As it turns out, the key to happiness later in life is not personal wealth, although having money does make it a bit easier. No, the real secret to a happy life is having good relationships – with spouses, with friends and family. This month, we dig deeper to find out why and learn how moving into an Assisted Living community can improve this happiness.
Harvard University began a study tracking 724 men back in 1938. They came from different backgrounds, including college students and some living in Boston’s poorest neighborhoods. Every two years, these men have been interviewed by researchers about their lives and given medical exams to study their brains and blood. Most of the surviving participants are in their 90s.
The study’s fourth director, Robert Waldinger, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, said 75 years of research has given us solid clues about what leads to happier and healthier lives versus lives dominated by struggles with depression and health problems. Strong social bonds play a vital role in protecting long-term physical and mental health. Those challenged by health problems are more likely to become isolated and experience feelings of melancholy in old age.
It’s not always easy making new friends at ANY age. When we are in our teens and 20s, the institutions of school and career provide ample opportunities to make friends because we spend so much time with other people. Waldinger suggested those who make an effort to replace workplace friends and colleagues with new friends after retiring are more likely to be happier in their senior years.
Those connected to family, friends, the community are generally happier and physically healthier, living longer than those who are less well connected. In contrast, those who are mostly isolated aren’t as happy and have shorter lives. Those in unhappy relationships at age 50 reported their emotional pain magnified their physical pain at age 80. H. Jackson Brown Jr. was right when he wrote that, “the decision of who to marry will determine 90% of your happiness or misery.”
Romantic feelings may be hard for many couples to sustain for generations, but even those in the study who bickered frequently with their spouses showed signs of sharper memories if they were paired with someone who they felt they could count on during tough times. This suggests that a secure relationship helps the brain.
Rather than finding that happier relationships cause better health later in life, the Harvard study suggests that people who are healthier are more likely to make and maintain satisfying relationships. It just makes sense that someone who feels miserable much of the time will project this on others and be less likely to attract companionship. This heightens the importance of listening to doctors when they tell us to monitor our blood pressure, eat healthier and stay physically active.
Where does Assisted Living come into this?
A move to a senior living community can be a rescue from the isolation of living in solitude. While we all appreciate our privacy and the freedom to take “me time”, a structured environment designed to facilitate making new social connections can not only kill loneliness but contribute to life-extending happiness.
At Regency, we have Activity Directors to plan exercise and fun outings. Rather than sitting isolated in a house, seniors come together to play games, watch movies together, have meals together, worship as a group, and much more. Calendars placed in our newsletters and posted around the community preview good times of joint fun ahead.
When someone new moves to the community, an activity director typically conducts an activities survey to ask the new resident what he or she enjoys doing. Even someone who was an only child and has been introverted most of his or her life can make fast friends when talking to someone they have things in common with during meal times.
Considering a move to Assisted Living can be a scary proposition for the senior, but once they’ve lived here for a few weeks, most feel a genuine sense of belonging in a new family. Some may discover that they are social butterflies spreading their “wings” for the first time in their lives. Researchers are confident that strong social bonds like these play an important role in protecting our long-term physical and mental health.
To learn more about Regency Senior Living, call (615) 598-0245.
Perhaps you’ve seen the television ads where Harvard Professor and Social Psychologist Daniel Gilbert asks a group of people hanging around a plaza to mark how much money they think they will need when they retire on a piece of ribbon. An experiment follows where the people stretch their ribbon across a field marked with numbers and are shocked to realize their planned retirement savings will not get them as far as they imagined. Gilbert points out that retirement could last 30 years or more.
The average life expectancy in the US is 81.2 years for women, 76.4 years for men. Time can become a liability as modern medical technology allows people to live longer lives.
The ads use fear to sell a product, but they are a reminder that people need to think more like squirrels gathering acorns for the winter ahead and put more money away for retirement during prime working years. But how are we supposed to save when we have mortgages, kids’ college education to pay, and so many financial responsibilities to juggle? How can baby boomers counteract losses from the financial and housing crisis of 2008 and 2009?
Experts point to a few different options to make money go farther in retirement years so we can afford to live in an Assisted Living community when the time comes:
In our February 2016 blog, we wrote about ways to get more out of retirement years on a limited budget. In the September 2015 blog, we covered long-term care options to pay for Assisted Living. We recommend reading those for greater detail on the actions recommended in this blog. These steps can help those seniors pay for care when they eventually need help with the basic personal tasks of everyday life in an Assisted Living Community like Regency.
