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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!

 

All over the country people are surely rejoicing at the arrival of spring. Warmer weather, beautiful blooms, and sunny days are great reasons to celebrate. Residents of Charlotee, North Carolina have added reason to celebrate though with a treasured community resource in their midst— the UNC Botanical Gardens. It’s easy to enjoy the best of spring with the Botanical Gardens right in your own back yard.

April 17th and 18th the Gardens are hosing a Spring Plant Sale. There’s something for everyone from shrubs and tropicals to houseplants and even carnivorous varieties! Attend the preview April 16th from noon-4PM to see what they have available and get a membership if you aren’t already part of the Botanical Garden family. There’s so many reasons to snag some of these gorgeous greens. Studies have shown that gardening is an excellent activity for seniors that not only provides gentle exercise that helps strength and balance, but that it can have a positive impact on memory and mental health, too. There’s just something so wonderful about burying your hands in the dirt and making something grow.

The Botanical Gardens also have volunteer opportunities, in case you really get carried away with your green thumbs. They have regular events, too, in everything from learning about the unique soil in our Piedmont region of North Carolina to photography workshops. Each event is a great way to meet new people, make friends, and learn something new. They have also offered classes in the past on birds you might see in your yard, history of botany, or how a garden can inspire you to journal. 

Of course, you don’t have to wait for an event to enjoy the rich health benefits and fun the Gardens offer. The gardens are open seven days a week during daylight hours and the Greenhouse seven days a week at set hours. If you enjoy going for regular walks as part of your fitness regimen or to have a fun activity to share with friends and family while you catch up the Gardens are a great place to do it. Going for a walk each day is so much more fun when there’s variety in the view— and there’s always something new to see at the Gardens, especially at this time of year when everything is blossoming and blooming.

There’s so many more ways to celebrate spring in Charlotte though, if gardens aren’t your thing. Charlotte’s Polish community loves to share Dyngus Day with the whole city in an event hosted by the Red Fez Shrine Club. You get to spend a beautiful day on the lake, try Polish food, and enjoy the music of the Polka All Stars and accordion player Bob Wilusz! That’s April 6th. There’s also the Spring Auto Fair April 9th-12th at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. May 1st through 3rd the Vinyards of Swan Creek hosts a Spring Herb Celebration featuring foods prepared with each vineyard’s signature herb and wine pairings. In addition to enjoying food and drink you’ll get a 4-inch potted herb from each vineyard.

There’s always so much to do in Charlotte, but especially in the spring time when everyone is eager to break through that cabin fever and get back to the hustle and bustle of warm weather life. We can’t wait to see how you enjoy yourself!

 

One of the most precious gifts you can give your loved ones are your stories. For younger generations, you are often their only link to decades past, family members they never got to meet, and exciting moments in history. If you enjoyed revisiting the 1960s and 70s through our photos of Charlotte, North Carolina last month, you know first hand how exciting your own memories might be for those you love. 

 

Not only can you collect your stories by scrapbooking, writing them down, or recording them on tape, you can also pass down your wisdom and experience. A special gift for a new mother in your family might be a photo album with images of other mothers and babies together from each generation of the family, along with pieces of advice a new mommy might find helpful, or memories of what other babies in your family were like. 

 

You could do something similar with wedding photos and advice for newlyweds as they start their lives together, or a first day of school book for little ones who would love to know their parents and grandparents. Each generation can add their own photos perspective to the album as its handed down, creating a special record of some of life’s most momentous occasions.

 

You might try memoir or life writing, too, as a way to share your reminiscences. Write in small sketches of 5-10 minutes on specific topics, such as a favorite holiday, the first job, a memorable world event. Or you might find a book on the topic or some inspiring examples at a used bookstore like The Last Word on Harris Boulevard, The Book Rack on Johnston Road, or Julia’s Cafe and Books on Wendover.

 

No matter how you approach recording your memories, it will have untold benefits, from boosting your own capacity to remember to providing your friends and family with a new understanding of who you are and what adventures you’ve had.

Friday, 30 January 2015 14:01

Memories of Charlotte

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:

charlotte nc in the sixtiesThe 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.

charlotte nc skyline 1966The 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!

Written by Meghan O'Dea

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