how do i save for retirement?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:

  1. Make Time an Ally Rather than a Predator – For someone approaching retirement age, options are limited short of winning the lottery (not a very reliable retirement plan). This is why it is so important for young adults entering the workforce to start making 401(k) contributions early so they can take advantage of the power of compound interest, illustrated in TV ads as a domino effect with tiny dominoes leading to a towering one with a loud thud at the end.
  2. Sacrifice – This would seem obvious, yet people often buy things they don’t really need because a surplus of discretionary cash is “burning a hole” in their pocket, as the saying goes. Successful retirement planning requires years of saving to provide for a time when we are no longer generating income from a steady job. It takes discipline and willpower to put money away rather than spend it for instant gratification. We benefit later by forgoing small luxuries today such as making lunch rather than eating out as often.
  3. Get a Handle on Debt – Older Americans tend to have more credit card debt than younger Americans. To have savings, it is critical to get ahead of debt. Paying the minimum each month adds a lot of interest on top of the original balance. A personal loan can consolidate the debt into a fixed monthly payment at a lower rate. Experts advise against dipping into tax-deferred money from retirement accounts to pay credit card debt due to penalties for taking out funds too early. Focus on paying down the card with the highest interest rate first, according to USAA Certified Financial Planner Scott Halliwell.
  4. Work While Retired – Some dream of the day when they can put a career in the rear view mirror, yet others miss having a sense of purpose, camaraderie and spending power that comes from a job. It’s great when “clocking in” is an option, but for some, it remains key to survival and a real challenge with limited opportunities as a result of age discrimination and a tight job market.
  5. Stay Active and Healthy – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stresses the importance of exercising, eating healthy foods and getting blood pressure and cholesterol checked regularly to reduce the burden of medical costs tied to lifestyle choices. The 10 leading causes of death (accounting for 74% of all deaths) are heart disease, cancer , chronic lower respiratory diseases, stroke, unintentional injuries, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, influenza and pneumonia, kidney disease, and suicide, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
  6. Get Insurance – Medical bills and funeral expenses can lead to growing debt. Long-term Care Insurance may be needed to pay for costs not covered by health insurance, Medicare or Medicaid beyond a predetermined period. About 70% of people over age 65 will require at least some type of long-term care services during their lifetime.
  7. Get Expert Help – A financial advisor can help plan retirement in such a way that defers or saves tax burdens. Working with a “fiduciary” will guarantee you are advised by someone with a legal duty to act solely in your interest rather than someone who will sell you costly plans loaded with big commissions that may take a big bite out of your savings.
  8. Save More than You Think You’ll Need – Even if you’re confident that your savings will support you through retirement, don’t fail to anticipate emergencies like medical issues, natural disasters or a job loss that could strike.
  9. Don’t Rely on Social Security or Medicaid – By 2050, there will be fewer working people supporting retirees, according to US News & World Report. With one in six older Americans living below the poverty line, it’s a safe bet that the social safety net will be increasingly strained.
  10. Stay Flexible – When the time comes, seniors may need to consider financing their care by selling their homes, companion living, pursuing VA Aid and Attendance funds, getting reverse mortgages, or low interest bridge loans from lenders like Elder Life Financial.

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.

Copyright: olivier26 / 123RF Stock Photo

8 Age-Related Impacts on the Body

Friday, 27 May 2016 18:32

senior citizen fitnessWhenever 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:

THE BRAIN
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.

SKIN
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.

BALANCE
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.

Written by Steven Stiefel

Copyright: karelnoppe / 123RF Stock Photo

memory care from Regency Senior LivingChange is an inevitable part of aging as time makes our bodies and brains slow down. Memory loss is a normal part of the process, but how do we know whether forgetfulness is the result of mild cognitive impairment or a more serious brain disorder?

With Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, the mental decline is severe enough to disrupt daily life by affecting core brain functions that control our ability to learn and recall information, as well as focus on tasks and solve problems.

