Why Many Fail to Plan Correctly For Retirement

How to Retire without the Worry

The retirement years, once a time to look forward to is now all too often filled with trepidation and worry. Have I saved enough? How can I predict healthcare expenses? Will I really be able to retire? Will my lifestyle have to change? Should I downsize? These are important questions and it’s understandable you’d be concerned with all the unknowns. However, proper planning can help ease these worries so you can start enjoying retirement again. Here’s how.

Retirement Realities

One of the best things you can do is to educate yourself on what to expect. In general, you’ll need to replace approximately 70 to 90 percent of your pre-retirement income to maintain the same standard of living. That range depends on where you live and when you choose to retire among other factors.

Based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data, Americans 65 and older spend an average of $45,756 per year or around $3,800 a month. In addition, Fidelity reports that a 65-year-old couple retiring in 2019 could expect to spend $285,000 on healthcare costs during retirement.

Also, don’t assume if and when you do need long-term care that Medicare, Medicaid and/or your health insurance will cover it. In general:

  • Medicare only pays for long-term care if you require skilled services or rehabilitative care and only for a short period of time.
  • Medicaid does pay for the largest share of long-term care services, but to qualify, your income must be below a certain level and you must meet minimum state eligibility requirements.
  • Health Insurance through employers or private health insurance typically cover only the same kinds of limited services as Medicare.

Making Sure You’re Prepared

Don’t start to hyperventilate just yet. Keep in mind that you need an idea of what to expect in order to know how best to prepare. And rest-assured, you may have more resources at your disposal than you realize. To get started, organize your financial documents including:

  • Bank and brokerage account information
  • Deeds and mortgage papers
  • Insurance policies
  • Monthly or outstanding bills
  • Pension and other retirement benefit s
  • Social Security payment information
  • Stock and bond certificates

Then, consider consulting a financial advisor and/or estate planning attorney to discuss ways in which you might be able to maximize these resources in retirement:

  • Insurance options including long-term care insurance and/or life insurance conversions
  • Pension, Social Security benefits and personal property such as your home
  • Programs in which you may be eligible like the Veterans Aid & Attendance benefit
  • Potential tax deductions
  • Savings as well as your investment portfolio

Home Versus an Over 55 Community

The price tag of senior living may give you a bit of sticker shock initially, yet when you look a little deeper into the value that’s included within those monthly numbers, in some cases it can be less than aging at home!

One of the next big questions is whether or not to downsize as housing is one of your largest monthly expenses in retirement. Most people assume that staying home is the most cost-efficient way to go but that’s not always the case. Let’s compare.

An over 55 community is what’s commonly known as independent living. This type of community falls under the umbrella term senior living; however, it’s the entry point in a continuum of care that also includes assisted living, skilled nursing and memory care.

These communities are designed for active retirees like you who need little daily assistance. While there is little published data on average cost because it varies so greatly; it typically ranges from $1,000 to $4,000 a month. Keep in mind this cost comes with meals, weekly housekeeping, laundry services and transportation often included, as well as access to a range of activities and amenities such as fitness center and pool.

At home, you may think your mortgage or rent is what you’re comparing. But that’s a costly mistake. Your total cost of living at home each month also includes food, entertainment and home upkeep. These costs are typically included in the monthly cost of over 55 communities that you see above. In many cases, at least some utilities are included as well.

What also comes with life in an over 55 community? Predictable expenses, a worry-free lifestyle and perks like a monthly calendar filled with clubs, classes, events and outings that you may not have access to at home. But what’s truly invaluable is the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’ll have support if and when you need it as many of these communities offer other levels of care on the same campus.

For additional help in getting financially prepared for retirement in an over 55 community, check out our Family Guide to Funding Senior Care & Housing today.

Getting Financially Prepared For Retirement Living

Retirement living comes with big benefits, but many believe it also comes with a price tag so big they can’t afford it. In reality, retirement living may be well within reach for you or your loved one once you compare it to the true cost of living at home, and learn the funding options available to help offset the cost. Let’s take a look.

The Cost of Retirement Communities

Senior living is actually an umbrella term for a continuum of care. As such, the cost is closely tied to the level of care that you may need. Types of care on the continuum include:

Independent Living – This type of senior living is less about care and more about lifestyle because it’s designed for active seniors who need little daily assistance and want carefree living with a range of social opportunities. Although there is little published data on the average cost of independent living it is typically less than other types of senior living; ranging from $1,000 to $4,000 a month.

Assisted Living – Consider this the next step in the continuum with onsite care, 24-hour supervision and support with daily activities provided. Plus, you’ll still enjoy amenities and social opportunities similar to independent living. According to the most recent Genworth Cost of Care Survey, a private, one-bedroom apartment costs $4,000 per month on average.

Memory Care – Here you’ll find an environment specifically designed those with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia that includes 24/7 support, structured activities and specially-trained staff. There is also little published data on average costs for memory care because it varies so greatly, however costs typically ranges from $2,000 to $7,000 a month.

Skilled Nursing – This type of senior living is what you might consider the highest level of care on the continuum with 24/7 nursing as well as physical, speech and occupational therapists onsite. According to the most recent Genworth Cost of Care Survey, a semi-private room is $7,441 and a private room is $8,365 a month on average.

Senior Living versus Aging at Home

The price tag of senior living may give you a bit of sticker shock initially, yet when you look a little deeper into the value that’s included within those monthly numbers, in some cases it can be less than aging at home!

