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Spring Arbor of Williamsburg
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It's time to sell the family home and relocate to somewhere a bit more -- peaceful? Affordable? Friendly? Cultured? We all have different needs when it comes to choosing the ideal location to live out our later years. Here, ten things to consider when it comes to planning out your "second life." 1. Access to medical care One of the biggest mistakes people make when choosing where to live out their later years is neglecting to ensure they have access to complete, modern medical services. People have this idealized view of what their retirement will be like. They picture somewhere picturesque and serene, and before you know it they're out at the end of a country road with the nearest hospital 25 miles away. Then when illness strikes, which it's likely to do during the later years, there's no system in place to manage treatment. What to look for? Make sure the area you choose has a full-service hospital or medical facility that can provide care for any kind of chronic or acute illness, including chemotherapy or radiation for cancer, cardiac care and rehabilitation, diabetes management, and other types of geriatric services, such as Alzheimer's expertise. If you don't have access to these services, chances are high that you're going to regret your move at some point. Just as with disaster planning, you want to plan for the worst -- then you can hope for the best. 2. Low-cost housing options Affordable housing is an essential factor in choosing where to live when you're on a fixed income or need to make your retirement savings last. Sell a $300,000 home and move into one costing $150,000, and you've not only cut your costs in half but put an equal amount into savings. Of course, this does tend to mean moving away from popular urban areas on the East and West coasts. But as recent real estate data attests, baby boomers are also finding ways to stay in their beloved urban centers by learning to live in much smaller spaces. In the past few years, many cities have built or are building condo and loft developments aimed at active seniors, and they're proving extremely popular. When calculating your cost of housing look at a number of factors beyond simply the real estate itself. Property taxes, heating costs, and homeowners insurance all contribute to how much you're paying to put a roof over your head. Culture and affordability 3. At least one great bookstore Sure, it sounds odd, at first, to focus on such a small detail, but many experts in senior relocation have learned to use this factor as a bellwether. Why? Because great independent bookstores are cultural hubs, offering classes, sponsoring author talks, and functioning as gathering places for like-minded people. The presence of a good bookstore also says a lot about the more subtle qualities of a town's population, especially if you're looking to settle where you're likely to find interesting people. After all, a town has to have at least a reasonable number of cultured, intellectually curious people to sustain the bookstore over time. 4. Overall affordability The people who study retirement affordability have many different calculations and indexes that they use to evaluate the cost of living in various communities and geographic areas. The cost of housing is a primary factor, of course, but the cost of transportation and other services can be equally or more important. Then there's the fact that some states don't have any sales tax, while other areas tack on as much as 10 percent per purchase. And the cost of medical and dental services varies much more than most people realize. Surgery in a big-city teaching hospital, for example, could set you back 40 percent more than the same surgery in a community hospital. Jobs and weather 5. A strong job market for second-career job seekers This is an increasingly important factor for baby boomers looking to settle down for the second half of life but not ready to pull out the recliner just yet. The criteria for this one are pretty straightforward: You want a town with below-average unemployment. It also helps if an area specializes in particular industries that tend to fit with your job skills and work history. Capital cities are strong in government jobs, which tend to offer good options for older workers. And cities in which there are new or growing industries and service sectors, are more welcoming to older job seekers as well. 6. Good weather What constitutes good weather is largely a matter of personal taste; some people want to ski all winter while others can't stand the thought of not seeing fall color. But by and large, when you look at the criteria that experts use to pick the best places for retirement or aging, they tend to be in the sun belt and other areas with mild winters. And that makes sense; tasks like driving do become more difficult as we get older, so throw in driving in the snow and you have a potentially dangerous mix. And many residents of the Northeast and Midwest are all too ready to flee south and stop paying astronomical heating bills. Still, start by thinking what good weather means to you, personally. Are you willing to put up with high temperatures in the summer in order to enjoy a mild winter? Are there outdoor activities that are important to you that depend on the weather? Hint: Mosquitoes can scotch a fishing trip, and gardening can be frustrating in the desert. Houses and services 7. Comfortable houses for aging in place That dream house you're lusting after? Yes, it has a gorgeous deck with a view and the cutest window seat, but does it also have wide doorways and a one-story floor plan? These are the criteria people all too often overlook. And housing stock tends to vary greatly by community. In one town, all the houses might be more than a hundred years old with multiple floors and narrow hallways, while in another area all the housing stock is post-'50s ranches much more suitable to aging in place. When you buy a house at 65, chances are good you're still going to be living in it at 85, so that's what you need to plan for. A one-story floor plan with few stairs? Check. Doors wide enough to accommodate a walker or wheelchair? Check. Tubs big enough to put a bath stool in? Check. What