Does Your Retirement Plan Overlook This Crucial Decision?

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

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

A longer life means a longer retirement

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

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

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

The most important choice in your retirement plan

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

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

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

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

Making your plan

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

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

 

 

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

 


Making the Transition for a Loved One to Memory Care Support

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

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

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

 

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


Helpful Tips for Downsizing in Retirement

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

Start now

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

Recognize that you cannot keep it all

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

Your kids may not want your stuff

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

Sort by large and small

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

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

Sell, donate, or discard?

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

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

Hauling the junk

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

 

For Digital Use (please use the exact hyperlink):

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


We Are Family

We are facing a difficult and scary time right now. Our lives have been flipped upside down, emotions are heightened and in more cases than not, fear has taken the front seat.

While hard times surround us, we urge everyone to take a deeper look and to remember why we are here in the first place.

We have been through a journey with each and every one of our residents, patients, and families. Why did you seek us originally? Maybe Mom could no longer do the stairs in her house. Or maybe, Grandma was having difficulty remembering to take her daily medications and needed a nurse to help. Maybe Dad couldn’t bathe himself anymore. Whatever the factor was, you needed a place that was there for you, that would care for Mom, Dad, or Grandma like you care for them. You needed us, and you found us, and from there, another form of “family” began.

We treat your loved one as if they are our family, not only caring for them, but growing with them. We celebrate the important, happy days with them like holidays and anniversaries, and we comfort them in sadness and grief when it’s needed most. We know them by name, we know their children, and we know their children’s children. We worry about them and protect them as if they are our family and we do everything we can to fight for them, not just in the face of a pandemic, but always.

Our communities and teams are made up of clinicians and professionals in a variety of specialties. We have so many passionate people in such important roles. From doctors and nurses, to life enrichment coordinators and admissions, we all have unique roles and different responsibilities, but we all share one thing in common and that is that to us, your family has become our family.

We are a wonderful place filled with dedicated, hardworking people who followed a passion – a passion to serve. We give your loved ones medication, and exercise, and help them go to sleep at night. We dance with them and create beautiful pieces of artwork with them. We work to help your loved one walk again or to button a shirt again, and we smile with tears in our eyes as they do it. We work with families on new treatments and diagnoses, and we hold their hands when news might not be so good. We lend our families a shoulder when it’s needed, and we reassure them that we are here for love, support, and sympathy.

And when a pandemic unexpectedly hits – we rise, and we fight, and we protect. We monitor your loves ones day in and day out, constantly assessing and evaluating while still providing a lifestyle of positivity among the darkness. Our staff adapts quickly, following CDC and state guidelines, while putting important regulations and additional PPE in place. We listen to each other and support each other as a team. We react and we push forward. We work hard together, and lean on each other, and we make sure to thank each other. We do our best to keep families connected through FaceTime, window visits, and letters, and we find comfort in local businesses who donate and help. We protect your loves ones, we fight for your loved ones and soon, we will overcome. We are resilient and we are family.

 

This article was inspired by a Facebook post written by a Wisconsin nursing manager named Rachel encouraging those to spread the word.


How to Cope with Stress, When Times are Stressful

At a time like this, it is normal for stress levels to be heightened and for you to feel “off” more often than you feel “normal.” Your feelings are completely validated and while they are okay to have, for most of us, it doesn’t feel very good.

The Ohio Department of Health has put forth some valuable information and resources for identifying your stress, managing it, and for helping manage the stress of a loved one you’re caring for.

Stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include:

  • Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones.
  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns.
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating.
  • Worsening of chronic health problems.
  • Physical reactions, such as headaches, body pains, stomach problems, and skin rashes.
  • Anger or short temper.

Things you can do to support yourself

  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
  • Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.
  • Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
  • Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.

If you are taking care of an older adult:

  • Make sure your loved one’s nutrition intake is monitored.
  • Provide consistent predictable patterns and schedules.
  • Stay engaged with communication.
  • Personal care is important (clean clothes, bathing).
  • Attempt to lower emotions to reduce stress.
  • Understand that this change impacts a wide range of human experience that includes physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual well-being.

 Resources for additional assistance:

  • Throughout Ohio, you can text the keyword “4hope” to 741 741 to be connected to a trained Crisis Counselor. Data usage while texting Crisis Text Line is free, and the number will not appear on a phone bill with the mobile service carrier. People of all ages can use Crisis Text Line.
  • The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services Director, Lori Criss, offers information on how to manage Coronavirus related stress. Click the link below to watch.
  • For those of you interested in meditation, the below link offers some of the most recommended guided meditations.
  • The Disaster Distress Helpline is available 24 hours a way, 7 days a week, year-round.
    • Call 1-800-985-5990 or text “TalkWithUs”to 66746, Spanish-speakers, text “Hablanos” to 66746.

By identifying your own stress and the stress of those you care for, you can work towards managing it and living a happier and healthier life, especially now, when it is needed the most.


What is Social Distancing? And Why is it so Important Right Now?

