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Making a Move: Packing Parties and Other Creative Ideas

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The below article was written by Brad Breeding of myLifeSite and is legally licensed for use.

Recently I had the chance to speak with a couple that lives in a continuing care retirement community (CCRC or “life plan community”) in Virginia. Let’s call them Joe and Becky. They have lived in the CCRC for about three years and said they couldn’t be happier. One thing that has really stood out to them since moving, they explained, was the level of service provided by the staff, which they described as “exceptional.” As we talked more, I asked about their experience in making the move and how they managed to deal with all their “stuff.”

Indeed, dealing with years of accumulated belongings can be daunting. Of course, somebody eventually has to deal with all that stuff, and it doesn’t get any easier as we get older. Here are some ways that can help make the experience more, dare I say, fun.

Attitude is everything

When I asked my new friends about the task of moving, the first thing I noticed in their response was a positive attitude. As with most everything in life, attitude makes a big difference. Once Joe and Becky decided they wanted to make the move to a CCRC, they simply did what they needed to do. I didn’t get the impression that there was a big sense of dread for them. This isn’t to say that moving wasn’t difficult for them, but once they got over the emotional aspect, they didn’t let the physical task of moving stand in the way of a decision they felt was best for them in the long-run.

Make a party out of it

Not only did Joe and Becky have a good attitude, they even decided to have a little fun while enlisting the help of friends. They had a series of packing parties where they invited some of their best friends over and provided snacks, drinks, music, etc. They started with the kitchen and had everything packed up in boxes after only a few hours. With the next party, they packed up the huge collection of books from over the years and took them to the local library. They even recorded each book on paper and used it as a record for a tax deduction.

Involve family

If you have adult children, you may think they want a lot of your stuff. But I can’t tell you how many people have shared with me that this was simply not the case. Yet, there’s no sense in trying to guess what your kids might want. Instead, find a time to go through your things together. It can be a special time with your children and even grandchildren. Think about it for a moment: How often do families get together and share memories related to old household items, pictures, and family keepsakes? For example, I was recently in my mother’s attic looking for something when I came across a piggy bank that was in my room when I was a baby. I hadn’t laid eyes on it in decades and didn’t even know she still had it. (That’s probably something I actually would like to keep.) But don’t wait until moving day to do this. Schedule a time well in advance of moving day so your family can go ahead and take whatever they want to keep. It will make moving easier later.

Not sure what to keep?

If you’re like me, you probably have clothes in your closet that you’ve held on to for years because you’re just sure that you’ll have a need to wear it at some point. Guess what? If a shirt has been hanging in your closet for more than five years, there is a really high likelihood that you’ll never wear it again. The same is true with a lot of your accumulated stuff. Don’t hang on to things that you think you’ll need later but that you rarely use now. It’s just not worth dealing with it and having it take up more space. If it is an appliance, for instance, and you absolutely have a need for it down the road, there’s a good chance you can just borrow one. But if you do get hung up on whether to keep something or get rid of it, here’s an idea that I heard from a friend of mine who lives in a CCRC in California. He said he and his wife rented a storage shed for one year and put some of their items in it. They made a pact that at the end of one year, anything they had not touched or pulled out of the storage shed would be sold or given away. They figured that if they didn’t use it within a year, they would probably never need it again.

Embrace your new freedom from clutter

Joe and Becky mentioned something else to me in our conversation that I’ve heard from a number of other people who have made a move like theirs. They described how getting rid of some of their things actually was liberating. Becky described how life feels a little easier to her without so much stuff; she felt free from the clutter. She explained how others who live in the same community had clearly tried to bring more with them than they needed, and that their homes were really cluttered.

Making new memories

Moving out of a beloved home full of fond memories is never easy, and it is completely normal to experience a range of emotions from sadness to apprehension about the experience of relocating to a CCRC. But as Becky and Joe discovered, once they were in their new home, those feelings quickly melted away as they began enjoying the services and amenities offered in their new community. In addition to making new friends and creating new memories, they have relished the sense of security and relief knowing they no longer have to worry about the “what ifs” of their future.

Comparing Life Plan Retirement Communities on Price

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In Columbus, and the surrounding central Ohio region, shopping for a life plan retirement community (also referred to as a CCRC or continuing care retirement community) requires a lot of research, and your final decision will be based on many factors–services, location, amenities, reputation, and more–though price is usually one of the most heavily weighted.

If you are comparing more than one CCRC and looking at the side-by-side costs, you need to ensure you are making an apples-to-apples comparison about what services are and are not included in the pricing so that you may draw a fully informed conclusion about which is right for you. Comparing purely on price without understanding the various contract types can be a mistake.

There are two parts to analyzing cost and it is important to take both into consideration. The first is to think about cost today, while living independently and without the need for healthcare services. The published monthly rate may be an all-inclusive rate, whereby all services and amenities are covered, or it could be an à la carte rate, which means you may have to pay extra each month for additional services.