about the laundry -- do you have to go down to the basement to do it? These are the kinds of things people don't think about at first but that become hugely important in determining whether they're happy with their choice down the line. 8. Availability of services Make sure any area you're considering has access to the services you want. Need a decent bakery? Check that your new town has one. Similarly, if you regularly visit a chiropractor, massage therapist, or acupuncturist, you won't be happy if you have to give those services up -- or drive 30 miles to access them. If it's important to you to have a beautiful garden, you may want to see if gardeners are plentiful -- and affordable -- in the community you're considering. And if you hope to live out the rest of your life in your own home and don't have a lot of family close by, chances are you'll need some in-home care at some point. Leisure and family 9. Golf and the arts We all like to spend our free time in different ways, but by and large most people are in search of a community with rich offerings when it comes to the arts and leisure activities. After all, what's retirement (or semi-retirement) for, if not to enjoy all the interests we were too busy for when we were putting in 50-hour weeks? 10. Proximity to family If you have adult children, and especially if you're lucky enough to have grandchildren or are hoping for some, proximity to family's going to be one of your major considerations, and rightly so. But it still pays to be creative when thinking about this situation, rather than rushing off to buy a house down the street. Younger families may need to be in an expensive urban area because of job and school requirements, and you don't have those considerations driving you. One solution: proximity to a major airport. Choose to live within an hour of a major airport, and family can visit you easily and conveniently even if they're a state or two away, opening up many more options. Take future caregiving needs into consideration as well. The statistics show that 70 percent of long-term care is provided by family, typically a daughter. So talk openly with your adult children and grandchildren about who might be willing to take on that role. Be sensitive to potential family conflicts, too. I tell people: Live close enough to get there easily, but far enough away that if you're mad at each other, you don't have to run into each other at the drugstore. For more information on assisted living, contact Spring Arbor. #HowYouLive caring.com

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For many families, the biggest questions are about the type of skilled nursing facility that is best for their loved ones and how assisted living and personal care differs from other forms of around the clock care. Assisted living is a fairly new category of care, but one that is sure to grow in the coming years. One of the things families need to know is that life doesn’t stop at an assisted living or personal care home; it thrives. By incorporating larger living and activity space and embodying the concept of allowing residents to age in place, this type of care provides residents with quality around the clock assistance without having to move to a licensed long-term facility when their care needs increase. The term ‘assisted living’ has been used for more than 20 years and applies to assisted living residences. They can design programs to meet individual needs – for short-term stays when support services are required, and for permanent residency when chronic conditions exist. Both offer a holistic approach to health care that provides residents with quality around the clock care from trained caregivers and in many cases nurses too, but also supports an environment in which residents have a wide variety of options and choice when it comes to their daily activities. However, assisted living differs from personal care in three ways: construction, concept and level of care. This model has been adapted over the years and still is focused on social benefits, but very much incorporates many of the medical services that older residents need to lead full, satisfying lives, while also granting them a greater degree of independence. Assisted living residents come from all around and they provide a homelike atmosphere and focus on the needs of residents and what makes them happy. People come for various reasons; some for short term stays, but most are looking for a community that will allow them to age in place and live their lives to the fullest, and that’s where the focus is. The decision to move a loved one into an assisted living or personal care community is a family decision and with the holidays coming up, many families will be spending a greater deal of time together. Most people would rather age in place at home, but that’s not always an option. While talking about short-term and long-term plans for loved ones isn’t necessarily anyone’s favorite subject, this upcoming season provides a good opportunity to have those difficult discussions and look at options. For more information on assisted living, contact Spring Arbor. #HowYouLive shipnc.com

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Family members or caregivers need to move slowly and with compassion when they try to convince an elder to move from the family home. However, once the adjustment is made, many elders are thrilled with the change. Here are five reasons. Safety. Assisted living centers are set up to provide a safe, comfortable environment for elders. Many, though not all, have secure entrances. Nearly all are monitored enough so that elders aren't vulnerable to attack or burglary as they may be if they stay alone in their home. Just the fact that there are other people around makes communal living safer than being alone in a house. Also, most assisted living centers have alerting systems so if residents have emergencies in their own apartments or rooms, they can summon help. Meals. Appetites can diminish as we age, plus many people don't enjoy eating alone. Elders home alone often warm up something in the microwave or on the stove rather than preparing a nourishing meal. They then may eat in front of the TV for company. In assisted living, meals are provided and they often offer many choices of food. But the biggest