Tools for Financial Planning

Posted by in Expert Advice, Personal Finance.

Talking to Mom and Dad about money can be difficult, and not just when you’re young and need $20 for dinner and a movie. As parents age and need more care, the conversation may become a necessity between adult children and parents. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always get easier to talk about money, and sometimes the financial picture an elderly loved one paints is a bit more rosy than the reality. Additionally, seniors often consider finances completely private information and any attempt at learning more about what options are available can be seen by a senior loved one as prying. To help start the financial planning conversation, Senior Lifestyle has compiled a list of resources and tips to utilize when you’re unsure if your loved one’s finances are sufficient for the care they need.

Learning more about your family’s unique financial situation and needs is the first step to finding a senior housing solution. To facilitate that important first step in financial planning, many of our communities have partnered with Elderlife Financial, an organization that specializes in helping families navigate the senior housing journey and understand financing options available to them. Elderlife can provide education and additional resources on applying for Veterans Benefits and Long Term Care Insurance, as well as valuable information on bridge loans prior to the sale of a home. Contact a Senior Lifestyle Community Advisor for more information, or visit the Elderlife Financial website to get started.

Another financial option for some seniors is the conversion of an existing life insurance policy to pay for a loved one’s stay at a Senior Lifestyle community. To determine if your insurance policy can be converted into a Life Care Benefit Plan to cover expenses of care, simply visit the Life Care Funding website for information on conversion. There is no cost or obligation for this financial planning service and the information may well provide a valuable option for senior housing and care.

At Senior Lifestyle, we understand the value of companionship as well as financial health, so we also offer the affordable option of Shared Suites for seniors. This option provides newcomers to communities with a friend right at the outset and residents are matched based on personality, interests and backgrounds to ensure compatibility. In addition to the resources note above, this option can make senior living much more affordable and comfortable.

For a comprehensive list of these resources and tips, as well as a senior financial planning calculator, please visit our website at Our website also provides contact information for our senior communities in your area, where a visit with one of our senior housing professionals is just a click away!

Variety is the Spice of Life

Posted by in Community Spotlights.

William Cowper once said, “Variety’s the very spice of life, that gives it all its flavor.” At Heritage of Peachtree in Fayette County, Georgia, they’ve clearly taken Mr. Cowper’s words to heart. This beautiful senior community fills each day with activities designed to engage residents of all interests and skill levels, a feat Program Director Angela Henrick says is easy with residents who love to be challenged and try new things. She notes, “Anything I suggest, they are excited to try! We’ve also had a lot of fun activities and events that grew out of a simple suggestion from a resident. I love that we can do so many different things in a short time-span, from putting together an Art Gallery of resident and team members’ works, to hosting a Camping Day with S’mores and singalongs.”

Art galleries and showings often conjure up images of people in fancy clothing admiring works of art that might look (to the casual observer) more like toddler squiggles and random shapes, but not at Heritage of Peachtree. Residents and team members of the senior community submitted works of art as varied as their personalities, from treasured tea sets to one-of-a-kind line drawings of familiar settings, birds and flowers. The Art Gallery at Heritage of Peachtree was a wonderful experience for artists and art appreciators alike, with refreshments provided and plenty of commentary from those whose works were on display!

Camping Day at Heritage of Peachtree dawned slightly overcast, but that didn’t deter the campers, an intrepid group who had looked forward to telling and hearing ghost stories all week. Come rain or shine, camping was happening! Coleman lanterns were set up, a cheery “campfire” was burning, and the library was the perfect campsite, one without bugs or inclement weather. Program Director Angela Henrick notes, “I think everyone’s favorite part was the ghost stories and hot chocolate; however, the sing along was very much loved as well! We will have a Pajama Day in November, so there’s another chance to share stories and singalongs and enjoy hot chocolate and S’mores.

