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friendships in retirement years 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.

Written by Steven Stiefel

Copyright: budabar / 123RF Stock Photo

Retirement Living Charlotte NCThere 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!

Written by Meghan O'Dea

alzheimers-diseaseFamilies 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.

These include:
• 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/

Written by Steven Stiefel

winter storm charlotte ncWith Charlotte seeing about 4.5-inches of snow every winter, fall is a good time to think ahead to winterizing seniors’ homes and possibly making a seasonal move to an Assisted Living community during the coldest months. El Niño is expected to play a large role in temperatures this winter, with North Carolina likely facing below normal temperatures in December and January.

Since we started keeping track in 1878, Charlotte has topped out at roughly 6-inches of snow as a record amount. NBC Meteorologist Brad Panovich recalled how, in February 2004, “the county only had 2 plows, most people were stuck in neighborhoods for days.”

That’s a dangerous situation for anyone, but particularly a homebound senior with mobility issues. As dedicated and capable as a caregiver may be, if he or she does not live within walking distance of the senior’s home, they may find the elder stranded during extreme conditions. When lives may be on the line, we must think not IF something happens but WHEN severe winter weather happens.

The very young and the elderly are at a greater risk of exposure due to the body’s decreased capacity to store heat. One can begin to see why seniors are on most fire departments’ and electricity companies’ priority lists during extreme weather events. It’s very important that someone who is frail does not wander off in a car or risk walking on an icy sidewalk when winter weather strikes.

Caregivers have a responsibility to make sure that seniors relying on them for trips to the doctor, grocery store or pharmacy are not left freezing and needing food, water or their medicines. Home maintenance is another obligation usually falling on adult children as leaky roofs and frozen pipes are an annual burden during the wintertime.

As families gather around the dinner-table this holiday season, one solution they might consider is moving the senior to an Assisted Living community, even if it is only on a temporary basis during the winter months. Beyond the need to stay warm and not feel hungry, seniors are at risk of feeling isolated, bored and lonely during the colder months of the year. Frequent visits and making sure there are plenty of pastime activities available at home, such as books, crafts and favorite games are important.

By joining a group like our residents at Regency Retirement Village of Charlotte, seniors can find opportunities for planned activities, entertainment, outings, and chances to make new friends – all in an environment where their safety is the primary focus.

Caregivers are responsible for making sure Charlotte seniors are comfortable, warm, relaxed, fed, and physically safe. One way of making sure all of these things happen is to turn to Assisted Living as a solution. Relocating someone to a situation where they don’t have to worry goes a long way toward relieving stress and making sure a loved one enjoys an incident-free winter.

For more information about Regency Retirement Village in Charlotte, please contact a Community Consultant at (704) 542-9449.

 

Written by Steven Stiefel

charlotte senior enjoying life at assisted living communityThe 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.

Written by Steven Stiefel

Seniors are a precious historical resourceCharlotte seniors can benefit from telling their life stories to family, caregivers or personal historians to write it down or record on audio or video.

“The known advantage of doing (life reviews) include improving the attitudes of younger adults toward older adults and vice versa, finding meaning in life, improving problem-solving skills, assisting with the grief process, increasing emotional support, strengthening self-esteem, decreasing depression and anxiety, and developing interventions for individuals with dementia,” said John Kunz, a member of the International Institute for Reminiscence and Life Review.

That organization provides guidance to family members or caregivers who find themselves in the role of collecting biographies or choosing “personal historians” who interview seniors to collect their tales. While it may be more practical to give an oral history to a family member, paid personal historians may be less likely to have an emotional reaction and thus be more supportive to stories that address difficult or embarrassing family situations. A grown child, for example, may omit an admission that his or her mother was not the love of his father’s life.

When providing a life review, remember:

Details bring stories to life. Facts alone rarely tell the entire story. Stories may be for immediate grandchildren or descendants up to hundreds of years from now as a genealogical resource. It’s important to choose a medium (written down/smartphone video) that will be preserved even as technology continues to evolve. How many personal moments caught on VHS videotape are being lost by people who haven’t hired a company to transfer the footage to digital format? A printed book complete with photos may be an easier heirloom to pass down to the next generation, and many can be produced affordably these days in small quantities.

