The Life of Ulysses S. Grant

For the past 40 plus years, retired U.S Marine, Ken Serfass has studied the life and times of Ulysses S. Grant. Today Ken is a sought after lecturer on all things concerning General and President Grant. Serfass, a Gettysburg resident, augments his Grant portrayals with an 1800s-era general’s uniform.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018
2 p.m.

Pittsburgh Doo Wop Band

Relive the sounds of the ’50s and ’60s with a talented group of four performers from the Pittsburgh Doo Wop Big Band. Under the direction of Richard G. Mansfield, musical director, arranger/conductor of the “American Soundtrack Series,” the group has recreated the same great musical arrangements as seen and heard on PBS. Enjoy the sounds of Motown, the rhythms of the Crystals and the Chiffons, the smooth sounds of the Miracles and Etna James, and more!

Tuesday, October 17
2 P.M.
Sherwood Oaks Auditorium

AARP Smart Driver Course

Sharpen your driving skills with the AARP Smart Driver course! 

You will learn:

  • Defensive driving techniques
  • Proven safety strategies
  • New traffic laws and rules of the road
  • No tests to pass. You simply sign up and learn. Upon completion you may be eligible to receive a multiyear discount on your insurance.

$15 AARP Members
$20 Non-Members

Thursday & Friday, October 5 & 6
1-5 P.M.

Living in an A-frame house: advantages and disadvantages

Many UK real estate agencies, especially in London, offer A-frame houses for rent and for sale. An A-frame house is not very large usually featuring only one storey and many windows along both the front and back. This is not surprising since this technology has been popular in Europe for some time. In fact, the style grew in popularity during the mid-1950s into the 1970s. Nowadays, many people consider this option when choosing the type of their future home due to its advantages.

Ready Property, a professional real estate agency specialising in London’s property market, has prepared an overview of pros and cons offered by an A-frame house. If you are interested in any kind of real estate services, including renting, selling, buying, or letting, visit our website for more details:


An A-frame home is in its element almost in every climate, especially efficient in warm areas. The construction of an A-frame house has excellent thermal insulation despite rather thin walls. During cold, harsh weather, its heavily sloped roof does not allow snow to build up. This means reduced risk of damage and collapse.

Varied design layout, eco-friendliness, and safety

An A-frame house concept provides space for various construction solutions and many exterior and interior planning options. For example, the frame technology allows concealing all utility pipelines within the walls, while ventilated cladding allows a house “to breathe”. Therefore, you can forget about high humidity, fungus, etc. In addition, builders use eco-materials for construction of A-frame houses such as timber, which is safe for the health of all home dwellers. Such houses usually boast curb appeal.

Limited living space

An A-frame house provides limited living space options. As it has already been mentioned, usually such houses feature a single storey. In fact, there is a certain amount of wasted space at the top of the house, due to sloped walls. An A-frame house is ideal for small families or couples, however large groups will not feel comfortable there.

Thus, an A-frame house has its advantages and disadvantages. Cosy and safe, it will be a nice holiday home for couples and small families. However, larger families might want to consider some other options.

Banjo Club

The Pittsburgh Banjo Club includes banjos, trumpets, tubas, and bass and plays the happiest music in the world! Enjoy a show by the Pittsburgh Banjo Club guaranteed to put a smile on your face and a tap in your toe.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016
2 p.m.
Sherwood Oaks Auditorium

Writing Your Post-Retirement Checklist

Sure, you’ve always wanted to learn French or take your grandchildren to see the house you were born in. But time has always gotten in the way. So often, we have so many things on our “have to” list that we completely disregard our “want to” list.

Retirement is the perfect stage in life to check off all of those “want to’s!” And writing down a checklist of all of the things you want to do after retirement is the perfect place to start.


Include big things and small things.

Some of the things on your list should be things you’ve only dreamed about up to this point in your life. A trip to Ireland. Writing a book. Setting a personal athletic record. But some of the items on your list should be small, too. Things that you can accomplish in a day or an afternoon. These things could include watching an entire TV series that you love, visiting a local tourist attraction that you haven’t ever been to, or writing a letter to an old friend. Big or small, what you put on your list is important.


Share your list with others.

One of the big perks of writing a list out rather than keeping an ongoing one in your head is that other people can keep you accountable. If you tell someone about your goals, you are more likely to keep the momentum to achieve them. And if your friends and family know what you want to accomplish, they can help cheer you on and give you positive reinforcement when you take a step in the right direction.

