Lifestyle Archives | Wesley Ridge Retirement Community

When is the Best Time to Move to a CCRC?

For many older adults who are currently independent but like the idea of living in a setting where healthcare services are available if needed down the road, a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) can be an ideal solution.

A popular question among prospective CCRC residents is, “When is the best time to make the move?” There is no perfect answer to this question because everyone’s situation will be different. However, waiting too long can mean missing out on some of the very reasons people are attracted to these communities in the first place.

If you feel that a continuing care retirement community is right for you, here are a few reasons why you may want to consider moving sooner rather than later:

  • Involvement: One of the main benefits of living in a CCRC is having easy access to a vast array of services, amenities, and activities. Many of these perks take place within the walls of the community, but CCRCs are increasingly providing ways for residents to stay involved in the broader community through service projects, adult education classes, and more. Moving earlier allows residents to more fully enjoy and benefit from these “extra-curricular” activities.
  • Wellness: CCRCs strive to help residents stay healthy and live independently as long as possible. Comprehensive health and wellness programs may include access to qualified fitness professionals, special diet meal plans, aquatic and fitness centers, low-impact aerobics, and yoga classes, just to name a few. Additionally, more CCRCs today are emphasizing a “whole-person” concept, including emotional, spiritual, intellectual, vocational, and spiritual experiences.
  • Relationships: Residents of CCRCs often say that one of the best things about the community in which they live is the friendships they have formed with other residents. Those who wait too long to make the move may not have the time to develop meaningful relationships, which can be particularly helpful as part of a support network if healthcare needs arise in the future.
  • Window of Opportunity: Continuing care contracts generally require that residents must be able to live independently and that they are not at an increased risk for assisted living or healthcare services. Therefore, many CCRCs will perform a health evaluation on prospective residents as a part of the application process. Those who do not meet the community’s health criteria can be declined for entry and miss the opportunity to benefit from what a CCRC offers, including access to a full continuum of care.
  • Easier Transition: Moving gets more difficult with time. Those who are able-bodied and in good health can better handle the transition, often even embracing this new chapter in life. Alternatively, those who are frail often suffer from relocation stress syndrome (RSS), which can lead to other health problems.

So, when is the best time to move to a CCRC? The above factors and considerations must go into each person’s unique answer. But generally speaking, once you have made the determination that a CCRC is right for you, it may be wise to make the move while you are still young enough and healthy enough to enjoy the many benefits of these dynamic communities.

 

 

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The above article was written by Brad Breeding of myLifeSite and is legally licensed for use.

 


The Season has Changed, but the Global Pandemic hasn’t : How to Stay Active and Limit Isolation with the Colder Weather

The global pandemic hasn’t been easy for anyone. Especially for older adults, the lack of normalcy and decreased interaction with others has significantly contributed to feelings of isolation, sadness, and overall mental and physical health decline.

The one saving grace the past few months was the warmer weather of summer. With small group gatherings (if masks are worn) being approved in many states, time spent outdoors has helped seniors feel more social and happier.

Residents at Wesley Ridge Retirement Community have said that living in a community has helped tremendously as well, as activities and meals with others would not have been possible at home.

Now that the season has changed and the temperatures have dropped, many seniors living at home are worried that being unable to be outside as much could have additional negative effects to an already not-so-great time.

To help try and ease concerns, we’ve compiled some ideas and resources to stay active and limit isolation in the colder weather.

  1. Virtual gatherings are still here, and they’re better than ever. Now that we have been facing the pandemic head-on for months, families, friends, businesses, senior centers, and retirement communities have transitioned in-person social events to virtual events. Because of this, people are becoming more tech-savvy, more creative, and more engaged. Talk to your friends and families and contact some local businesses and communities to see what gatherings you can attend virtually from your home and for instructions on how to participate. Are you used to a weekly happy hour on your patio? Set up a virtual one through Zoom instead! Before you know it, you’ll have a full calendar of virtual visits with loved ones and educational opportunities!

All of The Wesley Communities offer virtual speaker series that meet on a monthly basis. Click here for Wesley Ridge Retirement Community’s events.

