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.
Copyright: pressmaster / 123RF Stock Photo
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>
When 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:
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/
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.
The 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.
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.
Some seniors may initially be apprehensive about moving from their home to an assisted living facility such as Regency Senior Living, but there are a lot of perks to it once you move beyond the fear of change and think about it.
Living alone, especially when you have mobility or memory issues, can not only be dangerous but also stressful and boring.
Being in a home means having to take care of a house and a yard. Why mow the grass, shovel snow or vacuum the carpet when you don’t have to and can have someone else do it? If a senior enjoys playing in the dirt, there are still opportunities at Regency Senior Living to tend to a community garden. Trying to take on home maintenance when affected by physical ailments can increase the risk of falls.
When a senior’s only regular companion is a television set, this leads to feelings of loneliness as well as guilt from family and friends whose busy schedules do not permit daily check-ins. In contrast, someone living in Assisted Living is never truly alone, although their privacy is respected.
Someone living at Regency has opportunities to form new friendships with other residents and staff, which includes an activity director tasked with providing activities for stimulation. Doesn’t that sound better than sitting alone in front of a glowing box?
Beyond the safety considerations of avoiding hazardous physical labor, once someone lives in a community like Regency, there are safeguards in place to not only protect them from hurting themselves but also from being exploited by con-artists and criminals off the street – those who might prey on a vulnerable senior forced to answer his or her own door and cope with aggressive or persuasive approaches.
Moving from the home that is perhaps larger than the senior needs (with children now grown and perhaps a spouse deceased) also makes sense from the family perspective. No longer do they have to feel resentment as full time caregivers or guilty because they haven’t visited enough; instead, they can rest easy knowing that the elderly individual is surrounded by people focused on their well-being.
Life at Regency also means no longer having to go grocery shopping or clean dirty dishes. There’s always a risk that a senior might suffer nutritionally as memory fails or performing these chores becomes too labor-intensive, but in assisted living they can be assured of three delicious meals a day. Regency also offers transportation without the risk of a senior attempting to drive in traffic.
From housekeeping to assistance with food and medications, a move to assisted living can be the key to a happier, more secure life going forward.
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:
There's no time like spring to inspire a fresh start. Even with so many of your daily needs taken care of at your retirement community, it can feel good to get newly organized and set up for all the fun things you want to enjoy this spring and summer. After all, there's nothing more frustrating than having last season's clothes at the front of your closet, old medications cluttering up your medicine cabinet, and not being able to put your hands on the exact letter or piece of memorabilia you were thinking of right away. Here are some ideas for how you can do a little spring cleaning so you can hurry up and enjoy the best parts about these warm weather seasons.
Clean out your drawers of all the little things that accumulate or mail you need to respond to. Take clothes you never wore this winter or that no longer fit for spring and summer out of the closet and donate them to a charity like Goodwill or the Salvation Army. The same for any tchotchkes or knick knacks that are taking up too much space. If there are family heirlooms you no longer have room for but can't bear to part with, see if a family member has space. Your children or grandchildren might love to have a special piece of you in their home.
One way to keep track of special mementos like letters, ticket stubs, clippings from magazines, or photographs sent from friends is to start a memory box or scrapbook. Putting it together in the first place can be a fun activity in its own right, but it will also give you a way to keep track of such things while they accumulate throughout the year. As soon as you get home from a baseball game, for example, you will immediately have a place to put your ticket or a photo from the paper the next day. Interesting articles you enjoy from various periodicals can be pasted into a journal, allowing you to recycle the rest of the magazine to save space. A memory box would let you save larger keepsakes, like a rock you found during a special walk with a loved one or pressed flowers from a plant you grew yourself.
Another important thing to stay on top of is your daily prescriptions and over-the-counter pills. It's can be easy to get confused about what you've taken throughout the day, especially if you have several medications to keep track of. Start by organizing your medicine cabinet. Put the smaller and least-used items up top, and the things you need every day front and center in the order you use them, left to right. Having everything in the exact same spot makes it simple to stick to a routine and know when you need a refill. Color code the lids with stickers or a marker if you find visual aids helpful. Dispensing your daily medications into a pill box with a section for each day of the week can help you stay on track, too.
While you're setting up your medicine cabinet, set aside anything that's expired, that you're no longer taking, or that you never use. Instead of flushing old medications down the toilet or throwing them away, take them to a drug-take-back site. Most police departments accept expired medications or can tell you where nearby pharmacies or hospitals do. Also set aside any old makeup, toiletries, or sunscreens that are expired or that you never use. There's no reason to keep around items that take up space but aren't going to do you any good.
These are just a few ways to savor spring by setting up your life to work better for you. Just a few minutes here and there will save you so much time in the long run, time you could be spending on the golf course, with friends or family, or starting an exciting new hobby like gardening, painting, or walking with friends.