While you’ll find an amazing number of retirement community types these days, it’s true that many people still have the misconception that all of them are the same—and not in a good way.
Thoughts of being stuck in a hospital-like atmosphere where sad people spend most of their hours cooped up in small shared rooms (never with a roommate they like, either) or confined to bed still come to mind for a majority of folks facing retirement.
Luckily, nothing could be further from the truth in 2019—especially for retirees who don’t have current regular care needs and are looking to downsize in order to maximize their free time and enjoyment of life. Independent living communities, like the Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) and Life Plan Communities served by Explore Retirement Living, offer comfortable and innovative housing options and fun things to do for active adults every day. And they expect and encourage residents to come and go as they please!
But how do you determine whether retirement community living is right for you?
FAQs about Independent Living Retirement Communities
This post features a few frequently asked questions about the benefits of relocating to an all-inclusive retirement community as an active, mature adult. As you consider whether you plan to stay where you are as a retiree or move to a more retirement lifestyle-friendly place, answers to these big questions can help you decide.
What do retirement communities have that I don’t at home?
With apologies to your current home, even if it is beautiful and well-appointed and you love everything about it, the answer here is “quite a lot.” Modern independent living communities tend to be almost resort-like in their amenities, offering chef-prepared meals, excursions, and learning experiences, in addition to other life-enhancing features like:
While the range of specific services available varies by community and sometimes also by the type of accommodations you choose within a community, maintenance is almost always included in the fees you pay. You won’t have to fix things that break around the house, care for a large yard, or worry about things like painting interior and exterior surfaces.
Additionally, you may even have benefits like housekeeping and linen services (no more cleaning toilets or washing bedding!), included utilities, and appliance repair and replacement.
Safety & security
Retirement communities take their residents’ safety seriously and employ security personnel who will guard against crime like trespassing and break-ins. Since most communities also include nursing care resources on campus, 24-hour emergency call systems for medical events are common, as well.
Health & wellness facilities
Do you enjoy swimming, walking for exercise, or taking fitness classes, but wish the gym was more conveniently located to where you live? Because healthcare is often the centerpiece of many retirement communities, they often establish health and wellness centers or form a relationship with local clubs.
St Anne’s offers free membership at one of Lancaster County’s most popular tennis, aquatic and fitness centers because we understand the importance of staying active.
Many independent CCRC and Life Plan retirement communities are dedicated to providing scheduled programming that makes it easy for residents to pursue their interests and explore new ones, too.
LeadingAge.org describes a comprehensive life enrichment program in a retirement community as including “all five dimensions of wellness—emotional, social, spiritual, physical and educational.” The goal of life enrichment is to improve and maintain individuals’ quality of life in mind, body, and spirit.
What living options are available? Will I have to downsize into an apartment?
While many retirement communities offer an array of smaller-scale dwellings like private apartments and “households” in which only your bedroom, bathroom, and a small living area are private, plenty of these campuses also feature detached cottages, bungalows, and carriage homes. Some communities even have separate “off-campus” neighborhoods with full-size homes available that still offer many of the services you would expect if you lived in the heart of campus.
Check with individual communities to find out what your options are. In short, you won’t have to downsize into a living space that you don’t love. The choice is yours!
Can I have pets?
As we talked about in a previous post here on the blog, the number of retirement communities with favorable pet policies is on the rise, which is good news. Research continues to prove that pet ownership is life-enhancing and may make us healthier. To make their communities more enticing, many not only allow pets today, but they may also even provide services or amenities to keep pets safe and well (and their owners happy).
As with other policies and features of individual communities, you should check with those that are most appealing to you to find out what their specific rules are.
What about health care? Is nursing available if I need it?
Yes, various levels of healthcare will be available if you need it. Campus-based independent CCRC and Life Plan communities often offer what’s known as a continuum of care, which allows you to access care when you need it, as you need it without leaving the community.
Some communities even now have programs that allow you to receive care within the living accommodations you’re already in. So, if you do require more in-depth care at some point as you age, you won’t need to make a physical move to another location on campus, such as a personal care wing or memory care unit even if you need to receive those levels of care.
How can I tell if a specific community is the right fit for me?