  1. Along the lines of virtual gatherings, visit museums and site-see from your house! Many national parks, museums, and famous attractions are offering virtual visits that feel pretty similar to being there in person. For example, spend time explore The Louvre here, or see all that the Franklin Park Conservatory has to offer from the cherry blossoms to the Bonsai Exhibition here.
  1. Expand and improve your cooking skills. Even though restaurants are open, and many have indoor seating options, it’s something that should be approached with serious caution. If you’re like a lot of people, eating at home makes you feel more comfortable and less susceptible. To add some excitement in eating more meals at home, take on the challenge of a new recipe or incorporate theme-nights into your weekly menus. Not only can this improve your cooking skills, it also makes eating at home a more exciting and enjoyable experience.
  1. Use items around the house to get creative with exercising. If you’ve grown accustomed to exercising outside, or you miss going to your gym or senior fitness center, you can transition some of your workout routines to your home using standard household items. To continue with a little cardio, take a few trips up and down your staircase to get your blood flowing and your heart rate up. For low weight bearing, arm exercises, try using soup cans for bicep curls or front raises. A chair is also a great item that can be used for a variety of exercises. From squats, to calf raises, the options are endless. Silver Sneakers has shared a great article (with videos) for some chair, yoga block, and bath towel exercises. Click here to view.
  1. Start planning for the holidays. If you tend to procrastinate your holiday shopping or gift making, use the extra time at home to cross some items off your list. You can order those Amazon items your grandson is wanting for Christmas or start knitting that scarf you gift to your daughter for Hanukkah each year. By starting early, you won’t have those last-minute errands to run or those projects to finish right before the holidays start.

Above all else, look out for one another. Check on your neighbors and try to find gratitude in the simple moments of life. It takes a village to overcome obstacles and we are in this together.

 


What is a “Continuum of Care”?

If you have been looking at various senior living options, including continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs, also called life plan communities), you have likely heard or seen the term “continuum of care” used. It’s an important concept when it comes to the variety of services provided by retirement communities, but it is also a term that is unclear to many prospective residents. So, let’s dig in and answer the commonly asked question: What is a “continuum of care”?

First, the definition…

A “continuum of care” refers to the increasing intensity of healthcare services that a person may need as they age.

Envision a spectrum. On the left, the spectrum begins with independent living–a person who is more or less self-sufficient and able to safely live on their own. The spectrum then progresses to the right to include personal care, assisted living, and/or memory care–this includes people who need help with activities of daily living (ADLs) like dressing or bathing, and/or have memory issues as the result of age-related cognitive decline or conditions like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease; depending on the individual’s needs, it may or may not be safe for them to live alone. Then, on the far right-hand side of the spectrum would be skilled care and skilled nursing care –for people who have major health issues or cognitive decline and are no longer able to care for themselves.

A closer look at the phases of the care continuum

Independent living

Independent living is an option for seniors who are able to perform ADLs with little to no assistance and who do not require on-going medical support. They may, however, need occasional assistance with “instrumental activities of daily living” (IADLs), which include things like housekeeping or household maintenance. Thanks to ever-improving assistive technologies, combined with other support devices like walkers, wheelchairs, ramps, and rails, many seniors are able to remain in the independent living category for longer than in previous generations.

Personal care and assisted living

Assisted living (also called “custodial care” or “personal care”) is non-medical care services for people who require help with one or more of the six main ADLs: bathing, continence, dressing, eating, toileting, and/or transferring (walking). Medication management may also be needed. These services are often first provided in the senior’s own home, but as a higher level of help is required, moving to an assisted living facility may be more practical.

It’s important to note that assisted living is for non-medical care. While in most cases, assisted living recipients are not able to live fully independently, they do not need the type of around-the-clock medical care provided by a skilled nursing facility. But it’s worth noting that some assisted living providers are more equipped than others to serve residents with higher care needs–approaching what you might find in a skilled nursing facility, but stopping short of the type of medical care services that require a license.

Memory care

Memory care is an increasingly common component of both assisted living and skilled care as more and more seniors are diagnosed with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease; there are even dedicated memory care centers available in some areas. Typically, memory care is offered in a community setting with the level of care increasing as the illness progresses, often leading to 24-hour care.

Skilled care and skilled nursing care

Encompassing both healthcare and rehabilitative services, skilled care can include things like nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. This type of patient management, observation, and/or evaluation is typically administered by licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and licensed vocational nurses (LVNs)–not usually by registered nurses (RNs).

A step up from basic skilled care is skilled nursing care, which is provided by registered nurses. These nurses give hands-on care in many cases–performing tasks such as administering IV drugs or giving shots.

Sometimes referred to as nursing homes, skilled healthcare centers employ LPNs, LVNs, and RNs. There are also licensed home healthcare providers who deliver these types of healthcare and rehabilitative care in seniors’ homes.

Where retirement communities fall on the continuum

If you are considering a move to a retirement community, it’s important to understand exactly what you are getting for your money. Yes, you want to look at perks like amenities and location, but one of the most important factors that distinguish one senior living community from another is which phase or phases along the continuum of care the community is able to serve.

