Retirement is a shining goal for many; it’s a reminder of all you’ve accomplished and earned during your years of working, raising children, and chasing the American dream. However, retirement planning can also be intimidating to take the step into this new phase of life, as it is a major transition from life we’ve known before. There’s so much precedent to help us understand the career and childrearing years, and not so much to tell us what finish line of retirement might look like. It’s ok if you feel adrift, but also know that it’s entirely possible to renew your sense of purpose and redefine what you want your new season of life to look like.
There are a number of ways to make this one of the most joyful periods of your life. No longer encumbered by the hectic schedule of career building and raising babies, you now have a unique opportunity to decide how you want to fill your spare time. The wonderful thing about your golden years is you get to decide what defines you beyond outside markers of success. Think about what you want to be known for? What makes you happy? And what motivated you in the past? These are great guides for what will give you a more joyful today and tomorrow.
One key place to begin is by being active. Studies show that increased physical activity can help seniors not only combat chronic medical conditions and stave off new ones, but it also increases mental wellbeing. Exercise increases endorphins which give you a sense of accomplishment and a time to contemplate life to exist fully in the present. Mindfulness, or the act of being consciously aware of yourself and surroundings in the moment, can be a huge part of activity. Taking a walk, for example, can give you an opportunity to be fully aware of the sights and sounds around you, as well as the feeling of walking and the ways your body feels as you are moving. This kind of meditation can lead to greater self-awareness, and a fuller sense of yourself, as a unique person.
Another is to actively engage with your past. As beneficial as it can be to throw yourself into the present moment, it can be equally fulfilling to throw yourself into nostalgia. The act of remembrance can help many seniors to have a stronger sense of self, reduce stress, and lower incidents of anxiety and depression. By revisiting your happiest and strongest memories, you can have a better sense of what makes you happiest and to what events you have the strongest connection.
Those memories can be guideposts for what you do next— you can seek out new connections and opportunities that bring out the same feelings. If you loved raising your children, perhaps you can work with an organization that provides extracurricular activities and supports a passion for youth. If you had a hobby that you had to put aside for a career, you could return to your interest in astronomy, literature, languages, or the arts.
No matter what you interests were in the past, there are also opportunities to cultivate new ones. One of the wonderful things about a big metropolitan area like Charlotte is the opportunity to find all sorts of new things to do, from gallery openings to concerts to new food flavors. You can check out the Levine Museum of the New South, Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, or the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center for cultural events that might be outside your usual beat. Or try gourmet twists on classic dishes like donuts at Joe's Doughs, burgers at Moo & Brew, classic arcade games at 8.2.0.
Whatever you choose to do, it helps to have a good community to do it with. Studies show that socially connected seniors suffer less stress and fewer mood disorders than those who are more isolated. The same is true of socially connected seniors who are more likely to seek medical care for routine tests and ailments. Connecting with a community helps to give you a context, a place in the world, a sense of self-definition. When it comes to celebrating your unique self, wouldn’t you rather do that with others on the same journey? If you want to learn more about how a retirement community like Regency Retirement Village of Charlotte can help enhance your golden years and help you find your sense of purpose, call (844) 425-4254.
Written by: Meghan O'Dea
It’s not difficult to imagine how scary and uncertain the future might seem for someone who is relocating to Charlotte from another city, perhaps moving here to be closer to family after losing a husband or wife. Although adult children are undoubtedly a comfort, hence the move, it’s usually stressful to start over in a new place where nearly everyone is a stranger. The good news is that a stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet.
What’s the best way to make new friends? That’s a question we all want to know. Life Coach Celestine Chua offers a few tips:
Let Go of the Past: “Friends come and go, it’s a fact of life,” Chua said. Circumstances change for people: Some relocate to another city or country, others grow distant for whatever reason. Some people neglect close friendships after marrying, then find themselves in need of social interaction following the end of that union. Letting go of the past can also mean letting go of old grudges with former friends.
Be a Best Friend: Chua said this means being understanding, supportive and encouraging to others, placing their needs before your own and being genuinely interested in what others are going through in their lives – not just selfishly expecting others to be confidants to you without reciprocating.
Use Opportunities to Get to Know People: With Activity Directors planning outings, entertainers and other get-togethers, a senior living community like Regency is perfect for this. Before a senior knows it, they are meeting new people and actively participating in fun.
Step Out of Your Comfort Zone: It’s easier to make friends when we are young and have classmates, work in the same company, etc. In retirement years, we may have to take the initiative to introduce ourselves to people who we do not necessarily have any compelling reason to spend a lot of time with.