With the recent events that have transpired over the past few weeks, there are many new terms that we as a society are learning and adapting to. Besides the big ones – COVID-19 and Novel Coronavirus, there are plenty of others. One of major importance that has received a lot of attention, however, is the term social distancing.

For a lot of us, this might be the first time we’ve heard this term and as a result, we may need a little further explanation. So, what is social distancing? And why is it so important right now?

Social distancing is a way for public health officials to try and limit the spread of infection by restricting interaction between people and meetings with large groups. The objective of social distancing is to reduce the probability of contact between people carrying an infection and people who are not infected to again, mitigate the spread of that infection. The more people that actively practice social distancing, the slower an infection will most likely spread.

Under the circumstances our world is facing, social distancing is among one of the most critical measures we can be taking. Right now, health officials are focused on “flattening the curve” through social distancing, which means that they are trying to slow the rate of new cases of Coronavirus so as to not overwhelm the health care professionals and resources that we have available.

Practice social distancing by limiting your interaction with others. If you do need to be around others, it is advised to avoid group settings of 10 or more people and to keep a distance of at least six feet between yourself and another individual. If your circumstances allow you to stay at home, that is encouraged as much as possible.

By taking social distancing seriously, we can help our health care industry, our fellow citizens, and our world through this uncertain and difficult time.


Why Every Retiree Should Consider a Retirement Community

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

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

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

Don’t judge a book by its cover. Click the link above to learn more about why retirement communities may have more to offer than you think.


I’m Not Ready Yet

I’m Not Ready Yet

Although the vast majority of people who live in Continuing Care Retirement Communities report that they are happy with their decision, there are many who delay a move indefinitely because they feel they are not ready yet.

Of course, moving to a CCRC is an important decision. It requires appropriate planning and should not be rushed. Yet, delaying the decision too long could mean missing the opportunity because a common entry requirement among CCRCs is the ability to live independently. Furthermore, even if your health remains good, delaying means missing out on many of the benefits that such a community could provide for you in the first place.

Here are a few of the most common underlying reasons for not being ready:

“I don’t want to leave my home.” Leaving the home where you have lived for years, if not decades, is not easy. Your own home is a familiar environment and the memories you have built there will forever be cherished. But, these are not necessarily the best reasons to stay in your home. Over time, the idea of staying in the home often proves to be easier in theory than in practice for many older adults and their family members. Sometimes staying in the home means delaying a move later to an assisted living facility or nursing home, at a time when moving to an unfamiliar environment is even more challenging physically, emotionally, and psychologically.

“I’m still independent.” Because continuing care retirement communities include assisted living and healthcare services on-site, there is a common misperception that they are long-term care facilities. However, the majority of residents in most CCRCs live independently. In fact, many residents of CCRCs lead independent and active lifestyles for many years before ever requiring long-term care services. Yet, they also recognize that things can change unexpectedly. They want a plan in place and do not want to be a burden on their children whenever that day comes.

“I do not want to deal with the hassles of moving.” Moving and de-cluttering isn’t easy at any age, but it will only become more difficult as you get older. If this is the main reason for your delay, then it is better to make the move now rather than later. The process of de-cluttering can even be a special time to share with adult children or other family members as you dust off old family keepsakes together. Some retirement communities may even include moving and de-cluttering services as an added incentive to help make your move easier.

“I am not yet comfortable with the decision financially.” There are many resources available to help you determine whether a continuing care retirement community is a viable financial choice for you. A financial planner who is well-versed in CCRC contracts should also be able to help. Finally, many CCRCs utilize software that helps them determine if your assets and income are adequate to cover your projected lifetime cost and they will usually share the results with you.

If you are considering a CCRC, but feel that you are not quite ready to make the move, then it could be helpful to think about what “not ready” means for you. Addressing the underlying reasons sooner rather than later helps assure that you keep your options open and could spur important conversations about what is ultimately best for your long-term situation.

 

 

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


Tip #22 of 50 – A Look Back at 2019 and a Look Forward to 2020

As The Wesley Communities celebrate 50 years of excellent service, our CEO Peg Carmany offers “Peg’s Perspective” on a variety of topics affecting seniors and their adult children as they plan and choose to age well – 50 tips to celebrate 50 years!

Tip #22 of 50 – A look back at 2019 and a look forward to 2020

As we plan for 2020 at The Wesley Communities, I found myself looking back over all that 2019 has brought to us. First and foremost, 2019 was the year where we celebrated our first 50 years of providing excellent housing, care and services for seniors. And we will continue that celebration into this year – 50 plus years of excellent service! We are proud of where we’ve been and where we’re going. Click the link above to read more about our memories from 2019 and our plans for 2020.


The Effects of Not Having a Will

When a person dies without having made a Last Will and Testament, and they have property titled in their name alone, whether it is a boat, house, bank account or a motorcycle, there is a good likelihood that they have made life more difficult and more expensive for their surviving spouse or children. Click the link above to learn more about the effects of not having a Will and why it is important to prepare one ahead of time.