Some retirement communities are focused on specific points along the continuum of care–perhaps it is an independent living community, or maybe it’s an assisted living residence. Others are equipped to offer services spanning the entire continuum. By definition, CCRCs fall into this latter category, providing their residents with a complete continuum of care–from independent living to skilled nursing care.

The progressive services offered by CCRCs allow residents to receive whatever level of care they need, whenever they need it. Services, amenities, and lifestyle are all important considerations, but for many CCRC residents, it is the availability of a continuum of care that is their community’s most valuable asset.  Of course, this leads to other important considerations, such as the availability and quality of care services.

 

 

The above article was written by Brad Breeding of myLifeSite and is legally licensed for use.

 


The Role of Diet in Active Aging

Through all stages of life, the concept of maintaining a “healthy diet” is one we are constantly reminded of. Across the board, many regular diets are to include nutrient-rich foods in a variety of categories such as fruits, vegetables, carbohydrates, dairy, meat, fish, and poultry.

However, as we grow, our unique health needs vary and many times, diets require adjustments with increases in certain food groups, and decreases in others. Especially for older adults, it’s important to understand the role diet plays in active aging, and how to determine the type of diet that is best for you and your health needs.

A few diets that have been well-received by dieticians and nutritionists specifically for seniors include the Mediterranean Diet, the DASH Diet and the MIND Diet.

The Mediterranean Diet – This diet has long been popular due to the abundance of health benefits and ease with which it can be incorporated into daily life. Based on foods eaten in the Mediterranean, it is rich in fish, beans, olive oil, nuts, and fruit and relatively low in meat, dairy and processed foods. It has been linked to lowering the risk of stroke, cardiovascular disease, hearing loss and blindness, and can increase cognitive functioning and a longer life.

The DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) – This diet is focused specifically on preventing and lowering high blood pressure. It promotes increased servings of plant foods and eating generous amounts of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and low-fat dairy. While this diet has been shown to lower high blood pressure, it also contributes to decreases in strokes or heart attacks and can lower “bad” LDL cholesterol.

The MIND Diet (Mediterranean – DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay Diet) – This diet is a mix of both the Mediterranean and the DASH diets but also focuses on incorporating foods that promote brain health. Foods such as green leafy vegetables, nuts, whole grains, berries, fish, beans, olive oil and poultry are included in the diet and foods such as butter, red meat, fried foods, and cheese are limited. The MIND Diet has been linked to decreases in developing cognitive impairment and increases in clearer thinking and better memory.

While all three of these diets have aspects to them that benefit many, it is always best to consult with a doctor, dietician or nutritionist for what is best for you. At The Wesley Communities, we have Registered Dieticians that oversee our daily meal options and who meet one-on-one with our residents to create tailored and beneficial nutrition plans. Our dining services team works hard to develop science-backed menus with delicious offerings that promote health and active aging.

 


Game On: Can Brain Games Improve Your Memory?

There are a number of so-called “brain game” products on the market these days. These typically are computer or smartphone/tablet-based games that claim they can help improve seniors’ cognitive function and memory. But do they really work? Could playing video games be the secret to decreasing the prevalence of neuro-degenerative conditions like dementia? And what about things like crossword puzzles and sudoku—can they help seniors stay mentally sharp?

Aging and brain function

It is a normal part of the aging process to experience some decline in the number of neural synapses within the brain, which are imperative to memory and cognitive function. There are also conditions like dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease) or Parkinson’s disease that cause more severe and debilitating cognitive decline among older people.

Some of the causes behind cognitive decline may be preventable by making lifestyle changes like managing weight, staying physically active, quitting smoking, limiting alcohol intake, and managing stress. Keeping the mind active—pursuing continuing education opportunities, or learning a new skill, a new language, or how to play an instrument—may even aid with the formation of new neural networks in seniors’ brains.

Inconclusive studies

You’ve heard the saying “use it, or lose it”; this axiom may be applicable to the brain.

The 1995 MacArthur Study, one of largest longitudinal studies of the aging process, found that among the octogenarians in their study sample, those who were more physically and mentally active—frequently doing activities like crossword puzzles, reading, and playing bridge—also had the highest cognitive abilities. However, a study conducted by neuroscientists at University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University found no significant difference between the memory function of seniors who played “brain games” and the control group that didn’t play the games.

Still another recent study found that it’s not enough just to use your brain; you have to challenge it by learning something unfamiliar.

University of Texas at Dallas researchers randomly assigned 221 adults, ages 60 to 90, to participate in a particular type of activity for 15 hours a week for a three-month period. Some were assigned to learn a new skill — digital photography, quilting, or both. Others were told to engage in more commonplace activities at home, like listening to classical music and doing crossword puzzles. And some seniors were assigned to a group that focused on social interactions, field trips, and entertainment.