Baby Boomers and millenials have special challenges as a result of the financial devastation of 2008-09, but the principles remain the same: Spend Less Than You Earn, Save Whenever Possible. With some discipline and luck, they ultimately may not have to endure a lower standard of living in retirement years.
We can put it off for years and years, but eventually, tomorrow becomes real. As we age, we want to travel the world and still leave something for our kids to inherit. At the very least, we want to be self-sufficient so we are not a burden on family. Planning ahead and continuing to save as we approach retirement can literally pay off in the long run.
To learn more about Regency Senior Living, call (615) 598-0245.
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Whenever someone passes the century market on this planet, they are usually asked, “What is your secret to long life and good health?”
The young have the freedom to live with reckless abandon, confident they will live forever. In reality, we discover as we age that our health often reflects earlier choices and pays dividends later in life. Ask anyone in their 30s and 40s who is warned by their doctor to watch their cholesterol or lectured by a dental hygienist to brush and floss.
In our increasingly sedentary society, there’s no surprise that more than a third of adults are considered to be obese. A 2011 study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that each hour people spent sitting down and watching TV after age 25 was linked to a deduction of 22 minutes from their overall life expectancy.
According to the National Institute on Aging, staying active and taking charge of one’s health are key to managing future well-being.
Here are 8 Areas of Age-Related Change that older adults will likely face and how to prepare:
Problem: Forgetfulness is so common as we age that our culture deems it as “having a senior moment”, but there is a difference between momentary confusion and the onset of memory loss and Alzheimer’s Disease.
Solution: Alcohol misuse can increase the risk of damage to the brain, as well as damage to the liver, esophagus, throat and larynx. Scientists do not yet know what causes Alzheimer’s disease, but they do believe it arises from a complex series of brain changes that evolve over decades, possibly a mix of genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors that affect each person differently. Diet and physical exercise are recommended to reduce the risk. Memory Care may be of great use to those who have access to a senior living community like Regency.
BONES AND JOINTS
Problem: Decades of carrying around our body weight bears down on the bones and movable joints. Osteoporosis weakens bones to the point where they break easily, most often in women. Arthritis comes in different types but usually means cartilage in a joint wearing away. Inflammation can result in pain and stiffness.
Solution: Scientists recommend consuming calcium and vitamin D to prevent weakened bones, as well as exercise. Our bones begin to weaken in our 40s. Lifestyle changes and flexibility exercises can pay off later in life. Weight loss is a recurring theme, as doctors say that losing as little as 5 percent of your body weight can pay big rewards, lowering the possibility of Type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke, some types of cancer, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, and other problems. At Regency’s communities, residents are encouraged to participate in physical activities to maintain their health.
EYES & EARS
Problem: Around age 40, people slowly begin to notice changes in vision such as inability to read small print without reading glasses. Hearing also declines due to a condition called Presbycusis.
Solution: Vision loss is inevitable, but you can protect yourself by having annual eye exams to detect early signs of cataracts, glaucoma or retinal disorders that may develop around age 60 or as a result of diabetic vision loss. Hearing aids can improve the quality of life for seniors with hearing loss. In younger years, moderating exposure to loud noises can delay hearing loss.
DIGESTIVE & METABOLIC SYSTEM
Problem: About 40 percent of adults ages 40 to 74 — or 41 million people — have pre-diabetes, a condition that raises a person's risk for developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Heartburn can also be an issue as stomach contents can leak back, or reflux, into the esophagus.
Solution: Lifestyle changes such as losing weight and increasing physical activity reduce the development of diabetes by 71 percent in people over age 60.
BLADDER & PROSTATE
Problem: Loss of bladder control is very common in older people, with 1 in 10 people over age 65 experiencing leaking, particularly women. For men, the prostate grows bigger with age, making it harder to pass urine. Prostate cancer is the second most common type of cancer among men in the US.
Solution: Ask a doctor if your medicines can affect the amount of urine you produce. Limit alcohol and caffeine while drinking more water to improve bladder health. Seek treatment for urinary incontinence and urinary tract infections. Seniors experiencing these issues greatly benefit from the compassionate care they receive at Regency, where light housekeeping tasks are performed by others.
LOSS OF TEETH
Problem: Bacteria ruins the enamel that protects teeth, leading to tooth decay and gum disease. Infection, if left untreated, can ruin the bones, gums and tissue that support the teeth.