Because Alzheimer’s is most prevalent in people over age 65, it can be difficult to tell whether the symptoms are normal or something more serious. Alzheimer’s is a slow, progressive illness that damages nerve cells in the brain.
What’s the distinction between a typical “senior moment” and a sign of Alzheimer’s?

  • It is the difference between a bad decision made once in a while and more frequent cases of showing poor judgment and decision making.
  • It is a senior missing a monthly bill payment as opposed to lacking the ability to manage a budget at all.
  • It is forgetting or mistaking which day of the week it is, in contrast to losing track of what season it is.
  • A senior might momentarily forget what something is called, but someone suffering from dementia will struggle just to have a conversation and fail to recall familiar people.
  • Finally, anyone can lose track of where we’ve left something, but the person with Alzheimer’s is utterly incapable of retracing their steps to find something they have left in a place that defies logic, e.g. the keys left in the freezer.

It’s important to base future decisions on the outcome of a diagnosis from a qualified medical professional rather than acting harshly based on assumptions and fears. A checkout may point to other, treatable causes that can be mistaken for Alzheimer’s, including depression or drug interactions.

The Alzheimer’s Association has a lot of helpful information on its website that can help families recognize the warning signs and symptoms, as well as research possible treatments and find support. Visit http://www.alz.org/ for more.

Regency retirement communities work hand-in-hand with their local Alzheimer’s Association chapters to assist in continued education, host support groups for our families, and educate the markets we serve. Importance is placed on residents retaining their dignity and privacy as we provide personalized care and activities.

To learn more about Regency Senior Living, call (615) 598-0245.

Written by Steven Stiefel

Copyright: voronin76 / 123RF Stock Photo

Spring a Great Time for Fun in the Sun

Wednesday, 30 March 2016 13:30

Tennessee Senior LivingAfter 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:

  • Plant a Garden – Whether growing vegetables to eat or simply enjoying the scent of freshly cut flowers, this is THE best time of year for those who enjoy digging in the dirt and watching the beauty of nature at work. Will April showers bring May flowers?
  • Take a Picnic – With a little preparation, seniors can enjoy a picnic meal with family and friends, in the back yard or at a city park. Don’t forget the sandwiches and lemonade!
  • Visit a Farmer’s Market – This can be a great option for finding fresh veggies if tending to your own garden is too big of a project to take on by yourself. Many of the larger markets offer not only food items but arts and crafts and entertainment as well. Festivals are a big part of this time of year as well, many of them offering a showcase of all things Southern.
  • Take a Nature Walk – Many communities offer their citizens access to a walking park or botanical center where they can exercise at a leisurely pace. For those who are more active, hiking trails can lead to unexpected delights. Walking increases muscle strength, controls blood pressure and blood sugar and offers socialization experiences.
  • Bird Watch – It’s fun to listen to the birds chirping and try to identify what kind they are.
  • Spring Clean – Now is a great time to clear out some of the clutter lying around. While this might be more of an errand than a fun activity people look forward to, it can be entertaining going through keepsakes and recalling old memories. Plus, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment while enjoying the fresh air. Senior caregivers should use this time to make sure air conditioning is working properly before the summer heat arrives in full force. Spring cleaning may include cleaning outdoor furniture and pulling weeds.
  • Spend Time with Family – With kids out of school for the summer break ahead, now is a great time to plan activities with grandchildren or day trips to go shopping in nearby cities.
  • Fly a Kite – Combine walking with the exhilaration of guiding a soaring kite.
  • Learn Something New – More daylight hours means more opportunities to participate in things going on in the community. This may be attending events at a church or community center or taking a class to learn something like ballroom dancing, yoga, painting, etc.

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.

Written by Steven Stiefel

Copyright: tunedin123 / 123RF Stock Photo

happy retired couple at Regency Senior LivingHow 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:

Volunteer
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.

Remodel
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.

Teach/Mentor
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.

Travel
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?

Be Creative
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.

Enjoy Recreation
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.