At the end of the study, the researchers discovered that the seniors who were in the group that learned new skills showed quantifiable improvements in memory, as compared to those who engaged in the non-demanding mental activities at home or the purely social group.

So, while the research is thus far inconclusive on this topic, it appears that the most beneficial mental stimulation may involve learning new information or skills, rather than just recalling what we already know.

And this stands to reason. Think of the brain as being like a computer. Learning something new—like a new language or skill—stimulates the brain and helps form new neural pathways. It’s sort of like adding new software or a new hard drive to a computer, increasing its functional and memory capacity. By comparison, activities like trivia or crossword puzzles simply require you call upon data that already exists in the computer that is your brain.

Gaming for the senior set

Video and computer games are getting increasingly popular among seniors. Entertainment Software Association research from 2018 found that a quarter of people over the age of 50 play video games on a regular basis—a number that is trending upward.

If you’re a senior who is interested in diving into the gaming world with the goal of improving your brain health, again, games that teach new information—versus recalling data you already know—are believed to be best. However, there are also many fun games that get your body moving, offering the added benefit of improving your physical fitness, balance, and cardiovascular health (which is also good for your brain!).

Computer games and apps for smartphones/tablets

There are more and more computer-based games, as well as apps that can be downloaded to a smartphone or tablet (such as an iPad), that have educational value, which may be beneficial for seniors’ brains.

For example, programs like Rosetta Stone, and games such as Lingo Arcade, Influent, and MindSnacks can help you learn a new language, and Rocksmith can teach you how to play the guitar. If you’re interested in learning how to do computer programming, CodeMonkey will educate you on the basics of coding languages like HTML5 and JavaScript.

History buffs may enjoy games like Crusader King or Civilization VI, which combine strategic thinking with history lessons. There are even flight simulator games that can teach you how to fly an airplane!

Gaming consoles

There are numerous options when it comes to gaming consoles, from Xbox to PlayStation to Nintendo. Many of the games for these systems provide purely entertainment value, and there’s nothing wrong with that! But there are also several games that are effective at getting your body moving while you have fun. As an added benefit, these gaming systems are enjoyable for people of all ages and can be a great activity for grandparents to share with their grandchildren.

You may have heard of a Wii (pronounced like “we”). It is an interactive gaming console sold by Nintendo, and it’s become all the rage in many senior living communities. The Wii Fit system bundle comes with a balance board “peripheral” (add-on equipment) that is used in many Wii games to track your movements, allowing the game to make more personalized recommendations.

Wii Fit can be used for activities like yoga, balance games, and aerobic and strength training exercises. The Wii Sports Resort game offers numerous virtual activities that can get seniors moving like golf, tennis, and bowling.

Virtual reality

The lines are increasingly getting blurred between gaming and virtual reality (VR). VR is where a user dons headphones and a special mask that displays various simulations of three-dimensional images that can be interacted with by the user in a seemingly real way.

Such VR technology is another high-tech tool that is being used in several new applications for seniors. There are VR uses for memory care patients, with programs designed to stimulate the brain, spur memories, or encourage anxiety reduction. There are also physical therapy and pain management applications for VR.

The future of gaming in senior living communities

It is likely that gaming will play a bigger role in the future of the CCRC industry. It’s even possible to imagine a time when CCRCs and other senior living communities might create on-site gaming centers where residents can enjoy some friendly competition with each other. Whether it’s innovative uses for Wii Fit exercise groups or a fierce Crusader King virtual battle, residents can benefit from the physical activity and/or mental stimulation offered by these games in a fun and social atmosphere (interpersonal interactions which offer their own health benefits for the seniors).

But the bottom line is that, based on current research, the types of games that are believed to be most beneficial for seniors’ cognitive health are those that involve educational elements. So instead of a word puzzle, sudoku, or fantasy-adventure game, chose one that will help you learn Italian, take up the virtual guitar, or try your hand at computer programming.

And also don’t underestimate the “old-fashioned” way of learning: from a book or in a classroom-type setting. Most CCRCs provide residents with opportunities for this type of continuing education on an array of topics. Some even have lifelong learning partnerships with nearby universities, allowing residents to audit college courses. It might not be as snazzy as the latest computer or video game, but this type of learning still offers seniors potential benefits to their brains.

 

 

The above content is legally licensed for use by myLifeSite.

 


Warm Weather Safety Tips for Seniors

Now that we are in the thick of summer, the increase in temperature has not only become more noticeable but it has also become something to take into serious consideration before heading outside, especially for seniors. Before you plan your next activity outdoors, follow some of the below tips to ensure you’re staying healthy and safe.