You’ll want to consider individual communities’ philosophies and stated values, which may include religious affiliations or connections to different cultural groups. Whether your personal beliefs align with the community’s mission may indicate how comfortable you will feel being associated with it.
Remember helping your children (and perhaps your grandchildren) choose a college? This process is not unlike that one. The easiest way to get to know different communities is to visit their campuses and facilities—and on multiple occasions, if you’re having a difficult time deciding. Get on their mailing lists, but also explore the public buildings and overall campuses yourself. Bring trusted family members along with you to get their perspectives, and talk to current residents who may be willing to share their experiences, too.
It’s true that there are many benefits to retirement community living, but the decision to make a move can be a difficult, emotional journey. By taking your time and exploring all your options, you may take the stress out of the process. After all, retirement is a time to celebrate all of the hard work you’ve accomplished in your life and take some much-deserved time out for yourself.
St. Anne’s Retirement Community is a Continuing Care Retirement Community with many options for adults seeking an active, safe community with easy access to all Lancaster County has to offer. For more information, or to schedule a tour, please call 717-285-5443.
Source: Explore Retirement Living, www.exploreretirementliving.org
Throughout the course of our life, we all need help in one way or another, but how we define it changes as we age. It might come as insight on homework as a young student, or collaboration with an office colleague as an adult, or assistance with grocery trips as a senior because as The Beatles sang it, we “get by with a little help from (my) friends.”
Yet as we age, it often becomes harder to admit we need help – especially when it means asking for assistance from those for whom you’ve always been the caregiver. Because of this, it is important to be able to identify signs that a parent or loved one may be struggling with daily tasks or unable to safely live alone. Although the signs may seem obvious, the call for help is often silent.
Is your loved one…
- Forgetting to take daily medication, supplements or vitamins
Are they dependent on you or their spouse to remember?
- Struggling with home maintenance
Is their spotlessly clean kitchen or pristine landscaping looking messy?
- Contacting family members about the same issue multiple times.
Have they called you about an upcoming appointment more than once in a day?
- Falling or having unexplained bruises on their body
Are they falling more often or do you have concerns about falls they don’t tell you about?
- Suffering from multiple conditions that make regular tasks more difficult
Does your loved one have arthritis and poor vision which can make it difficult to navigate their home?
- Receiving late notices or calls about unpaid bills or bounced checks
Are they neglecting to pay their monthly bills on time or losing track of personal finances?
- Displaying signs of poor personal hygiene or a decline in personal appearance
Do they have body odor, bad breath, or unclean and disheveled clothing?
- Driving a vehicle with new or unexplained dents, scratches or missing parts
Are they having difficulty maneuvering their car because of limitations with eye sight and/or mobility?
- Showing signs of depression or loneliness
Would they benefit from socializing with people their same age at a retirement community or organization
While the signs your aging loved one may need help can be easy to spot, having a conversation to address them is often difficult – especially when there is denial from your aging loved one, family members or caregivers.
If your aging loved one is beginning to show signs of decline…
Take time to address home safety concerns with all family members or caregivers like cleaning cluttered rooms, clearing outdoor pathways, installing more stair rails or adding bars in the bathrooms.
Talk about areas of decline as you see them instead of saving it for one big conversation or allowing it to become an emergency situation. You can also plan to discuss areas of concern at doctor’s appointments, as it may be easier for a doctor to have or initiate the dialogue.
Begin to explore a continuing care retirement community (CRCC) and other assisted living options as it is beneficial to understand application and admission processes in addition to any waitlist requirements for communities or home care services. Plus, speaking with an admissions team at a CRCC or home health care service can help you determine exactly what your aging loved one needs to make every day a safe and happy one.
At a continuing care retirement community (CRCC), like St. Anne’s Retirement Community, your loved one can find all the levels of care they may need in one place – from independent living, to assisted living, to personal care, to rehabilitation services, to skilled nursing care and memory support. For more information about St. Anne’s Retirement Community, or to discuss the needs of your aging loved ones, please call 717-285-5443.
Although Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early spring on Groundhog Day, recent snowfalls seem to indicate that warm weather is still quite far away. With that in mind, our Green Committee has complied a few tips that can help you be more eco-conscious through the end of winter.