Sharing your list is also a nice way for you to share more about yourself with children and grandchildren. Perhaps you want to try amateur photography but never told your children that you loved snapping photos as a teenager. They will learn more about you while you are learning all of the wonderful things that you can achieve when you put your mind to it.


Make time for your list.

We know that this won’t be the first list that you’re making. And we also know that there is a good chance that you didn’t complete everything on lists from years ago. Nothing will ever get done if you don’t make the time to do it. Retirement opens up a huge chunk of your schedule that was filled with going to work from (for most) 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday to Friday. You now have the time to focus on achieving goals and making memories that you didn’t have time for when life was busier.

One trap to not fall into is having so much time that you always think you can “do it later.” To avoid this, add weekly goals that will get you closer to checking something off. For instance, if your goal is to learn French, you could look up local conversation clubs one week, and then try one out the next week. Setting these small goals will help keep you productive… even if your productivity is all in the name of fun!


Focus on the good you’re doing.

Making lists is good for you. And we have this article from Psychology Today to back us up. List-making helps you work through problems, prioritize what is important in your life, reduces stress, and help you outline needed steps in order to get something accomplished. In retirement, some people feel a loss of control that comes with a loss of self, which appears after they no longer identify themselves by their career. List making can help you get some of that feeling of control back, so that you can start to enjoy your retirement rather than wondering what to do with all of your free time.

What AARP Has to Offer Locally

When you think of retirement, one name comes to mind. Well, other than Sherwood Oaks, that is!

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) is a group created specifically to provide resources to and lobby for anyone over the age of 50. The company is a nonprofit that aims to protect the rights of retired persons. But they also have a lot of fantastic resources on a local level that you may not be aware of.

If you visit Pittsburgh’s local AARP page, you will be overwhelmed with the amount of information at your fingertips. Information is broken down by:

  • Museums
  • Jobs
  • Volunteering
  • Educational Resources
  • Fitness
  • Restaurants
  • Coffee Spots
  • Parks

The site also breaks down activities so that you know which are “good for grandkids” or “arts and entertainment.

Next, you will find that AARP gives you all of the information you need to get around Pittsburgh, whether it is by taxi or rental car. They even tell you where you can take a local driver safety course so that you know you’re still able to hit the open road safely. With AARP and your many transportation options at Sherwood Oaks, the world is your oyster.

Need to find a pharmacy? AARP has you covered here, too, giving you contact information for local caregiving companies, doctors, attorneys, home health care services, and other local businesses that you may be interested in. You can even sign up to get a state newsletter, so that all of this information can come to you rather than you searching for it.

If you’re planning a day trip or looking for a great place to take the family to eat, you have all of your options laid out for you on the site! You can also find out what discounts in your area you are eligible for as an AARP member. Some recommendations they make for local entertainment:

  • Carnegie Museum of Art
  • Hartwood Acres
  • Kennywood Park
  • The Capital Grille

Log on and start exploring our local AARP site today.

10 Critical Questions to Ask Before Entering a Retirement Community

Choosing a retirement community is no small task. There are a lot of factors to think about – from your own comfort to how much your new home will cost you. Having a good idea of what moving to a retirement community will do to your financial situation is vital, and it often helps to involve your financial and legal advisors in the decision.

Here are 10 important questions you and your team should ask a retirement community before making your decision.


What does the Disclosure Statement say?

Each retirement community in Pennsylvania, and most other states, must publish a “Disclosure Statement” annually.  The Disclosure Statement contains critical information including a financial statement, general organizational information, a description of fees and an agreement for services. This is the first place to look to get a general idea of what the community offers and how much it will cost.


What does the service agreement say?

The service agreement contained in the Disclosure Statement will detail the services and fees. When reviewing the agreement pay special attention to:


  • What Types of Services are offered?


Exactly what services are available and what services are included at no additional cost? Services and fees vary widely in CCRCs (Continuing Care Retirement Communities) since the statutory definition of CCRC is quite broad. Additionally, in Pennsylvania there has been a flood of communities applying for and receiving CCRC licenses due to some tax benefits for the provider. Make sure you are aware of exactly what’s being offered and are comparing apples to apples.


  • What are the fees?