A life review should be done with some idea of who will read a person’s stories and whether it covers the person’s entire life or just a part of it.

It sometimes helps to review painful periods, and a senior’s survival techniques can be a valuable aid to future readers when they go through similar dark times. A person may need to feel secure in order to talk about painful events. People tend to look back at the “good ole days” with sentimentality. Taking an honest inventory of life events and creating a list of regrets can lead to a cathartic release in which a person finally vents about something he or she may have carried around with them for years.

No matter how “ordinary” the senior might think his or her life is, it’s extraordinary to descendants, to historians, and to future readers, putting an individual point of view on collective moments such as watching the moon landing or a memorable sporting event.

The tragedy is that most people never get around to writing their memoirs because they always assume there will be plenty of time, but tomorrow is never a guarantee for anyone, regardless of age.

Don’t wait until memories begin to fade to start sharing.

 

Written by Steven Stiefel

Charlotte NC retirement livingMoving 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. 

Written by Steven Stiefel

Charlotte NC seniors stay cool while gardeningIt’s already been a scorching hot summer and the season has only just begun.

In the most recent newsletter, Executive Director Jamie Jollie said, "Yesterday I went to start my car and the END of the day and my thermometer said 101 degrees! It's a good thing we have so many wonderful things going on inside to help beat the heat."

With summer heat in mind, here are some tips for making sure you and the ones you love stay cool. Infants and anyone with a chronic illness need special attention, as do outdoor pets.

Dehydration from being in the heat and not getting adequate liquids can lead to hospitalization. Older adults are particularly at risk due to changes in renal function and body water composition.

Signs include confusion, problems with walking or falling, dizziness or headaches, dry or sticky mouth and tongue, sunken eyes, inability to sweat or produce tears, rapid heart rate, low blood pressure or blood pressure that drops when changing from lying to standing, constipation and decreased urine.

A caregiver like the ones at Regency work to keep our seniors healthy and hydrated, but what about friends and family who may live alone and struggle to keep cool in the oppressive heat?

Some tips to remember:

  •          If going outdoors is necessary, it is best done in the early morning or late evening when temperatures will be cooler.
  •           Fill a plastic bottle with water and put it in the freezer; grab it when ready to go outside and enjoy cold water longer as it melts.
  •           Use fans to help circulate air because even a home with air-conditioning can feel warm if the air is not getting to you.
  •           Wearing loose-fitting, light colored clothes will keep us cooler. Cotton clothing is cooler than synthetics.
  •           Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which promote dehydration. Sugary drinks can also have a negative effect.
  •         If someone lacks air-conditioning, they can spend time during the day in climate-controlled public places such as a shopping mall, public library, movie theater, or other space. Some cities also dedicate space for cooling centers open to the public.
  •           Avoid activities in direct sunlight.
  •         Try eating fruits and vegetables with a high water content (cucumber, celery, watermelon, tomatoes, lettuce/spinach). Avoid cooking foods that require using a stove.
  •        Plan indoor activities such as organizing scrapbooks, reading books, listening to music, getting organized, etc.

With a little caution and following these steps, you can stay cooler this summer and help your loved ones remain safe in the shade. 

Written by Steven Stiefel

Long gone are the days when time off from school mean helping in the fields or with the family business. Neighborhoods have also changed a lot, and chidden don’t have the same freedom to roam and make their own fun as previous generations did. Fortunately, there’s a great opportunity there to bond with the special young people in your life over summer break, and to have special outings with your grandchildren or other young relatives. Make special memories together, tell them your stories, and find out who they are becoming. There’s nothing like quality time spent together. Here are four ideas for summer vacation outings you can enjoy with the youngsters in your life:

The Carolinas Aviation Museum

Charlotte Carolinas Aviation Museum

It’s easy to take airplanes for granted as an adult, but children still get excited about the incredible possibilities of flight. Rekindle the amazement of aviation at a museum dedicated to it, and Charlotte’s unique role in the era of human flight. See real antique aircraft, commercial airplanes, and military fighter jets. You might even get to board a historic DC-7 plane that once flew non-stop routes from New York to London. The museum provides a rare opportunity to get up close and personal with these amazing machines. You might find the exhibits to be a great conversation starter about the first time you flew, your service in the military, or other exciting memories to share with the little ones. Tell them all about it with a post-museum picnic at Airport Overlook Park, where you can watch the planes land and take off at the Charlotte/Douglas International Airport.