Written by Steven Stiefel

Copyright: pressmaster / 123RF Stock Photo

6 ways to make new friends in senior livingWhile 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>

Approaching Alzheimer’s with a Plan

Sunday, 29 November 2015 23:05

dementiaWhen mild forgetfulness turns into serious memory problems, seniors and their families have to accept the difficult new reality that Alzheimer’s disease may be forever changing their lives. Recognizing dementia early on is key to ensuring that a loved one receives the highest quality of care and can adequately express his or her wishes for the future.

A medical exam is the first step in getting answers. A doctor can run tests to rule out other causes for symptoms such as forgetting the names of family members or important dates. Someone with Alzheimer’s may withdraw from social activities, display rapid mood swings for no discernable reason, display poor judgment, misplace things, and generally become easily confused.

Seniors may feel a range of emotions upon receiving confirmation, from a sense of relief to know what’s wrong to anger that life is taking a different course then the one they had planned. Knowing that they are not alone in confronting the disease provides relief from some of the stress.

The Alzheimer’s Association recommends that families do not put off difficult conversations about preparing for the future. Eventually, Alzheimer’s progresses to the point of affecting everyday life and incapacitating the ability to make decisions about treatment, management of assets and legal arrangements. Someone with the disease may live for many years after receiving the initial diagnosis – the quality of their life depends greatly on the choices made in the early stages when they make their wishes known and get their affairs in order.

“As the disease progresses, you will need the support of those who know and understand you. Concealing or denying your diagnosis will limit your ability to cope with the challenges ahead,” the Alzheimer’s Association advises on its website www.alz.org. “Putting legal, financial and end-of-life plans in place is one of the most important steps you can take. It allows you to participate in making decisions that help family and friends know your wishes.”

Planning for the future includes:

  • Legal Planning (Creating or reviewing legal documents, making legal plans for finances and property, naming someone to make decisions on the senior’s behalf)
  • Financial Planning (Identifying the cost of care, reviewing government benefits or long-term care insurance policies, etc.)
  • Caregiving Decisions (Determining who will help the senior with everyday tasks)
  • End-of-Life Planning (Discussing the senior’s wishes if they become seriously ill, arranging eventual funeral/burial plans, etc.)

These can be very difficult topics to bring up, especially when the senior and his or her family are still feeling overwhelmed by the diagnosis and fearful of what lies ahead. “If you don't have an honest talk about these topics, how will others know and respect your wishes?” the Alzheimer’s Association asks on its website. “Ideally, it's best to express your wishes now while you are able to make decisions for yourself. Addressing your wishes with family members, your care team or a legal professional will ensure that your expressed requests will be followed when appropriate.”

While many family members will take on the caregiver role in their home, Regency Senior Living offers secure memory care in many of our communities, offering the person with dementia a structured environment and specially trained caregivers working around the clock to maintain seniors’ dignity and comfort. To learn more about Regency Senior Living, call (615) 598-0245.

The Alzheimer’s Association offers tools on its website for Alzheimer’s patients. Alzheimer's Navigator® is an online assessment program that helps you create an action plan to meet your specific needs. It also connects you to information, support and local resources. Learn more at https://www.alzheimersnavigator.org/

Written by Steven Stiefel

1952032As 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:

  • Stay abreast of weather reports. Have a NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards receiver unit with a warning alarm tone and battery back-up to receive warning bulletins.
  • Contact a neighbor willing to check on an aging relative in case the roads are impassible due to snow or icy conditions. A major winter storm can last for several days and be accompanied by high winds, freezing rain or sleet, heavy snowfall and cold temperatures. Don’t assume that you’ll be able to get out to check on an aging relative because visibility may be low, you can become trapped in a car and attempting to walk can be a deadly decision.
  • If weather conditions look unfavorable, prepare in the senior’s home at least a 3-day supply of necessary medications (in case you can’t get to the drugstore for a while), along with bottled water and non-perishable foods. Some high energy food such as dried fruit, nuts and granola bars that require no cooking are recommended by the Red Cross. Stored water and fruit needs replaced every 6 months.
  • A fully-charged cell phone is also advisable. It can be a homebound senior’s only lifeline to the outside world.
  • Pay attention to alerts provided by credible, accurate weather news sources.
  • Have contact information for your local police and fire departments handy in case of emergency.
  • Make sure that heaters in the senior’s home are working properly and won’t present a fire hazard. Fireplaces, wood stoves and space heaters need to ventilate properly. Don’t forget heating fuel and test smoke alarms to ensure they work properly.
  • While blizzards get the winter weather headlines, heavy accumulations of ice can be just as dangerous in Southern states, bringing down trees and toppling utility poles. Ice can disrupt communications and power for days while utility companies repair extensive damage. Even small accumulations of ice can be extremely dangerous to motorists and pedestrians, so don’t underestimate it.
  • Close off unneeded rooms in the senior’s home and stuff towels or rags in cracks under doors. Cover windows to keep heat from escaping.
  • Make sure the senior citizen has available (and knows to wear) layers of loose-fitting, warm clothing.
  • Our senior citizens are vulnerable to the elements, but it’s comforting to know that they are safe and won’t be alone when they are part of the Regency community. For those who aren’t yet, we hope these safety tips can help adult children to prepare their aging parents for the approaching cold weather season.

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.

Written by Steven Stiefel

Seniors can apply for benefits to offset some of the costs of assisted livingThe second most challenging aspect of relocating a loved one to Assisted Living, after the actual physical move to the building, is figuring out how to pay for it. In the best case scenario, an aging parent has a nest-egg accumulated over generations of working hard and saving money so he or she can retire in a community as nice as Regency. Either way, there are multiple options for financing such a move, especially for military veterans and homeowners.

Regency maintains a trio of partnerships with organizations to make it work. Jeff Clay, Vice President of Business Development, explains some popular options and how they work.

First, a BRIDGE LOAN from Elder Life Financial.

“This allows a senior to move right away to Assisted Living while their home is on the market to find a buyer,” Clay said. “They don’t have to wait until the house sells to actually move, and the home will sell quicker once mom and/or dad are settled so the walls can be painted, the shag carpeting taken up, etc.”

Elder Life can typically qualify a family member with good credit within 24-48 hours, allowing up to six people to be on the non-secured bridge loan without putting up collateral and make payments. The family only has to pay the interest until the home is sold. Once the home sells or other options discussed below kick in, the family pays the accumulated low interest of about 8.25%.

Second, VETERANS BENEFITS from the Department of Veterans Affairs, or VA, for veterans and spouses of veterans who have served at least 90 days on active duty and at least one day during wartime. Called "aid and attendance", this program pays a maximum benefit of $2,123 a month for married veterans, $1,788 for single veterans, $1,406 for well veterans with an ill spouse, and $1,149 for a surviving spouse.

“We refer veterans to our partners at Elder Resource Benefits Consulting,” Clay said. “ERB helps them with the paperwork, and once they qualify them, Regency absorbs the cost so there’s no charge to the veteran or spouse. It’s our way of giving back to our veterans. A bridge loan can work well with VA benefits. The good thing is once the VA gets the paperwork, it is stamped and the benefits pay retro dollars back to that date.”

Third, a MEDICAID WAIVER through TennCare CHOICES. This can help pay for expenses for those who can no longer live alone. Typically, the recipient must pay for their room and board if they opt for Assisted Living rather than a nursing home. If are interested in the CHOICES program, you can call your TennCare health plan (MCO) at the number listed on the TennCare card.

Fourth, for those with the foresight to look ahead, LONG-TERM CARE INSURANCE that can be redeemed through Elder Life Financial.

Clay said when going to insurance route, it’s important for seniors to give their grown children Power of Attorney to avoid delays in applying the policy toward Assisted Living. “I talked with a woman whose mother had a policy she’d been wise enough to get 17 years earlier through Aetna, but she was unable to execute it in lieu of her parent. It’s also important to factor in cost-of-living increases. In that case, the mother had gotten a locked fixed interest that only paid the rate that Assisted Living would have cost her two decades ago.”