Opting for firewood rather than turning on the thermostat in the winter months can save energy for many homeowners. But fireplaces and wood-burning stoves can emit large amounts of soot and carbon pollution into the air. Older model fireplaces and stoves can also harm the air quality in your home. Upgrading to a newer pellet or wood-burning stove is provides greater efficiency than traditional open-air models. Using clean-burning stoves such as a biomass- and bio-fuel burning stove is more efficient alternatives to wood burning. Clean-burning stoves give off fewer toxic emissions and use cleaner fuel, such as ethanol or bigas. Biofuels used for home heating come in the form of logs, wood chips, wood pellets or other recycled materials. Contemporary stoves typically burn cleaner and can reduce home heating costs.
Plug Drafty Leaks
Walk around your home to check for leaky windows and doors. You may be surprised to learn that cold air is coming in. The potential energy savings from reducing drafts in a home may range from 5% to 30% per year, according to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Thankfully, in most instances, solutions are relatively easy and affordable. Homeowners can conserve heat and energy by weather-stripping and caulking leaks. I did this and realized that I needed stripping for my patio doors and had to ensure my screen door was properly secured to avoid a draft. Window treatments or curtains may improve your home’s energy efficiency by trapping heat in, but the U.S. Department of Energy also encourages homeowners to open curtains on south-facing windows during the day. Natural sunlight is a great way to heat your home for free.
Choose a Safe De-Icer
Another way to make winter a little greener is to avoid using toxic chemical de-icing salts and sand. Homeowners typically use salt and sand on icy sidewalks and roads to make them safer, but they aren’t the best for the environment. Before choosing a chemical de-icer, consider its impact on plant life, concrete, vehicles and animals. And although sand isn’t corrosive, it can clog storm drains and cause flooding in the spring. Even rock salt can cause environmental contamination and damage pavement. Greener alternatives include Magic Salt, which is rock salt treated with magnesium chloride and a sugar byproduct. It has earned the EPA Design for the Environment label, which recognizes that the product is considered to be safe for the environment. Magic Salt is 70 percent less corrosive than rock salt and works to 35 degrees below zero. Ice-Clear, another green option, is a liquid you spray on the pavement and is best used before snowfall. It is made of a corn extract so the sugar reacts with the pavement to form a bond that prevents ice from sticking. Ice-Clear is 100 percent organic and noncorrosive. Also, Ice Melt by Earth Friendly Products is both animal- and eco-friendly salt.
Buy Seasonal Produce
When you buy vegetables and fruit out of season, not only are they being shipped longer distances, burning more fuel than usual to get to your grocer, but they also ripen during transport instead of being picked ripe. Season-appropriate produce requires less energy for transport, is less expensive and often tastes better. According to healthyeating.org, eating fresh fruits and vegetables provides the body with more nutrients, easier digestion and a boost to the immune system. Examples of produce in season from October through the winter months includes apples, pears, beets, pumpkins, cranberries, blackberries, cabbage, celery, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflowers, potatoes, beans, winter squash, sprouts, leeks and spinach. I’m sure you can find something you love in this list!
Buy Eco-Friendly Clothes
Have you considered buying organic clothing? Organic clothing may be good for the environment. Chemicals used in the process of making clothes can damage the environment through run-off water after heavy rains, which poisons lakes and rivers. According to the Organic Consumers Association, cotton growers around the world often use liberal amounts of insecticides, herbicides and synthetic fertilizers to grow the cotton. Seven of the top 15 pesticides used on U.S. cotton crops are potential or known carcinogens. Organic cotton apparel may also help reduce allergies and respiratory problems. So when you load up on warmer cotton clothes this season, consider choosing organic cotton. In the winter, wool, hemp or fleece are greener fabrics that will still keep you warm. Wool is a natural product, unlike many synthetic materials that won’t biodegrade. It is durable, which creates less waste since it will last longer.
Carpool If Possible
It’s no secret that winter is harsh on both humans and vehicles. If you know people who are taking the same route every day, consider carpooling to save on gas expenses and wear-and-tear on your car. Consider starting a driving rotation with three or four people to lighten your load. Even carpooling once or twice a week can save money and help the environment. If one person is driving, split the cost of gas between the other passengers. Not only are you and the others minimizing your carbon footprint, but you may feel safer and get a sense of security from having partners to ride with in the event of a weather-related problem. Driving in the winter can be stressful at times. On days when you don’t need to drive, you can relax, read or just take it easy during the commute for a change.