The second part of the analysis is to consider future costs. Since residents of CCRCs may eventually transition from independent living to assisted living or other forms of care, it is important to consider not only the cost today, but the lifetime cost.

Suppose you are interested in two different CCRCs. The monthly fees are about the same, but one requires a higher entry fee. Does this mean the one with the higher entry fee is more expensive? Not necessarily. If you closely compare the contracts you may find that the one with the higher entry fee offers monthly fees that remain mostly level over lifetime, regardless of how much care you may eventually require (lifecare). The one with the lower entry fee requires that you pay the full cost for healthcare services when needed (fee for service). In other words, the choice is to pay more early-on but have predictable monthly fees for life, or pay less now and potentially have to pay more per month when care services are needed.

Looking at this purely from a statistical standpoint, either choice should work out about the same, on average, because it is really a matter of pay now or pay later. However, the actual experience of any one individual- in terms of how long they will live and how much care they will eventually need- will almost always vary from the averages. Therefore, the key is to understand how the contracts work and think in terms of total lifetime cost. No one can predict the future, but your own health and family history are the best indicators of what you might reasonably expect and plan for.

Ultimately it may simply come down to choosing the one you are most comfortable with. Selecting a retirement community may be one of the biggest financial decisions you make, so when comparison shopping, it is important that you fully understand the costs associated with each choice and the services you will receive in return.

The above article was written by Brad Breeding of myLifeSite and is legally licensed for use.

Peg’s Perspective –The Longevity Project and Conscientiousness

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“Fifty Tips on Aging Well to Celebrate 50 Years of Excellent Service”

As The Wesley Communities approach 50 years of excellent service, our CEO Peg Carmany offers “Peg’s Perspective” on a variety of topics affecting seniors and their adult children as they plan and choose to age well – 50 tips to celebrate 50 years!

Click above to read tip # 11 of 50 –The Longevity Project and Conscientiousness!

CCRCs: The Purpose of Entry Fees

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The vast majority of Continuing Care Retirement Communities require an entry fee. Naturally, people often ask, “What is the purpose of the entry fee?” Before answering this question it is helpful to understand the history of entry fees.

Click above to learn more.

How CCRCs can help couples stay together as they age

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About 70 percent of people over the age of 65 will need some type of long-term care during their lifetime, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).1 On average, women will need care for a longer period of time (3.7 years), compared to men (2.2 years), and 20 percent of those age 65 and older will need care for more than five years.

An active, healthy lifestyle can help protect your mind and body from disease and injury—which often leads to a need for long-term care. However, there are no guarantees in life and the question of whether—and how long—you or your spouse may need care remains unknown.

Since aging is an individual thing, a couple should not expect that both partners will have the same needs throughout retirement. As a couple ages, one partner may require assisted living or skilled nursing services, while the other partner remains able to live independently.

A continuing care retirement community (CCRC) can help couples prepare for the challenges that an unknown future may offer. CCRCs provide a continuum of services—from independent living to nursing home level health care—that is available if and when needed. If, after moving into a CCRC, one spouse eventually needs a higher level of health care services, the couple can still be together at the retirement community.

Here is an example of how a CCRC can meet the needs of both partners over time:

Jim and Jane move into an independent living unit at a CCRC. A few years later, Jane is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The couple continues to live together for a couple of years, but as Jane’s needs change, she moves into another section of the CCRC to receive additional care and support. Jim continues to enjoy the social benefits of living within the retirement community and can visit with Jane, who is just a short walk away, whenever he wants.

Couples who seek peace of mind in the face of uncertainty may want to consider a CCRC as a viable retirement living choice to ensure that both partners will be taken care of now and in the future.

1 http://longtermcare.gov/the-basics/how-much-care-will-you-need/

The above content is legally licensed for use by myLifeSite.

Benefits of Technology for Seniors

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By: Kayla Statema

At The Wesley Communities, we understand that technology can be intimidating. It feels like every time we turn around there’s a new phone, app, or device! But we firmly believe that the benefits of technology are worth learning about. Technology can improve three main areas of seniors’ lives:

  1. Staying Connected

Social connection is increasingly important as we age. Facetime, Facebook, and email are all ways that seniors can stay connected. Seniors can video chat with their best friends and grandchildren from miles away using Facetime or Skype. They can stay up-to-date with the latest happenings from family and friends via social media channels. And, they can reminisce about the days of letter-writing while typing their emails, while fostering their social connection!

  1. Healthy Brain and Body

At The Wesley Communities, we put a special emphasis on brain and body health. And, technology is one way to engage in activities that improve overall wellbeing. From watches that track steps to games that keep your brain active—the possibilities are endless. And for seniors with a competitive edge, we recommend playing digital games with family or having a “step challenge” with your best friends!

  1. Safety

Phones, medical alert systems, and even tablets can increase seniors’ safety. Cell phones come in handy, especially if seniors are still driving. Things like breakdowns and flat tires happen almost every day, and having a cell phone handy will bring everyone peace of mind. Medical alert systems are also helpful in case of a fall or if an individual is living alone. These systems allow seniors to push a button for emergency help.

At The Wesley Communities, our staff is extremely knowledgeable regarding many digital devices. Here, our friendly, trusted professionals take pride in helping seniors with any technological problems that may arise, so our residents can focus on living life well.

Pricing Structures in Assisted Living

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As seniors or their family members research various assisted living facilities, they will inevitably see statistics showing the average monthly cost of assisted living and other types of care.

These are great tools for getting a ballpark idea of assisted living expenses, but the cost can vary dramatically among different regions, facilities and even among different residents within a facility. Understanding why begins with understanding how pricing works.

Here is a breakdown of the types of fees you can expect:

Upfront fee (one time)

Most assisted living facilities will charge future residents a reservation deposit. Sometimes referred to as a “community fee,” this deposit may be a couple thousand dollars or so and reserves the accommodations of your choice for a certain period of time. Typically, this deposit is not applied to any other charges and is sometimes refundable only if the would-be resident is unable to move into the facility for health reasons.

Base fee (monthly)

In short, this is your monthly “rent” once you live in the assisted living facility. The cost varies depending upon the size of the residential unit and whether you live alone or have a companion. Most base fees are inclusive of most utilities, basic housekeeping, maintenance, and some meals. The base fee is also based on the type of services you need; i.e. independent living, assisted living, or memory care.

Care services fee (monthly) 

This fee typically uses a tiered approach based upon the level of care you need (or want), and it gets added to the monthly base fee. The level of care is usually based on the number of ADLs (activities of daily living) for which a resident requires regular assistance. ADLs include activities such as bathing, eating, dressing, toileting, etc. For example, the monthly cost of care services may range from $150 or so for tier one and could go up to a few thousand dollars per month for tier five assisted living care. Accurately assessing the amount of care needed is one of the most important aspects of the decision process and also one of the more difficult to understand. The more thorough, clinical, and detailed the assessment, the better the plan of care and understanding of the cost.

Example: Suppose one assisted living community says the cost per month will be around $5,000 and another says it will be around $6,000. Also suppose you actually like the higher cost facility better but ultimately choose the lower cost facility because it will save $12,000 per year. However, after about a month of living in the community you get a call saying that more care is required than originally thought and it will bump you into the next tier. Now it will cost in excess of $6,000 per month, which is more than the other facility that you liked better to begin with.

Medication management & other ancillary services (monthly)

Many seniors need assistance remembering to take medicines at the right time and in the right

dosage, so most assisted living communities provide medication management services for an additional fee – usually a few hundred dollars per month, depending on the complexity of the medicine administration. If needed, additional ancillary services like physical or occupational

therapy would also be charged on a monthly basis, as well as non-care related services, possibly including parking, additional meals, and some activities.

All-inclusive assisted living pricing

An assisted living provider that operates under an all-inclusive pricing model spreads the total cost of services for the entire facility across all residents. In theory, some residents would pay more than they might pay in a la carte facility and others will pay less, depending on the amount of care they are receiving. The advantage, however, is that residents can more accurately plan for their monthly cost over the long term, regardless of the level of care received. Yet, some all-inclusive facilities may have a cap on the degree of services they can provide under the all-inclusive price. They may also charge for other ancillary expenses on occasion so be sure to inquire about all of the potential costs or limits.

Low income options

For seniors that qualify a government-supported assisted living facility will provide services at a lower overall monthly cost. You can contact the specific agency in your state to learn more about affordable senior living options in your state and qualification guidelines. Most of these facilities will also accept Medicaid.

Medicare will not help

As you can see, the monthly costs associated with assisted living vary widely and can really add up, so it is important to plan ahead for this potential expense. A major misconception among consumers is that Medicare will cover the cost of assisted living, but this is not the case if assisted living is the only type of care required. Medicare only covers skilled (medically necessary) care, and for a temporary period of time. Medicaid, on the other hand, may cover the cost of assisted living if your assets have virtually been exhausted.

The above article was written by Brad Breeding of myLifeSite and is legally licensed for use.

 

Giving Thanks!

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Happy Thanksgiving! What a wonderful thing!  A whole day dedicated to giving thanks for what we have individually, and as a family or group!

If you are looking for a reason to be thankful, research has shown that being thankful is actually good for your health. Can an “Attitude of Gratitude” really change your health?

Click above to learn more.

Peg’s Perspective: Taking Care of Your Telomeres

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“Fifty Tips on Aging Well to Celebrate 50 Years of Excellent Service”

As The Wesley Communities approach 50 years of excellent service, our CEO Peg Carmany offers “Peg’s Perspective” on a variety of topics affecting seniors and their adult children as they plan and choose to age well – 50 tips to celebrate 50 years!

Peg’s Perspective:

As we age we all think about many health tips we have learned along the way.  But, emerging research suggests that taking care of our telomeres should be our top priority! Click above to learn why!