One of the most important questions about services relates to the potential for future fees. Do the charges to the resident remain stable if the resident needs to move to the community’s nursing or assisted living sections? Since charges for these services are substantial, make sure you are clear on exactly what future charges apply, and consider every possibility for the type of care you may need in the future.


  • What are the requirements for entry?


Some communities have a type of insurance product that provides prepayment for future services. This is typically known as Lifecare.  Some Lifecare communities require residents to be in good health upon admission or to pay additional fees if they are not, and then require added help for this pre-existing condition.  In addition, a refusal to admit disabled residents may have Fair Housing Act implications.


  • What if you run out of money?


Some Agreements in non-profit organizations provide for financial assistance if a resident runs out of money through no fault of their own.


  • What are the tax implications?


There is a possibility of an income tax deduction for medical expenses since part of the fees in some communities are considered prepaid medical expenses. Has medical deduction information been provided to residents in the past and what has been the amount? Who pays the real estate taxes?


  • How can a resident terminate the agreement?


How and when can a resident terminate the Agreement and what are the financial implications?

  • If a refund is due, who gets the refund – individual estate or trust?

The community should be able to adapt this section if needed by your client for estate planning purposes.

A typical condition for a refund is that the unit is resold. Is this realistic given the market and occupancy of the community?

If a you terminate an agreement, how long do you or your survivors have to move out of the living unit? This can be a big issue if you have only out of town family.

If a prospective resident has already signed an agreement there is a possibility that they may be able to rescind the agreement. In Pennsylvania agreements may be canceled within seven days of signing with no penalty. When can a community terminate an agreement?


  • What dispute resolution process is available?


Who has the final say? The community or a third party?

Is there a “no retaliation” provision for residents who complain?


Who controls the community?

Non-profit communities operate approximately 80% of CCRCs nationally. Hence the term “ownership” is not really relevant.  However, non-profits can be single site or larger multi-site organizations. Who is on the board? Family members of the managers or independent directors? You may want to review the IRS Form 990 to find out. Try entering the organizations name into the Guide Star website


What is the financial strength of the community?

Review the financial statement that should be included with the Disclosure Statement to see if the community has assets, operating income and other signs of financial stability. A lot of debt is fairly typical – not necessarily a deal killer. However, the relative age of the community and its occupancy over the years are critical elements.


Is the community accredited?

There are several accreditation bodies for CCRCs. The Continuing Care Accreditation Commission (CCAC) is probably the best. They look at the finances, governance, planning and the community’s process improvement efforts. However, do not let this deceive you. The CCAC only visits a community once every five years. You need to pay attention to all of the critical factors in this list and not rely solely on the CCAC.


What is the community’s Center for Medicare Services “Star Rating”?

If the community services include a skilled nursing facility (this is a plus as skilled nursing facilities are able to provide higher levels of care) the quality of the services offered as rated by Medicare can be researched bygoing Medicare rates all skilled nursing facilities into one to five star categories. Seek four stars or above. Especially important are the staffing levels as compared to the state and national standards. Staffing can be viewed directly on the CMS website above.

What is the resident satisfaction?

Ask a resident who lives there if he or she likes the services and the community. If you don’t know anyone living there, ask the community if they do regular resident satisfaction surveys and what the results have been.


How do the community’s services fit in with the prospective resident’s long term care insurance program?

Some communities have programs that discount their fees in return for residents maintaining long term care insurance policies.


What have the fee increases been over the past 5 years?

Relatively high or low fee increases deserve further investigation.


Finally, how does the community look and feel?

It goes without saying that you should visit the community. Many communities have extended visit programs and we recommend taking advantage of these if they are available.

Tips for Living a Longer, More Fun Life!

We all want to make the most of our time, and that is especially true when we spend our time doing things that can help us live longer in the long-run. Luckily, you’re probably doing a lot of things that benefit your overall health – so great job! But just in case you need some more ideas, or a reminder to do those small tasks that have big benefits, here is a list of things you can do to raise your chances of celebrating your 100th birthday. Some of them are pretty fun!

Get PLENTY of sleep
You probably already know that this one is good for your health, but did you know that more sleep could lead to lower blood pressure and reduced risk of heart attack? That’s definitely motivation to hit the hay.

Brush Your Teeth
Yep, dental health and life expectancy are tied together. Having poor oral hygiene can make a LOT of things go wrong in your body. That’s why it is important to brush and floss regularly, take good care of your dentures, and visit your dentist as-needed.