Solution: Brushing twice a day prevents plaque from forming into tartar that leads to destructive gingivitis. Going to a dentist twice a year for a routine cleaning can prevent plaque buildup.
Problem: Years of exposure to sunlight, stress, dehydration, and toxins such as cigarettes lead to changes such as dryness, wrinkles and age spots. Skin cancer is the most common type in the nation. Melanoma can be fatal if it spreads to other organs in the body. Shingles can affect those over 50 who suffered chickenpox earlier in life.
Solution: There is now a shingles vaccine show to boost immunity against the virus. Experts recommend staying out of the sun to keep skin healthy and young looking. We also need to avoid dehydration caused by overheating in the winters and using air conditioning during summertime.
Problem: Falls can come as a result of reduced vision, muscle strength, coordination, and reflexes, as well as inner ear infections, diabetes and heart disease or circulation problems. Increased use of medicines can cause dizziness.
Solution: Removing hazards in the home can reduce tripping incidents. Keeping a healthy weight, moderate exercise, drinking less alcohol, eating less salt, and eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy foods can all reduce blood pressure and thus lower the risk of stroke, heart disease, eye problems, and kidney failure. Walkers and canes can provide greater support and improve mobility. Talk to a doctor to determine if unwanted side effects of medicines are causing dizziness. Seniors and their families may experience greater peace of mind by moving to a senior community such as Regency where their physical needs are key to the design.
These are just a few of the keys to realizing the Fountain of Youth and living a long, healthy life. Beyond the body itself, attitude and being socially connected also impact our lifespans.
Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise plan or making other changes that can affect your health. To learn more, visit http://www.nihseniorhealth.gov.
To learn more about Regency Senior Living, call (615) 598-0245.
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After the long winter, it’s great to know that longer, warmer days are ahead. Active seniors welcome the opportunity to get outdoors.
Here are a few ideas for getting more enjoyment out of springtime:
Seniors and caregivers should check with their doctor before participating in any strenuous activity. Not only is getting outdoors good for Vitamin D production, but the fresh air can actually boost happiness, which is important considering the rise of feelings of depression during the colder months.
Say goodbye to winter and hello to springtime. To learn more about Regency Senior Living, call (615) 598-0245.
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How many hours did you spend daydreaming when you were younger and busy earning a living while raising a family, imagining all of the things you’d see and do if only you had more time?
For seniors, the time to “slow down and smell the roses” is now. Yet some look at their life and wonder ‘what next?’ after retiring from a career or experiencing an empty nest. It is fun to imagine “if money were no object” scenarios, even though this is rarely a luxury for most as life expectancies grow longer and longer.
Whatever the pie-in-the-sky fantasy, it is important to live within one’s means after leaving any job and spread savings over the long haul. Eventually, long-term care in a retirement community like Regency should be included in plans, with the cost covered by some combination of personal savings, long-term care insurance, veteran’s benefits, home equity, selling a life insurance policy, using a reverse mortgage, renting the home, and/or Medicaid.
US News offers a retirement readiness calculator to provide a rough idea of how long retirement savings and income will last. It can be viewed at http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/features/calculator
Of course, money isn’t the only consideration in creating an enriched retirement life. Here are some ideas for adding some fun and purpose to our golden years:
It can be very rewarding to give back in ways that just weren’t possible while employed full-time. Your church or another charitable organization will no doubt appreciate being asked what their needs are and how you can contribute. There may be a need within one’s own family for someone to step up and help care for a loved one.
Get a Part Time Job
For those physically able, working after retirement can be a great way to spread out savings and earn extra money for things, plus it can make things easier for the senior who has spent his or her whole life working and doesn’t know what to do with idle hands. A lot of companies can appreciate someone with a friendly personality who is eager to help out a bit. A part-time job with benefits can be a great lifeline for a senior without insurance.
Pouring surplus time into improving a home can increase the value if it is put up for sale as part of a larger plan to downsize and possibly finance some of the cost of a move to a senior living community, where an older adult can maintain his or her independence while getting help with the tasks of daily life.
Go into Public Service
Serve your community by stepping up to speak for others, whether it is taking on a responsibility in a civic club or running for an elected office. This is an especially great option for a senior with many connections who is well admired by others. Simply writing letters to city council members or representatives in Congress on matters of importance can give seniors an advocacy role that eludes most people too busy during the career years.