Keep an Open Mind: “In connecting with others, you may experience qualities about them which you don’t like. Don’t let yourself shy away from that friendship just because of that though. It’s easy to harp on someone else’s faults, but such a mindset doesn’t help you build true friendships,” Chua said.
Accept Degrees of Friendship: Chua distinguishes between acquaintances, activity friends and “true-soul friends”, noting that authentic connections are the deepest bonds -- but not everyone is a compatible match.
Identify Someone with Shared Values and Common Links: Perhaps you have a birthplace in common or know a mutual acquaintance. The first step is to have a conversation. Throughout your interactions, you will begin to determine whether you share values with someone. “Your values are like the big rocks holding the friendship in place. People with similar values will have little problem connecting with one another. The friendship blossoms almost naturally. However, when people with different values get together, they may find themselves disagreeing and conflicting more often than they support one another,” Chua said.
Good tips to follow, whether you’re 8 or 80.
Copyright: budabar / 123RF Stock Photo
Families hope that an elderly family member will live a long and healthy retirement, but when dementia is discovered, it brings with it inevitable change. It is, however, change that can be managed with proper planning and accepting what’s ahead.
Those with Alzheimer's live an average of eight years after their symptoms become noticeable to others, but survival can range from four to 20 years, depending on age and other health conditions, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
It is important to make preparations once a doctor has made the diagnosis so the senior’s care is provided for and important information is not lost. Families should have a list of contact names to be notified in case of serious illness or death, know where important documents are kept, as well as account numbers for pensions, insurance policies, investments, bank accounts, safe deposit boxes, and properties.
“Putting financial and legal plans in place now allows the person with dementia to express wishes for future care and decisions. It also allows time to work through the complex issues involved in long-term care,” the Alzheimer’s Association states on its website, http://www.alz.org/
Legal documents help ensure that the wishes of the person with dementia are followed as the disease progresses and make it possible for others to make decisions on behalf of the person when he or she no longer can.
• Power of attorney
• Power of attorney for health care
• Living will
• Standard will
• Living trust
• Guardianship / conservatorship
Once legal documents are filled out, the individual with dementia, the caregiver or a trusted family member, the attorney and the doctor should all have copies.
There are different care options to consider. Family caregivers may step up to take on the responsibility, but it is not always possible to continue providing the level of care needed in the home, especially if the person with dementia is at risk, has needs beyond the caregiver’s abilities or the structure of a care facility would benefit them.
Regency Retirement Village offers secure memory care from our Renaissance Centre, conveniently located off I-485 next to Carolina Medical Center at Pineville. We believe that although memory impairments alter an individual's life in a profound way, this does not mean an end to the quality of life or the ability to experience dignity, meaning, friendship and even joy.
Regency is proud to offer this resource to Charlotte seniors and their families so we can help to pave an easier road for the future and achieve a better quality of life.
For more information on our Renaissance Centre, call (844) 423-4254.
For information on the Alzheimer’s Association Western Carolina Chapter, visit http://www.alz.org/northcarolina/
The uncertainties of life can get in the way of even the best laid plans. Today’s volatile economy has affected us all and brings unprecedented challenges to seniors and families who are preparing to move to a senior community.
Regency Retirement Village of Charlotte recognizes those challenges and seeks to educate the public about some possible financial solutions that allow seniors and their families to move forward with confidence.
Veterans (or surviving spouses of veterans) may qualify for a monthly pension to offset the cost of senior care. Regency refers them to a company called Elder Resource Benefits that walks them through the process of qualifying for the federal benefits with the US Department of Veterans Affairs. Qualification for the wartime pension with aid and attendance is dependent on having low assets and low income.
A company called Life Care Funding has a program to use existing life insurance plans to pay for long term care. CEO Chris Orestis explained that Life Care Funding covers all fees and expenses – the company making money because they own the policies and collect the death benefit when the insured dies. The conversion option applies to almost any form of life insurance: Universal, Whole, Term, and Group. Seniors can sell their policy for 30 to 60 percent of its death-benefit value and put the money into an irrevocable, tax-free fund designated specifically for their care.
Orestis said Medicaid isn’t the best option to pay for the costs of long-term care and seniors should avoid going that route if at all possible because people on the program lose their ability to choose what kind of care they want and where they will go, resulting in a move to a nursing home instead of assisted living. You also need to be below the poverty line to use it, which means spending down your assets to get there.
