When is the Right Age to Retire?

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When is the Right Age to Retire?

When is the Right Age to Retire?

As you move closer to retirement age, you’ve likely been involved in discussions about retirement planning. These may involve chats about employer percentages, being vested (or not), and quiet outrage at retail prices of motorhomes. However, there is one important piece always missing from retirement conversation: The target retirement age.

As of February 2019, the average age of retirement is 59.88 years old. Of course, plenty of Americans retire before and after this age, for a variety of reasons. Surprisingly, 76% of employees say they’ll keep working past retirement age, and 35% of those people will do so because they have to.

For most people, it is a foregone conclusion that sixty-five is the magic number. However, the right age varies significantly from person to person. Discover what age might be right for you and then take steps to make sure you are ready!

Taking an Early Retirement

Early retirement is generally referred to as retirement before a person’s ability to draw from Social Security or pension benefits (usually age 55 – 64 depending on their career field). The ability to retire early usually relies on the person having good financial stability, but can be influenced by personal factors such as health concerns or waning interest in a career. Often touted as the ultimate goal, early retirement can be more complicated than it first seems.

Early retirement might be the right choice for you, but you should evaluate your long-term and financial standing before you take the leap.

Benefits of Early Retirement

Downsides of Early Retirement

  •   Less time to grow investments
  •   Longer time of living off savings or fixed income
  •   A potential loss of purpose or drive

Delaying Retirement

Late or delayed retirement is a term reserved for individuals waiting until after sixty-five to retire, although that age will change as Social Security benefit dates adjust for baby boomers.  You may have good reason to wait until your late sixties or early seventies to retire, whether it’s a love of your profession or the need to get more financially secure. As with early retirement, you have to weigh the costs and benefits of waiting.

Benefits of Late Retirement

  •   More time to grow your investments and portfolio
  •   Maximizing Social Security payments
  •   A continued sense of purpose from your career

Downsides of Late Retirement

  •   Work-related health decline
  •   Potentially shorter retirement
  •   Not transitioning to retirement with spouse or peers

Investments and Ongoing Financial Stability

Whether you choose an early, delayed, or regular retirement date will depend heavily on your ability to finance the years ahead of you in retirement. Utilize a financial advisor to ensure you have enough money to not only meet your needs, but also achieve your goals throughout retirement. Make sure you discuss your desired lifestyle, long-term care options, and plans for big-ticket items like trips or vacation homes. Then you can  decide if your current savings meets those needs.

The most common forms of retirement savings are:  

1) Social Security

2) Pensions

3) IRAs

4) 401k

5) Annuities

Throughout your work life, you may have accrued one or many of these investment accounts. Be diligent in researching, tracking, and forecasting each account to determine an overall projected retirement income. That figure can give you a good idea of what age you will be able to retire in comfort.

Personal and Health Concerns

Money isn’t everything. If you have a chronic health condition that is worsened by work-related stress, or feel like you are missing out on important family milestones or time with your grandchildren, it may be time to call it quits.

On the other hand, economists have found that retirees have an average medical spend of roughly $122,000 in medical costs after the age of 70. Health concerns are a huge aspect of any retirement consideration, and saving as much as possible for retirement is certainly a priority.

For some people, downsizing and simplifying their lifestyles is enough to make retirement attainable. For others, putting off retirement for a few years allows them to save money, without sacrificing quality of life. Many people have found that retirement communities are the most affordable option, when considering the rising costs of in-home caregiving, medication, and the costs of catastrophic care.

The Right Retirement Age? It Depends.

There is not a perfect age for retirement. In the end, you need to fully understand your personal goals, health, and financial means to come to the right decision and retire at the age right for you.

Independent Living communities can be a practical way to consolidate your expenses and reach your retirement goals. Learn more about our communities and calculate your retirement costs to better understand your options.

What to Look For in Senior Apartments

Posted by in Expert Advice, Research.

What to Look For in Senior Apartments

Searching for a senior apartment can be, in a word, intimidating. 

As you weed through a pile of shiny community brochures (which can look more or less the same), you may feel overwhelmed about making the right decision for yourself or a loved one. 

Thankfully, there are better ways to identify a senior living apartment than going through materials from marketers. Here are some quick tips for finding the perfect senior living community for you.

How to Find a Great Senior Living Community:

1. Read Reviews and Comments

The internet can be a tricky place when looking for helpful reviews.

It’s important to never take a star-rating at face value. Devote some time to reading the comments left by the reviewers on multiple review sites, as well as social media. Of course, don’t make your decision based on reviews alone. 

However, if you live in an area with several retirement community options, reviews are a great way to whittle down your list. 

Things to look for: 

  • Generally positive reviews
  • Staff appreciation stories and anecdotes
  • Resident success stories
  • Positive employee feedback

2. Schedule a Visit

Once you’ve narrowed down your search, we encourage you to schedule a visit to get a feel for the community

It’s absolutely essential that you take the time to visit communities, and it is better if you can visit multiple times. This allows you to form a more personalized opinion based on what you see, how you feel, and the people you meet.

Things to look for: 

  • Welcoming atmosphere
  • Lots of resident-to-resident interaction
  • Warm staff-to-resident interaction
  • Laughter and activity
  • Cleanliness and attention-to-detail

3. Connect with Families, Residents, and Staff

While you are at the community, take the time to connect with other residents, visiting family members, and staff.

If you are looking for yourself, consider staying for lunch and dining with residents to get a true picture about the community. If you are a family member of someone looking to move-in, find or ask to be connected with someone who has a loved one that is a similar age or care level as your parent or loved one. If possible, connect offsite for lunch, coffee, or a call. That way, you can be sure there will not be any reservations about telling you the whole story.

4. Get the Facts

To be an educated consumer you should know all the facts. With senior living apartments, it’s important to access any applicable state or national regulatory findings for the community. 

Ask about any community-wide awards or award-winning programs available on-site. Gather information from both the community and non-biased parties, like your Area Agency on Aging, to make an informed decision about your community of choice. 

What to look for: 

  • State surveys, and specifically deficiencies
  • National and local recognition and accreditations 
  • Community involvement
  • Programmatic excellence and innovation

Avoiding a Not-So-Great Community

1. Look for Patterns

Yes, the internet is full of biased reviews.

If paid or written in the heat of the moment, they might not be an accurate representation of the community. On the other hand, they might. If you see a pattern emerging in the review or comments, don’t ignore them. 

Instead, dig a little deeper. You need to consider how the reviews are. Do they have to do with a singular staff member, or the community as a whole? Educate yourself, and if you decide to visit, ask for clarification from the community about changes made to resolve the issues identified in the reviews.

2. Trust Your Instincts

Don’t let flashy sales pitches or shiny amenities distract you from your gut instincts about a community. Pay attention to the body language of the residents, the general feeling in the room, and the actions of staff not immediately interacting with you. You will know what feels right, and what doesn’t.

Asking the Right Questions

1. When in Doubt, Ask

In situations where lifestyle, safety, and care are at stake, there are no stupid or intrusive questions. 

Don’t understand the pricing structure? Ask. Don’t like or understand a staff interaction with a resident? Ask. You have a right to full transparency. A good community will be patient and answer any questions you may have about the retirement community.

2. Daily Life

When considering the questions to ask, think about you or your loved one’s daily routine. Do you have any questions about meals or nutrition? What type of activities do you have? What about laundry?

3. The Unexpected

Not every day will be perfect. From illness  to actual natural disasters, make sure you understand the processes and protocols for an unexpected situation in the community. 

When choosing a senior living community, it’s important to access all your resources, research multiple communities, and become an educated consumer to make the right decision. 
To learn more about Senior Lifestyle’s dedication to quality, service, and innovation in senior apartments, take a look at one of our outstanding communities near you today.

The Top 7 Reasons to Retire This Year

Posted by in Expert Advice.

top 7 reasons to retire this year

The Top 7 Reasons to Retire This Year

For most of your career, retirement may have seemed impossible.

If you’re like most people, the thought of stepping away from work is bizarre. Even folks that have scrimped and saved their whole careers often feel underprepared for life’s next big chapter. Financially, emotionally, and spiritually, retirement can be a nightmare.

Despite these concerns, retirement might be sounding more realistic. It may even sound like a smarter choice than sticking it out at work.

Though there are plenty of folks that insist on retiring as late as possible, retiring sooner has some strong advantages.

Here are our top seven reasons why you should retire this year.  

1. You’re All Set

Graduating to the next stage of your life can be intimidating, but in reality, you’ve been preparing your whole work life for this moment.

If you’ve run the numbers, double checked your 401k, and your financial advisor has given you a big thumbs up, don’t be afraid to make the change. In fact, if you’re in good financial standing for retirement, you’re in a minority.

A GoBankingRates study revealed 30% of people 55 and older have saved nothing for retirement. In the same survey, 26% saved  less than $50,000. This means 54% of older Americans don’t have enough money to retire. If you’re in a financially cozy spot, you’re in better shape than most retirement-age Americans.

Often times, folks of retirement age have the means, but lack the motivation to move forward. Always remember that retirement is an emotional journey, just like any other large transition in life.

Talk to friends, family, and old colleagues to find out just what you are missing by not diving into retirement.

2. Improve Your Health

Stress is toxic.

According to Dr. Varnada Karriem Norwood, longterm stress can cause the following unhealthy symptoms:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart arrhythmia
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Stroke
  • Obesity
  • Gastrointestinal problems

Though a moderate amount of stress can keep you healthy, an abundance can have dramatic effects on your health.

A life of nonstop stress at work adds up; soldiering on through your retirement years can take a serious toll on your physical and emotional health. For the sake of your own health, know when to call it quits, and enjoy some well-deserved rest.

Retirement allows people to step away from the rat race, focus on keeping active, and enjoy fulfilling activities that don’t include staying late at the office or answering emails on a Sunday morning.

3. Enjoy the Good Life and Start Living Your Dreams

Most people don’t have time to chase their dreams. Between 40 (or more) hours of work a week, managing property and assets, and family responsibilities, who has time to devote to a passion?

In retirement, you can finally start those projects you’ve always dreamed of. Whether it’s travel, leisure, hobbies, or family, the time is finally yours. Many active retirees join clubs, explore new hobbies, or take up old passions like art or theater to keep them social and immersed in their local community.

For many seniors, continuous care or Independent Living communities are an attractive option. These 65+ properties have gained traction in the last few years by providing resort-style amenities and removing the responsibility of daily chores and home maintenance that can often interfere with free time or extended travel.

4. Avoid Unforeseen Changes

You never know what is just around the corner.

Economic and political changes can devastate your investments and put your nest egg in peril. If you are planning on selling or downsizing your home, utilize the thriving real estate market to sell while prices are high. Even seemingly strong markets can abruptly dissolve with a singular “black swan” event.

If you are financially secure now, don’t wait for the bottom to drop out on the market. Talk with a financial planner and start transitioning your savings to safer investments strategies that will work for you long-term. Stop risking your hard earned money and start enjoying the fruits of your labor!  

5. Spend More Time with Family and Friends

According to a new study, Americans spends an average of 37 minutes of quality time with their  family per day. Americans are too busy working and hustling about to have meaningful time with their friends and families.

If you feel like you’ve spent far more time working than bonding with your loved ones, retirement may open a world of opportunities.

There is no time like the present to start giving your full attention to your spouse, children, and longtime friends. You already have a lifetime of career achievements to look back on, start devoting your time to creating more irreplaceable memories.

6. Time to Give Back or Pursue Your Passion

Retirement doesn’t mean you need to slow down. Turning the page on your career means more time for projects that fuel your passion. Take on more responsibilities at your chosen non-profit or explore volunteer opportunities to find a renewed sense of purpose.

Volunteer Opportunities:

  • Local Food Banks, Homeless, Women’s Shelters
  • Hospitals, Schools, and Elderly Care Homes
  • Political Activism
  • Humane Societies and Pet Rescue Services
  • Religious Service

Always wanted to make money doing something you love? Try your hand at a simple small business that inspires you each day.

Entrepreneurial Hobbies:

  • Woodworking
  • Crafting, Knitting, and Crocheting
  • Gardening and Farm Share Programs
  • Painting, Ceramics, and Sculpture
  • Writing and Editing

7. Value Your Time

Only today is guaranteed. You’ve achieved success and all of your work goals, and now is the time to capitalize on the time you have left, and make the most of your retirement years. You won’t ever regret taking that leap, but you may live to regret not having as many years to enjoy the benefits of retirement.

Start Your Retirement Plans Today!

So, what are you waiting for? There is nothing holding you back from realizing your dream of a vibrant retirement except yourself. Set your retirement date today!

If a worry-free lifestyle appeals to you, learn how to enjoy the good life in a Senior Lifestyle Independent Living community, and let us take care of the details

What is Supportive Living?

Posted by in Expert Advice.

What is Supportive Living?

There are many confusing terms in senior living. Whether it’s overly-glossed names for pricing packages or the jargon surrounding personal care, it’s easy to get lost in the jumble of words. It would be natural to take supportive living as another term for assisted living, but it’s essential for you and your loved ones to understand it is a community type all its own. Learn what supportive living is and why it is such a vital resource for seniors in your Illinois communities.

Supportive Living vs. Assisted Living

While it might look like assisted living – and it might act like assisted living – supportive living is a valuable community resource that sets itself apart. Supported by the State of Illinois, supportive living communities provide personal care, daily socialization, and educational activities in a comfortable, home-like setting. However, in contrast to assisted living, these services are provided in supportive living at a reduced or subsidized cost. Also unlike in assisted living, if a resident becomes unable to pay for the care, they are not required to move from their apartment. These financial safety nets are why supportive living communities are such an asset to seniors, their families, and Illinois communities.

What’s Included in Supportive Living?

Just like other senior living options, services and amenities can vary from community to community. However, per the requirements of the State of Illinois, the minimum services in supportive living communities include:

  • Three meals a day
  • Housekeeping
  • Social, educational, and wellness activities
  • Assistance with bathing and dressing
  • Medication management
  • Scheduled transportation

(Affordable Assisted Living Coalition, 2018)

Residents enjoy private apartment homes (either one or two rooms), and depending on their chosen community may have access to recreational rooms, beauty or barber services, and relaxing outdoor spaces.

Qualifying for Supportive Living

There are different types of supportive living; including communities that care for persons living with disabilities, others that care exclusively for seniors, and some residences that care for both. Each community will have a set of guidelines for accepting applications to their community including age, financial need, and/or inability to qualify for other state or federal assistance programs. In general, talking to your local supportive living community is the best way to find out their specific qualifications.

What Supportive Living Isn’t

 While supportive living can provide many important personal care services and amenities to Illinois seniors, there are other things not covered by the program. First, while services and personal care are covered through Medicaid or other financial assistance, room and board in the communities typically are still paid by the resident. The communities have a limited ability to provide medical care and do not provide skilled nursing care. Residents needing a higher level of care either before entering or during their stay will need to choose another senior care community that can meet their ongoing healthcare needs.

Finding Supportive Living Communities Near You

 It’s important to understand that deciding on a supportive living community is just as critical a decision as choosing an assisted living. Not all supportive living communities are created equal. Some may have better additional amenities or more experienced staff. It is up to each resident or family member to do their research and find out which community is the right fit for themselves or their loved one!

The Affordable Assisted Living Coalition has a lot of great resources to help you understand and choose the right supportive living community.  Senior Lifestyle is proud to have many affordable senior living options and supportive living communities here in Illinois. Our communities are always ready to answer any questions you have about your ability to qualify and would love to take you on a tour to show you what our affordable communities have to offer!

Understanding all the options available to you in your search for senior living is important; as supportive living communities are just one piece of a complex puzzle. Find out more about other senior living options from Senior Lifestyle here.

7 Signs of Caregiver Burnout

Posted by in Expert Advice, Research.

7 signs of caregiver burnout

7 Signs of Caregiver Burnout

Does your spouse, partner, child, sister, brother, parent or friend require constant care? If so, you’re not alone. More than 65 million people care for a family member or friend. That’s almost a third of the American population.

As a caregiver, you may feel exhausted or frustrated. Over time, these feelings can get worse, and may lead to bigger problems for you and the one you care for.

Caring for your loved one takes constant effort, and it’s easy to forget to take care of yourself. If the long-term stress of caregiving is taking a toll on your mental health and wellness, you may be experiencing caregiver burnout.

What is Caregiver Burnout?

Caregiver burnout is a state of stress related exhaustion associated with  the difficulties of caregiving. The exhaustion of caregiver burnout may be physical, mental, or emotional, and may lead to feelings of guilt. This condition is often confused with clinical depression, as caregiver burnout and depression share many of the same symptoms. Though these conditions are similar, caregiver burnout is unique to caregivers.

According to the AARP, 38% of caregivers describe their caregiving situations as “highly stressful,” and 22% of caregivers say their health has worsened due to caregiving. Family caregivers are more likely to have a chronic illness, and 34% rate their health as “fair” or “poor.” 70% of family caregivers show signs of depression, as the constant focus on caring for another can lead a caregiver to neglect their own health.

Here are seven signs that you might be experiencing caregiver burnout:

7 Signs of Caregiver Burnout

  1. Exhaustion

Caregivers often experience a combination of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion. When you spend a lot of time and energy caring for a loved one, it’s easy to forget to care for yourself. If you constantly feel sluggish, and basic tasks feel unreasonably difficult, you may be experiencing caregiver burnout.

2. Sleep problems

If you have difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or you sleep too much, caregiver burnout may be the cause. Family caregivers can become anxious about their loved one, and may spend the night worrying. Caregivers may have a hard time getting out of bed, or spend too much time sleeping. 76% of caregivers report low-quality sleep, which contributes to depression, fatigue, and anxiety.

3. Weight gain

During periods of high stress, the stress hormone cortisol rises, and can cause unhealthy cravings. Daily stress is a fact of life for millions of caregivers, and they are an at-risk group for weight gain and obesity. When caregivers are on a time-crunch, they may opt for fast food or a pizza delivery, as opposed to a healthy meal. If caregiving has impacted your nutrition, you may be living with caregiver burnout.

4. Feeling sad or hopeless

Millions of people provide care inside of their own home. This can make the task of caregiving feel inescapable, especially for long term care. Caregiving can feel futile, thankless, or bleak, and these feelings can really impact your perspective. Feeling constantly sad or hopeless  is a strong sign of caregiver burnout.

5. More frequent illnesses

Stress has an adverse effect on your immune system, and caregivers may get sick more frequently than other professionals. Getting sick can cause even more stress for the caregiver, and the one being cared for. This can develop a vicious cycle for caregivers, as more stress means more sickness, and more sickness means more stress.

6. Withdrawing from your friends and passions

Isolating is a common coping mechanism for overworked caregivers. Exhausted caregivers may not feel up to socializing, or working on their hobbies. Caregiving may take over the life of the caregiver, and there may not be room in their life for meaningful pastimes and relationships. If caring for your loved one feels like the only thing that you do, you may be experiencing caregiver burnout.

7. Frustration with yourself or your loved one

Intense emotion is a common response to intense stress, and occasional frustration is inevitable in caregiving. You may feel like you’re at your breaking point, as stress, anxiety, and guilt mounts. When you begin to experience escalating frustration or anger, it may be time to remove yourself from the situation, and let someone else take over. If there are no close friends or family members who can step in, it may be time to consult a retirement community.

Finding a Retirement Community You Can Count On

Choosing a retirement community for your loved one can be a tremendous challenge. You may have preconceived notions of what these communities look like, and you may feel complicated emotions. Though relocating a loved one to a community is a difficult decision, it’s also an important one. If you feel burned out as a caregiver, it may be time to relocate your loved one to an Independent Living, Assisted Living, or Memory Care community.

At Senior Lifestyle, we connect with your loved one, and encourage meaningful connections with others. Giving your loved one the retirement he or she deserves, while providing a sense of community will give you both a sense of purpose and relief. If you think that it may be time for an Assisted Living community,  find a retirement community close to you.

Downsizing Checklist for Caregivers and Parents

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downsizing checklist for caregivers and parents

Downsizing Checklist for Caregivers and Parents

Downsizing for the senior in your life (or rightsizing, as we like to call it) can be a huge, overwhelming task. Relocating has many crucial steps, and thinking of the event as one huge task can be daunting.

The trick to tackling a massive undertaking is to divide the task into several small tasks. Organizing the downsize into manageable bits will make the process more stress-free for you, and the senior in your life.

We’ve created this downsizing checklist, to make everyone’s life easier.

1. Planning Stage

Plan your work, and work your plan! The act of writing your plans itself has been shown to reduce stress. As you remember each and every aspect of the downsizing, write it down in a central location.

Important steps in the Planning Stage:

  • Clean and Organize in Stages

Get ahead of the task as much as you can. Nothing adds stress to a task like all-or-nothing thinking, and a marathon approach may cause burn out. Give yourself months to prepare, if at all possible.

  • Set a Hard Moving Date

Nothing motivates like a deadline! Leaving a move date up in the air is a recipe for endless delays and long-term stress. Set a reasonable date, which takes into account all of the factors of the move and stick to it.

  • Measure Furniture

The senior in your life may be very attached to that antique dresser, but it may not fit in their new living space. The worst time to figure this out is when it’s stuck in a doorway. Take measurements of anything large that may be accompanying the resident, and decide what simply won’t make the cut. This can be a stressful decision, as folks can be extremely sentimental about their possessions, but sometimes, a firm decision needs to be made.

  • Plan an Estate Sale

There’s a good chance downsizing will lead to a surplus of sellable furniture. Unless you want to pay monthly at a storage facility for something that may never see the light of day again, consider setting up an estate sale. It’s cheap, easy, and you may even get a decent amount of money!

  • Decide Whether to Hire a Moving Company or Ask Friends & Family

A relocation is usually three times as much work as you think. Friends and family may have their hearts in the right place, but may lack the vehicles and equipment to safely move possessions to the new community. A moving company has the skills, equipment, and trucks needed to move everything to where you need it. Make the decision early and carefully, and stick to your plan!

2. Organizing/Decluttering Stage

The next phase of reducing stress and moving forward with a downsize is the Organizing/Decluttering Stage. You will need to sort your senior’s belongings by importance, what is sellable, what should be given to friends and family, what should be donated, and what should be thrown away.

  • Decide What is Important:

While sorting the possessions, look out for tax documents, deeds, medical records, wills, any diplomas/certifications, identifications (driver’s license, passport, social security cards), prescriptions, and anything else that may be important to keep.

  • Decide What is Sellable:

If you plan to have an estate sale, or sell off items on Craigslist or eBay, keep value in mind. A beloved piece of art or furniture may be precious in the senior’s eyes, but unsellable on the market. Think about the condition and resell value of any items that cannot be taken to the new community.

  • Decide What Goes to Friends & Family:

Passing along heirlooms is a time-honored tradition, and some friends and family would be overjoyed to have a meaningful item passed along. If that upright grand piano can’t be relocated to the new community, consider giving it to a musical friend or family member. These heirlooms can grow a deeper bond with a loved one, and may bring joy to families for generations.

  • Decide What is Donated or Thrown Away:

Some items may be beyond repair, or have little resell value. If you’re having trouble finding a new home for some items, it may be time to let it go. Donating to places like Goodwill will pass the possessions along, and will give you a small tax credit. If the item is unlikely to find a new home even at a Goodwill, there is no shame in throwing it away (or recycling, if possible).

3. Packing Stage

Now that you’ve decided what stays and what goes, it’s time to pack! Organization is extremely important while you’re packing, so nothing is filed away to the wrong place, or gets broken.

  • Get Organized

Before boxing anything, identify which room each relocated item will go to. It’s very important to designate a box for essential items, such as medication, bathroom supplies, bedding, or anything that will be needed within hours of unpacking.

  • Identify Fragile & Important Items

Plenty of priceless artifacts have been ruined in transit. If you care about the well-being of the possessions, take care to properly package fragiles with newspaper, bubblewrap, cardboard, or insulation. Be sure to mark the box as FRAGILE, so any movers will know to handle the package with care.

  • Invite Friends & Family to Help

Packing is always a bigger undertaking than you think it is. Many hands makes less work, so incentivize your friends and family to help out. Promising a nice dinner or a return favor can go a long way in enticing friends and family to help!

4. Moving Stage

  • If Using Friends & Family, Be Sure to Communicate

Make sure plans are absolutely solidified for the move. Who will be where, with what tools, driving which truck, at what time? Effective moves require all hands on deck, and absolute clarity of responsibilities. Don’t be afraid to touch base often, with regular reminders.

  • Make Sure You Have the Appropriate Gear and Muscle

As mentioned before, planning is important. Make sure the friends and family that help with the move, or moving company understand exactly how much material needs to be moved, and how heavy it is. Will you need a pickup truck? A moving truck? A trailer? The ability to move something more than 200 lbs? These are important questions that should be answered before moving day.

  • If Using a Moving Company, Get Contracts in Writing

In some instances, moving companies can be responsible for destruction of property. In these events, it’s important to have contingencies in writing. Though it is rare for a moving company to cause irreparable harm, it’s important to have a plan for a disaster. Better safe than Sorry!

5. The New Life Stage

At this point, you’ll have a house full of boxes. Though this final step is important and can take time, the hardest work is behind you. Unpacking, setting up the new residence, and providing ongoing support can be a very rewarding stage in the downsizing process.

  • Update the Address

With all the hustle and bustle of a relocation, this is easy to forget. Notify the post office of the new address, and the need for a forwarding address. Update the address to the senior’s bank, post office, and any other important institutions.

  • Unpack Essentials, then Bathroom, then Bedroom

Where to start with all these boxes? Instead of spending hours deciding the feng shui of the residence’s decorations, start with the essentials. Medications, glasses, cell phones, and toiletries should be the first priority. It’s important to have bathroom needs and a cozy place to sleep taken care of before the day is done. Everything else can be unpacked in the following days.

  • Check in Regularly

There are so many ways to support the senior in their new residence. Sometimes, it’s as easy as a phone call. Be sure to keep in touch, track their progress, and let them know they can call on you for support. Make sure they’re happy, socializing well, and thriving in their new community.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

Rightsizing a senior’s residence is a challenge, and it may feel like too big of a task. If you feel out of your depth, or overwhelmed by the challenge of moving, sometimes you need an expert to help out. If you need additional assistance, use our interactive map to find senior living communities in your area. You can schedule an appointment to meet with Senior Lifestyle staff and talk through any concerns you may have with rightsizing.

For information on ongoing care, and enriching the lives of seniors, be sure to read our Senior Lifestyle Blog!

What is Senior Isolation, and What Can You do to Help?

Posted by in Expert Advice, Research.

senior isolation

What is Senior Isolation, and What Can You do to Help?

Do you feel isolated in your own home? Do you feel removed from family and friends? Do you feel alone with your own thoughts, with no one to talk to and no opportunity to engage with your community? Unfortunately, for a large and growing number of seniors, the answer is yes.

Approximately 12.5 million older adults live in one-person households, representing 28% of people aged 65 or older. According to the Council on Contemporary Families, it only gets worse; by the time people reach age 85, about 40% live by themselves.

The thought of our aging parents, grandparents and loved ones living alone is sad enough, but the concern gets even worse when we look at what the research says about the effect of isolation and loneliness on seniors.

Facts About Senior Isolation and Loneliness

Isolation and loneliness are associated with a higher risk of mortality in older adults

In 148 longitudinal studies with more than 300,000 participants, older individuals with strong social ties had a 50% greater likelihood of survival over the study period (average of 7.5 years) compared with those who report feeling isolated or lonely due to poor social networks and relationships. According to the authors of one study on senior isolation and mortality, “This effect is greater than that of other well-established risk factors for mortality such as physical inactivity and obesity, and comparable with cigarette smoking.”

Senior isolation can negatively impact physical and mental health

In a study published by the National Academy of Sciences, researchers in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London found that seniors who report feeling lonely and isolated are more likely to report having poor physical and/or mental health. Multiple studies have shown that individuals with poor social networks and relationships are more likely to suffer from hypertension, coronary artery disease or cardiac failure, and are more likely to experience psychological distress. Social isolation and loneliness in older adults has also been linked with a greater likelihood of unhealthy behaviors, such as inactivity and smoking.

Isolation may limit access to benefits and services

According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), the physical, cultural and geographical barriers that isolate seniors from their peers and communities “can prevent them from receiving benefits and services that can improve their economic security and their ability to live healthy, independent lives.” By not taking advantage of such benefits and services, seniors may become even more disconnected to their family, friends and communities as their financial situation worsens or as their physical/mental health declines.

How to Help Lonely or Isolated Seniors Reconnect

Address health issues that may contribute to isolation

Seniors can become withdrawn and isolated for several reasons, including undiagnosed or untreated health issues. Seniors who experience incontinence, for example, may be hesitant to leave their homes, or seniors hearing difficulties or deteriorating vision may avoid social situations out of embarrassment or frustration. Talk with your loved one about their health and address any issues that may be limiting their social life. You may need to speak with your loved one’s caregivers or health providers for a clearer picture of their overall health.

Encourage self-esteem and self-confidence

Body image doesn’t get as much attention as other aging concerns, but it can be a major contributing factor to senior isolation. Older adults may become self-conscious about their appearance to the point that they avoid social interactions entirely. Compliments and positive comments about your loved one’s appearance can go a long way and may even provide a boost of self-esteem and self-confidence that helps your loved one get out and reconnect with the world. Researchers have also found that boosting self-esteem can buffer potential health threats in seniors.

Give your loved one a pet

Taking care of an animal can combat senior isolation and loneliness in many ways. For seniors who are healthy enough to engage in physical activity, having a dog means going on walks and visiting dog parks—in other words, getting out of the house. Pets also serve as a social icebreaker and can make it easier for seniors to strike up conversations with strangers. If your loved one is not capable or willing to care for a pet on their own, check to see if there are any volunteer organizations in your city that match therapy animals with homebound seniors for weekly visits, such as Therapy Dogs International and Caregiver Canines. Animal companionship alone may be enough to help ward off feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Make transportation easier

An analysis of data from the National Household Travel Survey found that among adults 65 and older who reported not leaving home in the past week, more than half reported that they would like to get out more often. Lack of transportation is one reason why seniors may not get out as much or as often as they would like. Offer rides to older loved ones or introduce them to rideshare services like Lyft and Uber to make it easier for them to get out of the house.

Notify neighbors, friends and caregivers

If you’re concerned that an aging parent, grandparent or loved one is isolated and lonely, notify other people in their lives who can help make a difference. If a loved one is aging in place, for example, reach out to their neighbors and explain your concerns. Caregivers and health providers should also be notified if you are worried that a loved one is not getting as much social interaction as they want or need.

Socially-Focused Senior Living

At Senior Lifestyle, we understand that social wellness may be more difficult to attain for seniors, especially those who are limited by health problems or who don’t live near family and friends. That’s why we provide activities and events designed specifically to increase social interactions and enrich the lives of those we serve. Learn more about how we help seniors socialize in comfortable, welcoming environments.


Signs it’s Time For Assisted Living

Posted by in Expert Advice.

nurse talking with an assisted living resident

7 Signs it’s Time For Assisted Living

Trying to decide whether or not it’s time to transition your parent or senior loved one to an assisted living community can be uncomfortable at best and stressful at worst, especially if they’re resistant to the idea. What factors should you take into account? Are there any red flags that you should know about? If you encounter any of the signs discussed below, it may be time to initiate this conversation.

Here are seven signs that it’s time to move into an assisted living community:

1. Poor Health That’s Just Getting Worse

A chronic health condition that’s deteriorating by the day is a red flag. According to the National Council on Aging, 80 percent of older adults suffer from at least one chronic disease and 77 percent have two or more conditions. These numbers are especially troubling when you consider the fact that most deaths in the United States are due to chronic illnesses.

Rather than trying to manage your loved one’s declining health on your own, it may be time escalate their care needs and partner with a team of trained staff who are dedicated the wellbeing of their charges.

2. Changes in Hygiene

If you’ve noticed changes in your loved one’s personal hygiene like unpleasant body odor, greasy, unkempt hair or dirty fingernails that are too long, broken or jagged  this is a cause for concern. Poor hygiene could be due to self-neglect. The National Adult Protective Services Association defines self-neglect as “a person’s inability, due to physical or mental impairment or diminished capacity, to perform essential self-care tasks.”

Other warning signs of self-neglect include:

  • Refusal to take medications or poor management of medication regimen
  • Signs of weight loss, malnutrition or dehydration
  • No food, inadequate food or rotten food in the house
  • Unsanitary living conditions
  • Signs of unopened mail and notices
  • Non-functioning utilities or utilities that are shut off

If you notice these warning signs you should think through the best way to intervene self-neglect is a risk factor for early mortality among the elderly. Self-neglectors are twice as likely to die as seniors who do not self-neglect.

3. Isolation

Just like self-neglect, social isolation is a risk factor for early mortality. Older adults with few social ties who live alone, are hearing impaired, or who have mobility issues may become isolated due to their circumstances. Seniors may also intentionally isolate themselves, but the consequences are the same.

Isolation is also associated with cognitive decline, chronic diseases and dementia. It’s been linked to poor health conditions like high blood pressure, cancer and cardiovascular disease.

According to AARP, signs of isolation include withdrawal, loss of interest in personal hygiene, poor nutrition and poor living conditions and hoarding.

4. Safety Concerns

If your loved one is having trouble navigating the stairs in their home or there have been instances of forgetfulness and wondering that caught your attention, they may no longer be safe on their own. The National Council On Aging reports that every 11 seconds an older adult is treated for a fall in an emergency room. Furthermore, falls are the leading cause of injury deaths and brain injuries in America, making this a major safety concern.

Furthermore, an impaired memory could be an indication of a more serious health problem.

5. Increasing Difficulty Managing Daily Tasks

Is your loved one having trouble performing daily tasks like cooking food? Do they just have TV dinners or snack foods in the house and no fresh food? Or maybe they look disheveled and seem to be struggling with grooming and dressing themselves?

They might not be managing very well if:

  • They forget to take their medication
  • They’ve lost weight
  • Their pets appear neglected and malnourished
  • They can no longer drive or fail to keep their appointments

If mental or physical limitations are hampering their ability to take care of themselves properly, they might need some help. Nearly 18 million older adults have reported needing help with daily activities, so they wouldn’t be alone in this.

6. Trouble Keeping Up with Bills

This red flag could relate to forgetfulness and memory loss, self-neglect or elder financial exploitation. The National Adult Protective Services Association reports that seniors with cognitive impairments who need assistance with daily activities are more vulnerable to financial abuse. They typically fall victim to predatory lending, investment schemes, internet phishing, identity theft and Medicare scams. If you suspect that your loved one is being scammed, you can report it to the Department of Justice.

Either way, investigating the cause of this issue will help you determine whether or not it’s a cause for concern.

7. Inability to Properly Care For Home

A home that’s in disrepair with an unkempt lawn, or a cluttered home that’s difficult to navigate and bordering on uninhabitable are a cause for concern. Particularly when these issues become safety concerns and your loved one is at risk of being burglarized due to the state of the home. Hazards in the home also make it difficult to enlist the help of a home care service. According to  Advances in Patient Safety: New Directions and Alternative Approaches, the following hazards impede caregivers from performing their duties:

  • Unsanitary conditions such as rodents and insects
  • Air pollutants such as mold and peeling paint
  • Excessive clutter
  • Poor lighting

Visit a Senior Lifestyle Community

At Senior Lifestyle we know how sensitive having a conversation about transitioning to assisted living can be, which is why we take a compassionate approach when working with families. We strive to ease any tension as we guide you through the process, sharing our senior lifestyle options and determining what the best fit for your.

We encourage families to visit our communities and offer opportunities to visit. Come and explore our senior-focused amenities and care programs. Meet our staff and ask them questions about what like is like at a Senior Lifestyle Community. Schedule a tour at a community near you today.

Moving Elderly Parents When They Don’t Want To

Posted by in Expert Advice, Research.

moving aging parents who don't want to

Moving elderly parents when they don’t want to

Moving isn’t fun, change can be difficult, and home is … well, it’s home. The best time to have the conversation with aging parents is before a crisis happens.

We’ve got some tips that might make the conversation easier.

How to start the conversation about senior living

Sometimes talking to your parents about community living starts with a simple question like, “What are your biggest daily struggles?” Ask them how you can help.

Most of us don’t respond well when someone starts a tough conversation by saying, “You need to …” or “You should ….” As you approach the idea of senior living with your parents, remember that they still see themselves as your parent; you are their child, no matter how old you are.

While you may be able to continue discussing options from there, you may also want to leave the initial conversation at that. Unless there is an immediate need or you are concerned that your parents are not safe, you might want to take a slower approach to moving them from their house into a senior living community.

How to take the conversation to the next step

Ask your parents if they’ve thought about selling their home and using the equity to move into a place that might be more comfortable and lower maintenance.

Would they mind if you look at home estimates on websites like Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com? Put together a list of home-related expenses such as utilities, property taxes, insurance, maintenance and repairs; compare that list with the cost of senior living, which covers all those expenses and more. It’s hard to argue with data; if you can show your parents that selling their home and moving into a full-service senior living community will, ultimately, save them money, that may help ease their anxieties.

You might also gather estimates for renovations to their owned home, such as installing:

  • Non-skid flooring and removing slippery rugs
  • Grab bars in bathrooms
  • Medical alert or security alarms
  • Outside ramps, if stairs become difficult to navigate
  • Handrails along stairs, hallways
  • Motion-activated, bright lighting in hallways, closets and stairwells
  • Wider doorways to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers
  • Stair climbers
  • Walk-in bathtub/non-slip shower
  • Security cameras

Get professional advice for your parents

If your parents are in any danger of falling or if you have serious concerns about their abilities to care for themselves or each other, you might enlist the help of third-party professionals.

An accountant or financial advisor can help them understand the costs and expenses associated with aging in place versus selling their home and using the equity to enjoy the rest of their lives in a senior living community.

Your parents’ healthcare professionals might be able to talk to your parents about their long-term needs and what to expect if they have medical conditions that may come with mobility or memory issues. Your parents may be more open to hearing about their options from professionals.

If you have friends whose parents have sold their homes and moved to senior living communities, invite them to share their stories. Ask if you and your parents can visit them. Sometimes hearing someone else’s story about making such a big change so late in life can be comforting.

Schedule tours of senior living communities

Sometimes, persuading your parents that moving into a senior lifestyle community is as simple as visiting a community in your area. These visits will allow you and your loved one to explore the many options that are available.

Schedule tours at several communities. Arrange to go during active times, such as meals or when there is a social event. Some senior communities will allow potential residents to join meals and mingle with other residents.

Go to each tour with a list of questions and a checklist of features to evaluate.  Talk to the community’s staff about costs and what the living fees include. Your parents may be pleasantly surprised at all the amenities and perks that come with senior living.

Create an aging plan with your parents

If, after all the facts, conversations, and professional advice, your parents still refuse to sell the house and move, then tell them you want to make an aging plan so that when and if something does happen, and they need care, you’ve got a plan in place.

The Aging Life Care Association (ALCA) suggests a five-point strategy for an aging plan:

  1. Get a medical alert system. Look for a system that has a fall alert sensor. You might also explore options with smart speakers from Amazon Echo, Apple Homepod and Google Home. These devices have apps that can help seniors with things like medication reminders, daily routines, turning off and on lights and calling friends and family.  
  2. List all medications. Write down all medications, both prescribed and over-the-counter, including dosages, prescribing doctor and frequency and put the list in a place where your parents and you can easily access it.
  3. Note allergies. Along with the list of medications, including any food, medication or other allergies, such as to latex or adhesives.
  4. Write and display a community DNR. What’s a community DNR? If your parents have a do-not-resuscitate order, does it also apply to medical emergencies that happen in the community, outside a hospital or healthcare setting? If not, make sure it does.

Schedule — and make — a daily check-in call. Ask your parents to agree to make or receive a daily check-in call. Listen for abnormalities in their speech. Have a pla

Seeking guardianship over your parents

Guardianship gives you the legal right to make decisions for your parents. While we at Senior Lifestyle are not legal advisers, we do recommend you work with your family attorney to help you understand the process for taking legal guardianship over a parent or loved one.

According to Findlaw, the guardianship process can take a long time and be expensive. Your family attorney can help you understand your state’s requirements for guardianship, but they will likely involve some form of these steps:

  1. Filing a petition to the court explaining why you seek guardianship
  2. Informing the elderly person and other family members
  3. Investigation by the court
  4. A hearing where a judge makes a decision

Talk to a senior living professional

Use our interactive map to find senior living communities in your parents’ area. Browse the photos, read the descriptions, and bookmark your favorites. Look at the floorplans, read the testimonials from other residents, and explore the communities’ programs. Schedule an appointment to meet with the staff and talk through your parents’ concerns.  



How to Find A Place For Mom

Posted by in Expert Advice.

How to find a place for mom

How to find a place for mom

When it’s time to start looking for a place for mom – or any older adult in your care – the first place many of us turn to is the internet. With more than 190 communities in 28 states, we consider ourselves to be experts when it comes to caring for our aging parents.

This checklist will help you understand what to look for as you evaluate options, and we’ll cover the various senior living options that are available to us as we age.

What to look for when you search for a place for mom

Senior services

  • Does the community offer a continuum of care? In other words, as your parents’ needs change, will the community’s services adapt along with them?
  • What kinds of community partnerships does the home have?
  • What is the staff-to-resident ratio?
  • What financial solutions are available, and does the community offer consultation on financial resources?
  • Is there a calendar of events that is updated regularly?
  • What will your parents’ first day/week/month look like at community? What will a typical day entail?

Staff communication, community relations, culture

  • Is the community welcoming? How did they make you feel when they answered your first phone call?
  • How do they protect their residents’ privacy and dignity?
  • Does the staff seem to like and respect each other?
  • What kinds of enrichment programs do they offer?
  • How long has the management company been in business?

Maintenance, housekeeping, aesthetics

  • How well is the property maintained? Is it well-maintained outside, in common areas and in residents’ apartments?
  • Would you feel happy living and visiting here? Is it home-like?
  • What is the surrounding neighborhood like? Is it quiet? Safe?
  • Is the community safe and secure? What security system does the location use?
  • Are housekeeping, maintenance and laundry services included, or are they extra?

Medical care and support

  • How close is the nearest hospital?
  • How easy are the emergency call devices to reach?
  • What efforts does the staff make to engage with residents?
  • Are there specialists who work with residents to make sure they have access to the right resources and programs?
  • What healthcare providers are included? Do they offer physical therapy, mental health and other types of services?
  • What services are included in the monthly fee?

Dining and meal services

  • Visit during mealtime. How does it smell? How does the food look? Can you try a few meals? What’s a typical menu look like?
  • Are residents encouraged to socialize during mealtimes? Does staff facilitate introductions and conversations?
  • What type of dietary and nutrition support is on staff? Does the dining room accommodate special dietary needs and preferences?

Your options for your aging parents

The right choice for your parents depends on how much care is required. Even if they are fully independent and can prepare meals, run errands, do household chores, and care for themselves today, their needs can change tomorrow.

As we age, mobility issues can arise and simple tasks become more difficult, like going up and down stairs, carrying in groceries or mowing the lawn.

This section explores living options for aging adults, from staying in place and aging at home to fully staffed skilled nursing homes.

Aging in place

Aging in the home – also known as aging in place – means exactly what it sounds like: Choosing to live in your own home for as long as possible. There’s something comforting and convenient about living as long as possible in a place where you raised your family and celebrated life’s milestones.

Seniors may choose an alternative other than aging in place for a number of reasons:

  • They have mobility issues that make going up and down stairs of a multi-level home difficult.
  • They need to be closer to their doctors, healthcare providers, and hospitals.
  • Maintenance and repairs on their home have become too much work, and they’re no longer physically able to do it themselves.
  • They’re lonely. Friends and family are busy – and traveling to see them isn’t easy – and they want to live in an active community surrounded by people like them.
  • They have medical issues that need round-the-clock attention and support.

Aging in place is the best option for people who can take care of themselves and have a strong round-the-clock support community, such as friends, family, neighbors or home health staff.

Age-restricted communities

Age-restricted communities are typically for adults age 55 and older. Sometimes they’re referred to as retirement communities, because they cater to lifestyles of retired adults.

Age-restricted communities may be gated, and many of them have community recreation centers that offer group social activities, clubs, entertainment and events. Some age-restricted communities are called niche retirement communities because they cater to specific interests, such as golf.

Like aging in place, the age-restricted community is ideal for adults who are able to care for themselves and have a strong support system comprised of family, friends and neighbors.

Senior housing

The definition of “senior housing” tends to depend on who you’re talking to. Some people use the term to refer to any kind of housing that caters to older adults, including everything from age-restricted communities to skilled nursing homes. Others refer to senior housing as HUD-approved apartment units that have been approved for senior citizens.

Independent living

You may find some sources that use “independent living” interchangeably with “retirement community.” We refer to independent living as apartment-style living that’s staffed around the clock. Independent living at Senior Lifestyle means:

  • 24-hour on-site staff
  • Routine housekeeping, maintenance and repairs
  • Emergency call systems
  • On-site restaurant-style dining prepared by our team of dining experts
  • Life Enrichment Programs
  • Common areas for socializing and hosting special events

Senior independent living is ideal for aging adults who want all the perks of living independently and all the benefits of living in a retirement community.

Assisted living

Assisted senior living is similar to independent living, but it offers assistance with daily living, which may include help with:

  • Bathing, dressing and self-care
  • Medication administration and assistance
  • Healthcare, such as physical therapy
  • Daily meals
  • Transportation to and from appointments

Assisted living allows your parents to live independently in their own apartment while having assistance when they need it. As you evaluate options for them, look for senior living communities that tailor programs to residents’ needs, especially as they age and their needs change.

Skilled nursing at senior nursing homes

Skilled nursing communities are also referred to as nursing homes, because they employ round-the-clock licensed nurses and other rehabilitative healthcare. Typically these types of homes offer short-term and long-term care options.

Short-term stays typically happen after an injury, illness or operation, or because someone has a complicated medical condition that requires 24-hour care. The nursing staff coordinates care with your healthcare providers and will transport them to medical appointments.

Which option is best for your aging parents?

As you explore your options, you’ll notice that many of Senior Lifestyle’s communities offer several levels of care that include independent living, assisted living, memory care and nursing care.

“Helping your parents age gracefully, happily and safely is no small task,” says Janine Witte, National Director of Sales. “It takes time and patience, both of which can be hard to come by, especially when you’re worried about their health and welfare.”

She suggests that you start by talking to friends, other family members and coworkers who may have gone through a similar situation with their parents.

“We’ve seen people post questions on social media asking their friends and family for advice on finding places for their aging parents.” Janine says. “That’s not a bad place to start.”

She suggests searching for “assisted living near me” or looking at the Senior Lifestyle website, which manages senior communities in 28 states. You can search by city, state, ZIP code and name.
Make a list of the most important features you and your parents want in a home, and then group them by “must have” and “optional.”

As you narrow your list of senior living options, schedule tours for you and your parents. Ask if it’s OK to take photos, so you can remember features you liked, as well as features that brought up concerns.

“Ultimately, you want to find the place for mom and dad that’s going to care for them as if they’re family,” Janine says.