While you may be comparing the monthly cost of senior living to the cost of your mortgage or rent, keep in mind your total cost of living at home each month also includes food, entertainment and home upkeep. These costs are typically included in the monthly cost of senior living that you see above. In many cases, at least some utilities are included as well.

Not to mention extras like beautiful campuses, spacious accommodations and amenities such as a pool, fitness center, housekeeping and laundry services as well as a monthly calendar filled with clubs, classes, events and outings that you may not have access to at home. But what’s truly invaluable is the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’ll always have care and support, if and when you need it.

Funding Options for Retirement Living

As you prepare financially for retirement living, it’s important to understand the options available that may be able to help you offset the cost including:
Veterans Aid & Attendance Benefit – Wartime veterans or a surviving spouse may be eligible to receive a non-service connected pension (above the basic pension) to assist in paying for assisted living, home health care, adult day care or skilled nursing if you meet certain conditions.

Long-Term Care (LTC) Insurance – LTC insurance can help pay for the cost of home health care, adult day care, assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing and hospice by covering services typically not covered by health insurance, Medicare or Medicaid.

Life Insurance Conversion – You may be able to convert an in-force life insurance policy into a pre-funded financial account that disburses a monthly benefit to help pay for needs such as home health care, assisted living, skilled nursing and hospice.

Reverse Mortgage – In this type of home equity loan, homeowners 62 or older can access their equity to supplement retirement income. The lender will make payments to you based on a percentage of your accumulated equity.

Your Current Assets Can Also Help

Last, but certainly not least, look at the resources you may already have available. Consider selling or renting your home, for example. Do you have savings, stocks, bonds or annuities? What about income such as Social Security or a pension? Any or all of these can also help make retirement more affordable.

For additional help in getting financially prepared for retirement living, check out our Family Guide to Funding Senior Care & Housing today.

Tips on Paying for Retirement Living in Over 55 Communities

Author Alfred Montapert once said, “Your life will be no better than the plans you make and the action you take.” We think this sentiment is particularly true when it comes to retirement. When you’re young you may feel like life is predetermined: school, work, family and so on. So it may initially feel freeing to wing retirement, but you may be shortchanging yourself. Proper financial planning can actually open up more options for the retirement you want in an over 55 community.

What’s Your Goal
First, ask yourself what your dream retirement looks like. If it includes relaxation, fun, amenities and a carefree lifestyle then it sounds like retirement living could be an ideal fit. But, don’t let the initial sticker shock of an over 55 community deter you. That’s exactly where the planning part comes in; to help put retirement living well within reach.

Start by Taking Stock

To prepare financially for retirement living, start by organizing your financial documents including:

  • Bank and brokerage account information
  • Deeds and mortgage papers
  • Insurance policies
  • Monthly or outstanding bills
  • Pension and other retirement benefit s
  • Social Security payment information
  • Stock and bond certificates

Then, consider consulting a financial advisor and/or estate planning attorney to discuss ways in which you might be able to offset the cost with resources already at your disposal such as:

  • Insurance options including long-term care insurance and/or life insurance conversions
  • Pension, Social Security benefits and personal property like your home that may be potential income
  • Programs in which you may be eligible like the Aid & Attendance benefit for veterans or their surviving spouses
  • Potential tax deductions
  • Analyzing your savings as well as your investment portfolio with long-term needs in mind

What to Expect

Retirement living (also known as independent living) falls under the umbrella term senior living; however you might say it’s the entry point in a continuum of care that also includes assisted living, skilled nursing and memory care.

Retirement living is designed for active seniors like you who need little daily assistance and although there is little published data on average cost because it varies so greatly; it typically ranges from $1,000 to $4,000 a month. Keep in mind this costs comes with meals, weekly housekeeping, laundry services and transportation often included, as well as access to a range of activities and amenities such as fitness center and pool.

More for Your Money

Now that you know where you stand financially and in general what to expect in retirement living costs, let’s look for ways to make your hard-earned dollars go further. It’s important to understand that there are three main factors that affect the cost you’ll pay:

  1. Level of Care – Essentially the more assistance you need, the higher the cost. You might consider a community that offers multiple levels of care on one campus so you’ll benefit by paying less for retirement living now but have the peace of mind that a higher level of care is available if needed.
  2. Geography – Where you live affects the cost of senior living the same as it does real estate. In order to keep costs down you might consider communities outside the city or in nearby towns, even a different state.
  3. Amenities – The more luxury you want, the higher the cost as well. Options that affect your monthly cost include your type of residence (private, semi-private, studio, one- or two-bedroom), pet fees, concierge services and private transportation.

Another area in which you have different budgeting options is the fee structure you choose. Although not every retirement living community offers all these options, the most common pricing includes:

  • All-inclusive –All services and amenities the community offers in one monthly cost.
  • Tiered – Different levels of cost options available, each one with a different variety of included services.
  • A la Carte – You pay a base rate for rent that may include some basic services then you’re charged a flat or per-hour fee for every additional service or amenity you use.

Bonus Way to Save

Retirement living in an over 55 community may offer move-in incentives such a month’s rent for free or perhaps assistance with moving costs so always make sure you double-check.  Any little bit helps when it comes to making your retirement dreams reality!

For more information on retirement living in one of our over 55 communities, contact us today to schedule a visit →

 

The Cost of Living at Home versus Senior Living Communities

In deciding how to make the most of this phase in life, there’s a lot to consider. One of the most important is where you’ll live as really everything else builds from that. When comparing home to senior living communities, often the driving factor is cost and the assumption is that senior living is always more expensive. But you know what they say about those who assume. We can make sure you avoid that mistake by helping you compare the true costs of living at home versus senior living communities.

