Moving to a new home: bet on leisure to adapt quickly!

The Bottom Line

  • Moving to a new home is stressful and adjusting to this significant change can be difficult.
  • Leisure is beneficial for older people and promotes the maintenance of physical and cognitive health, well-being, a sense of belonging and socialization.
  • Engaging in hobbies can give older people the opportunity to develop positive relationships with others, increase their level of happiness and help them adapt to a new home.

The majority of older adults live in private residences, but as they age, many turn to other housing options. Are you in this situation? Are you planning to move to a retirement home or a healthcare facility in the near future?

Adjusting to a new home is not easy. Leaving your home, your memories and your habits is anxiety-provoking. Many fear having to rebuild everything elsewhere: create a new social network, develop a sense of belonging, maintain independence, find new activities. There is a reason why assisted living facilities or nursing homes offer a range of activities to their residents: leisure makes it possible to adapt to difficult life transitions, such as widowhood, retirement or moving and adapting to a new living environment.

Do you believe that leisure can be a promising solution to help you adapt to a new home?

What research tells us

A recent systematic review identified 24 studies examining the relationship between leisure and older adults' adjustment to a new home.(1) Although the studies considered only older adults living in nursing homes, it goes without saying that leisure can promote the well-being of everyone, regardless of the type of residence.

Indeed, structured leisure activities and the opportunity to learn new skills allow participation in social life and promote a sense of belonging. Studies show that leisure provides a sense of continuity and helps maintain your identity and independence. In addition, the results show that adaptation happens more quickly if you participate in activities regularly and are motivated. Thus, the positive experiences in your new residence will allow you to consider this new environment as a real home.

However, some physical, institutional and social features of your new home could hinder your participation in leisure activities, hence the importance of choosing the right type of housing according to your interests! For some people, for example, an environment where the rules are very rigid, where there are no private spaces to receive friends and where it is impossible to cook as you please may not allow you to flourish and to feel at home, which can interfere with your adjustment.

Plan your move carefully

Volunteering and leisure activities allow you to stay active, socialize, stimulate a sense of belonging and usefulness. Determine what is important to you (or your loved ones) and take the time to learn about the different housing models to find the one that meets your health and social needs: retirement communities, cohabitation, adapted housing, long-term care facilities, etc.

Depending on your needs and preferences, you may want to get involved in the social committee and organize welcoming activities for new residents, participate in community meals to learn about other cultures, contribute to the community garden or literary circle, or attend educational workshops on topics that affect many residents like you, such as widowhood, retirement, diet, exercise and fall prevention.

If you have cognitive or physical limitations, seek an environment that supports and facilitates your participation in various leisure activities. Don't hesitate to get involved!

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Author Details


  1. Prentice K, Hand C, Misener L, Hopkins J. Leisure’s relation to older adults adapting to new homes: A scoping review, Journal of Leisure Research, 2022, 53:4, 615-642, DOI: 10.1080/00222216.2022.2029631

DISCLAIMER: These summaries are provided for informational purposes only. They are not a substitute for advice from your own health care professional. The summaries may be reproduced for not-for-profit educational purposes only. Any other uses must be approved by the McMaster Optimal Aging Portal (

Many of our Blog Posts were written before the COVID-19 pandemic and thus do not necessarily reflect the latest public health recommendations. While the content of new and old blogs identify activities that support optimal aging, it is important to defer to the most current public health recommendations. Some of the activities suggested within these blogs may need to be modified or avoided altogether to comply with changing public health recommendations. To view the latest updates from the Public Health Agency of Canada, please visit their website.