Introverts Just Want to Have Fun: Alone

Are you or a senior loved one an introvert? If so, you’re probably misunderstood on a regular basis. That’s because people often misjudge an introvert as being aloof or even rude when really…all that person wants is some much-needed time to recharge.

Unlike extroverts, who gain energy from socializing, an introvert actually loses energy with too much special time. You know your drained cell phone starts making that beeping sound when the battery has no bars left? That’s what an introvert feels like after three lunch dates and a movie in one week.

So, to someone not big on socializing, all the activities and people in a senior living community may seem overwhelming. It doesn’t have to be that way though.

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Some time ago, a daughter that was touring The Classic at Hillcrest Greens indicated she was worried that her mother, a lifelong introvert, might be unhappy if her parents moved into an independent living apartment in a senior living community. Several months later, following a move to The Classic, mom is happier and healthier. She still has plenty of time to herself while also choosing to participate in low-key activities like sit-down yoga and Chef Steve’s “From the Kitchen” presentations. “People need to be open-minded,” says Dean Mathwig, Community Relations Director at The Classic. “You need to be open to the possibility that there could be some positive things that will add to your overall quality of life.” For an introvert, there’s no more fearsome image than a peppy activities director rapping on your door at 6 a.m. Fortunately, that’s not the way senior living communities work. “This is your home and communities like The Classic are very limited in what they can share when it comes to your privacy,” says Mathwig. “People have this idea of everything being scheduled as though you’re going to camp, but that’s not reality.”

Are You Searching for a Senior Living Community?

“Each community is different,” says Mathwig. “It’s really up to the person(s) looking to move into a senior living community to ask plenty of questions up front before making a selection. While this strategy is true for anyone, for an introvert, asking the right questions is especially important.” Senior living staff work with all types of personalities, so if you tend to be introverted, you’re most likely not the first they’ve come across. Most communities will typically have some type of policy in place to meet the needs of residents who prefer their time alone. However, it’s always a good idea to make sure of a few things before you sign up to live in a senior living community. “An individual who wants their care to be conducted in a certain way should voice their needs,” says Mathwig. “They can’t assume that the staff will not be able to accommodate their unique needs.” Mathwig recommends asking questions about potential problem areas for someone who’s not a fan of frequent socializing.

Questions to Ask:

  • How flexible is the dining schedule? If you don’t feel like getting dressed for dinner, can you ever have meals delivered to your apartment? If so, is there an extra charge? If your apartment has a kitchen, there may be times you’ll want to prepare your own meals.
  • How can staff ensure my privacy? Find out the system for staff communication about your personal needs. Will staff call or just stop by your apartment? Will staff members ever knock on your door without notice? If any particular method makes you uncomfortable, find out if staff can tweak how they communicate with you to better suit your needs.
  • Is there assigned seating in the restaurant/dining area? Or, can residents sit wherever they wish?
  • What is the policy if I choose not to participate in activities? No introvert wants to be hounded to take part in activities. Senior living communities offer many types of sessions and social, physical, and spiritual opportunities, but nobody should be forcing you to participate in anything you do not want to be part of.

Settling Into a Ready-Made Community

Some people may not be lifelong introverts but actually became more introverted as a result of isolating themselves after losing many of their friends. When a person is used to only a few social interactions within a social circle they’ve created, it can be challenging to adjust to a ready-made community. The key to making senior living work for an introvert is establishing boundaries without coming across as discourteous. Try to appreciate how things such as not having to prepare your own meals may allow you more downtime. Keep in mind that you may actually find an activity you enjoy.