Your Options

First, it’s important to understand that senior living is not one size fits all. Whether it’s level of care or amenities, it can seem like the options are endless. And while that customization to your needs is a wonderful thing; it can be confusing at times. Let’s break it down:

  • Independent Living – A lifestyle choice for seniors who require little daily assistance, but seek a vibrant social community free of the hassles of chores and home upkeep.
  • Assisted Living – Provides housing and assistance with daily tasks to support your independence in addition to many of the same amenities as independent living.
  • Memory Care – An environment designed for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia that includes 24-hour supervision, structured activities and a secure environment with specially-trained staff.
  • Age is Just a Number – Approximately 60 percent of centenarians say they don’t feel old and the rest said they didn’t start to feel that way until they were in their 80s.
  • Skilled Nursing – A higher level of supervision and care than in assisted living with24/7 nursing and physical, speech and occupational therapists also onsite.

You also have options for care at home including:

  • Home Health Care – These services include personal care, household chores, cooking, transportation, occupational, physical and/or speech therapy and can be provided on an hourly, as needed or 24/7 live-in basis.
  • Adult Day Care – Offers care during normal business hours, five days a week that typically includes meals and snacks, health monitoring, medication assistance and fitness, as well as enrichment programs and social activities.

Understanding the Financial Costs

As you can imagine, the cost is not one size fits all either. There are a number of factors that affect it including geography, but one of the biggest is the level of care. That’s why you’ll see the cost rise as more support is needed in senior living, and at home. Here’s what you can expect on average monthly from the Genworth 2018 Cost of Care Survey:

At Home

  • Home Health Care
    • Homemaker Services —$4,004
    • Home Health Aide Services —$4,195
  • Adult Day Care 
    • $1,560

In Senior Living

  • Assisted living 
    • Private, one-bedroom: $4,000
  • Skilled nursing 
    • Semi-private room: $7,441; Private room: $8,365

Unlike other levels of care, there is little published data on average monthly costs for independent living and memory care because it varies so greatly. However, typical ranges are as follows:

  • Independent Living 
    • $1,400 to $4,000 per month
  • Memory Care 
    • $2,000 to $7,000 per month

Be Real in Your Comparison

More often than not we see seniors comparing the monthly cost of senior living communities to their mortgage or rent alone which is not an apples to apples comparison. You must compare to the total monthly cost of living at home which also includes your food, utilities, home maintenance, property taxes, insurance and entertainment costs. Why is this so important? Because these things are typically included in the monthly cost of senior living!

And don’t leave out the cost of any home health care (and/or home modifications) to support your needs. Would you believe that as many as four out of five adults underestimate this? According to the Genworth Long Term Care/Caregiving Online Survey the average American actually underestimates the cost by almost 50 percent. Not only is this important in comparing senior living costs, underestimating could mean a huge hit to your budget.

Once you look at the real comparison, you may be surprised to find senior living is actually less expensive in some cases!

Consider the Emotional Cost

We mentioned above how everything else in your life builds from where you live, or more specifically, how quality of life is directly tied to your environment. Beyond the financial there’s also an emotional cost that must be considered. Yes, it can be hard to leave home. But, what’s the emotional toll on you or your loved ones as they take on caregiving roles? How about your own concerns such as home safety and transportation? In addition, do you have enough social and enrichment opportunities to keep you fulfilled?

That’s really where the value of senior living comes into play: the positive impact on quality of life. That emotional cost is replaced with freedom, fulfillment and peace of mind in senior living communities. You’ll have a worry-free lifestyle without unexpected expenses, chores or home maintenance, and the freedom to enjoy a full calendar of social, fitness and enrichment opportunities along with a host of amenities like restaurant-style dining, pool and fitness center. What’s more you’ll have the added peace of mind that support is always available if, and when, you need it. And what might be considered invaluable to you; that instead of caregiving your family can enjoy life right alongside you!

For more information on our senior living communities, contact us today to schedule a visit →

Lessons from Centenarians: A How-To for Longevity and Health

Living to 100 isn’t all that rare anymore. In fact, the number of U.S. centenarians has grown 65 percent since 1980 with more than 53,000 centenarians living in the United States according to the 2010 census (330 of those have reached super centenarian status of 110 or older). Is there a secret to living a long and healthy life? Here’s what centenarians have to say.

Life Lessons from Centenarians

United Healthcare’s 100@100 survey found these common themes.

  1. All About Outlook – Approximately 61 percent of centenarians view themselves as being positive with a full quarter believing that a positive attitude is a key to staying healthy.
  2. Move It or Lose It – Nearly half of centenarians interviewed say they walk or hike at least once a week. Of those, about a third exercises to strengthen muscles or for stress relief. Cardiovascular exercise indoors and gardening to keep active are also popular.
  3. All You Have to Do Is Smile – Laughing and having a sense of humor is also important with 84 percent of centenarians saying that doing this is easy for them.
  4. Age is Just a Number – Approximately 60 percent of centenarians say they don’t feel old and the rest said they didn’t start to feel that way until they were in their 80s.
  5. Appreciate Your Youth – On average, centenarians felt most attractive at age 31, most energetic at 34, happiest at 44, healthiest at 46 and wisest at 49. However, they felt most content overall at age 56.