plus may be that people have company for their meals. Many centers offer kitchenettes, so people have the option of preparing some meals in their apartments if they choose, which some do, especially breakfast. However, the pull of communal dining is pretty strong once they get used to company. When people have company for a meal, they generally eat better, so these communal meals can help keep a senior healthy. Also, many assisted living centers keep an eye on how well the elders eat to see if supplements seem to be necessary. Transportation. Most assisted living residences provide group transportation for shopping and to community events. Also, they can generally arrange transportation for seniors who need to get to clinic appointments. Each center is different, but the ability to go where they want is important to elders, and many seniors can no longer drive, or choose not to drive in heavy traffic. Assisted living centers can be a big help getting people where they want to go. Less worry. Even renters have to actively contact a landlord if there are plumbing or other problems in their apartment, and often they must follow up on repairs. For homeowners, it's worse. Seniors can be taken advantage of by unscrupulous contractors and repair people. They tend to be trusting and this makes them vulnerable. In assisted living, they don't have to worry about repair responsibilities. If something doesn't work properly, they or a loved one can alert the administration and the problem should be fixed. There's no worry about the senior letting in a stranger to fix their bathroom pipe or getting bilked on the bill. Socialization. Socialization is perhaps the most important reason why many people who insist that they will hate assisted living end up thriving. Many elders have slowly gotten so they don't want to go out of their home because it's too difficult to get where they want to go. Significant lifelong friends have health problems or have died. When not actively used, social skills can decline, causing anxiety when elders do go out among people. Depression can set in, furthering their reluctance to be socially active. Elders without social exposure can become virtual hermits, except for those who have family visits. While family visits are fun, seniors needs peers, as well. In assisted living, even those who swore they'd hate it often find, once they adjust, that they again enjoy the company of peers. They play cards, listen to music, exercise, have snacks, go to community events and have people come in to entertain them. For more information on assisted living, contact Spring Arbor. #HowYouLive eldercarelink.com

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The decision to help an aging adult move out of a current home is a complex one -- both emotionally and practically. Above all, you want the person to be safe and well. How can you all feel more confident about whether circumstances suggest that your loved one should no longer be living alone? Although every situation is different, looking at the following signs will give you valuable information to help make the decision about of it is time to consider assisted living. 1. Big-picture signs it might be time for assisted living Keep the big red flags in mind. Certain situations make it more obvious that it's wise to start thinking about assisted living communities. Look for: * Recent accidents or close calls. Did your loved one take a fall, have a medical scare, or get in a fender bender (or worse)? Who responded and how long did it take? Accidents do happen, but as people get older, the odds rise of them happening again. * A slow recovery. How did the person you're caring for weather the most recent illness (for example, a flu or bad cold)? Was he or she able and willing to seek medical care when needed, or did last winter's cold develop into untreated bronchitis? * A chronic health condition that's worsening. Progressive problems such as COPD, dementia, and congestive heart failure can decline gradually or precipitously, but either way, their presence means your loved one will increasingly need help. * Increasing difficulty managing the activities of daily living (ADLs) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs). ADLs and IADLs are the skills needed to live independently -- dressing, shopping, cooking, doing laundry, managing medications, and so on. Doctors, social workers, and other geriatric experts evaluate them as part of a functional assessment, which is one way to get an expert's view of the situation. Difficulties with ADLs and IADLs can sometimes be remedied by bringing in more in-home help. 2. Up-close signs it might be time for assisted living Give your loved one a big hug. Clues aren't always visible from a distance; especially when you don't see the person every day, you might learn more through touch. Look for: * Noticeable weight loss. Does the person feel thinner? Are clothes loose, or has he added notches to his belt? Many conditions, from depression to cancer, can cause weight loss. A person who is having trouble getting out to shop or remembering how to cook (or to eat) can lose weight; check the fridge and watch meal-prep skills. * Seeming more frail. Do you feel anything "different" about the person's strength and stature when you hug? Can your loved one rise easily from a chair? Does she or he seem unsteady or unable to balance? Compare these observations to the last time you were together. * Noticeable weight gain. Common causes include an injury slowing the person down, diabetes, and dementia (when someone doesn't remember eating, he or she may indulge in meals and snacks all day long). Someone with money troubles may choose fewer fresh foods and more packaged goods or dried pasta and bread. * Strange body odor. Unfortunately, a close hug can also reveal changes in personal hygiene habits. Causes range from memory trouble to depression to other physical ailments. * Changes in appearance. Does the person's hair and makeup look all right? Are clothes clean? Someone known for crisply ironed shirts who's now in a stained sweatshirt may lack the dexterity for buttons or may have lost the strength for managing an ironing board and iron. A formerly clean-shaven man with an unkempt beard may be forgetting to shave (or forgetting how to shave). 