Seniors are walking treasures when it comes to life experience, but it’s a waste if knowledge and wisdom are lost rather than shared with someone younger who can benefit from such insight. Writing a blog is as easy as going to Wordpress.com and starting to type. The Internet is generally a great way to connect with others who share a specific interest. Mentoring a young person who needs a role model is one way for a senior to leave the world a little better place than it otherwise would be, touching the life of another human being.
Learn a New Skill
Who says that an education has to end when we get a diploma or put workplace training out of commission? Learning to dance, cook, sew, speak in a foreign tongue – all of these and more are possibilities for the mind willing to grasp new things.
For those who can afford it, seeing more of the world is a great way to enhance retirement life. When we are working in full-time jobs, most people can only see as much of the planet as their vacation time allows, but retirees can seek out bus trips to take as groups, cruises to enjoy and attractions to experience. Traveling can include visiting family and exploring one’s roots. What adventure awaits you?
Liberal arts majors might get teased about their prospects finding good-paying jobs out of college because it is a struggle for most artists, but retirees have the freedom to spend their days expressing their creativity. Whether this takes the form of painting, playing a musical instrument, creating jewelry, or planting a garden, it’s more about getting enjoyment than struggling to make a living. There can be great joy in picking up a pursuit that was set aside as we reached adulthood and had more practical concerns to dominate our focus.
While most seniors aren’t physically able to get out and play tackle football, they can find ways to stay active, perhaps going to a local gym or getting in the habit of walking daily. For some, recreation might be more along the lines of playing cards.
Consume the Classics
If someone hasn’t had time to read many novels since finishing college – or ever – the retirement years can be populated with regular reading of short stories and epic tales. The local library is filled with titles that can stimulate the imagination and take the reader to exciting new places without ever leaving his or her bedroom. Not much of a reader? Services such as Netflix allow viewers to enjoy hours and hours of binge viewing great TV shows and movies, including some familiar titles from decades past. Who says you have to spend a fortune to be entertained?
Seniors should take the time, now that they have it, to do anything they want, putting their energy into things they’ve long wished to do but previously lacked the time. They’ve earned it.
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While many seniors look forward to making a move to Regency Senior Living or a similar place, others worry about the changes that come with resettling in a new place where they may not know anyone. This month, we decided to dedicate the blog to those who want to make new friendships.
Experts in the field of socialization suggest a few different ways to make new friends:
Put Yourself in Situations Where You Can Meet New People: The great thing about Senior Living communities like Regency is the abundance of activities that present opportunities to meet and spend time with new people. Whether it is a craft class, watching an entertainer, enjoying a meal or attending a church service, Regency puts seniors in a position to make friends fast.
Open Your Mind and Your Heart: Don’t think that someone has to think, feel and be exactly like you to be a friend. You can learn a lot about yourself by getting to know people with different interests or backgrounds. People have many layers and evolve over time. Someone who used to annoy you may simply be misunderstood. Letting go of old grudges or prejudices can open doors, the experts say.
Step Out of Your Comfort Zone: Even a shy person can start and enjoy a conversation with a stranger about sports, recipes, crafts, current events, the old days, old neighborhoods, trips, etc. Once we’ve shared with them, they are no longer strangers, and we begin discovering common interests and experiences. We often discover it’s a small world of shared acquaintances or experiences.
Be There for Others: The expression “to make a friend, be a friend” comes to mind. We all want someone to remember our birthdays and give us something (if only a warm greeting) during the holidays. A senior can bond to others by making them feel special. A friend might be defined as someone who is a good listener, is loyal when confided to and a person who opens up to share. One-sided friendships where only one person selfishly vents do not last. Take an interest in someone else. Treat them the way you’d want to be treated so you can reap the rewards.
Be the Kind of Person You’d Like to Meet: Authenticity matters, but so does making a good impression. Someone who is fun and warm will naturally have more people gravitate to them than a different person with a cold or unpleasant temperament. Putting our “best foot forward” helps to attract potential friends.
Become Friends with Family: You already cherish an intimacy with family, but retiring to a senior living community opens exciting new possibilities for evolving those relationships. Before moving to Regency, perhaps sons and daughters spent many hours worrying as caregivers preoccupied with details, so called “parenting the parent”. Removed from such responsibilities, the senior can simply enjoy social time with grown children and grandchildren. The benefits of friendship go beyond an emotional need for connection. Research finds that bonding to others can lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, help us stay active, and potentially reduce the risk for cardiovascular problems, some cancers, osteoporosis, and rheumatoid arthritis. It also makes life more fun to have a buddy to share in experiences.