Discovery Place and Discovery Place Kids

Kids of all ages can enjoy these unique attractions, which feature hands-on science lab stations, a deep sea aquarium, a 3D digital theater that lets kids get a taste of what it’s like on a movie set, an IMAX theater, and more. Discovery Place Kids is for the younger set, with interactive exhibits like a submarine experience as well as regular programing like puppet shows. With so much to see and do, you could definitely get repeat visits here throughout the summer, and no doubt the little ones will have a lot to say about everything they learned.

Wing Haven Gardens and Bird Sanctuary

If your little ones like to get up close and personal with nature they’ll love this 4-acre sanctuary where they can discover birds, rabbits, turtles, frogs, chipmunks, and other woodland creatures in their natural habitat. Founded by Elizabeth Clarkson, she specifically wanted to create a place where a garden was not only a place to look at beautiful blooms, but was a space where animals could thrive. You’ll definitely make many memories here as you see Peter Rabbit and his friends making new narratives throughout the beautiful space.

Carolina Raptor Center

If nature is a big hit, check out the Raptor Center where you can view 23 different species of of birds of prey. The 3/4 mile trail isn’t difficult to walk, and is situated on an old plantation. Enjoy the beautiful scenery around Mountain Island Lake, let the kids stretch their legs and burn off some energy, and take in these beautiful and inspiring birds.

Written by Meghan O'Dea

Long ago, spring cleaning was necessary after a winter of coal fires, oil lamps, and soot accumulating in the house. These days winter doesn’t make as much of a mess and there isn’t as much spring cleaning to do, especially if you live in a retirement community where most of the daily chores are taken care of for the residents. However, there’s something about spring cleaning that always feels nice, even if it doesn’t involve a true deep cleaning with lots of scrubbing and elbow grease. It’s simply a pleasant tradition to take spring as the opportunity to refresh your home and simplify your life. Here are our top five tips for making the most of your spring cleaning:

  1. Books are fun to read, but they can pile up after a while. Sort through your shelves and see what you might like to re-read and what you might like to pass along. You could organize a book swap with friends or family to get some new reading material, or take your leftovers to a used bookstore, which usually offer cash or trade credit you can use towards something new on your reading list. 
  2. Update your medicine cabinet. Most prescriptions, and even over-the-counter medicines and toiletry items, have expiration dates. Now is a great time to check the dates on the items in your bathroom, bedside table, or handbag. Make a note of everything you use regularly, even if you don’t have a prescription. That information could come in handy the next time you go to the doctor, so you can double check on drug interactions or have a better sense of what minor ailments crop up regularly that might need a more serious approach. If you have any expired medications or prescriptions that you no longer take, don’t flush them or throw them out. The CMC Rx Medical Center Central Plaza has a drug-take-back program that will safely dispose of medications. Call them at 704-355-6900 to find out how you can participate.
  3. You might be pulling out your summer clothes and putting away the sweaters and heavier items now that the weather is getting warmer. As you trade out seasons, consider you closet. If there is anything you haven’t worn in over a year that doesn’t have sentimental value, you might want to sell it on consignment or donate it to a charity shop like Goodwill or Salvation Army. Life is always easier when you’ve simplified and have less cluttering up your closets. You can also see what items might need to be taken to a tailor, cobbler, or for special cleaning, as well as if there are any pieces of clothing you wish you had but haven’t yet purchased. With so many sales at this time of year to clear out stock for summer merchandise, you might be able to get some great deals on the essentials.
  4. We’ve survived yet another tax season, which means you can do a last bit of financial spring cleaning for the year. Make sure your financial paperwork is filed away in a safe place, that you don’t need to adjust any of your retirement or investment accounts, and that your budget has you where you need to be for monthly expenses.
  5. Spring clean your body with some self-care. Go for a long walk to enjoy the nice weather, or read a book outdoors or at a local park to soak up a little extra fresh air and sunshine. Maybe you want to book a massage or a body scrub at a nearby spa to refresh your skin and muscles after a long, dry winter. Paint your nails a bright color for the season or try a new scent of aftershave. Even little treats can signal what a special time of year it is, and that you deserve the best!

 

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