Long Term Care Benefit Plans are used to fund immediate need for senior care services. Typically tax-free funds are being sent to care providers the same day the account is funded. To qualify for enrollment, care must be funded by the account within 90 days or less of being opened.
“One problem is that people wait until they are in the middle of a crisis before they start trying to figure out long-term care options and how to pay for them,” Orestis told the website LifeHealth.com. “Long-term care is expensive. It’s natural that families want to do whatever they can to help take care of a loved one, but they can go broke in the process.”
Senior living communities must also cover their costs to stay open. Something called “Companion Living” can make it more cost-efficient for many seniors who cannot afford to live alone in an apartment. Having a roommate allows for lower monthly rates without sacrificing services.
Because services take time to process paperwork and homes may be on the market for weeks or months before selling, a bridge loan may be needed for the senior to move right away to Regency Retirement Village or another community like it. These loans are usually low interest and allow multiple persons to co-sign without putting up collateral.
There are tax implications to these strategies, so seniors and their families are urged to read all information carefully and consult with tax professionals before making decisions. For more information about these programs, please contact a Community Consultant at (704) 542-9449.
Moving from a longtime house to a retirement community like Regency is about creating a supportive environment rather than the senior losing anything. There’s a lot to be gained – safety, less stress, entertainment, friendship, and fun – without sacrificing the things that contribute to quality of life.
Assisted Living facilities like Regency Retirement Village are about offering help in a homelike environment where residents can live as independently as possible. Individual apartments preserve the senior’s privacy and dignity while help with activities of daily living such as supervision of medications, dressing and bathing. This helping hand can be the difference between struggling and thriving.
Some seniors dread transitioning from their house to a community because they imagine being sent against their will to someplace unpleasant, but a tour of our facility quickly shatters those misconceptions.
Fear of change should be trumped by anxiety of what can happen when help is not readily available. We’ve all seen the commercials where a senior has fallen and can’t get up, and sadly, the headlines far too often reflect cases where the elderly fall prey to home invasions and con-artists. These apprehensions evaporate when the resident shares a secure space with others dedicated to his or her well-being.
Charlotte retirement communities are not just a place to put the old – most of us, regardless of age, would love to the luxury of having another person mow the grass, shovel the snow, make the food, put away the dishes, clean up and generally take care of us. These are all perks of our golden years after decades of working hard and looking after everyone else’s needs.
Moving to Assisted Living also improves family relationships by reducing the burden on family caregivers who can finally enjoy quality interactions without feelings of guilt or resentment. Time spent together becomes about laughing and playing, plus grown children can sleep easier knowing mom or dad are in a place surrounded by new friends and activities to keep them stimulated for a better quality of life than living alone.
Yes, it is pretty special having your own home, but it is not the only way to enjoy your own space. Sometimes that is possible while surrounded by caring staff to help make life a bit easier.
Call (704) 542-9449 to arrange a free consultation and tour of Regency Retirement Village.
Eventually, all families have “the talk” with an aging elder about options, including assisted living. While it may be a fairly common conversation, that doesn’t make it any more comfortable to sit down and have it.
It is best to have the talk when there’s no urgency so the parent does not feel forced out of his or her home. A grown child might best approach the topic by planting the seed, bringing the topic of assisted living up in terms of wanting to know the elder’s inevitable wishes so they can be honored, according to Gail Samaha, an elder advisor with GMS Associates.
If there is a need to relocate sooner – perhaps to accommodate a diagnosis or Parkinson’s or dementia – it is important to highlight the positives, be emphatic and speak in a calm, pleasant voice. The senior needs to know that it is important to his or her family that feelings matter.
It’s a conversation that can be non-threatening, and the senior may actually become eager to make the move once seeing Regency Retirement Village of Charlotte with his or her own eyes. Aside from the peace of mind gained from living in a secure building with experienced professionals attending to residents’ comfort and needs, there’s the spacious accommodations, new friendships to be made and lots of activities to make life here fulfilling.
Assisted Living promotes independence and dignity, which may be far from the misconceptions that someone starts out with about retirement living. Regency offers our Heritage Memory Care Unit, which means that if the resident’s health declines over time, their life won’t be disrupted a second time down the road.
To arrange a tour of Regency Retirement Village, call us at (704) 542-9449 or fill out the form to the right and someone will respond to you with answers to your questions. For information on moving in, see this page of information: http://www.regencyretirement.net/charlotte-elderly-care-resources/retirement-community-move-in-info