  1. Stay hydrated. Make sure that you drink plenty of water before, during, and after being exposed to high temperatures. Staying adequately hydrated will help reduce the chances of overheating and becoming dehydrated. Avoid alcohol or caffeinated drinks as these tend to dehydrate you more.
  2. Avoid direct sunlight. Try to find a shaded spot or a cover you can stay under while being outside in the heat. By avoiding direct sunlight, you’ll limit the potential of sunburn and again, overheating.
  3. Use Sunscreen. Using a sunscreen for both face and body with an SPF of 30 or higher is best to use when being exposed to sunlight. If you plan to be outside, make sure you apply a generous amount and keep reapplying as necessary.
  4. Dress accordingly. Wear light, breathable clothing while you’re outside in the heat. Fabrics such as linen or cotton will help keep you cool and comfortable.
  5. Air conditioning is your best friend. When you’re able to, try and stay in well air-conditioned areas as much as possible. If you don’t have air conditioning in your home, install a paddle fan or purchase a window unit to help circulate and regulate air flow.
  6. Know the signs and symptoms of dehydration and heat stroke. Knowing how to spot dehydration or heat stroke is important when being exposed to high temperatures for extended periods of time. If you happen to experience a headache, weakness, muscle cramping, dizziness or pass out, you may be dehydrated. As soon as possible, drink plenty of water or a drink with added electrolytes such as Gatorade. If you still don’t feel better, call 911. If you experience a temperature of 104 degrees or higher, red, dry or hot skin, a fast pulse, headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting or passing out, you may be having a heat stroke. Call 911 immediately and move to a shaded, cool area. Remove any additional layers of clothing and if possible, pour cold water on yourself. If you can safely swallow water or a sports drink, do so while waiting for emergency personnel to arrive.
  7. Check the weather every morning. By being proactive with how the weather and temperature may change throughout the day, you’ll be better able to plan your activities and in most cases, can save the cooler days for being outside.
  8. If you can move activities indoors, do so. By evaluating which activities that you originally had planned to participate in outside can be moved inside, you will limit your chances of overexposure to high temperatures, and in turn, keep yourself healthier, happier, and cooler!

Does Your Retirement Plan Overlook This Crucial Decision?

In a Forbes article from a few years back entitled “The Five Phases of Retirement Planning,” author Bernard Krooks discusses the various stages of retirement and steps that seniors should take to prepare for each. Krooks, an elder law attorney, defines “mid-retirement” as beginning at age 70, lasting as long as a person is still “able-bodied and high-functioning.” It is during this phase—when you are still in good health—that Krooks suggests considering what decisions you would want your family to take should you experience a significant decline in your mental or physical health.

The article goes on to describe the “late-phase” of retirement: the point after which a person’s health has begun to decline, and they require significant help in order to function on a day-to-day basis. Krooks notes that, “The hope is that by this point, all the planning done in prior years makes this transition as manageable and life-affirming as possible.”

A longer life means a longer retirement

The number of older Americans is rising rapidly as the Baby Boomers reach retirement. Also thanks to advances in modern medicine and technology, people are able to live longer. Think about this: In 1960, the life expectancy of a man in the U.S. was 66.6 years, and for a woman, it was 73.1 years, according to the CDC. As of 2015, those numbers had increased by nearly a decade: For men, average life expectancy was up to 76.3, and for women, it was up to 81.2, per the CDC. Today, a healthy 70-year-old in the U.S. can probably expect to live another 10 to 15 years on average—and many will live even longer—but rarely without the need for at least some degree of assistance, such as long-term care services.

Longer lifespans, combined with the potential need for extended long-term care, means that people must take an even more forward-thinking approach to planning for the later phases of retirement than in previous generations. Unfortunately, however, families and financial advisors too often fail to make a proactive, specific plan for this stage of life. The result is that most seniors and/or their families find themselves having to be reactive in addressing lifestyle and healthcare needs that may arise in the “late-phase” of retirement.

The scenario often goes like this: A senior has a significant health issue that develops suddenly. The spouse, adult children, or other family members must quickly shift into crisis-management mode, urgently researching care options, regardless of the flexibility of their personal schedule, their physical ability, or their emotional capacity to take on such a daunting task. Perhaps you experienced a similar situation with your own aging parents.

The most important choice in your retirement plan

If you are approaching (or are already in) the “mid-retirement” phase, it is the perfect time to make a plan for your “late-retirement” years—while you are still active and in control of your own decisions. Putting off such important decisions about your potential future needs could leave you and your loved ones facing tough, and often costly, situations down the road.

I would argue that one of the more important and complex decisions to consider in the retirement planning process is where to live. Admittedly, there are a lot of options in this day and age. Many seniors plan to stay in their existing home for as long as possible; others choose to relocate to a 55 and over community, while still others opt for a continuing care retirement community (CCRC, also called a life plan community), which offers residents a so-called continuum of care that addresses any assistance needs as they arise.

As you consider the many senior living options, keep in mind that paying for care and access to care are two very separate issues. For example, you may have long-term care insurance and/or you may have a substantial amount of savings and assets, all of which will help you pay for care. However, having adequate money does not address the other aspect of the issue: where and how your care needs will be provided if and when you require assistance.

This is one reason why a CCRC appeals to some people. After paying the entry fee, new CCRC residents typically move into the independent living area of the community, where they will usually have things like housekeeping, home maintenance, and one meal a day provided as part of their monthly fee. However, should health issues arise, the appropriate level of care services will be given to the resident within the same campus. It not only affords residents with the assistance and support they need, when they need it, it also provides them and their loved ones with a tremendous amount of peace of mind.

Making your plan

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a simple way to make a plan for every possible retirement scenario? While no one knows exactly what the future holds, you do have the power to prepare for many of the situations that commonly arise as we age.

I advise seniors to do these three things to help plan for the unknowns of their retirement years: 1) research and understand your senior living options, 2) consider the pros and cons of each, and 3) have detailed conversations with family members, medical providers, and other professional advisors (legal, financial, etc.) about your options and wishes. Taking these three steps can potentially help you and your loved ones avoid some difficult choices in the future.

 

 

The above article was written by Brad Breeding of myLifeSite and is legally licensed for use.

 


Making the Transition for a Loved One to Memory Care Support

Caring for a parent or loved one with memory loss is no easy task. While it is a commendable and selfless responsibility to take on, with it comes many obstacles and challenges. With the numerous life adjustments that need to be made such as priorities shifting, adapting your home for safety precautions, and the emotional toll that it can have on everyone included, it is often found that considering a transition to a community with memory care support makes a lot of sense. At all of The Wesley Communities, we have a trusted team to help make your transition as easy as possible while putting your needs and the needs of your loved one first. Below, we’ve compiled some helpful tips you may find useful.

  • Research facilities of interest and be transparent about your desires and concerns. Talk to your loved one and family first and then, make sure to address all areas of importance with administrators, residency counselors, and all others who will be part of this important transition. By knowing the ins and outs of each community you are considering, you will feel more comfortable that you are making the right choice with the best facility for your loved one.
  • Once you do select the facility that is right for your loved one, discuss it sensitively and positively with them. Especially for someone with memory loss, having a conversation of this subject matter may bring fear, anger, and sadness. Try and speak calmly with your loved one and share with them all of the opportunities and benefits they will have available to them.
  • Give the staff useful information and hobbies of your loved one. By letting those at the facility know what interests your loved one has and what brings them joy, they will be able to make the transition as positive as possible. This will better allow them to have activities, books, art and crafts, etc. prepared ahead of time that your loved one will be happy to have.
  • Work with staff to have some of your family member’s favorite foods or snacks available. Along the lines of letting staff know what interests your loved one has, having some treats they enjoy will help as well. If they love your homemade chocolate chip cookies, work with the staff to have some available in the first week after moving.
  • Plan to take some time off from work or other demands to prioritize the move. As with any move, planning is a large portion of it. If you are employed, try and work with your team or save some vacation time so that you can take a few days off to focus on moving your loved one. By your loved one having you every step of the way, they will feel more at ease.
  • Bring a sense of home to their new home. Decorate your loved ones home or create shadow boxes to make it feel familiar. By including your loved one’s favorite home items and pictures of family and friends, their new space will feel comfortable, familiar, and calming.
  • Reassure and be there for your loved one. In many cases, you will need to remind your loved one or re-explain the transition they will be making. Of course, this can be difficult and emotional for both you and them. The memory care staff at the facility you choose will be able to assist with this conversation to try and make it as positive and comforting as possible. Make sure to try and reassure your loved one that this transition will be a good one and again, share with them the great opportunities they will have like making new friends and being able to participate in fun activities.

 Making the transition for a loved one to memory care brings many emotions, challenges, and logistics but for many, it can also be a very beneficial decision for those with memory loss and their caregivers. By working together as a family, and with the supportive staff at the facility you choose, you will find the comfort and peace of mind you deserve.

 

The above article was written by The Wesley Communities’ Marketing Communications Coordinator, Allie DeBor.