Information sourced from https://www.quickenloans.com/blog/six-must-read-green-tips-to-use-in-winter
Whether you’re hosting Christmas Eve dinner, Christmas Day brunch or a holiday open house, our tips can help you make help make the season bright…and a little greener too!
- Simplify the day. Celebrate being with those you love. Don’t overdo the cooking – and savor whatever you make. Linger over dessert, play games, watch football or a favorite movie, take a walk. Revive special traditions from the past and create new ones you can turn to next Christmas and other holidays in the future.
- Use the good dishes and cloth napkins. Disposable dishes and plastic utensils create a ton of waste. If reusable won’t work, choose disposable plates, cups, napkins and utensils made from 100 percent post-consumer waste recycled paper, sugarcane and corn—they are compostable, too.
- Decorate with boughs and berries. Head out to your yard with a pair of shears and find tree branches, bush stems loaded with berries, flowers whose seed heads have dried on the stem, and flowering grasses to fill tall vases or holiday baskets.
- Let there be light. Illuminate your table with candles of varying heights and widths.
- Serve locally grown food. Even in colder, northern climates, farmers markets are still selling locally grown greens, potatoes, apples, pears, spices, breads, and cheeses.
- Offer organic beverages. From apple cider to wine and beer, you have plenty of organic drinks to offer your family and friends.
- Eat all the food you make. Send guests home with leftovers in glass jars rather than wrapped in plastic or aluminum foil. Freeze leftovers in easily re-heatable portions.
- Use reuseables. Serve your meal on cloth tablecloths and napkins, accompanied by “real” silverware and plates. Worried about cleaning up after a large crowd? Let everyone pitch in – that’s half the fun!
- Simmer cinnamon. Roasting vegetables and baking pies should infuse your home with delicious holiday aromas. For even more fragrant smells, simmer a few sticks of cinnamon and a few cloves of allspice on the stove. Dab a few drops of pine oil or other favorite fragrance on stones or pinecones that are part of your centerpiece.
- Prepare less food. Everybody feels compelled to make a huge meal and prepare numerous courses. This year, if you’re serving turkey, choose a smaller bird and skip some of the less-popular dishes to reduce food waste.
- Turn down the heat. If all your holiday cooking doesn’t heat up your house, your guests will. Turn your thermostat down 3-5 degrees – no one will notice the difference.
- Recycle and compost. Keep a bin handy for glass, plastic and paper trash you can recycle rather than toss. Make soup from vegetable peelings, leftover meat and bones. Picked-over vegetables can be composted, though remaining meat and bones will need to be thrown away.
Compiled by the Green Committee at St. Anne’s
As the leaves begin to change colors and the weather is (finally) cool and crisp, here are twenty tips for fall from the Green Committee at St. Anne’s!
Outside Your Home:
- Check the air pressure in your tires. Cooler temperatures lower tire pressure and that, in turn, lowers fuel efficiency. Test your tires and make sure they are properly inflated.
- Examine your roof for any missing or damaged tiles or shingles.
- Clean the roof gutters and make sure downspouts are pointed away from the house.
- Consider installing a rain barrel to direct the water from downspouts to where it’s most needed instead of draining into one spot.
- Bring in any houseplants that have spent the summer outdoors. They’ll help clean the air indoors.
- Rake your leaves instead of using a “blower”.
- Use the leaves as mulch to protect plants throughout the winter.
- Add leaves to a compost pile to use throughout the year.
Inside Your Home:
- Clean and test the furnace.
Did you know? Your furnace collects all kinds of dust and debris, which not only affects its performance, but could cause a fire. Before you really need the heat, get out your owner’s manual for instructions on how to clean it. If you have a gas furnace, have it professionally inspected once a year.
- Move furniture or any obstructions away from vents, baseboard heaters, registers on the floor or radiators to allow air to move freely. This is also a good time to vacuum these areas to remove any dust or debris.
Tip for Homes with Radiators: Place a reflecting panel behind it – either purchase one at a home center or make one yourself with a plywood panel and aluminum foil.
- Remove window air conditioners for the winter. If they can’t be removed, seal them with caulking or tape and cover them with an airtight, insulated jacket.