Blue Zones Back it Up

You may have heard about the Blue Zones or places around the world where people live longer, specifically into their 100s. Blue Zones locations are:

  • Sardinia, Italy
  • Okanawa, Japan
  • Loma Linda, California, United States
  • Ikaria, Greece
  • Nicoya, Coast Rica

Based on research in these places, some common characteristics for longevity have been found which are very similar to the ones listed above including exercise, stress relief and family. Additional lessons from centenarians in Blue Zones include:

  1. Know Your Purpose – Having clear values, passions and talents can add seven years to your life.
  2. The 80% Rule – This rule suggests you cut 20 percent of your calories with evidence based practices such as eating a big breakfast, eating with your family, using 10 inch plates and stoping when you feel 80% full.
  3. Love Your Plants – Eating a diet that’s heavy on beans, nuts and green plants are common among these centenarians.
  4. Have a Drink – This research has found that moderate drinkers (two to three drinks per day only) outlive non-drinkers.
  5. Have Faith – Attending faith-based services four times per month can add four to 14 years to your life.
  6. Find Community – Make sure you have a social circle that includes healthy-minded and supportive people to increase longevity.

Speaking of Community

There’s no easier place to practice these life lessons than in an active senior living community. They support this aging research too and are focused around keeping residents as active, independent and socially connected as possible. You’ll find monthly calendars filled with clubs, classes, events and outings along with amenities such as pools, fitness centers, restaurant-style dining and housekeeping and laundry services. It’s this convenient and carefree lifestyle that has more and more people moving to active senior living while they are completely healthy!

For more information on how you can benefit from these lessons on longevity and health in active senior living, contact us today to schedule a visit →

Life Over 55: How Living with Less Can Give You More

If you’re over 55 you may feel that downsizing is being pushed upon you at every turn. But, truth be told, it’s not the most desirable concept for most of us initially. We have worked hard for all that we’ve acquired in life, from our home to our stuff to our lifestyle in general. Why would we want to let that go? The answer requires a shift in mindset. While downsizing technically means to reduce in size it’s really more about creating the physical and mental space to enjoy what’s most important. And retirement is the perfect time to make that shift. Here’s how.

Everybody’s Doing It

We know the adage, ‘Just because your friend jumps doesn’t mean you have to.’ But when 40 percent of Americans aged 50 to 64 plan to move within the next five years according to the Demand Institute, there may just be something to the downsizing concept. What’s more, a study from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College found that retirees who downsized are happier than those who stay put.

Why Less is More

Let’s dig in to why you might be happier with less. There’s actually some science behind it. Psychology Today* lists these benefits:

  • A sense of confidence and self-efficacy – It gives you the opportunity to put your problem-solving and decision-making skills to good use and success is clear to see.
  • More energy – When you’re in that ‘getting things done’ mode it energizes you and can make it easier to keep going with other to-dos.
  • Reduced anxiety – Its human nature to crave order and symmetry, and too much stuff can throw off that balance; getting rid of excess can restore a greater sense of calm.
  • Reduced tension at home – If you’re always losing things or you just can’t stand the mess, decluttering can actually help improve relationships between family members.
  • Finding lost treasures – When you have too much sometimes things that were truly special to you are forgotten; uncovering them again can be a wonderful surprise!

Downsizing Tips

  1. Step One: Take inventory of what you have by making a list of categories: bedding, dishes, electronics, etc. You can be as detailed (or not) as you like, but prepare to be surprised at how much you’ve accumulated! How many sheet sets do you really need?
  2. Step Two: Designate a downsizing zone to sort your items. This could be in the garage, the dining room you never use or wherever you have some room to spread out.
  3. Step Three: Take it slow and focus on one category or room of the house at a time so you don’t become overwhelmed. It’s also helpful to set a timetable of when you want the process finished to keep from procrastinating. And, once you start a downsizing task, set a timer to keep you focused. It’s easy to get lost reminiscing!
  4. Step Four: Start sorting into piles such as Keep, Sell, Donate, Recycle or Gift. To help decide, ask yourself if you’ve used the item in the last six months. Clothing is always a particular challenge, but by turning all your hangers backwards until an item is worn, you can get an idea of what you actually wear. For keepsakes it’s sometimes easier on the heart to gift to family or friends. You can also take photos of special items, like children’s artwork, to save space but preserve the memories.
  5. Step Five: Invite friends and family over. Downsizing is more manageable, and more fun, with the people you love by your side to help and reminisce.

Over 55 Communities are a Great Move

Why stop with downsizing your stuff?  You may be surprised to learn that over 55 communities are becoming an increasingly popular choice for retirees. Because of the active, convenient and carefree lifestyle they offer, these communities are ideal places to create that mental space we talked about above.

The benefits of over 55 communities include:

  • More freedom – Without the stress of home responsibilities weighing on you – mortgage, home insurance, property taxes, repair bills – you can finally enjoying the life you deserve.
  • More time – With housekeeping, meals, and other daily chores typically taken care of, you can trade your have to-do list for a want to-do list.
  • More opportunity – It’s easy to stay connected with a range of social opportunities, educational and enrichment programs as well as organized activities and outings to enjoy.
  • More amenities – With the resort-like amenities many communities offer, you can feel like you’re on vacation without ever leaving home.
  • >Better location – Over 55 communities are often located in the center of it all, making life much more convenient.

For more information on how you can get more in an over 55 community, contact us today to schedule a visit →

Drop These Unhealthy Habits for a Healthier Retirement

After all these years of work the time has finally come to retire! And it’s a time you want to make the most of right? We bet you’ve planned some things you’d like to do, you’ve likely saved and done some financial planning, but if you’re like many retirees, you haven’t really planned for your health. We’re not talking about healthcare costs, rather whether your current health habits will empower the retirement lifestyle you want or hinder it. If you’re an independent senior with some unhealthy habits, here’s what you can do to get back on track.

Healthy Habits and Life Expectancy

We all know that smoking, alcohol, exercise and diet are key components to your health. But, you may not realize how much of an effect they can have on your longevity. Research from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health has shown that projected life expectancy at age 50 increases by 14.0 years for women and 12.2 years for men when you follow all five of these habits:

  • Not smoking
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Regular exercise
  • Keeping a healthy body weight
  • Moderate alcohol consumption

Even if you’re past 50, keep in mind that it’s never too late to start. Healthy habits will always reap benefits.

Hidden Health Hazards

You may not think of spending time alone as a bad thing. And it most cases it isn’t. Spending more time by yourself is often a necessity as you age with approximately 29 percent of adults aged 65 and older living alone according to a 2010 Administration on Aging report.

However, when you become detached physically or psychologically, or are disconnected from family, friends and community it’s known as social isolation. The AARP Foundation states that more than 8 million adults aged 50 and older are affected and calls it a “growing health epidemic” in which the health risks of prolonged isolation are equivalent to the dangers of smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Social isolation is rarely caused by one thing, but risk factors include:

  • Living alone
  • Hearing/vision loss
  • Limited mobility
  • Limited transportation options
  • Being a caregiver for someone with a serious condition
  • Chronic health conditions 
  • Psychological or cognitive challenges
  • Life transitions such as retirement or the loss of a spouse

Some of the ways to keep connected are to utilize technology to stay in touch with friends and family when you can’t be together in-person, continuing hobbies, learning something new, volunteering and even reconnecting spiritually with nature, meditation or religion.

Healthy Living in Independent Senior Living

One way that you can make it easier to drop unhealthy habits is to move to independent senior living. We’re not talking a nursing home, rather today’s senior living communities are focused around keeping residents as active, independent and socially connected as possible. They offer monthly calendars filled with clubs, classes, events and outings. Plus, with numerous indoor and outdoor common areas, you still have plenty of space to host friends and family.

What’s more, independent senior living communities are often on sprawling campuses with lush green landscaping, beautifully decorated interiors, comfortable accommodations and amenities such as pools, fitness centers, restaurant-style dining and housekeeping and laundry services. It’s this convenient and carefree lifestyle that has more and more retirees moving to independent senior living while they are completely healthy!

For more information on how you can benefit from retirement in independent senior living, contact us today to schedule a visit →

Go Play: Easy Ways for Active Seniors to Benefit from Nature

Turns out, you are never too old to play outside. In fact, research has consistently shown that enjoying the great outdoors in your golden years can benefit you in a multitude of ways. But, we also understand how mobility issues, lack of access and/or lack of transportation can create challenges. Here’s why you should make the most of nature and how you can make doing so easier.

Why Seniors Should Get Back to Nature

Whether it’s the breath of fresh air that clears your head or the warm sunshine that puts a smile on your face, nature has long been known to inspire and improve mood. But nature’s benefits go much deeper than that, particularly as we age. Spending time outdoors can literally change your life for the better.

Mental health benefits – A University of Michigan study found that group walks in a natural setting could be a medication alternative for seniors dealing with stressful circumstances, such as loss of a loved one or serious illness. Another study by the University of Minnesota found that being close to water is especially comforting when you’re grieving and can provide a sense of connectedness with deceased loved ones.

Memory benefits – A study published by the Association for Psychological Science found that interacting with nature improved memory performance and attention span by 20 percent because of its restorative effect on our mental abilities.

Physical health benefits – One University of Chicago study found that simply living in a tree-filled neighborhood can help improve cardiovascular and metabolic health in addition to lowering blood pressure and stress levels. Plus, Harvard University found that people with homes surrounded by vegetation lived 12 percent longer, had a 34 percent lower rate of death from respiratory illness and a 13 percent lower rate of cancer death.

Emotional benefits – Social isolation is all too common among seniors and having access to outdoor spaces provides wonderful opportunities to be more active and engaged with others. According to a Kent State University study, social settings in outdoor spaces are associated with positive experiences, increases pride in the community and offers a chance to meet people with similar interests.

Energy benefits – It’s hard to feel energized if you’re home alone and going through the same routine each day. Getting out of the house can help immensely. According to a University of Rochester study, 90 percent of people report increased energy when placed in outdoor activities.

Easy Ways to Spend Time with Nature

You don’t necessarily have to travel far or sign up for the next Survivor season to get the benefit of time outdoors. Here’s how you can make the most of nature in everyday life:

  • Sit by an open window as you enjoy a meal or read.
  • Set up bird feeder within view of a window, porch or deck.
  • Plant flowers that attract butterflies or simply enjoy watching the plants bloom.
  • Make a point to walk to the mailbox each day.
  • Find ways to integrate your hobbies with the outdoors; paint landscapes or simply do your arts and crafts outside; find an outdoor concert where you can enjoy your favorite genre of music; instead of exercising inside, set up your yoga mat on the porch.
  • Invite your family over for a barbeque or the grandchildren over to play outside.
  • If you meditate pick a favorite spot in the yard instead of in the house.
  • If you have a pet, instead of just letting them out to play start taking them for walks.

