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
The blooming trees, flowers, and warmer weather signal the return of springtime for Charlotte seniors to get outside and enjoy. While there are many ways for any senior to enjoy the beauty that comes along with the season’s change, caution and preparedness are imperative to ensure safety against the sun, when spending time outdoors.
“Oh my goodness it’s already April!” said Jamie Jollie, Executive Director at Regency at Pineville, in the most recent newsletter. “We are so excited to have the flowers blooming and residents sitting outside, goodbye to the cold!”
While mobility issues may keep some seniors from fully enjoying Mother Nature’s great outdoors, most agree that even sitting outside and breathing in the fresh air is a welcome change, after the long winter months. Before being too physically active, it is important for individuals to speak with a doctor in order to be aware of any limitations. Regardless of how time is spent soaking up the sunshine, Vitamin D will also be soaked up, which is very important for everyone. It is not only important for bone strength, but research is now showing that there is a link between Vitamin D and improved cognitive function.
Here are 10 ideas for seniors in Charlotte to do in springtime:
Additionally, there are plenty of local events, fairs, and festivals in Charlotte to take part in and choose from, depending on personal interests.
One thing for seniors to remember when getting out into the warmer weather and sunshine is to prepare and be cautious in order to avoid heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and other side effects that can accompany prolonged heat exposure.
A few tips to remember are:
These are just a few tips to enhance enjoyment of spring and the warmer weather, in a safe way.
To learn more about Regency at Pineville, call us at (844) 425-4254.
There has been a lot of discussion about whether the Internet is a benefit or a burden. Some see its limitless potential to connect us, and others are apprehensive about how it affects everything from our in-person relationships to industries like publishing and retail. One way to make up your mind is to try the Internet out for yourself— it doesn’t take too much tech savvy to get started, and you might find that, like 58% of seniors who surf the web, it has the potential to broaden your horizons beyond, say, Charlotte, North Carolina, and give you a way to explore people, places, and things all over the world.
Play chess or Scrabble with fellow gamers in England or Alaska, learn new gardening techniques, read movie reviews, discuss politics and religion with people all over the United States, find new crossword puzzles, preorder books, or even learn a new language! One of the best features of the Internet that many seniors log on for is in order to stay in touch with loved ones who live far away and make sure they’re involved in their communities. Seniors can sometimes feel as if their worlds get smaller after retirement, which is why senior living communities like Regency Charlotte can have such great appeal, with plenty of fellow neighbors, activities, and excursions to bring residents together. The Internet can be yet another way to expand your horizons and try new things that you might not have gotten to try while you were busy with work and the kids, or learn about new topics, like what your grandchildren are into this week.
While there are many benefits to online access, there are some downsides, too. When the postal service was first invented, criminals quickly found ways to use it to scam people, and the same is true of when telephones became wide spread. As technology takes leaps and bounds, so do new types of crime. However, there are a number of ways that you can keep your personal information safe and enjoy the best of the web while keeping the worst out of your life.
You can start by signing up for an email account with a service that has strong security and spam filters, like Google Mail or Yahoo Mail. This will protect you from having to deal with most of the junk mail you receive. You can also choose a strong password that will be hard for cyber criminals to hack. It’s best if it’s a random assemblage of symbols, numbers, and letters that doesn’t add up to a word as do, for example, “grandma1982” or “ILoveCarolinaPanthers777.” Your password should be eight characters or more.
It’s also a good rule of thumb never to open email attachments or download files from suspicious sites, unknown senders, or pop-up windows. Sometimes files may download automatically. If so, you should immediately delete them. If you receive an email message from a stranger with a suspicious looking file, you should mark the message as spam so your email program will know to filter messages like it in the future. If a message appears to be from someone you know, but you aren’t 100% sure, check in person or over the phone. Scam artists may use innocuous statements like “How are you doing?” or “I just wanted to check in on you” to appear like concerned friends or family and lure you into a conversation through which they will try to build on your trust and get you to share information like your insurance, credit card, or bank account numbers, or agree to transfer money online or through a wire transfer program.
Install and regularly update your firewall, anti-virus, and anti-spyware software, such as McAfee Anti Virus or Norton. If you have any questions about this software, or other computer-related questions, a trusted resource can be your local computer store, like the Apple Store at SouthPark or Northlake Malls, or Best Buy. You can also talk to a tech-savvy friend or family member in your close circle if you need pointers or aren’t sure if a site or email is trustworthy.
Last, you should have a healthy sense of skepticism for what you read on the Internet. Not everything is professionally written and vetted, and you might run across misinformation or marketing copy that is designed to get you to buy in to items that aren’t what they appear or won’t function as promised. The Internet is a great place to learn about new things, but double check to make sure that sensitive topics like banking, medical advice, stock numbers, or product reviews are credible and accurate. Sites that end in .edu or .gov are more likely to be legitimate and the information solid.
Enjoy using the Internet safely and with savvy to try and learn new things, and stay connected with the wider world around you!
Founded in 1768, Charlotte, North Carolina has seen a lot. So has each generation that’s lived here, with the many exciting changes the city has gone through, from textile hub to national financial center and hot spot for motorsports. Just looking at old photos can get you reminiscing about your time in Charlotte, whether it was for a brief visit or your whole child or young adulthood. We’ve picked four iconic Charlotte places or views that might get you started on a trip down memory lane:
The Oriental Cafe was one of Charlotte’s most beloved and enduring restaurants, in business from the 1920s through the 1980s. Charlotte residents fondly remember the Lobster Cantonese and the chow mein. At its peak, the Oriental had multiple locations in Charlotte. If reminiscing about the Oriental gives you a yen for Chinese, try the Peruasian Restaurant or Jade Dragon.
The Charlotte Coliseum opened in 1956 and ever since generations have been able to enjoy a fantastic array of concerts and sporting events. Bo Didley was the first performer to grace the stage and a number of legendary artists followed, including Judy Garland, Johnny Cash, Elton John, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Bruce Springsteen, and, of course, Elvis Presley, King of Rock n Roll.
The Savoy Theater opened in 1936 as the Royal Theater, and was an important fixture in the African American community, centered in the prominent Charlotte neighborhood of Brooklyn. It closed in 1963, but many Charlotte natives may remember this being one of their favorite places to spend leisure time.
The 1966 Charlotte skyline shows the beginning of the banking boom with the North Carolina National Bank Building and Cutter Building high rises in downtown. It’s exciting to see how much Charlotte has changed in the past fifty years!
There are so many fun diversions that get put aside over the years as responsibilities take over. Fortunately there’s no time like the present to try something new, or rekindle an old favorite hobby. You’re never too old to reclaim the enthusiasm and curiosity you had as a child and to truly relish how you spend your time.
Here are five ideas for how you can get the most out of your senior years:
1) Take on a new perspective. Painting is not only relaxing creative outlet, it can help you see the world in a whole new way. Whether it’s a watercolor class or trying your hand at an oil painting workshop, you might enjoy capturing moments big and small and communicating something special about how you see the world.
2) Go for a walk! A daily walking route is a fun way to get low impact exercise. It’s also neat to see how the landscape and landmarks change day to day, and to spend time conversing with a friend or simply checking in with yourself.
3) Pick up a fun new game. Whether it’s something a crowd can play like gin or poker something you can arrange tournament style like chess or checkers, or games that test your smarts like Scrabble or Trivial Pursuit, playing a card or board game regularly will help keep your mind fit and are a great way to spend time with friends and family.
4) Get involved with a religious or spiritual organization. Not only do you get to explore your faith, you’ll build a new social circle and have a chance to attend all kinds of events from fundraisers to church suppers. Plus the routine of attending services is a good way to create a structure and routine, which might be pleasant in retirement.
5) Writing letters is a wonderful way to stay in touch. There are more options than ever for stationary these days, as many craftspeople have rediscovered the art of letterpress and illustration. Or you could simply pull out some notebook paper and write a good long letter to your loved ones. It’s a more personal way of connecting with those who are far away than email or social media, and your correspondence could be a great keepsake to revisit later.
The Holidays are in the air, and it is time to once again for Charlotte Seniors to consider what to give loved ones for Christmas. To “lend some method to the holiday madness”, experts from the Healthy Aging Partnership offer a few suggestions on shopping for family and friends.
Give Experiences Rather than Things
Time is precious. As a gift, it can take the form of a coupon book for special activities together or passes to local attractions. The Carolinas Aviation Museum at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport displays more than 50 static aircraft and is home to the “Miracle on the Hudson” exhibit. It offers a senior discount, is wheelchair accessible and has picnic tables. Grandchildren might enjoy a day at Discovery Place or find the Mint Museum of Craft + Design stimulating. Other great experiences are taking a youngster who enjoys sports to a Carolina Panthers or Charlotte Bobcats game or a visit to the NASCAR Hall of Fame or North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fame in Mooresville.
Handmade gifts not only solve the “what to buy” dilemma for seniors with limited finances, they can also transform ordinary objects into fun reminders that family will enjoy for years to come. It can be as simple as a craft made at a Regency activity or perhaps a book that you want to share so a family member can enjoy it as much as you have. A photo album or scrapbook becomes priceless with time passing.
Be Appropriate When Giving
Says the Healthy Aging Partnership: “A modest gift given out of love is more meaningful than a big-ticket item given out of pressure or the desire to impress. Consider the child’s age and read labels for safety hazards. You’ll want to check with parents to make sure they approve of a gift or hadn’t planned on giving (the child) the same thing.”
When in Doubt, Cash or Gift Cards Work Fine
It seems counter-intuitive (if we want to see our gift warmly received) to suggest that we simply give someone money to buy something, but it is not necessarily a sign that we are uninterested in playing detective or haven’t put thought into what someone might like. Especially with teenage grandchildren, gift cards to their favorite stores and money are appreciated more than clothes or things they might need more than they want.
Perhaps the most valuable thing we give our families at Christmas is tradition. Rituals like playing games, watching certain movies, cooking certain dishes, etc., become the things that grandchildren fondly remember and carry on to their own families when they grow up.
From all of us at Regency, have a Merry Christmas!
If your grandkids don’t visit nearly as often as you’d like, you can explore new ways of interacting with them in our increasingly mobile society.
Face-to-face, hands-on encounters are always preferable to ones happening via a cell phone or computer screen, but seniors have to grab on to whatever is offered if they want to compete with the distractions of a constant stream of information and entertainment at the fingertips of their grandchildren.
Here are 5 ways you can use tech to stay more relevant in the lives of grandkids:
Texts are a great way to put out quick bursts of information and share photos on-the-go. If you struggle with the tiny keyboards on smartphones, use the voice-to-text dictation feature and speak clearly/slowly, making sure the phone has not mistakenly replaced your words with what it thinks is the correct spelling.
Use Email for times when you have more to say than you can convey in a simple text message. Brevity is key. The longer, more detailed conversation you want to have can flow from a back-and-forth dialogue this opens in follow-up responses. Email’s also great for sending photos or other files. These days, you don’t even have to own a computer to send and receive email – just a mobile phone.
SKYPE OR FACETIME
Spend 10 minutes making silly faces with your granddaughter or reading a picture book to your grandson. Video conferencing is an enormous improvement over mere phone calls, especially when the little ones can't yet carry on a conversation.
People today love sharing their lives on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, and other platforms. Get a sense of what’s going on in their life as the channel broadcasts their written thoughts, their photos, even what music they are listening to. Several Regency facilities have Facebook Pages that allow family to see what activities are going on.
Sharing photos in private online galleries with select people is a way to passively connect with family, even if you aren’t directly exchanging back and forth messages that often.
Getting beyond one’s comfort zone and exploring new ways of communicating can be a terrific way for Charlotte seniors to make and keep the connections that matter most.
There are some common misconceptions about Alzheimer’s disease, a condition that kills one in every 3 seniors who dies each year, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
For example, it is possible to get it while young, although most cases do affect persons 60 or older. And everyone knows about the “senior moments”, but it also involves changes in sensitivity to light and depth perception.
Alzheimer’s patients can have good days and bad ones.
When a doctor diagnoses Alzheimer’s, the person living with it often feels a combination of relief to finally have answers, anger at what life has thrown at them, denial about change, fear and depression about what lies ahead, and a sense of isolation in which no one understands what they are going through.
The emotions can feel overwhelming for everyone involved, but it is important to remember that they are not alone. There are a number of support groups, information online (see below) and resources to preserve quality of life while making the necessary adjustments.