- Give your refrigerator some TLC:
- Vacuum the refrigerator coils to keep the compressor running efficiently.
- Verify the refrigerator is level (the door should automatically swing shut instead of staying open).
- Check the seal on the door by closing it on a dollar bill. If you can pull the bill out easily, it’s time to replace the gaskets.
- Throw away old food contents and don’t over-fill your refrigerator. Allowing room for cool air to circulate will keep everything at the right temperature and help it run more efficiently.
- Don’t leave your dryer out to dry:
- Clean the ducts and area behind the dryer.
- Empty the lint catcher after each use, and every once in a while, give the filter a good wash.
- Ensure your windows and doors are ready for the cold weather!
- Check windows for proper caulking. If you have single-pane windows, add storm windows. Even a plastic film over windows will reduce heat loss.
- Examine doors for adequate weather stripping and replace as necessary. If drafts sneak in under exterior doors, replace the threshold or block the drafts with a rolled-up towel or blanket.
- Electrical outlets, especially on outside walls, and light fixtures are prime places for cold air to leak into your home. Add foam gaskets behind covers and switch plates and use safety plugs in unused outlets. **Remember to shut off the power at the fuse box or circuit panel before working with covers and switch plates!**
- Install foam covers over outside water spigots to prevent freezing.
- Check for water leaks both inside and outside your home.
- Wrap the water heater in an insulating blanket.
- If you have a ceiling fan, reverse the direction for cold weather:
- Fans should run in a clockwise direction in the fall and winter to push the air up against the ceiling and down the walls. By doing this, the fan gently re-circulates the warm air without creating a cooling “wind chill effect.”
- HINT: Stand under the fan and if you feel a breeze, reverse the direction so that air is being drawn upwards.
- Do you have a fireplace? This is a good time to have the chimney cleaned and vent systems checked.
- If your home has no sidewall insulation, place heavy furniture like bookshelves, armoires and sofas along exterior walls, and use decorative quilts as wall hangings to help block cold air.
- Before packing away those summer clothes, go through them and determine which items to keep, which items to repurpose into something else (cleaning rags, craft projects, etc.) and which to donate.
Tips compiled from reducefootprints.blogspot.com by The Green Committee at St. Anne’s
Retirement living is one thing, but moving to retirement community living is quite another. The subject can generate a lot of resistance – the “elephant in the room.”
The elephant in the room points to an issue that is not being addressed. The elephant in the room is a hard subject that is easier to avoid.
Aging: The Elephant in the Room
As it turns out, in the matter of aging, there is a huge elephant in the room. We at St Anne’s call that elephant “Annie,” and she is so common that many, if not most of you reading this, already know what is meant:
- Aging parents, relatives and friends who are unable to recognize their own situation.
- Loved ones, otherwise responsible people, who are unable or unwilling to take personal responsibility for their aging.
Pro-active aging or pro-aging is to anticipate and plan for the “next step” of life. It is a measure of personal maturity and, in pro-aging families, there is little or no Annie in the room. However, we are living in a time when people are living longer than in previous generations and the responsible thing to do is often met with resistance…even though the answer is obvious to most everyone: the elephant in the room.
We must respect the resistance of our loved ones, even as we must do what needs to be done. We must seek understanding, and where that is not possible, seek counsel regarding best care guidelines.
The decision is not easy and often not black or white…it’s gray, just like an elephant.
How to Manage the Elephant in the Room
St. Anne’s Retirement Community understands the elephant in the room. Every day, families seeking a safe home environment for relatives come to our door and see Annie, our elephant who stands seven feet tall. Her friendly expression brings smiles to faces and serves as a reminder that we are not alone in dealing with Annie, the elephant in the room.
How to Approach the Elephant in the Room:
- Do not avoid Annie, as it only makes the outcome more averse to all.
- Gather all parties and make a plan of care for your loved ones.
- Include your loved ones in every step of the process.
- Meet with an expert to help facilitate a difficult conversation and make sure you are clearly seeing the options.
St. Anne’s Retirement Community promotes proactive aging by encouraging and facilitating conversations about Annie, the elephant in the room. To meet with our Admissions team and discuss plans for you or a loved one’s future, please call 717-285-5443.