Angela shares, “We also have an ‘Act of Kindness’ activity planned throughout November where we’ll make crafts—one to keep and one to share. We’re making birthday cards for a gentleman in a sister community who will be turning 100 as well.” Says Angela, “Being around our residents fills me with joy every day. I smile coming to work and smile each day when I leave just thinking about how lucky I am to work here with them.”

Built as the first senior community in Fayette County in 1995, Senior Lifestyle community Heritage of Peachtree provides care from Independent Living to levels that include all facets of Assisted Living, respecting each resident’s individuality and preferences. For more information on this community or a Senior Lifestyle community near you, please visit our website at

State Fair Royalty

Posted by in Resident Spotlights, Community Spotlights.

Step inside the doors of The Reserve at North Dallas and Wanda (“Fernie”) Winter, the unofficial ambassador for this beautiful Senior Lifestyle community, may well be the first person to greet you. After just a few moments with Fernie, you’ll know you’re in the presence of royalty. 91 year-old Fernie, affectionately referred to as “The Queen” by her four daughters, is actually descended from royalty, but that’s not really her claim to fame. Her celebrity, like most things in Texas, is bigger than that; Fernie is known as the visionary who brought funnel cakes to the Texas State Fair.

According to the Texas State Historical Association, the Texas State Fair’s history reaches back to 1886, when a group of businessmen from the Dallas area chartered a private corporation. The fair officially opened in October of that year. In the early years, cattle sales, displays of farm machinery, and balloon ascents were highlights of the fair, as well as concerts and appearances by such celebrities as John Philip Sousa and Carry Nation. Prizes were also awarded for excellence in baking, preserving and needlework. In 1953, “Big Tex”, a 52 foot tall cowboy, took up residence in the center of the fairgrounds, overlooking guests and attractions.

Fern made her first official appearance at the Texas State Fair in 1969 when she and her husband took on work cooking at the fair to raise a little extra cash for a vacation fund. She had no intention of making it a habit, but she was hooked, and over the years her restaurant, “Doc’s” has become a staple at the fair. In 1980, after a visit to Branson, Missouri, Fern introduced funnel cakes to the Texas State Fair, and Fernie’s Funnel Cakes were an instant hit. Over the years, deep-fried goodies at Doc’s have won numerous awards at the fair, increasing Fern’s royal reputation. Fern still reigns, greeting patrons who come back annually to enjoy the food and the atmosphere. She runs the show, and her four daughters carry on the tradition.

In honor of the Texas State Fair as well as celebrity-in-residence Fern, the Reserve at North Dallas celebrated a Taste of the Texas State Fair last week with corn dogs, deep-fried brownie bites, and of course, funnel cakes. Sales Director Kris Raab notes, “Our culinary team is so great to work with; they re-created amazing “fair food” and it was a big hit!” Residents and team members also took a day trip to the Texas State Fair to enjoy all the sights and sounds of the fair in person on Friday, returning with tales of amazing food and attractions. Many are already looking forward to next year’s fair experience, sure to be bigger and better! To learn more about the activities at The Reserve at North Dallas, or to schedule a tour of this beautiful community, please visit our website at

Staying Ahead of Scams Aimed at Seniors

Posted by in Expert Advice.

With the holidays and a new year around the corner, Senior Lifestyle wants to provide awareness of common scams aimed at seniors as well as ways to avoid these scams. We also encourage our residents and families to speak up if they feel they’ve been a victim of fraud. The earlier a scam is detected, the higher the chance of making any kind of financial recovery as well as stopping the perpetrator from victimizing another person.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, fraud against seniors is becoming more prevalent and is often difficult to combat. Many seniors who have been victims of con artists are reluctant to report the fraudulent activity out of embarrassment or fear that they will be seen as unable to manage their financial affairs. Seniors can also become easy targets for scammers because of their inherent belief that others are as honest as they are, and their perceived susceptibility to products that promise improved cognitive function, renewed health or immunity to diseases such as cancer.

The National Council on Aging (NCOA) notes that seniors are seen as good targets because of the perception that they have a sizeable nest egg. NCOA shares some valuable tools to avoid scams aimed at seniors by highlighting several of the most common scenarios:

  • Lottery/Sweepstakes scams

This trick, while old, still circulates regularly. Victims are told they have won a sweepstakes or lottery, but that they must make a payment to cover “taxes and fees” on their winnings. Often, seniors who fall for the ruse are sent a check that initially appears to have great value, and only a few days later, bounces. During that lag time, the con artists will pocket the money for “taxes and fees.”

How to Avoid: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Remember that if you have won any kind of prize, you shouldn’t be asked to pay mysterious and suspicious fees within a day or two of the award.

  • Charity scams

In the wake of natural disasters such as the recent hurricanes and wildfires, we can often feel helpless to provide aid to those impacted. One particularly repugnant scam often occurs in the aftermath of major disasters. Callers claim to represent a charity seeking money to help pay for disaster recovery or aid for the victims. The money is then misdirected to the scammer’s account. Some charity scammers will send emails soliciting donations as well. Often the email contains a link to a purportedly legitimate charity organization which sends unsuspecting seniors to a bogus website that looks just similar enough to the actual organization’s website to scam would-be donors.

How to Avoid: If you wish to donate to charity following a disaster seek out the charity yourself. Do not make donations to organizations that cold-call you.

  • Medicare Card and Medicaid Card ID Theft Scam

Callers claiming to represent various government agencies or organizations tell seniors that their Medicare or Medicaid cards must be replaced. This is merely a ruse to get a senior’s personal information to perpetrate identity theft. This information is then used to bill Medicare for fraudulent charges.

How to Avoid: Never give personal information like your social security number or banking information over the phone, and be suspicious of calls from people who claim to represent official agencies and then request personal information.

Be sure to warn senior family members and friends to practice caution when sharing information over the phone or the internet and to ask for advice if they are unsure whether to share private information. By staying alert to scammers and being vigilant about personal information, as well as reporting when a scam is suspected, we can make a con artist’s job much more difficult and eventually impossible! To learn more about this topic or others covered at Senior Lifestyle communities, please visit our website at

Get Ahead of the Winter Blues

Posted by in Health and Fitness, Expert Advice.

Do you get the winter blues? If you do, it turns out that you are not alone. Feelings of sadness that seem hard to shake during the winter months are more common than you might think. While it isn’t winter yet, the cold days are quickly approaching, and for many, the cold and dark of the winter months make life a misery. Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a form of depression that cycles with seasonal changes, typically causing symptoms such as a loss of energy, an increased appetite, and an overall feeling of tiredness. Since our goal at Senior Lifestyle is to optimize the overall health and well-being of seniors, our communities use specific tools and activities designed to lessen the effects of SAD.

Researchers at Mayo Clinic say that the decline in the amount of daylight during fall and winter is to blame for SAD, and note that this form of depression is more common in northern areas. While hazards like slips and falls and hypothermia often top the list of concerns for caregivers of seniors during winter months, our older loved ones are also at risk for Seasonal Affective Disorder, as well as vitamin D deficiency, both linked to lack of exposure to the sun. For some seniors, this is compounded by fears of being outside in the icy cold weather and risking a fall. If a senior is homebound or uses an assistive device like a cane or a walker, getting outside for some sunshine in the winter can be very difficult. Many of our Senior Lifestyle communities are designed specifically to maximize natural light, an important element in combatting Seasonal Affective Disorder. Since isolation is a factor in depressive symptoms for many seniors, light-filled common areas abound in our communities, perfect settings for conversation and games.

The good news is that there are some simple things caregivers can do to mitigate the effects of the “winter blues”. Mayo Clinic recommends making lifestyle changes to manage SAD with some easy home remedies. Sometimes, small changes in the indoor environment can help. Moving a bed closer to the window, opening curtains and blinds to allow in more natural light, and adding bright colors and plants can help. Some people find that adding physical exercise like walking is a good remedy, along with eating a well-balanced diet, which helps to combat vitamin D deficiency as well. Certainly if the weather permits, taking a stroll outside in the sunshine is also a great idea! Popular features of many of our Senior Lifestyle communities are the outdoor courtyard sitting areas and walking paths.

For sufferers of Seasonal Affective Disorder who can’t get out, light therapy is an alternative. This therapy uses a “light box” which is just a fluorescent lamp that mimics natural sunlight. The user simply turns on the lamp and sits in front of it for a specified time each day. It’s important to speak with a healthcare professional as you look into purchasing a light box to learn which one will work best for you and your situation.

While it’s more than just a case of the “winter blues”, Seasonal Affective Disorder can often be controlled with some lifestyle adaptations and easily managed changes. To learn more about our fall and winter activities at a Senior Lifestyle community near you, please visit our website at

Giving Up the Keys

Posted by in Mind and Spirit.

For many young adults, obtaining a driver’s license is a symbol of freedom and an outward sign of independence. Unsurprisingly, many older adults feel the same way about retaining their driver’s license. For seniors who live in areas with little or no access to public transportation, the ability to drive provides more than just a symbol of independence; it often serves as a lifeline. This circumstance can make it difficult for families to discuss giving up driving with a senior loved one, as it often necessitates outside help or even a move for the senior. Senior Lifestyle communities offer transportation options for residents who choose not to drive or are unable to do so safely. Many of our resident who still drive themselves also choose to take advantage of the transportation option and let someone else do the driving for them on occasion.

A recent Consumer Reports study notes that 40 million Americans aged 65 and older carry a valid driver’s license; 3.5 million of that group are still behind the wheel at age 85 and older. While many drivers are able to manage to the physical requirements of driving well into their senior years, there are some warning signs from that a senior driver may need to consider giving up the keys:

  • Frequent close calls or increased citations
    • A noticeable increase in dents and scrapes on the vehicle
    • Traffic tickets or warnings from law enforcement
  • Eyesight or hearing problems
    • A need to drive closer to signs or traffic signals to see them clearly
    • Inability to hear horns honking or emergency sirens
  • Trouble managing the mechanics of driving and limited range of motion, slower reflexes
    • Sudden lane changes and erratic braking and accelerating
    • Inability to react quickly when necessary to traffic changes
    • Lack of range of motion that prevents turning head to look back

If giving up the keys becomes necessary, it’s important to understand the frustration and even humiliation that your senior driver may experience; treating them with respect and dignity while having this difficult conversation is imperative. If a loved one is reluctant to admit that driving is becoming a problem for them, you may need to enlist the help of an impartial person such as their physician. It’s also important to provide alternatives such as public transportation or rides from friends and family members. For some seniors, the loss of this symbol of independence can cause depression; preventing isolation is an important part of the transition as well. At Senior Lifestyle, residents are often surprised and delighted to learn that social opportunities don’t require time behind the wheel; events and activities are always available in the community.

If you notice signs of impaired driving in your loved one, it is vital to have a conversation with them about your concerns; they may be feeling concerned as well, but worried about the logistics of giving up driving, and your efforts to broach the subject may in fact be a relief to the senior driver. For information about transportation options at a Senior Lifestyle community near you, or more information about tackling difficult conversations with your loved one, please visit our website at

The Sterling Aventura: Serving Those Who Have Served

Posted by in Community Spotlights.

Service is commonly defined as “Work that is done for others as an occupation” as well as “An act of assistance or benefit.”  Honor is defined as “high respect; esteem” or “to regard with great respect.” At The Sterling Aventura, we understand that service to one’s country reaches well beyond those definitions, and we are proud to honor the service and sacrifice of our residents and other local veterans.

There are many intangible benefits to service; however, a little-known benefit called the Aid and Attendance pension is a very important tangible benefit for those veterans who require assistance with activities of daily living. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website states, “Veterans and survivors who are eligible for a VA pension and require the aid and attendance of another person, or are housebound, may be eligible for additional monetary payment. These benefits are paid in addition to monthly pension, and they are not paid without eligibility to Pension.” This benefit can provide up to $1,794 per month for a single veteran who qualifies; additionally, provisions for veterans with a spouse as well as surviving spouse benefits are included in the Aid and Attendance Benefit.

We are privileged to serve our veteran residents here at The Sterling Aventura. Their stories deserve to be told, their sacrifices recognized, their service honored. Our community is proud to have many veterans in residence and would like to extend an invitation to veterans in the surrounding area to attend an event to learn more about the service-related benefits they’ve earned and deserve.

The Sterling Aventura will host a Veteran’s Aid and Attendance Benefit seminar on October 25th from 5-6:30 pm at the community. Eric Weitkamp from Freedom Partners will outline the Aid and Attendance benefit, provide information on how to apply, and answer questions about eligibility for veterans and spouses. Veterans, families and friends are invited to attend to learn more about the benefits available to them. To learn more or reserve a seat for this event, please call 305-918-0000. Thank you for your service. It will be our honor to serve you!

Your Happiness Matters

Posted by in Programs.

There’s a common saying that notes, “If people are happy with your service, they’ll tell you; if they aren’t happy, they’ll tell everyone else,” and with the prevalence of online review sites today, that idea can seem uncomfortably accurate for some businesses. However, online reviews give customers the opportunity to point out not only what’s wrong, but what’s right as well. They also give the reviewee an opportunity to make things right by reaching out to the customer when a negative experience is reported. At Senior Lifestyle we look at reviews as a vital tool in our ‘Your Happiness Matters’ feedback culture for continuous improvement and encourage everyone we interact with to share their experience.

Are we doing well? What can we do better? Every business asks these questions, but without feedback from customers, it’s often hard to judge the answers. Any business with a long-range plan wants to hear the bad reviews as well as the stellar ones; continuous improvement depends on knowing what needs to be improved upon. Reviews provide us with valuable information that may not be evident at the point of sale. Consumers can leave online reviews for nearly any business, product or service, from a hospital stay to a pet grooming experience. Review sites like Indeed and Glassdoor even provide a forum for job-seekers to learn more about companies for whom they hope to work.

Why do people leave online reviews? Everyone likes to be heard; we share our opinions every day in conversations with friends, family and co-workers, so it makes sense to share those opinions with the companies from which we purchase products and services. Oftentimes, online reviewers can remain anonymous, an aspect which may pave the way for more honest evaluations. At Senior Lifestyle, we’re striving to create a feedback culture (because your happiness matters to us!), and we’ve implemented review tracking services to help us read and respond to our online reviews. We also regularly survey our residents and families using Gallup survey programs so we can learn what we can do better to create great places to live and work.

Senior Lifestyle believes that informed consumers and potential team members make better choices, and we truly want feedback from our senior community residents, families and team members. We gain valuable insight from visitors in our communities as well, whether they volunteer, provide a service for our residents or come to the community for a tour. But even more than that, online reviews provide valuable insight to future visitors who are looking to learn more about senior housing and what it’s like to live at one of our communities. Our goal is to provide the best possible experience for everyone we interact with, so don’t hesitate to let us know how we’re doing! For more information on how Senior Lifestyle works to provide an exceptional experience or to learn more about any of our communities, please visit our website at

A Labor of Love

Posted by in Mind and Spirit.

A project started by Lake Barrington Woods residents in 2016 is growing! Last year, residents at Lake Barrington Woods began creating woven sleeping mats made from plastic grocery bags, a community activity aimed at helping the homeless. With the aid of local organization Kids.Kare, they distributed sleeping mats and food to areas of downtown Chicago. The response was overwhelming, and with the donation of grocery bags from friends, employees, local businesses and families of Lake Barrington Woods residents across the country, residents at Lake Barrington Woods decided to continue the project as part of their Active Aging Week celebration. This year, the mats will be donated locally and will again be accompanied by lunch bags packed with nutritious food. Lake Barrington Woods residents plan to make the donations in person at local shelters.

Mirka Biegunska, Director of Residents Programs at Lake Barrington Woods, notes that she was brainstorming with residents about activities for this year’s Active Aging Week theme, “Ignite Your Passion” when the idea to continue the project took hold. “We were thinking of different ideas for this, like learning different painting techniques, learning how to make pizza, learning a new language or even learning about new technology. In the end, we all agreed, “A Labor of Love” is our passion passion and we would share this with you.” Active Aging Week promotes quality of life for seniors with purposeful, meaningful activities and events that showcase the positive elements of aging, a celebration Lake Barrington Woods observes yearly with a week of new experiences.

Mirka calls this project a Labor of Love with good reason: each mat takes about 50 hours and nearly 1000 shopping bags to complete, with residents sorting and cutting bags while others crochet the bags into clean, lightweight, portable sleeping mats. Different colored bags are highly sought after, says Mirka, as the weavers have started creating patterned mats. So far they’ve created 25 new mats for distribution and she says, “Residents say that once they’ve started, they just don’t want to stop! They love this project and the fact that it represents help for those in surrounding communities.” The community is working with shelters in the local area to arrange donations of mats and food, while some of the mats have already been distributed locally by residents. To see the Youtube video highlighting the production of the mats, as well as the first day of distribution, please click here:

Lake Barrington Woods residents are proud to be able to meet a very real need in their surrounding communities and hope to continue their Labor of Love project through winter, but that goal will require supplies. If you have clean plastic grocery bags that you’d like to donate to the cause, Lake Barrington Woods is happy to put them to good use. Donations to aid the #LBWLaborOfLove project may be dropped off at the front desk at the community. If you have questions about this project, or would like to visit Lake Barrington Woods, please call 847-842-8900 or visit our website at

Dog Days at Mangrove Bay

Posted by in Community Spotlights.

Providing Independent Living, Assisted Living and Memory Care, Senior Lifestyle’s Mangrove Bay community in Jupiter, Florida is known for beautiful views of the Intracoastal Waterway and proximity to gorgeous beaches. Residents enjoy beautiful weather, exceptional services, and locally sourced ingredients for gourmet meals, and while none of those things are changing, Director of Sales and Marketing Lonnie Hoffman claims that one day very soon, Mangrove Bay will, in fact, be “going to the dogs.” Surprisingly, Executive Director Kathy Wise reports that residents, families and team members are looking forward to this “dog day”, and will even invite the public to witness the event!

What is happening at Mangrove Bay? The social event of the season, of course! The community will host a “Pup-tastic Fashion Show” in conjunction with the ribbon cutting for their new dog park on Thursday, October 19th from 2-4 pm and the local community is invited to attend. The new pet play area will be officially opened, light refreshments will be served, and the “pupperazzi” will be out in force, taking pictures of pets and their people. The community will host a “Yappy Hour” from 4:30-5:30 pm following the fashion show that is sure to be a howling success as well! Furry Friends Adoption and Clinic, a local no-kill shelter, will be on hand to help judge the fashion show along with adoptable pets from the shelter. In addition, officer Chad Norman, a bloodhound handler with Jupiter Police Department’s K9 unit will perform a skill demonstration. To RSVP to the grand opening of Mangrove Bay’s dog park or to enter a pet in the fashion show, please call 561-575-3123.

Mangrove Bay is home to more than ten dogs, beloved companions of residents of Mangrove Bay who add to the quality of life experienced in the community. The pets and their people at –Mangrove Bay have a heart for helping others and will be collecting items from Furry Friends’ wish list to help animals at the shelter live happier lives. Programs Director Karen Counts shares that Furry Friends is always in need of the following items:

  • Blankets, towels, comforters, sheets
  • Durable, clean dog & cat toys
  • Pedigree adult, puppy, small bites dry food
  • Pedigree adult and puppy wet food
  • Bleach and non-scented laundry detergent
  • Paper towels
  • Hand sanitizer (pump bottles)

Please consider bringing a donation to the fashion show, or even adopting a pet!