For the senior who is perhaps nervous about moving to our community, Regency offers many chances to make “fast friends” so you can get settled to a new and exciting retirement life.
To learn more about Regency Senior Living, call (615) 598-0245.
<p><a href="/https://plus.google.com/+StevenStiefel?rel=author" target="_blank">Written by Steven Stiefel</a></p>
As we approach the holidays, we are all focused on shopping and planning family get-togethers, but this time of year can also present weather-related challenges to our aging and homebound loved ones. While everyone should be aware of winter weather dangers, the threat can be especially dire if you are a senior citizen who may be less mobile in and outside your home, and more at risk during weather emergencies. Existing health problems can worsen in extreme temperatures. Now -- BEFORE severe conditions are more likely -- is the time to prepare a colder weather game-plan.
One can imagine how terrifying it would be for an elderly family member who has trouble getting around their own home under normal conditions, much less in the dark, without heat and with roads icy or covered in snow or storm debris. They are, for all practical purposes, stranded, cut off from emergency and medical services they may desperately need. According to the American Red Cross, infants and the elderly are most susceptible to exposure to the cold that can lead to frostbite or hypothermia.
An assisted living community such as Regency offers peace of mind that these most vulnerable among us are insulated against many of these risks. In Assisted Living communities there are many emergency systems in place to assure the physical well-being of their residents, including emergency supplies of food and water to ensure our residents remain warm and do not go without the staples of everyday survival. A blizzard doesn’t stop them from enjoying three meals a day and snacks. Regency employs a maintenance crew to keep equipment going while regular doctor visits and nurses at hand minimize medical risks. With dedicated transportation, family do not have to worry about an aging loved one attempting to drive.
There is also another risk of the season that may not be readily apparent: loneliness. The holidays and can seem especially bleak for those who are isolated with mobility issues and feel left out of socialization. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons with symptoms typically starting in the fall and continuing into the winter months. For seniors living at Regency, there are many opportunities to make friends, planned activities and the reassurance that compassionate care is never far away.
Seniors who make the move to a Regency community also no longer have to worry with home and yard maintenance, black mold risks, leaky roofs, or other burdens of home upkeep.
For those who are NOT fortunate enough to have a loved one living at Regency, we offer 10 quick safety tips:
Remember, short-term accommodations are available at any Regency community for those from different parts of the United States who choose to spend the winter months in the South. To learn more about Regency Senior Living, call (615) 598-0245.
Seniors may not realize it, but they carry within them a lifetime of lessons learned and wisdom to be shared with their families. It’s true that none of us are immortal, and the author Alex Haley once said, “Every death is like the burning of a library.”
There’s no time like the present to write down one’s life story to preserve for future generations. Just think of how precious your own grandparents’ possessions became over time – how you wished you could have had more time to spend with them, the questions you would ask if you’d thought of it at the time.
Today’s grandchildren are self-absorbed in their gadgets and pop culture, but someday they will mature into people who are genuinely interested in where they came from and what that means to who they’ve become. One day they’ll marvel at how much the world changed from when their elders were children, but only if they have the tales available to read when they’re ready.
Here are some quick tips from the experts on writing down or otherwise recording your life story:
These are just a few of the ways you can turn your life’s experience into a priceless keepsake that will only grow more valuable, pass along your values and preserve your memories.
It’s already been a scorching hot summer and the season has only just begun. With that in mind, here are some tips for making sure you and the ones you love stay cool. Infants and anyone with a chronic illness need special attention, as do outdoor pets.
Dehydration from being in the heat and not getting adequate liquids can lead to hospitalization. Older adults are particularly at risk due to changes in renal function and body water composition.
Signs include confusion, problems with walking or falling, dizziness or headaches, dry or sticky mouth and tongue, sunken eyes, inability to sweat or produce tears, rapid heart rate, low blood pressure or blood pressure that drops when changing from lying to standing, constipation and decreased urine.
A caregiver like the ones at Regency work to keep our seniors healthy and hydrated, but what about friends and family who may live alone and struggle to keep cool in the oppressive heat?
Some tips to remember:
Hamilton County schools are about to wrap up the year and students will be on summer vacation. Lucky them! Chattanooga has a reputation as a family-friendly city, and for good reason. So many institutions in town are designed with children in mind and encourage making new discoveries and creativity. It's easy to find things to do that let you spend time with your favorite young people sharing stories and memories and learning more about the interesting little people they're becoming. There's no shortage of adventures to have in Chattanooga, so we limited our list to four favorites: