What is Affordable Senior Living?

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What is Affordable Senior Living?

Unfortunately, a lot of retirees have limited funds for their retirement years. For many, entering retirement means tightening the purse strings to make their nest egg or pension go as far as it can. Let’s take a look at the resources and choices available to seniors and your options for affordable senior living.

Affordable Senior Living Options

Affordable senior living can take many different shapes. From subsidized rent in a local apartment to programs that allow seniors to live independently in their personal homes, the following are senior housing resources that fall under the “affordable” umbrella.

Traditional Housing Options

You might not need to think about retirement communities just yet.

Many seniors may be able to find traditional housing or homes to meet their care and budgetary needs. Whether that means downsizing to fit your fixed income or relocating to a more central apartment that has access to public transportation, there are cost-effective housing solutions for retirement. You may find it useful to work with a rental realtor or property management company to find the perfect fit.

Low-Income Senior Apartments

Many cities and municipalities have formalized low-income housing for people in need. These apartments are usually centrally-located with close access to transportation services, and are privately owned or subsidized by the local government

There are traditionally income, age, or disability requirements for application, and the wait-lists can be lengthy. Check with local state or city agencies to see if there are low-income housing options near you.

HUD Housing Vouchers

If you would qualify for low-income housing, but discover a lack of openings in your area, you may be able to qualify for housing vouchers. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, helps low-income families and seniors “lease or purchase safe, decent, and affordable privately-owned rental housing,” if they qualify for the program.

Cooperative Housing

Don’t mind sharing responsibilities or space? An emerging trend in senior housing is cooperative housing.

In these housing agreements, the residents jointly own the apartment building or property and share costs amongst each other; each resident pays their portion of the mortgage, property taxes, and utilities. In cooperative housing, residents govern their property through councils, and provide amenities like shared social spaces and gardens. While growing in popularity, especially in the Midwest, long wait lists for application can be an issue.  

State-by-State Resources

Depending on where you live, you may have more options available to you for affordable senior living. In Washington State, adult family homes provide personal care services and other amenities in smaller, more intimate settings.

In Illinois, there are supportive living communities that are designed and operated much like assisted living, but with subsidized costs and age requirements. You can work with local support services like your Area Agency on Aging to find out if your state offers specialized, affordable senior housing.

Respite Care

For those who aren’t ready for a longterm investment, respite care is a brief visit to a retirement community that provides the same personalized care and attention to medical that a long-term resident would expect. Respite care stays can be as short as a week, or more than three months, depending on the wants and needs of the respite care resident.

A good number of people opt for respite care during the winter months, so they can enjoy socializing and activities instead of enduring the harsh elements. Respite care offers a relief from the hustle and bustle of daily life, and a welcome change of scenery!

Private Affordable Options

Many seniors find that even traditional senior living may be more affordable than continuing to live at home.

Independent and Assisted Living communities can help residents consolidate their monthly costs into one monthly fee that includes rent, food, and utilities, while eliminating expensive items like property taxes, homeowners insurance, and house repairs. With the rising cost of at-home care, retirement communities’ inclusive pricing can make sense for seniors needing personal care or help with household chores.

Another factor to consider is that senior living pricing varies greatly depending on your location, and there are many communities with affordable payment plans and financial assistance available.  

While finding the right housing in retirement can be challenging, it is good to understand all of your options. Fortunately, there are many places you can turn to find respite care and affordable senior living options right for you.

 

For more information on retirement options that fit your budget and lifestyle needs, reach out to a Senior Lifestyle community near you.

Top 10 Reasons to Live In a Retirement Community

Posted by in Research.

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Top 10 Reasons to Live In a Retirement Community

Isn’t retirement great?

You have total freedom, are spending tons of time with friends, and have been checking off that bucket list like nobody’s business. Or have you? If you are like many seniors, your retirement might not be as fulfilling as you once imagined.

Learn how a vibrant retirement community can liven up your lifestyle and help you enjoy the retirement of your dreams.

1. Low Maintenance Living

Even in retirement, the never-ending battle against laundry, grocery shopping, bills, and that lawn (that seems to grow twice as fast each year) gets more difficult. Your household responsibilities can get in the way of your bigger goals, like long-term travel or spontaneous road trips.

Choosing to move into a retirement community can provide the low-maintenance, worry-free lifestyle of your dreams.

2. Consolidation of Expenses

Another thing you didn’t lose with retirement? That tidy stack of bills in your mailbox every month.

Do you really know how much your current lifestyle is costing you? Between home repairs, property taxes, and home insurance, it can be a good financial exercise to compare the cost of a retirement community to your current cost of living.

Retirement communities can actually help you consolidate your expenses by combining rent, food, utilities, and entertainment all in one monthly lease.

3. Upscale Living

Do you own a pool? How about a poker table, or a putting green?

Living in a community tailored to creating the good life has its advantages. Many retirement communities have upscale amenities you would never dream of owning in your own home.

  • Indoor and outdoor swimming pools
  • Putting greens
  • Jacuzzis, spas, and massage rooms
  • Fireside patios and kitchens
  • Tennis courts
  • Theater rooms
  • Poker tables
  • Billiards and darts
  • Walking paths
  • Exercise equipment
  • Business centers

4. A Vibrant Social Life

It’s always a challenge to make new friends, but it can become increasingly tricky in retirement. If you’re finding your schedule a little empty, but want an engaging social life, a retirement community may be the perfect fit.

  • Happy hours and morning brunches
  • Sports lounges with national games
  • Religious study groups
  • Fitness clubs
  • Book clubs
  • Cards and Mahjong clubs
  • Coffee meetups
  • Community advisory boards
  • Local volunteer groups

5. Keeping in Shape

Staying active as you age can help you maintain your independence longer and prevent falls or injury. If self-motivation is an issue, the fitness classes and outdoor activities offered in many retirement communities may appeal to you.

  • Yoga classes
  • Swimming and water aerobics
  • Walking clubs
  • Class-based fitness
  • Gyms and free weights
  • Golf outings
  • Local hikes and greenbelts

6. Eating Well

Sometimes it’s hard to go to the trouble of cooking a nutritious meal. It’s tempting, as one blogger put it, to “Bread. Wine. Cheese. Repeat.” Choosing a retirement community can help you opt back into daily meals that nourish the body and satisfy the soul.

7. Learning, Growing, and Traveling

Aging doesn’t put a stop for the need to grow and explore the world around us. Retirement communities can make it easier to get out and discover exciting new experiences through planned excursions and travel.

  • Museums, art, and theater excursions
  • Shopping trips
  • National and international travel
  • College courses
  • On-site gardening programs

8. Personal Care Services

As we age, there are daily tasks that just aren’t as easy as they once were. It’s not embarrassing or something to fear, it’s just the facts.

Whether you need help with housekeeping or personal hygiene now, or are cognizant that one day you might, retirement communities offer the opportunity to know when that transition happens, you will be in good hands.

9. Safety and Security

You may not need any help with your daily personal care, but that doesn’t mean that accidents don’t happen.

Household accidents and falls do occur, and if you live alone, the thought of not receiving the help you need can be daunting. In a retirement community, you can be sure there is always someone there to help!

10. Transportation

Between bumper-to-bumper traffic, new roads, and “that one guy” who is always in a hurry, driving can start to feel like a chore.

Retirement communities offer transportation to their residents to help them stay active in their local communities and beyond. You don’t necessarily have to give up your keys altogether, cruise around when you feel like it, and other times let someone else worry about the new roundabout.


Learn more about our vibrant, social Independent Living communities and discover if a Senior Lifestyle apartment home is right for you!

When is the Right Age to Retire?

Posted by in Expert Advice.

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 insecure about making the right decision for yourself or a loved one.

Thankfully, there are better ways to judge a senior apartment than materials from marketers and salespeople. Here are our 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 saturated with retirement communities, reviews are a great way to whittle down the list.

Things to look for:

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

2. Take a Tour

Once you’ve found your short list, it’s time to take a tour.

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 well-rounded opinion of the staff, environment, food, and activities during different situations and days.  

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’re looking for yourself, try to sit at lunch with other residents and find out their honest opinions. If you are a family member of someone looking to retire, 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 need to know all the facts. With senior 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
  • Community involvement
  • Programmatic excellence or 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. How old are the reviews? 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 does going to bed look like? What about laundry?

It’s usually the mundane that gets inadvertently passed over for the more exciting aspects, so remember to think about normal day-to-day life.  

3. The Unexpected

Not every day will be perfect. From illness and falls 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

Top 10 Retirement Community Trends to Look Out For in 2019

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retirement community trends 2019

Top 10 Retirement Community Trends to Look Out For in 2019

The retirement communities of today are vibrant, social spaces filled with events, excursions, and learning opportunities. It has been exciting to witness the dynamic evolution of retirement communities in the last few decades, and the new trends emerging in the next few years will not disappoint. Here are the innovative services and amenities you can look forward to entering the senior living space in 2019.

1. A Focus on Location

Whether meeting a demand for shopping, culture, fine dining, or catering to residents hoping for a relaxing setting, today’s retirement communities are aligning their services and amenities to align with their resident location desires. From beautiful resort-style properties to comforting country apartment homes and exciting urban locales, finding a retirement community to fit your tastes is getting easier each year.

2. Days Made Simpler Through Technology

Smart devices such as tablets and apps are giving residents instant access to program scheduling, activity opt-ins, and daily menus all in one place. If you are concerned about your health and safety, you can seek options for integrated wearables that track vital statistics, or can provide one-touch calls for assistance. Although many seniors are just as tech savvy as the next person, communities are focused on creating user-friendly platforms that ensure the new technology enriches the resident experience.

3. Thoughtful Design and Architecture

Environment has a tremendous impact on mood, health, and overall happiness. Retirement communities are utilizing modern architecture and design principals to make their spaces more warm, welcoming, and functional. Our staff has dedicated a tremendous amount of time and effort to tailoring our communities to the residents. You may be amazed at how much the details of a community’s exterior and interior can impact a resident’s experience.

Retirment communities have taken note of these trends, and have developed communities with more natural sunlight, open layouts, and green spaces for residents to enjoy. The design of apartment homes has also changed, with the focus on functionality, privacy, and personal touches that help create a home-like and safe space for each individual.

4. Access to Healthcare

Always focused on catering convenient services to their residents, communities are creating better access to the healthcare seniors often need. Many properties have implemented on-site healthcare clinics that provide routine exams and urgent care for daily health concerns. In addition, many communities offer physician visits and more accessible health care.

Podiatrists, dentists, and audiologists are common visitors at many retirement communities, along with primary care physicians. When it comes to healthcare concerns, a retirement community may be the best place to be.

5. Pet-Friendly Spaces

If you are someone who can’t imagine life without your pets, you are not alone. Although many communities are pet-friendly, some properties are going above and beyond to show their commitment to your furry companions by shaping the environment and programming to cater to your pet’s happiness. These new pet-friendly amenities include off-leash dog areas, walking trails, and daily social pet programs.

6. Sophisticated Dining

A remarkable development in retirement living is the fresh approach to dining. You’ll see less and less of the drab monotony of cafeteria-style cuisine, and more restaruant style dining options. Since an increasing amount of research indicates the importance of nutrition, more retirement communities are stepping up their dining options with retirement-style cuisine and alternative meals.

Moving away from the limiting “three-square meals” itinerary, many Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC) are starting to implement bistros and cafes that serve healthy, satisfying options at any time of the day. Residents will have the convenience of an on-site snack option, making it easy to grab a bite to eat between meals or buy a pick-me-up espresso before their afternoon art class.

7. Outdoor and Boutique Fitness

For active Independent Living residents, traditional exercise programs often miss the mark. Program coordinators have taken advantage of the entrance of more youthful populations to embrace energetic, outdoor, and boutique fitness options like tai chi, yoga, and walking clubs. Depending on the location, you may be able to take advantage of hiking excursions, golf access, and tennis lessons.

8. Community Involvement and Volunteerism

Maintaining a feeling of meaning and fulfillment in your retirement years is vitally important. The cultivation of community activism and volunteer opportunities meets that need head-on. Communities have taken proactive steps to involve seniors in the broader community, create more diverse social opportunities (like dancing, gardening, happy hours, and beyond) and imbue a continued sense of purpose in their residents’ lives.

9. Trips of a Lifetime and Exciting Excursions

Many people perceive retirement as a time in their life filled with adventure and days crossing off their bucket lists.

Retirement communities have taken up the challenge of helping you maintain a sense of wonder by coordinating national and international travel opportunities throughout the year. If you would rather stay closer to home, other programs have focused on creating exciting local experiences like skydiving, kayaking, and balloon rides.

10. Personal Expression and Growth

Forward-thinking communities have implemented education and programming options that help you explore unrealized interests and untapped creative pursuits. From art centers and music lessons to college courses and book clubs, the possibilities are endless to discover new things about yourself and the world.


The senior living space is growing more exciting and adventurous each year. Senior Lifestyle is dedicated to providing these types of innovations and programs in our Independent Living communities.

For more information about the innovations in our our beautiful Independent Living communities, connect with a community near you today!

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.

A Day in the Life at Memory Care

Posted by in Programs.

A Day in the Life at Memory Care

If you’re considering Memory Care for a loved one, you may wonder what a typical day looks like at one of these communities.

It’s natural to worry about your loved one when they enter a new living space. They may  be upset about moving and a relocation can be a big source of anxiety.

At Senior Lifestyle, we prepare for a new resident before they arrive. Our award-winning Walk With Me program partners each family with a care provider to help ease the transition for the new resident. The family plays a big role in helping us get to know the characteristics that make their loved ones unique. Their hobbies, passions, and interests are critical pieces of information we gather in order to guide them toward a fulfilling schedule of activities, and place them in a neighborhood that fits their specific needs.

What is Memory Care?

Memory Care communities provide specialized services and amenities for those living with conditions that affect memory and behavior, like Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. Memory Care communities are similar to Assisted Living communities, but provide additional  services tailored to those living with dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Some of our communities offer our award-winning embrace Memory Care, which provides an even more personalized level of care, with garden-to-table nutrition programs, award-winning sensory stimulation, and various lifestyle enrichment programs.  Reach out to an embrace Memory Care community near you for more information on the benefits of our award-winning program.

1. Morning

Residents rise and shine on their own schedules. When they’re ready, they gather for breakfast in the dining room. Service professionals take each resident’s breakfast order and deliver food with a smile. Each menu features a range of healthy and delicious options developed by our talented chefs. Fresh fruit, hot coffee, and warm baked goods make for a delightful breakfast. If a resident is particularly hungry, they can choose hardier options, such as omelettes or traditional breakfast plates with eggs, meat, and potatoes.

After breakfast, residents can choose from several activities. Many Memory Care communities include spacious outdoor areas with walkways, where residents can enjoy the fresh air and beautiful landscape in a safe and gated environment. Others may attend a technology class to get assistance with emails or social media. In specific communities, residents can get an invigorating, low-impact workout in our community fitness classes. Tai chi, water aerobics, and even yoga are included in many of our Memory Care communities.

2. Afternoon

Lunch is served back in the dining room mid-day. A dynamic menu, including soups, salads, and sandwiches are the typical fare, all made with fresh ingredients. Our kitchen staff works hard to ensure residents enjoy a healthy, balanced, and delicious meal every time they visit the dining room.

If a resident opts to stay indoors, they may partake in a book club to discuss their latest group reading assignment. We understand pets are a meaningful part of resident life, and that’s why many of our Memory care communities are pet friendly. Quality time with a furry friend can provide therapeutic wonders for someone living with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Many of our communities enjoy art studios, private dining rooms, and programs designed to engage the mind.  There are plenty of activities at our Memory Care communities to make sure your loved one is getting the cognitive stimulation he or she needs.

3. Evening

Dinner is an excellent time for socializing. Dinner is served in our dining rooms, but many of our Memory Care communities have private dining rooms, where families and guests can gather for special events.

From there, residents can continue to socialize, engage in an evening club or class, or go back to their apartment to rest. Senior Lifestyles residents are encouraged to pursue their interests and start new activities at their leisure.

Find Your Senior Lifestyle Community

If Senior Lifestyle’s Memory Care communities sound like a good fit for your loved one, your next step is to consult with us. To inquire about Memory Care, and our award-winning embrace Memory Care, connect with a community near you.

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.

Understanding Sundowners Syndrome in People with Dementia

Posted by in Research.

sundowners syndrome in people with dementia

Understanding Sundowners Syndrome in People with Dementia

Learn about the often-misunderstood effects of Sundowners syndrome, including symptoms and treatment options with Senior Lifestyle.

Sundowners syndrome can be a major source of stress for both the people who live with it, and those who care for them. The condition is still shrouded in mystery to much of the medical community and its specific causes are not yet fully understood. The medical uncertainty of sundowners syndrome makes treatment a challenge. With patience, understanding, and guidance, the effects of sundowners syndrome can be reduced.

What is Sundowners Syndrome?

Sundowners syndrome is a common symptom of dementia where confusion, frustration, and agitation becomes more acute in the evenings. Diminishing light in the evening can frighten or confuse people with dementia. Those who live with Sundowne’s syndrome generally experience symptoms around sunset, which is where the condition gets its name.

Sundowner’s syndrome (also known as Sundown syndrome or simply sundowning) is not a disease in its own right, but rather a distinct pattern of symptoms that accompany dementia.

Symptoms of Sundowner’s Syndrome

People living with Sundowners syndrome may experience a variety of symptoms and diagnosis can be difficult. If you think your loved one may have Sundowners syndrome, consult a medical professional. Symptoms of Sundowners syndrome may include any combination of the following symptoms after sunset, or in the evenings:

  • Visual hallucinations
  • Auditory hallucinations
  • Delusional thinking
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Confusion
  • Anger
  • Pacing
  • Wandering

If you see signs of Sundowners syndrome, consider consulting a medical professional or Memory Care community near you for guidance.

Potential Causes of Sundowners Syndrome to the embrace

Scientists have associated the symptoms of Sundowners syndrome with a disruption of circadian rhythm (your daily biological clock), along with various environmental and social factors. According to the Mayo Clinic, fatigue, low lighting, and increased shadows may exacerbate the effects of Sundowners syndrome.

Treatment Options for Sundowners Syndrome

There is no universal treatment for Sundowners syndrome. Since the causes of Sundowners syndrome are still uncertain, a comprehensive treatment has yet to be established. Despite the uncertain cause, small adjustments in daily behavior have been shown to ease the symptoms.

Here are a few ways you can reduce the symptoms in your loved ones.

  1. Maintain a regular schedule

A consistent routine keeps your circadian rhythm in check. Symptoms of Sundowners syndrome have been shown to decrease in people with a firm schedule.

2. Keep your loved one’s environment well-lit in the evenings

Light has a huge effect on mood, and a well-lit room has a lower chance of frightening or confusing someone with Sundowners syndrome.

3. Reduce caffeine intake

One of the most common causes of sleep irregularity is caffeine, especially  in the afternoons. Coffee, tea, and many soft drinks have high levels of caffeine. Caffeine can affect sleep quality or cause insomnia, which is shown to exacerbate Sundowners syndrome symptoms. Try replacing coffee with something caffeine-free and relaxing, like chamomile tea.

4. Encourage daytime activity

Activity and healthy stimulation is important for people living with dementia, and increased exertion promotes better sleep quality. Daytime activity promotes a healthy circadian rhythm and can reduce the severity of symptoms.

5. Discourage afternoon napping

A person who naps in the afternoon is more likely to have trouble falling asleep, or sleeping all the way through the night. Encourage your loved one to rise with the sun and sleep at night.

6. Encourage healthy eating habits

Diet and nutrition have a huge effect on mood and health overall. A healthy diet paired with a regular sleep schedule has been shown to reduce the effects of Sundowners syndrome. For inspiration on healthy diet choices for dementia, check out our guide to nutrition.

7. Prescription medication

Sleep disorders, anxiety, and depression can all contribute to Sundowners syndrome. In some cases, prescription medications can improve sleep quality, and reduce agitation, anxiety, and frustration. Sundowners syndrome is a complex condition with several contributing factors. Oftentimes, treating one aspect of Sundowners syndrome can have a rippling effect.

Until both dementia and Sundowners syndrome is better understood, caregivers are encouraged to communicate with doctors, nurses, and Memory Care providers. Pay attention to the specific sundowning triggers, and establish a strong system of support and communication.

Keep a record of any behaviors or triggers associated with Sundowners syndrome and know that you can always reach out for support if you need it.

Sundowners syndrome can be frightening for you and your loved one, but you always have resources available. For more information about Sundowners syndrome, and Memory Care community resources, reach out to a Senior Lifestyle community near you today.