3. Social signs it might be time for assisted living Think realistically about the person's social connections. Social circles tend to shrink with age, which can have health and safety implications. Look for: * Signs of active friendships. Does your loved one still get together for lunches or outings with friends or visits with neighbors, or participate in religious activities or other group events? Does he or she talk about others or keep a calendar of appointments? Lack of companionship is associated with depression and heart problems in older adults. If friends have died or moved away, moving to a place where other people are around could be lifesaving. * Signs that your loved one has cut back on activities and interests. Is a hobby area abandoned? Has a club membership been given up? A library card gone unused? There are many reasons people cut back, but dropping out of everything and showing interest in almost nothing is a red flag for depression. * Days spent without leaving the house. This sometimes happens because the person can no longer drive or is afraid to take public transportation alone and lacks a companion to come along. While many older adults fear being "locked away" in a retirement home, many such facilities offer regular outings that may keep them more mobile and active, not less. * Someone who checks in on a regular basis. If not you or another family member, who does this? Is your loved one willing to consider a home-safety alarm system, a personal alarm system, or a daily calling service? * A plan for a worst-case scenario. If there's a fire, earthquake, flood, or other disaster, is someone on standby to assist? Does your loved one understand the plan? 4. Money signs it might be time for assisted living Riffle through the mail. Your loved one's mail can offer an often-overlooked clue to how he or she is managing money, a common early warning sign of cognitive trouble. Look for: * Snowdrifts of mail in various places. Finding lots of mail scattered around raises concern about how bills, insurance, and other matters are being managed. (Piles of mail are also a potential tripping hazard.) * Unopened personal mail. Everybody skips junk mail, but few of us can ignore a good old-fashioned, hand-addressed letter. * Unopened bills. This can indicate that your loved one is having difficulty managing finances -- one of the most common first signs of dementia. * Letters from banks, creditors, or insurers. Routine business letters aren't worrisome. But it's alarming if they're referring to overdue payments, overdrawn balances, recent accidents, or other concerning events. * Thank-you messages from charities. Older adults are often vulnerable to scammers. Even those who have always been fiscally prudent are vulnerable if they're having trouble with thinking skills (a common sign of Alzheimer's disease). Some charities hit up givers over and over, and your loved one may not remember having donating the first time. * Lots of crisp, unread magazines. The person may unknowingly have repeat-renewal subscriptions that he or she doesn't need. 5. Driving signs it might be time for assisted living Take a drive -- with your loved one behind the wheel, if he or she is still driving. Often, the ability to drive is practically a requirement for living independently in our culture (or the arrangement of alternate transportation options). Look for: * Nicks or dents on the car. Notice the car body as you get in and out. Damage marks can be signs of careless driving. * Whether the person promptly fastens his or her seatbelt. Even people with mild dementia usually follow the rote basics of driving. It's worrisome if he or she is forgetting this step. * "Tension, preoccupation, or being easily distracted. The person may turn off the radio, for example, or be unwilling to engage in conversation while driving. He or she may avoid certain routes, highway driving, or driving at night and in rain -- a safe kind of self-policing but also signals of changing ability. * Signs of dangerous driving. People whose driving ability is impaired are more likely to tailgate, drift from their lane, go below the speed limit, react slowly to lights or other cars, and mix up gas and brake pedals. See 8 ways to assess someone's driving. * Warning lights. Check out the dashboard as you ride along. Does the car have sufficient oil, gas, antifreeze, windshield-wiper fluid? 6. Kitchen signs it might be signs for assisted living Go through the kitchen, from fridge to cupboards to oven. Because people spend so much time in this room, you can learn a lot. Look for: * Stale or expired foods. We all buy more than we need. Look for signs that food is not only old but that this is unnoticed -- mold, sour milk that's still used, or expiration dates well past due, for example. * Multiples of the same item. Ten bottles of ketchup? More cereal than can be eaten in a year? Multiples often reveal that the shopper can't remember from one store trip to the next what's in stock at home. * A freezer full of TV dinners. Your loved one may buy them for convenience sake, but frozen dinners tend not to make healthy diet. If there's not much fresh food in the house (because it's too hard to for the person to procure or cook), your loved one might be ready to have help with meal prep or delivery services. * Broken appliances. Check them all: microwave, coffeemaker, toaster, washer, and dryer -- any device you know your loved one uses (or used to use) routinely. * Signs of fire. Are stove knobs charred? Pot bottoms singed badly (or thrown out)? Do any potholders have burned edges? Also look for a discharged fire extinguisher, smoke detectors that have been disassembled, or boxes of baking soda near the stove. Accidents happen; ask for the story behind what you see. Accidental fires are a common home danger for older adults. * Increased use of takeout or simpler cooking. A change in physical or mental abilities might explain a downshift to simpler recipes or food choices. 