Long-term care insurance is best purchased within a window of time, between the early to mid-50s, because it can be of little use if arranged at too young of an age and cost-prohibitive if purchased too close to retirement age.

Finally, a partner called Life Care Funding can help families CONVERT A LIFE INSURANCE POLICY, which normally only pays at death to beneficiaries, to go toward Assisted Living while the policyholder is alive and well. Since most people rely on life insurance to final their final expenses, Clay recommends arranging for pre-paid funeral expenses that can be paid over months while the senior lives happily in Assisted Living.

For those who lack the financial means to afford their own apartment at a Regency facility, Clay said an openness to something called “companion living” increases their choices.

“Obviously, we’d all prefer to have our own space rather than sharing with a roommate, but this makes living in Assisted Living more do-able for some. Through our Homes4Heroes program, we’re seeing companion living because there is a backlog of veterans on the waiting list, plus it allows them to save money on housing that they can put toward other things,” he said.

Every senior hopes to have the financial means to spend their Golden Years in a community as wonderful as Regency where they can enjoy comfort and compassion. That’s why it’s so reassuring to have a variety of options to make it more affordable – and to start saving well in advance of needing it.

To learn more about Regency Senior Living and the companies mentioned here, call (615) 598-0245.

Written by Steven Stiefel

her life storySeniors 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:

  • First, don’t get caught up in the gravity of “writing an autobiography” or “crafting my memoir”. Your life story can be a short essay or a collection of brief stories. Shorter can actually be easier for the eventual reader. It’s not as if you’re tasked with the intimidating task of writing something meant for publication. The important thing is to capture the stories and the perspective of what it was like to be you during the certain period of history in which you lived. It might help to think of the process as more like writing a letter to the person your grandchild will be in 20 years.
  • Second, consider starting with a sequential outline of major life events or talk about experiences independent of when they happened. The order of things doesn’t matter as long as you tell your story, but structure can make it easier to follow. An outline is the skeleton of your story. Don’t feel as if you have to start at your own childhood – this is your story and you are free to start wherever you wish.
  • Third, don’t feel as if your life isn’t dramatic enough to be interesting to anyone. Our births, schooling, vacations, work lives, and relationships are rich material. Your life story does not have to be an epic odyssey spanning continents and encompassing major struggles. Daily life is a struggle, and surviving another day is quietly heroic in itself. Novelist Jeannette Walls said: “Memoir is about handing over your life to someone and saying, ‘This is what I went through, this is who I am, and maybe you can learn something from it.’ It’s honestly sharing what you think, feel, and have gone through. If you can do that effectively, then somebody gets the wisdom and benefit of your experience without having to live it.”
  • Four, try to put things in your life’s rear-view mirror into context. Some memories will be happy, while others will be sad. Don’t hammer someone who doesn’t deserve to be portrayed as the villain if you owe it to yourself to take some of the blame for things that happened. Writing things down can be very therapeutic, but you can change names or leave out details if they might embarrass someone reading your story later.
  • Five, writing is most engaging when we appeal to the senses (sight, taste, hearing, smell, and touch). Stating what happened is not as interesting as telling a story with descriptive details that put the reader there in the room with you, as if they traveled back in time to experience it alongside you.
  • Six, if you have difficulty typing or writing, record your story on an audio recorder or a video. Websites like http://storycorps.org/ and https://lifebio.com/Home/How-Write-Biography can help you capture your life story.
  • Seven, if you have trouble starting, begin by answering basic questions. A list of great questions is available at http://storycorps.org/great-questions/ or at http://www.ancestrybinders.com/uploads/7_Writing_Your_Life_Story_-_Sue_s_list.pdf
  • Eight, include photos whenever possible. A picture speaks a thousand words you won’t have to. Be sure to label who is in a photo and what was happening, otherwise your future descendants will not understand the importance of the moment you’re sharing. School photos, wedding pictures and family reunion photos work great.

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.

 

Written by Steven Stiefel

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