Nature is a Natural Fit in Active Senior Living

Perhaps you’re still concerned about mobility in trying the ideas above at home or live in an area without easy access to outdoor space. Or, maybe you already do the ideas above and want to go bigger; there is another option: active senior living.

You may be surprised to learn that senior living is well aware of the benefits of nature for their residents and today’s communities are specifically designed to incorporate nature whenever and wherever possible.

On campus you’ll find lush green landscaping, numerous green spaces from gardens to patios and courtyards; even residences with lovely views in many cases. Plus, these communities cater to the mobility needs of seniors with easy-to-navigate walking paths for example.

But it’s not just the campus itself; active senior living communities incorporate nature into daily life as well with activities that incorporate the outdoors such as gardening clubs, walking groups and outings to enjoy local outdoor recreation opportunities. What’s more, many communities are even strategically located near parks. You’ll have more opportunities than you can imagine to enjoy the benefits of nature here!

For more information on how you can benefit from nature in active senior living, contact us today to schedule a visit →

Cool Tools for Tech-Savvy Seniors…And Those Who Want to Be

Tech-savvy seniors; no it’s not an oxymoron. More seniors than ever are using technology. In fact, 73 percent of people over 65 use the Internet according to the Pew Research Center. Why? It makes life easier and more fun! After all, that’s what technology is all about: convenience and connection. If you haven’t taken to tech yet, don’t worry it’s much easier than you think to learn. Regardless, here are some cool tools that show you just how beneficial technology can be whether you’re at home or in independent senior living.

Tried and True Tech Tools

We can’t believe smartphones have been around long enough to be considered ‘tried and true’ but Pew Research Center reports that now 53 percent of people over 65 have them. Smartphones as well as tablets and e-readers are more convenient than ever for seniors to use with large screens, voice capabilities and the ability to navigate by touch.

While these devices are sort of the gateway to all things technology, some of their biggest advantages are keeping you connected through video chat apps such as FaceTime or Skype as well as social media like Facebook. You can also check email, news, weather, play games, share photos and download books or even purchase a subscription to a service like Audible to hear your favorite books. Essentially there’s an app for just about everything.

Transportation Made Easy

One of the biggest challenges for seniors who aren’t in independent senior living is often transportation. Whether it’s not being able to drive anymore, not wanting to or perhaps you’ve retired to a new city and don’t know your way around, technology can help you get to where you need to go.

Cars today are often outfitted with GPS navigation technology as is your smartphone. You can also download apps like Waze which, in addition to giving you the fastest route to a destination, warns of traffic issues and road construction along the way. Rideshare services like Lyft and Uber are also options so you don’t have to drive at all. Simply request a ride through their app and a driver will come pick you up!

Fitness Tech

Seniors are more active today than in generations past and wearable technology can help you stay that way. An AARP study found that 45 percent of participating adults 50 years and older had increased motivation for healthier living after six weeks of wearable activity or sleep tracker use, and 67 percent overall felt that such wearables were beneficial.

With wearable technology like Fitbit you can track your activity, sleep, food, weight and more, it’s a great way to see the results of all the wellness opportunities available in independent senior living in real time. The Apple Watch 4 takes it a step further with the ability to generate an ECG that you can share with caregivers and health providers to monitor your heart for irregularities. It also features advanced fall detection and will automatically call first responders and send a message to emergency contacts if it the wearer is immobile.

Home Help

One of the greatest parts of retirement is less work. And while you may no longer have your day job, there are still plenty of chores to do if you’re still at home. Thanks to technology, even that’s easier now. Robotic vacuums like Roomba can take care of the cleaning for you using programmable features and sensors to move around furniture. Some models can even be programmed from an app on your smartphone to clean while you’re away.

Voice-activated assistants like Amazon Echo and Google Home can also help you make grocery lists, set reminders, play music, even turn on lights, appliances and the TV in some cases.

Apps like Tile can help you keep track of your keys, wallet and phone. Just download the app, attach a ’tile’ to the item you want to keep track of and if you lose it Tile will play a tune to help you find it! Where has that been all our lives?

Safety First

The older you get the more you realize how important your independence is to you. Luckily technology can help you maintain it in some really ingenious ways.

The Medisafe app helps you keep track of your medications with personalized medication reminders, drug interaction warnings, refill reminders and even helps you communicate with your doctor with a medication list at the ready.

If you live alone, personal emergency response systems (PERS) are an ideal way to maintain independence while having also having a safety net just in case. These pendants and/or wristbands have a button that can be pressed during an emergency to alert first responders and family members. There are a multitude of companies that offer these but when selecting the one that’s right for you make sure it has GPS, fall detection and two-way communication capabilities for added peace of mind.

Learning new technology is easy too! You can ask your kids, grandkids and friends to help you get started. Your local senior center, public library, local university or local computer stores may offer learning resources as well. Also, keep an eye out for events at independent senior living communities like ours that can help you learn more about technology.

For more information on independent senior living, contact us today to schedule a visit →

How to Make the Most of Retirement in Luxury Senior Living

Time is precious no matter your age, but in retirement, it seems even more so. For one, you’ve worked so hard to reach the point where you can retire that you deserve to make the most of every minute. The question is, how exactly do you find the time to do everything you want to do? There are only so many hours in a day! And if you still have responsibilities such as a house your time is even more limited. Quite simply, making the most of your retirement is all about finding balance. Here’s how you can do just that.

Free Up Some Time

One of the easiest ways to make sure you have enough time to do the things you love is to remove unwanted to-dos from your plate. If you own a home there’s maintenance, yard work and any number of unexpected repairs that may come up. Even if you’re renting there’s still housekeeping, laundry, cooking and the chores could go on.

You could always hire someone to help with each of these items. Even if it’s in the budget to do that you’d still have to manage everyone who provides these services for you which takes time in and of itself. An alternative is luxury senior living which typically includes all these chores in one predictable monthly fee. Done!

Live It Up

Now that you’ve freed up your schedule it’s the perfect time to just enjoy yourself. Spend more time with friends and family, make new friends, get out and about to restaurants, shopping and attend performances or go on fun outings. But will this be as easy as you’d like it to be or are there challenges with transportation, availability of family and friends or access to these options in your area?
Maybe you’d also like to indulge a little in the finer things like luxury accommodations, spa treatments, pool time or concierge service. If this is available in your neighborhood already can we visit? Luxury senior living offers this too as these communities often closely resemble resorts with sprawling campuses, a host of amenities and plenty of social opportunities.

Find Your Niche

Aside from some much deserved pampering; you’re likely interested in finding renewed purpose. If you’re like most people work has been such a big part of who you are for so long, you may feel a little lost. Finding your niche can help you overcome that. Plus, numerous studies have shown that having purpose in retirement not only offers physical and mental health benefits, it may also help reduce your risk for diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. To start, simply think about things you enjoy, hobbies, causes important to you, fitness goals and so on. Or, perhaps you’re interested in trying something completely new altogether.

Luxury senior living can help here too. Most communities have a dedicated program director and monthly calendars filled to the brim with activities, classes and volunteer opportunities for just about any interest. And it’s right outside your door!

At the end of the day, finding the balance that can help you make the most of retirement comes down to convenience. Having access to conveniences that free your time, help you live bigger and better and help you find purpose. You could certainly make this work on your own, or let us take care of it so you can have the time of your life in luxury senior living!

For more information on luxury senior living, contact us today to schedule a visit →

Why Pets are Such a Treat if You’re Over 55

Wet kisses and unconditional love are just the beginning when it comes to the benefits of pets, especially people over the age of 55. From reducing depression and lowering blood pressure to giving you a wonderful, tail-wagging reason to get out of bed in the morning, numerous research studies have shown the positive impact. But before you rush out to find your new best friend, let’s take a closer look at what to expect and what you should consider about pet ownership.

The Benefits of Fur Babies

The physical benefits of owning a pet include:

  • Motivation to Stay Active – A study published in The Gerontologist found that dog walking was associated with lower body mass index, fewer daily activity limitations and fewer doctor visits.
  • Lower Blood Pressure – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), having a pet has the potential to lower blood pressure, especially in hypertensive or high-risk patients.
  • Decreased Stress – A study at State University of New York at Buffalo found that when conducting stressful tasks, people experienced less stress when their pets were with them than even when a spouse, family member or close friend was nearby.
  • Pain Relief – Loyola University researchers found the use of pet therapy while recovering from surgery helped people to need significantly less pain medication.

There are mental and emotional benefits as well:

  • Companionship – Social isolation is as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day according to the AARP and living alone is one of the key risk factors. Having a pet can provide much that needed companionship and give you more social opportunities – dog park anyone?
  • Keeping Mentally Active – Initially you might think all that’s involved with taking care of a pet is a negative thing. However, it’s actually another way you can stay mentally active in which a growing body of research suggests could play a role in slowing memory decline.
  • Purpose – In retirement many struggle to find the usefulness they once felt in their career or when raising a family. A pet can once again offer that purpose, and taking care of them can improve confidence and self-esteem.
  • Living in the present – Retirees often worry about the what ifs of tomorrow – will you outlive your savings, what will happen to your health, who will take care of you? But pets luckily can’t think like that; they live in the moment and have a way of keeping your focus right there with them.

Considerations for Pet Ownership over 55

The owner and pet relationship should really be a two-way street with benefits all around so it’s important to consider the following before making that commitment:

  • Experience Owning a Pet – For people over 55, it’s usually best to at least have some experience in owning a pet before. That way it’s an easier lifestyle transition and you have a clearer understanding of what to expect.
  • Activity Level – Puppies are certainly cute but they need a lot of attention and exercise, much more so that older dogs or cats. And cats in general are more self-sufficient than dogs. If you have any disabilities or functional limitations consider how much you could realistically take on.
  • Allergies – This could potentially be a deal-breaker but there are dog and cat breeds known to be more hypoallergenic. Doing your research here beforehand would be well worth it.
  • Temperament – Just like there are some types of people you get along better with, pets are the same way. Make sure to look at the characteristics of different breeds and their personalities.
  • Finances – Pets can be expensive, from toys and food to supplies and vet bills costs can rack up pretty quickly. And it’s not just the initial costs you need to consider; pets are a long-term financial commitment.
  • Contingency Plan – Should you no longer be able to care for your pet it’s crucial to have a plan in place for a family member or friend to step in so they’ll always have the loving home they deserve.
  • Place of Residence – Do you live in a house? In an apartment? With your children or a roommate? Consider whether it’s practical to own a pet given your living situation. Also check for pet restrictions with your home owner’s association or apartment complex.