7. Around-the-house signs it might be time for assisted living Look around the living areas. Sometimes the most obvious sign is hard to see because we become so used to it. Look for: * Lots of clutter. An inability to throw anything away may be a sign of a neurological or physical issue. Obviously it's more worrisome in a neatnik than in a chronic slob. Papers or pet toys all over the floor represent a tripping hazard. * Signs of lax housekeeping. Spills that haven't been cleaned up are a common sign of dementia -- the person lacks the follow-through to tidy. Keep an eye out for cobwebs, bathroom mold, thick dust, or other signs of slackness. Physical limitations can mean your loved one needs housekeeping help or a living situation where this is taken care of for him or her. * Bathroom grime and clutter. A common scenario: Your loved one makes an effort to tidy up living areas but overlooks the bathroom. Or the guest bath is clean, but not the one the person uses all the time (the one off a bedroom, for example). Here you may see a truer picture of how your loved one is keeping up. 8. Pet-care and plant-care signs it might be time for assisted living Be sure to check out how the other living things are faring. An ability to take care of pets and plants goes along with self-care. Look for: * Plants that are dying, dead, or just gone. Most of us have seen plants go brown sometimes. Keep an eye out for chronic neglect, especially in a former plant-lover's home. * Animals that don't seem well tended. Common problems: dogs with long nails, cat litter boxes that haven't been changed lately, or dead fish in the fish tank. Poor grooming, overfeeding, and underfeeding are other red flags. 9. Home-maintenance signs it might be time for assisted living Walk around the yard. Yard maintenance -- or lack of it -- can yield clues that your loved one isn't faring as well at home alone anymore. Look for: * Signs of neglect. Look for discolored siding or ceilings that might indicate a leak, gutters choked with leaves, broken windows or fences, dirty windows. * Newspapers in the bushes. Are papers being delivered but ignored? Sometimes people pick up those they can see on a driveway but not those that go off into the yard. * Mail piled up in the mailbox. Go out and check -- it's an indication that your loved one doesn't even retrieve it regularly. 10. Get help looking for signs it might be time for assisted living Get the input of others who know your loved one in order to collect a fuller picture of reality. Gently probing about what others think isn't nosy; you're being loving, concerned, and proactive. Look for: * Input from those in your loved one's circle. Talk to old friends and close relatives to get their sense of how the person is faring. Listen for stories that hint that the person doesn't get out much ("She doesn't come over anymore." "She quit book club."). Pay attention to comments that indicate ongoing concerns ("Has he had that heart test yet?" "We were worried the day the ambulance came."). * Medical insight. With appropriate permission, your loved one's primary doctor may share your concerns about his or her patient's safety at home -- or may be able to alleviate those concerns or suggest where to get a home assessment. * A second opinion. A social worker or professional geriatric care manager visits older adults' homes and does informal evaluations. While your loved one may initially resist the notion of a "total stranger" checking on them, try pitching it as a professional (and neutral) second opinion, or ask the doctor to "prescribe" it. Some people wind up sharing doubts or vulnerabilities with a sympathetic, experienced stranger that they're loathe to admit to their own children or family. 11. Caregivers' signs it might be time for assisted living Finally, realize that some of the information you collect is intangible -- it has to do with feelings and emotions, and the stress levels of everyone involved. Look for: * How you're doing. While this decision to remain in one's home is not primarily about you -- the son, daughter, grandchild, caregiver -- your own exhaustion can be a good gauge of a decline in older adults' ability to care for themselves. Keeping someone at home can require lots of hands-on support or care coordination, and this is time-consuming. If your loved one's need for care is just plain wearing you out, or if a spouse or children are feeling the collective strain of your caregiving activities, these are major signs that it's time to start looking at other options. * Your loved one's emotional state. Safety is crucial, of course, but so is emotional well-being. If someone living alone is riddled with anxieties or increasingly lonely, then that may tip the scales toward a move not solely based on health and safety reasons. * If your loved one has a full life, a close neighborhood and community connections, and seems to be thriving, it's worth exploring as many in-home care options as possible before raising stress levels by pressing a move from a beloved home. * If, on the other hand, your loved one is showing signs that living alone is a strain, it may be time for a talk. Broach the subject of where to live in a neutral way and you may find that your loved one harbors the same fears for current and future safety and security that you do. Find out what your loved one fears most about moving and about staying before launching into your own worries and what you think ought to be done. For more information on assisted living, contact Spring Arbor. #HowYouLive caring.com

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If you’re just beginning your search for a senior community to care for a loved one, you may not be entirely clear about what an assisted living community means. It might be easy to assume that “assisted living community” is the new “nursing home” or “retirement home.” But, assisted living is not just a form of the institutional nursing homes where we visited elderly relatives prior to the 1980s. A few decades ago, senior living designers and senior care professionals asked, “What is it about nursing homes that make can make them sometimes feel dreary and institutional? How can we achieve the something different?” Out of their inquiry, assisted living was born. Little Known Facts About Assisted Living According to the National Investment Center’s 2010 Investment Guide, there were 6,315 professionally managed assisted living communities in the U.S. with approximately 475,500 apartments. 