Go to Your Doctor
Don’t just visit your dentist, make sure to see your doctor, too! While receiving medical care is easy at Sherwood Oaks, it is important to ask your doctor about any questions or concerns you may have. And be sure to follow his or her instructions!

Eat Naturally
Try to remove as much unnatural food from your diet as possible. And cutting back on sugar. This means lots of fruits and veggies, and farm-raised meat. Avoid TV dinners and other foods with plenty of preservatives.  Despite their name, they are not added to preserve your health.

Control Your Weight
A healthy weight is a great foundation for a healthy life. It’s important to have both a healthy diet as well as a form of exercise that you can have fun doing.

Have a Support System
Having emotional support is just as important as a balanced diet or regular exercise. Having people you can cry and laugh with increases your chances of living beyond the average person.

Think Hard!
Keeping your brain active through puzzles and reading can help keep your brain strong. Time to re-read your favorite book!

Meditation has been shown to have a ton of positive effects on your health, which includes reducing stress.

People who travel more often have less stress. Less stress = a better and longer life!

Keep it Spicy
In the kitchen, that is. Choosing to cook with spices rather than flavoring things with unhealthy options like butter means flavorful food without all of the bad side effects.

Spend Time with People Who Make You Healthy
You are more likely to keep up with your good habits if those around you are encouraging or even take part in these habits themselves! Having a group of people who motivate you can do great things for your health.

Get a Pet!
People who own pets live longer than people who don’t. Which is great news, because pets are adorable and make loyal companions! Having a pet can help alleviate the feelings of stress and depression also.

Eat Nuts
According to the Huffington Post, a study has shown that people ages 55 to 90 who incorporate nuts into their daily diet had a 39% lower risk of early death, especially walnut-eaters!

Doing good for others means good things for your health. People who volunteer live longer than those who don’t!

To quote Star Trek – live long and prosper!

Self Defense: What Retirees Need to Know

Retirement and moving to a retirement community like Sherwood Oaks means leaving behind the worry of maintaining your busy career as well as maintaining an oversized house. But retirement can also bring a lot of new worries into your life.

You may worry about money and how you will pay for your living expenses now that you no longer have a steady stream of income. You may worry about what to do with your free time. You may worry that retirement living may lead you to have a more sedentary lifestyle. And, more than likely, you will be worried about your personal safety.

Violence against senior citizens is an unfortunate reality. Strength and endurance make seniors a target of violent crime, including assault and battery. Luckily, Sherwood Oaks is a safe and secure community. But you can rid yourself from some of the fear that comes with grocery shopping at night or eating at a restaurant in a new part of town with one thing: Self-defense.


Take a Public Self-Defense Class

Self-defense classes are a great way to get a workout while taking control of the safety of you and your family. You might not think that retirement is a good age to start looking into self defense, but it’s becoming a trend in that age bracket. While pricing and class content vary by where you go, there are plenty of options available to you in and around Pittsburgh. Here are a few places to check out:


Carry a “Weapon”

Pepper spray is extremely convenient to carry around, and an inexpensive investment in your safety. Most can clip to your keyring and come with practice canisters so that you can get a feel for what spraying the pepper spray will feel like before and if you ever need to use it.

You may actually already be carrying a weapon and not know it! “Cane-Fu,” a self defense class that teaches seniors how to use their regular old canes to protect themselves in a scuffle. Beyond that, they also learn how to make their canes more effective in a fight by choosing the right materials.

A weapon that just about everyone has if they are out in public? Keys. Place your keys so that they are sticking out between your pointer and middle fingers so that if you get into a dangerous situation, you won’t have to shuffle around looking for something to defend yourself with.


Don’t Put Yourself in a Bad Situation

Try not to walk alone at night or in areas that you are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with, and if you need to park somewhere, make sure it is well lit. It’s not silly at all to ask a friend or your son or daughter to accompany you to the store if you have to run out at night. Make sure that your hands aren’t completely occupied with groceries so that you have a hand free to defend yourself if something would happen.

It’s good practice to know whether or not your cell phone has an easy way to access 911. Some have a designated button, while others reduce the amount of steps you need to take in order to dial out in an emergency. For instance, on an iPhone, you can slide to unlock your screen and then immediately click on “Emergency” to activate a keyboard to dial 911 on.

We are always looking out for the safety of our residents. If you ever have a concern about you or your spouse’s personal safety, please make us aware.