Helpful Tips for Downsizing in Retirement

One of the main reasons older adults put off downsizing or moving to a retirement community is dealing with all the “stuff” that has accumulated over the years. Yet, if done right, the process of downsizing may not be as daunting as you think. Especially with our current situation, many of us are spending more time at home and have more free time in our schedules to tackle a huge project like this. It may even be enjoyable or refreshing at times. A lot of the physical work can be done by others down the road, so your main role is to categorize, organize, and direct.

Start now

If you are thinking about moving, whether to a retirement community or to a smaller home, then now is a good time to start the process of downsizing. Do not wait until you are ready to move because it can be overwhelming at that point and you will have other things that require your attention. Even if you ultimately choose not to move then at least you have done your family members a big favor because there will be less stuff for them to deal with one day.

Recognize that you cannot keep it all

In order to know what items you can and should purge, you first need to know which items you absolutely cannot part with. But here is the key: after you have created the initial list, pare it down even further. This can be a tough exercise, but the reality is that some of the things you think you need to save may not be necessary to keep after all. For example, that sport coat or blouse in the closet that you have held onto for 15 years because you are sure you will wear it again…it’s probably time to part ways. That stack of magazines with holiday recipes dating back 10 years?… those can go too. Your most cherished recipes will not be hidden in a tall stack of magazines anyway, right?

Your kids may not want your stuff

Another popular reason for hanging on to various items is the idea that the kids or grandkids will want them. But many people eventually discover that the things they thought would be coveted by their adult children were not so desirable after all. To help sort this out, consider inviting your children over (once it is safe) for a day to go through your things and find out what they actually want.

Sort by large and small

Once you know what you want to keep, make a list of big and small items. The big items are anything that will not fit in a regular size moving box, such as a sofa or table. As you consider these items, be sure to think about the dimensions and style of your new home so you will know if they will fit. Many CCRCs have move-in coordinators who can help you with this.

Obviously, it could be tough to list out every single smaller item, but you want to think about your most utilized items first. Consider things like silverware, pictures, kitchenware, books, etc.

Sell, donate, or discard?

Once you have decided what items are no longer needed, it is time to decide what to do with them. Create a separate list with three columns: Sell, Donate, and Trash. As you consider what you want to sell, remember that items rarely bring in the amount of cash that the owner thinks they will. In some cases it may simply be easier to donate or discard an item than to go to the trouble of trying to sell it.

However, if you feel sure it would be worth the time to try to sell some of your belongings, then there are a number of ways you can do this. From the comfort of your home, you could try to sell them online with sites like Ebay or Craig’s List. (Please take caution if you use Craigslist or a similar website. If possible, wait until it is safe to meet the buyer in a public place and take someone with you.) Sometimes a good old-fashioned yard sale could do the job, but you will want to wait again, until it is a safe time to have one and you should have someone to help you with the set up and break down. Alternately, if you have more than a few valuable items, there are sure to be any number of local companies that will administer an estate sale for you – again, this would have to occur once it is safe.

Hauling the junk

Finally, after you have gone through the above mentioned steps, there will probably be a lot of junk left over. This would include things that have piled up in a garage or crawlspace over the years, such as old paint cans. There are many national companies who have safety protocols in place given our current situation that will come by and haul these things away for you while practicing social distancing. All you have to do is point to the items you want removed, and they will recycle or trash the items accordingly. Of course, you could also store the items for the time-being and revisit having a company haul them away for you once you feel more comfortable.

 

 

The above article was written by Brad Breeding of myLifeSite and is legally licensed for use.


Why Every Retiree Should Consider a Retirement Community

There are certain adages you may recall your parents saying when you were a child: “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” “Things are not always what they seem,” plus, of course, “You won’t know until you try.”

Clichés are repeated again and again because most often, they are true. And it just so happens that these three sayings don’t just apply to the important lessons of childhood — many adults would do well to adhere to these proverbs as they go through life.

In fact, it recently struck me that seniors who are considering their various senior living options may want to keep these very adages in mind as they ponder the possibility of moving to a retirement community, such as a continuing care retirement community (CCRC, or life plan community).

Don’t judge a book by its cover.

When you hear the phrase “retirement community,” what comes to mind? Perhaps you envision the nursing home your elderly parents or grandparents were in, with people staring at a TV or eating off of cafeteria-style trays. Or, maybe you think of “a bunch of old people” sitting around all day or playing bingo. (For the record, I think bingo is pretty great!) If this is what you imagine a CCRC or other active living-type retirement community to be like, I would recommend you take time to learn about today’s retirement communities and how, for many, they can even offer a healthier and more holistic lifestyle than the alternatives.

