm’s work brought them to Muskego, Wisconsin. Once the kids were out of the house, they downsized to a condo in Pewaukee for a while, and then, the couple sought easy, breezy, retirement living where they didn’t have to worry about home maintenance. They wanted enriching lifestyle activity options, delectable dining choices, and a community full of great people.

SueAnn and Norm found it all at the Village on the Square. They made countless new friends, joined clubs, and went on outings that brought them to some of their favorite theater performances, shopping experiences, and musical shows. Always a community-focused and social man, if there was a men’s social event happening, Norm was at it. Together, they dined on some of the best chef-prepared cuisine they’d had in a while. They relaxed, grew closer, and enjoyed each day. Since Three Pillars is a Continuing Care Retirement Community, SueAnn and Norm knew they had additional levels of care and services at their fingertips if there was ever a need, and that peace of mind plus the fulfillment they experienced each day had them perfectly content in their new home.

Fast forward to the summer of 2018, and sadly, Norm fell ill and passed away. SueAnn forged ahead into the next chapter of her life independently; but not without a supportive network of peers and community staff surrounding her. She became closer with her friends and neighbors, started a daily discussion group, and got outdoors for walks around the ponds more than ever. 

SueAnn, independent living assisted catered resident at Three Pillars
SueAnn made her own decision to move to assisted living - her experience is one of positivity and independence.


Three more years passed, which brought her to the summer of 2021. SueAnn had always known that the community’s Catered Assisted Living Community, Compass Point, was just down the hall from her independent apartment. She knew it offered assistance and optional services that cater to the individual’s needs; there when you need them, and not if you don’t. She was realistic about the fact that she may someday need more care, even if she didn’t yet. She was also honest with herself that moving could be hard, but that didn’t prevent her from having an open mind.

She didn’t wait until her daughter was so concerned, she scheduled a meeting to discuss with the campus social worker. She didn’t wait until a medication mix-up caused a life-threatening complication. She didn’t wait until she fell and needed rehabilitation to recoup. 

She picked up the phone then and there⁠—early enough to become informed for herself, weigh her options, and discuss the finances. She set up a tour to see floor plans, meet some staff and residents, and eventually, select the apartment that would be best for her and a date that fit well within her own terms. 

The day she made the decision, SueAnn could be heard proudly telling her friends and employees, “Guess what I’m doing? I’ve decided to move, and my apartment is so lovely!” Her smile was so big, you could feel the pride she exuded.

“I’m not waiting until I have to, or until my kids tell me it’s time. I’m moving now because it’s my choice and I’m ready,” she beamed. “Will it be something new? Maybe a little hard to get used to my new apartment number? Maybe so, but I’m ready. What better time than the present?” Her smile said it all, and it was impossible not to be happy for her.

A self-proclaimed “worry-wart,” SueAnn told friends and neighbors that she made a choice to move sooner than she had to, for good reason and to be there in time if she ever needed it. She thinks her children appreciate her decision, as well. 

We’d be remiss if we didn’t also mention how much she inspired and gained extraordinary respect from her neighbors and employees for this fantastic outlook and perspective. She left many of us thinking, “We all need to be more like SueAnn.”

Today, she’s settled into her new apartment, and yes⁠—she is used to the new location and apartment number. Instead of turning left to walk out the patio door to the river, she turns right. She dines regularly in a new restaurant, but still ventures down to her old favorite at times. She no longer worries about the bed linens or medication management, and still sees her same girlfriends for conversation hour while forming new relationships with her new neighbors every day. 

And is she happy she made the move? “You better believe it, one hundred percent!” she assures.


The SueAnn Experience
When she recaps all the positives that came from making the decision on her own, here are a few highlights.

What Happens When You Make a Decision to Move to Senior Living On Your Own?

  • You give yourself time to adjust to the new idea
  • You have the luxury of comparing several options
  • You get to meet people (staff and future neighbors) ahead of time
  • You can pick out the perfect unit size, layout, view, and location
  • You pick a date that fits with your own timeline
  • You take your time planning, packing, picking out new furniture, and scheduling the move
  • You take control and manage all aspects to your liking
  • You enjoy a surge of confidence and independence
  • You get to proudly tell your friends, family, and loved ones, “I got this, look what I’m doing all on my own”

SueAnn in her catered assisted living apartment at Compass Point Three Pillars
SueAnn is now happily settled into her new place, her Catered Assisted Living apartment at Three Pillars' Compass Point.

What Does NOT Happen When You Make a Decision to Move to Senior Living On Your Own?

What are those things you don’t have to deal with if you make the choice to move on your own terms? Here are a few:

  • You don’t feel thrown into a new environment on a rushed timeline
  • You don’t wait for an emergency and experience the dread of “now what do I do” 
  • You’re not stuck taking the only available unit, which is not right for you
  • You don’t feel forced to move to the only community with an opening, since you would not have chosen it otherwise
  • You don’t feel overwhelmed when there’s not a single face you recognize in the building
  • You don’t have to clear your calendar and cancel previous plans to accommodate a sudden move
  • You aren’t feeling unprepared, inadequate, or confused amidst a huge life decision made in a whirlwind
  • You won’t find yourself telling your friends, family, and loved ones, “I can’t believe I didn’t think about this sooner,” or “I wish I would’ve moved sooner so I could enjoy retirement living in an independent apartment instead of moving straight to skilled nursing.”

Be Like SueAnn

If you’re an adult who is approaching their golden years, open your mind to considerations like moving. If you’re a child or loved one of an older adult, gently urge them to dabble in these conversations. Hint: maybe you print this article, or copy and paste the URL address above and email it to them!

Explore your options, do your research, and solidify what ideal timing looks like to you. Make some calls, search online, talk to friends, and go for tours. Ask all the questions now.

As you consider it more, you may decide moving into a senior apartment sooner than you previously planned would be best for you. (We cannot tell you how often we hear, “I wish I would’ve moved to your senior community sooner.”) Perhaps you’ll decide a move isn’t in your cards for another 10 years, but you’ll get on the waiting list now so there is no panic about getting in if things change.

At the very least, simply document your research, top choices, and preferences in a safe place and share with someone close to you, so that if the time came that you were not able to make your own decision, or if you needed someone to help you in a pinch, the information is at their fingertips. 


We wish you all the best as you consider your options. We’d love to be a helpful resource to you⁠—don’t hesitate to contact us or leave us a comment below!


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