1. What Assisted Living Provides Because there is no nationwide definition for assisted living (although it is regulated in all 50 states), senior communities that call themselves assisted living facilities can offer differing levels of care. They offer a less-expensive, residential approach to delivering many of the same services available in skilled nursing, either by employing personal care staff or contracting with home health agencies and other outside professionals. Not all assisted living communities are equal. Some provide lighter care, and some can even provide care for those who bedridden or who need help eating while still remaining in assisted living as opposed to a nursing home. It often depends on the community’s licensing. Many states have a tiered system of licensing whereby communities with a higher degree of licensing are able to provide more care. 2. Each Community Has a Unique Personality Care aside, the look and feel of communities varies as well. Some communities have a more formal, traditional design sensibility, while others may have a more home-like, down to earth ambiance. Some communities may have art deco decor while others are firmly grounded in mid-century modern design. Assisted living communities come in all shapes and sizes. They can be towering apartment buildings in urban centers, sprawling complexes in the suburbs, cottages or more intimate communities catering to a relatively small number of residents. There’s no nationwide standard size, but according to our own definition, assisted living communities are licensed to care for at least 20 people, but many communities have hundreds of residents. Smaller communities usually offer a homelike atmosphere while the larger communities offer an abundance of interest clubs, recreational opportunities, and acreage for recreation. Every assisted living community has a different personality. You can visit two communities down the street from one another that offer the same care and services, they may even look identical to one another, but that feel very different. Just because your loved one didn’t like one community, doesn’t mean the next one won’t feel right. 3. Yes, You Can Bring Your Pet Senior living communities have different pet policies with specific weight limits and breed restrictions, so it’s important to do your research. For example, some communities have “pet interviews” to determine whether the pet is right for their community, while others allow dogs and cats under 20 lbs. Birds and fish are also welcome in many communities, and some communities even have Pet Coordinators to care for the furry and feathered friends. Some communities only allow pets on a case-by-case basis. So make sure to contact your communities of choice and ask about their particular pet policy. 4. Assisted Living Costs are Lower Than You Think Assisted living is often less expensive than home health or nursing home care in the same geographic area. According to a 2012 Senior Care Survey, the national average rate for a one-bedroom apartment was approximately $3,300 per month. While 86.2% of assisted living residents pay from their personal financial resources, 41 states offer “home and community-based waivers” that allow low-income residents to live in assisted living. Additionally, more seniors are purchasing long-term care insurance to help plan for and finance their long-term care needs. Wartime veterans and their spouses may eligible for VA benefits known as Aid and Attendance that can offset the cost of care. 5. Assisted Living is Not Synonymous with Nursing Homes Our research suggests that many families believe they need they need nursing homes for their ailing older loved one when in fact assisted living is the most appropriate option. An assessment by an Advisor or medical professional is the best way to determine the care type needed, but some general distinctions can be drawn between assisted living and nursing homes. For instance: * Assisted living residents are mainly independent but may need help with daily living personal care tasks such as bathing and dressing, while nursing home residents tend to need 24-hour assistance with every activity of daily living * Assisted living residents are mobile, while those who are bed ridden require nursing homes * Nursing home residents generally have a single or semi-private room, while assisted living residents typically live in a studio or one-bedroom apartment * Nursing home residents require fully staffed, skilled nursing medical attention on a daily basis, while assisted living residents are more stable and do not need ongoing medical attention 6. Culturally Diverse Options An increasing number of assisted living communities are designed to meet the unique cultural, religious, dietary and language-based needs of local populations.  Jewish communities are popular too, particularly in the Northeast and East Florida. Many assisted living communities serve kosher foods (some even have certified kosher kitchens), celebrate Jewish holidays and have weekly Shabbat services. Some communities offer multiple cultural, religious and dietary options. 7. Assisted Living Dementia Care In 2012 there were more than 5.4 million Americans with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia who required specialized dementia care treatment. Many assisted living facilities offer Alzheimer’s memory care programs for residents which are designed to decrease wandering, agitation and improve their quality of life. Generally residents with early stage Alzheimer’s or dementia can live among the regular population of assisted living residents, but when the condition becomes advanced, residents are then transitioned from the regular assisted living section to the memory care area. Memory care is specialized assisted living that’s secure to protect residents, that has staff specially trained to care for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia, and that have other design and caregiving adaptations for the comfort and safety of memory-impaired residents. For more information on assisted living, contact Spring Arbor. #HowYouLive aplaceformom.com