Pets in Senior Independent Living

There are many benefit to senior independent living communities  – amenities, activities, convenience, peace of mind – which is more and more people are moving to them at a younger age, while perfectly healthy. What you may not know is that many of these communities are also pet friendly.

And the added bonus is that some also offer assistance with dog grooming, walking and/or other pet services which can make the decision to become a pet owner even easier with this extra help onsite. Be sure to check with any senior independent living community you’re interested in for their specific pet policy.

If at the end of the day you decide against pet ownership, you may still be able to regularly enjoy the benefits of animals in your senior independent living community. Many communities offer pet therapy programs where animals from rescues, animals shelters or certified therapy dogs come in to visit with residents.

How to Find Your Purrfect Pet

If there’s a specific type of dog you’re interested in, breeders are certainly an option. There are also many wonderful animals looking for homes through local pet rescues and/or animal shelters plus the fees are often much more reasonable. Petfinder.com is a good place to begin your search and includes these groups as well.

Not a dog person? Although cats often get a bad reputation, they are wonderful pets as well. Don’t let that aloof demeanor fool you, they are loving, fun and loyal too! You might also consider fish or birds as well.

For more information on the benefits of pets in our senior independent living communities, contact us today to schedule a visit →

5 Exercise Tips for a Healthy Retirement

What are you going to do with all that time on your hands? It’s a question those about to retire or newly retired may hear often. And while retirement does come with more time to do the things you love, unfortunately for many, it doesn’t include exercise. But don’t worry, we’ll show you how fun and easy it can be to make exercise part of your daily routine. As well as how LACK of exercise can put a real damper on your retirement plans.

Seniors and “The Sitting Disease”

We all know that exercise offers a range of benefits both physically and mentally. But we often overlook the risks of a sedentary lifestyle – little to no physical activity and/or primarily participating in activities where you sit or lie down such as reading or watching TV.

Being sedentary, also known as “the sitting disease,” puts seniors at higher risk for conditions such as high blood pressure, stroke, cardiovascular disease, some cancers, Type 2 diabetes and even cognitive decline. What’s more, bone loss may happen at a faster rate, you’re more at risk for falls and may have more trouble performing daily activities due to loss of muscle tissue. If that isn’t enough, you’re also more at risk of depression.

And shockingly, the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that a 67 percent of seniors are, in fact, sedentary for at least 8.5 hours a day.

But, if the gym has never been your friend, don’t worry. The benefits of exercise are seen not only in those who maintain an existing level of physical activity, but also in those who begin exercising between ages 70 and 85.

The First Step

Now that you know it’s never too late to get started, what do you do first? We recommend checking with your doctor before beginning any exercise regimen to see if you have any restrictions due to medications or chronic conditions. Or, if foot pain has kept you sidelined in the past it may be time to see a podiatrist to correct any issues or help with footwear recommendations.

Making Your Move

The National Institute on Aging recommends seniors do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity throughout the week in sessions of at least 10 minutes duration across four categories of exercise: endurance, strength training, balance and flexibility. To break this down an active senior could exercise approximately 20 minutes per day, seven days per week; 30 minutes per day for five days per week; or 50 minutes per day for three days per week; whatever’s most convenient. Now let’s talk tips:

  1. Endurance Exercises – These are aerobic activities that increase your breathing and heart rate to improve the health of your heart, lungs and circulator system. Try brisk walking, dancing, jogging, swimming, biking, tennis or basketball – even yard work or climbing stairs count! Consider getting a pedometer to track your steps, working up to 10,000 or more steps a day.
  2. Strength Training – Here you’re focused on improving your muscle strength to carry those grandchildren around or simply make getting out of a chair easier. Do these exercises for all major muscle groups (shoulders, arms, chest, stomach, back, hips and legs) two or more days a week making sure not to exercise the same group two days in a row. It can be as easy as having two pound weights handy for arm curls while watching your favorite show or doing some pushups while waiting for coffee to brew in the morning.
  3. Balance Exercises – According to the CDC, one in four Americans aged 65 and older falls each year. And falling more than once doubles your chances of falling again. However, improving your balance through activities such as standing on one foot while waiting in line, heel-to-toe walking to get the mail and taking Tai Chi can reduce your risk.
  4. Flexibility Exercises – Keeping your body limber through stretching gives you more freedom of movement, making it easier to do your everyday tasks like making the bed, seeing what’s behind you when backing out the car or even bending to tie your shoes. Try neck, shoulder and upper arm stretches, calf stretches and yoga for example.
  5. Make it Fun – Perhaps the most important tip, as you’re more likely to keep doing something you enjoy, is to make exercising fun. Look at it as a social opportunity by joining classes at your local senior center or gym or start a walking club with your neighbors. Listen to music, podcasts or audio books while exercising, take your grandkids to the park to play or incorporate it into things you already love like gardening.

Bonus tip: Make sure you spend about five minutes before and after you exercise to warm up and cool down. This gives your muscles a chance to get ready and helps to prevent injury and soreness later.

Active Senior Living is Easy

If all of the above sounds hard to keep track of or logistically challenging due to lack of transportation, we get it. Know that there is an easier way. Today’s senior living communities are going beyond the typical games and social gatherings towards an overall wellness approach, of which exercise is a big part.

In active senior living communities you’ll have access to amenities such as a fitness center, pool, a range of exercise classes and even walking trails and dog parks in some cases. Plus it’s all steps from your door so you no longer have to worry about transportation; and there will always be an exercise buddy nearby!

For more information on how our active senior living communities support a healthy retirement, contact us today to schedule a visit →