Many people have a negative preconception of senior living that may not match what is currently available in today’s CCRC marketplace. Yes, some of the community’s residents may require a wheelchair or walker, and the on-site availability of a continuum of care services for those who need it is one of the many appealing aspects of a CCRC. But the reality is that a majority of CCRC residents are living active, highly fulfilling lives — a dynamic lifestyle that is encouraged and even supported by the CCRC itself.

Today’s CCRCs offer resident-led activities from lecture series and continuing education classes to volunteer tutoring and various affinity groups…and much more — programs that keep residents mentally and physically active and involved in their larger community.

And that institutional food on a cafeteria tray you were picturing? Retirement communities of today have begun to address this stereotype with gusto. Indeed, improvements to both the dining atmosphere and food quality are hot topics across the industry. In most CCRCs, you will find an array of healthy, freshly prepared menu options, served in on-site settings that range from a dining room, to a bistro café, to a casual pub. In some CCRCs, you may even enjoy gourmet meals prepared by five-star chefs using fresh, locally grown produce.

As you can see, our parents may have advised, don’t judge a book by its cover — and don’t assume the realities of a CCRC will match the outdated idea you have in your mind.

Things are not always what they seem.

Which leads me to my next point: Making an informed decision about ANY topic involves putting all options on the table, gathering the facts about each, weighing pros and cons, and making an educated decision. This methodical process of conducting in-depth research is especially important for your senior living decision.

For example, choosing to remain in your home may seem like a wise choice on the surface. You are comfortable there, both mentally and physically. You may own your home outright, and it seems like the most practical, economical option. Furthermore, you are still independent and active, so you don’t “need” to move to a retirement community.

Yet, many people who have chosen to move to a retirement community report that their net monthly expenses are not much more than they were spending previously; sometimes even less. And they describe how their lives are healthier and more carefree, with the bonus of developing friendships with residents who have common interests and shared life experiences and accomplishments.

And then there are the “what ifs.” What if you are no longer able to manage the upkeep of your home — the housework, the yardwork, the day-to-day maintenance needs? Who will do those chores? Is that a burden you want to put on your adult children, or is that a cost you can afford to incur?

What if you suffer a health issue that prevents you from navigating the stairs to your bedroom, makes it difficult to dress and bathe yourself, or even requires skilled nursing care? Who will assist you with those activities of daily living that you can no longer manage on your own?

Are these caregiving responsibilities you want to put on your adult children or other loved ones, and if not, how much will it cost if you need to pay for either part-time or round-the-clock care in your home? Bear in mind that the national average cost of in-home care is around $3,800 per month, based on just 44 hours of care per week, or around 6 hours per day. Adding in evening hours and overnight care could increase this cost substantially.

On the surface, it may appear that a CCRC will be costlier than just remaining in the home you currently live in, but when you tally up the costs of upkeep and the care services you may one day require, things indeed are not always what they seem.

You won’t know until you try.

Although a retirement community like a CCRC may not ultimately be the right choice for everyone, I think everyone should at least consider it as a senior living option. And while doing diligent research is important to understand contract terms, services, and amenities, the best way to determine if a particular community is right for you is to experience it first-hand.

Once you have narrowed down the possible CCRC options to a select few, spend as much time as you can on their campuses. Take a tour…possibly more than one, and at different times of day. Eat in every one of the dining options, multiple times. Many CCRCs will even allow you to participate in community activities and use some of their facilities if you put down a fairly modest deposit. Use the fitness center. Walk the sidewalks and trails around the community. Talk to current residents to get their impressions of what it’s like to live there.

Many communities offer a guest suite where you can even spend the night on-site to get a true feeling for what it is like to live in the community. Is it clean, up-to-date, and quiet? Do residents seem to be embraced and well-respected by staff. Some providers are clearly better than others, and thus, you can learn a lot about a CCRC by experiencing their guest suite.

There is a New York Times article that addresses the topic of people who were at-best skeptical about moving to a retirement community. In the article, one community resident acknowledged that he had once said to his wife of 45 years, “By God, I’ll sit in the burned-out, firebombed ruins of this home before anybody pulls me out!”

After years of back and forth, he begrudgingly made the move to a retirement community to appease his wife, but since they have settled in, “I’ve done a 180 on this.” A few days after moving in, the man explained, “It just hit me: I really wished my mother or my sister or my aunt could have had this experience, to feel that safe and secure. At that point, it was like a light bulb going on. It was an instant turnaround for me.”

There’s no single senior living choice that’s right for everyone, and ultimately, a retirement community may not be the right choice for you, but when you really weigh things out and hear stories from so many people who are living vibrant and active lives at retirement communities, it’s hard to think that more people shouldn’t at least give it a look with an open mind.

 

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