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Back in 1895, the breathtaking Blue Ridge Mountains, a comfortable climate and low land prices inspired the Vanderbilts to buy up 125,000 acres of North Carolina wilderness and build the Biltmore House, the largest estate in the U.S. The same factors that attracted this wealthy family continue to make North Carolina popular among retirees and second-home buyers today. But the Tar Heel State offers a little bit of everything, geographically and culturally. Retirees who prefer to live by the sea can find 300 miles of barrier island beaches, two national seashores and idyllic villages in the state’s eastern region. North Carolina also has some great college towns, including Chapel Hill, Davidson, and Durham. And dynamic city living can be found in fast-growing Charlotte, which has been undergoing a restaurant renaissance, and the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill-Cary vicinity, dubbed the “Research Triangle” due to its high density of high tech companies. For anyone on a fixed budget, living costs in North Carolina can be fairly friendly. Overall, the state is 3.7% cheaper than the national average. State income taxes are also to 5.8% flat tax. For more information on senior living in Greensboro, NC with levels of care, contact Spring Arbor. #HowYouLive marketwatch.com

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When the time comes to pick a place to retire, you want to make it a good one. After all, retirement is the prize at the end of a lot of long years of hard work. So what are the factors that go into picking that magical place? The perfect place will be a little different for everyone depending on finances, family and, of course, preferences. But for the most common factors – cost of living, safety, healthcare, activities and climate – Virginia comes out on top time and again. BankRate.com, a financial analysis website, recently published their list of the 10 Best States for Retire, ranking Virginia as #5 in the nation. We did a little more digging to find out what particular cities and towns have been recognized as top spots…and here’s what we found. Keep in mind, these aren’t in any particular order as they have all been recognized by various organizations and publications, but not analyzed side-by-side. Richmond Bloomberg Business ranked Richmond as one of the most affordable cities in which to retire. With beautiful neighborhoods and an abundance of cultural attractions like art museums, opera, theater and ballet, Richmond has no shortage of activities, Add to that a rich history, beautiful parks and good healthcare, and Richmond is a prime place to spend your golden years. Whether you’re looking to be closer to the grandkids or just want a certain lifestyle, Virginia has more than enough options. If you’re retired, or thinking about retiring soon, and would like more information on senior living with levels of care, contact Spring Arbor. #HowYouLive onlyinyourstate.com

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If you're an empty nester who's getting older, you may like the idea of downsizing. But if you don’t fancy moving into the sub-400-square-foot residences espoused by the tiny house movement, fear not; there are other options, including senior living communities with levels of care. These retirement enclaves are for folks in and approaching their sunset years who might be looking for some supportive services such as meals, transportation, and housekeeping, but who don’t need the level of care associated with assisted living facilities or nursing homes. If this sounds like your ticket to enjoying the good life in retirement, there can be a lot to think about when it comes to choosing a community. It can be overwhelming.  More Friends, Less Housework The main drivers for those considering retirement communities are socialization and simplifying their lifestyle. Even if their house is paid off, people often want to downsize from a traditional home with more bedrooms and bathrooms than they need. And they don’t want to have to deal with all the maintenance those dwellings often entail, not to mention going up and down stairs. But it’s important not to make decisions about such major life changes too quickly. Conversation Starter? The retirement housing conversation can be a good time to start considering options for later when retirees aren’t as mobile and may need additional care. In the case of a surviving spouse, take three to six months to let your emotions settle and figure out what you want to prioritize for the rest of your life. Really identify what those key priorities are. Some communities are organized around specific interests such as golf or art, or they may cater to a specific ethnic group. Some retirees have children in multiple cities, so deciding on location is also an important factor. Location and Lifestyle With all the services senior living communities can offer, some can get pricey. However, some may offer surprisingly good value and might actually be better economic alternatives when compared to regular apartments in certain high-rent markets in major metropolitan areas. That’s a good thing, as these are mostly private pay facilities. Take a Test Drive In addition to touring lots of communities, visit during mealtimes to not only sample the food, but also see the population together and explore whether the vibe feels right. And for those who have found their social circle shrinking as they age, retirement communities can make it easier to start making friends again. Senior living brings people back together. It really does foster those relationships. For more information on senior living, contact Spring Arbor. #HowYouLive tickertape.tdameritrade.com

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Rumor has it that assisted living communities are not affordable. Read on, and you may be surprised. When people begin looking into assisted living options, they assume that they won't be able to afford a quality assisted living community. However, after researching and learning about the costs, they learn that assisted living can be affordable. If you are reading this article, you may be considering an assisted living facility for yourself or for your loved one. Here are some areas to consider as you research your options. Working with Marketing, Sales Directors First, schedule an in-person meeting with the director of marketing/sales. Websites are sometimes limited and may not paint a clear picture of actual costs. Many assisted living communities are managed by a company that oversees other communities across the United States. Ask which amenities and services are offered at the location you are considering. A good marketing director will take the time to help you analyze your current spending and financial situation, and how it compares to their community. You might be surprised what you really spend when living on your own. Don’t be afraid to be upfront about properties you owned, savings and any insurances policies that may help meet your care needs. The marketing director wants you to be successful, as their goal is for your loved one to live in the community long-term. If you can’t afford it, a good marketing director will be upfront and honest with you. What to Consider? Many assisted living communities will present you with a base rate, comprised of different care levels. Watch for à la carte fees, as these could increase the cost. Clarify what the base rate really means and ask the facility what would cause an increase in your rent. Some facilities have a mandatory rate increase every year. Make sure you understand what this entails. Base rates typically do not cover additional care needs, such as medication management or bathing. Make sure you ask about their process in identifying when you or your loved one may need to advance to the next care level. Ask that they put everything in writing so you can go home and discuss what you learned with your family. In addition, be sure to inquire about any discounts that may apply. Many assisted living communities have move in specials or are aware of outside discounts, like for veterans. One of the most essential questions to ask, as well as one of the most difficult, is what happens when your loved one runs out of private pay funds. If your loved one can only afford assisted living for a year or two, be transparent with the facility. Moving into an assisted living facility can be feel overwhelming at first. While you are considering your options, ask if you can participate in their activities or enjoy a meal in their dining room. The quality and level of care should be the number one priority during your search. At the same time, you want to make sure the community feels like home, so you feel welcome to take advantage of all assisted living has to offer! For more information, contact Spring Arbor. #HowYouLive flagstaffbusinessnews.com

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Once you retire, you're free to head to the beach or golf course. In some cases, you can even dramatically reduce your cost of living or improve your quality of life with a single move. But you want to make sure that a retirement spot will continue to meet your needs as you age. Here are 10 tips for finding your ideal retirement spot: Seek lower costs. If you can sell your house in an expensive city and move to a place where housing costs significantly less, you can use that influx of cash to help fund your retirement years. If the cost of living is lower, it can certainly let your retirement nest egg last a little longer. Look for great amenities. Think about how you want to spend your retirement years, and make sure your retirement spot has the resources to allow you to do that. Look for golf courses, pools, fitness centers, parks or other amenities you would like to use. If you want to be pursuing your education, you might be looking for a college or other learning venues. If there are travel options you want to pursue, you are going to need to be near an airport or a train station. Health care options are essential. Make sure any community you are considering has adequate medical facilities and doctors that are taking on new patients. If you have any ongoing medical condition, or propensity for a specific illness runs in your family, it can be useful to retire near medical professionals who specialize in treating it. Calculate the tax impact. Taxes vary considerably by state, and you can often reduce your costs considerably by moving to a low-tax place. Take a look at how the state taxes pensions, Social Security and earned income, and also consider the sales tax, property tax and any special tax perks available for senior citizens. It's also important to realize that taxes pay for services, and there may be less help available to senior citizens in low-tax areas. Aim for proximity to family and friends. Many people want to retire near their children and grandchildren. Family and friends can enrich your life in retirement and provide significant (and often free) help when you need it most. "If somebody has lived in the same place their whole life and that's where their social network is and where the people they depend on are, then it's much harder to pick up and build a new network of support where you don't know anybody and you have to start from scratch. If you do move to a new community away from your support system, you will need to create a new circle of friends. An activity like golf or bridge will get [you] into another social network. Job opportunities. Americans are increasingly planning to work during the traditional retirement years. If a retirement career is part of your plan, you may want to line up a job opportunity before you make a move. A place that will enable you to do what you want to do with your post-retirement work career is very important. Some people have very portable skills where they could practice anywhere, while some people are more place-dependent. Transportation options. Many seniors reach a point when they can't or no longer want to drive. Some cities have public transportation systems that give discounts or are even free for senior citizens, or low-cost van or cab services that will help seniors get to doctor's appointments. Better weather. Some people seek retirement spots with warm weather so they can avoid winter, but you might find that you miss the change of seasons or that warm weather comes with its own challenges. Test it out first. One way to be more certain that a retirement spot will be a good fit is to test it out by renting. When you first move to a place, it might seem wonderful, but once you have tried living in it, you might find that it doesn't really suit your needs. There's nothing like actually living in a place to know all its little eccentricities and ins and outs. For more information contact Spring Arbor. money.usnews.com
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