It is critical for someone in the early stages of the disease to make legal and financial plans with a person they can trust while they are still able to participate in making decisions to ensure that others know their wishes, and know what to do.
Changes in thinking may reduce one’s ability to make appropriate decisions about self-care and day-to-day needs as the disease progresses. Difficulty managing personal hygiene or household tasks can lead to unsafe living conditions. Someone in that situation needs to plan ahead for how they will address basic needs, including housing, meals and physical care.
One option available to people in Charlotte is Regency Retirement Village’s Heritage Memory Care Unit.
With monthly rent to Heritage, residents take care of several challenges created by Alzheimer’s. They live in spacious studio apartments with private bathrooms, an enclosed courtyard, and numerous amenities, yet it is also a secure unit with a 24-hour emergency response system monitored by on-site staff.
All utilities are paid. There are smoke detectors and a fire sprinkler system. Plus, daily housekeeping service, meals and snacks throughout the day, scheduled transportation to medical appointment and activities, and assistance with the activities of daily living, including bathing, dressing, walking, grooming and medication management.
Additionally, Heritage is conveniently located off I-485 next to Carolina Medical Center at Pineville and close to physician's offices. Regency even has a beauty and barber shop.
Regency works hand-in-hand with the local Alzheimer’s Association to assist in continued education of our staff, hosting support groups for our families, and educating people in the Chattanooga area.
The association is organizing the 2014 Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Charlotte on Sept. 27 at Symphony Park. The event raises money to help advance Alzheimer’s support, care and research. To donate and/or participate, visit http://act.alz.org/site/TR/Walk2014/NC-WesternCarolina?fr_id=5251&pg=entry or volunteer with Jacob Wilkins at (765) 544-0631.
To learn more about Memory Care at Regency Senior Living, visit http://regencyretirement.net/charlotte-retirement-living-services/charlotte-memory-care-retirement-facility or call (704) 542-9449.
Alzheimer's Association: http://www.alz.org/
The Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral Center: http://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers
Alzheimer's Reading Room: http://www.alzheimersreadingroom.com/
The New York Times "New Old Age" Blog: http://newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com/
Caregiving can sometimes feel frustrating or disruptive as much as it can be fulfilling and rewarding. After all, it requires adjusting relationships, routines, and plans. It can be hard on both you and your loved one as you struggle with role reversal, stress, and a change in ability. Here are our top three suggestions for how to handle the transition gracefully and confidently:
Be flexible. Things are going to change, sometimes often, sometimes over many years. Your relationship with your loved one will change, as will the expectations and needs of everyone involved. You may need to travel more often if your loved one lives far away, or invite an aging parent into your home for caregiving. You may find yourself making regular trip across town to the retirement community you selected for your husband or wife. Hospital stays might disrupt your schedule. You never know when something could come up, positive or negative, from a day of unexpected mental clarity from a loved one with Alzheimers to a sudden fall from a great aunt. Prepare yourself ahead of time to roll with the punches and commit to flexibility.
Get organized. There are more ways than ever to stay on top of schedules, coordinate care providers, and keep items neatly arranged at home. Do some research, whether online, by talking to a doctor, or chatting with friends who have experience as caregivers to find solutions that will work best for you. Not only are there pills to take and shots to administer, there is also a lot of new information to keep straight. You may want to keep any interesting and helpful articles you’ve found on, say gout or dysphagia together for easy reference, or invest in a new closet system that puts home medical equipment at arm’s reach and out of sight.
Focus on the big picture. If the daily details are overwhelming you, try to step back. For example, caring for a parent with diabetes might seem like a never ending flurry of lancets and test strips, but if you take a moment to think about the situation globally you’ll notice that all that hard work is paying off with fewer hospital visits and improved overall health. It may be tough debating with your wife often about a new low-sodium regemin for her heart condition, but if you see the big picture you’ll notice that she’s been able to stop taking two of the medications you were managing. Focusing on the big picture, too, can mean the sad acknowledgement of your loved one’s mortality, but that also leaves a lot of room to celebrate the time you have together, however stressful it may be at times.
By staying positive and proactive you can transform caregiving from a chore to a vocation, and better appreciate the new relationship and lifestyle you share with someone special.