Continuing Education for Retirees

If you’ve always been a lifelong learner, that feeling doesn’t go away once you hit retirement age. It’s very common for retirees to want to pursue continuing education. According to FinAid, “Nontraditional students age 30 and above represent 14.4% of undergraduate students pursuing a Bachelor’s degree.”

But did you know that you can possibly accomplish all of your learning goals at little or no cost to you?

Waivers, Scholarships, and Grants

There are three different ways that you can have the burden of student loan debt be lifted off of your shoulders. Waivers completely do away with your tuition costs, meaning that you are attending classes for free and won’t have to pay the money back. According to US News, “Approximately 60 percent of accredited degree-granting educational institutions offer tuition waivers for older adults, according to a November 2008 survey by the American Council on Education.” You don’t have to pay back grants or scholarships, either, but they usually only cover part of your tuition. All of these options will require you to apply, and it’s important to apply early. Start looking for options several months before you plan on attending classes.

Alternatives to the Traditional University

In addition to attending classes at a regular university, you also have the option to attend a lower-cost community college, take classes online, or audit a class for no credit. Community colleges can offer the high-quality lessons that universities can, depending on the school and program, and come at a fraction of what you would pay to attend traditional university.

The website Get Educated provides a lot of resources for adults looking to take online classes. It helps you find schools, find the degree you want to pursue, and shows you many options for getting yourself through classes with financial aid. Locally, the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh promotes learning after retirement and offers up resources of their own. AARP also offers online classes and lectures for someone who has interest in learning more but doesn’t want to enroll in a full program.

Do Your Research

The best thing you can do for yourself is to think about what you would like to learn, research which local institutions or online schools offer your program, and then find out how much financial aid you may be able to receive. A Senior Citizen’s Guide to College offers a list of Pennsylvania schools and the type of financial aid they provide to retirees.

Sherwood Oaks supports our residents’ decision to advance their learning, and in March and October, we have our own brand of continuing education for our residents. Speakers come in to discuss various topics, and the events have become a favorite of residents.

You’re never too old to learn something new – so start doing your research today!

When to Give Up Your Driver’s License

You’ve probably been driving for quite a long time if you’re at retirement age, and you’re probably a pretty good driver with all of that practice. So you may be feeling like your days of driver’s tests and nerves behind the wheel are long behind you. But the reality for many of us as we age is that driving becomes dangerous as our health decreases.


Dangerous Freedom

When you pushed the gas pedal the first time, you probably felt a surge of freedom and energy. Many senior citizens fight their doctor or loved ones when they are told that it is time to lose their keys for good, but it is often a decision that is made after a lot of thought and consideration.

While right now you feel confident behind the wheel, you need know that somewhere down the road of life… being on the road may be a risk that is too high to take. Consider the facts:

The good news is that if aging DOES affect your ability to drive, you can avoid an accident by recognizing the problem and taking action.


How Do You Know?

So, how do you know when it is time to quit driving? Here are a few of the signs:

  • You have been involved in or almost been involved in more than one accident in the past two years
  • You have gotten more than one traffic violation in the past two years
  • You have difficulty staying within the lines of the road
  • You find yourself getting lost in familiar places or places you have driven to before
  • You are scared to drive alone
  • You are having difficulty working your vehicle
  • You find yourself driving far too slow or far too fast
  • You begin to feel increasingly anxious behind the wheel

If this sounds like you, consider talking to your family or doctor about whether or not it is safe for you to drive. If it doesn’t, remember these signs for the future for you and loved ones.


Avoiding Accidents

There are other things that you can do in order to make driving safer for you and those around you. This includes getting regular eye and hearing exams, making sure that you are getting enough sleep to be awake and alert when driving, and being aware of the side effects of your medicine that could decrease your driving ability. If a loved one shows concern about your driving, it is important to be open to what they are telling you and to not get defensive. Remember that they are bringing this up because they care about you!

If you ever decide that it’s time for you to quit driving, there are plenty of transportation options for you to choose from at Sherwood Oaks. Not being a licensed driver does NOT mean that you’ll be stuck at home. We have a fleet of busses that go off-campus each day to local businesses, shopping malls, grocery stores, and into Oakland. For a fee, we can also take you to appointments, shopping at a location of your choice, to the airport, or anywhere else you need to go! Your staff driver can even drive you in your car (just pay an hourly fee), or you are welcome to use a car from Sherwood Oaks at an hourly fee plus mileage.

We will also be hosting an AARP safe driving class on September 24 and 25. Residents and members of the community are welcome to join.

Whether you’re behind the wheel or in the passenger seat, we want to make sure that you get where you need to go – safely!

Weight and Retirement: What is Healthy?

According to The National Center for Biotechnology Information, “People who are close to retirement age show the highest rates of weight gain and obesity.” Why is this, what is normal, and how can you prevent post-retirement weight gain?

Reasons for Weight Gain

Just at any point in our lives, we can gain or lose weight for a variety of reasons. Some people with physically active jobs may be doing less activity than they are used to. Others have different eating habits or schedules after retirement. Some people turn to eating – or lose their appetite – when they move from the home they are used to, or feel a sense of loss of self when they no longer have a career.

For some, weight gain or loss is completely a medical issue. An injury may keep them from physical activity or medication can cause a weight gain. And don’t forget that our metabolism changes as we age also. Even though each person is unique, there is a general level of health and fitness that is considered healthy for your age group/height/gender.

Where You Should Be

The CDC offers two solutions for finding out if you are at a healthy weight: Your body mass index (BMI) and your waist circumference. Your BMI calculates the amount of body fat you have, while your waist circumference says if you have a high amount of dangerous belly fat. Belly fat is tied to a number of obesity-related diseases, such as diabetes.

There are many BMI calculators available online, including this one from WebMD. All you need to do is enter in your gender, height, age, weight, pants size, weight loss goal (you can choose to maintain) and activity level. You will get a number as a result, and this is your BMI. It will tell you whether or not you are in a healthy range. But… what if you aren’t?

How to Get There

We are very interested in keeping our residents happy and healthy! That’s why we regularly provide information like:

But did you also know that we also have a nutritionist on staff, who you can talk to about your diet and any special needs you have. We also have a tablet in the dining room that gives you our menu, including nutritional information. And soon, nutritional information will be available online. No matter where you stand on the scale, there is room for improvement on your health!

Have the Safest Summer Picnic Ever

Memorial Day weekend kicked off one of our favorite seasons – picnic season! There aren’t many things better than getting together with friends and family for food and fun. But with summer comes a lot of danger, also. Especially as you age. Don’t let a fun family get-together turn into an emergency situation. Follow these simple tips for fun in the sun.

  • Make sure the venue is friendly for everyone

If you or other picnic guests need a venue that is wheelchair-friendly or provides a lot of shade, be sure to take that into consideration when you are making your reservation. If you are a resident at Sherwood Oaks, we have a picnic area for you to use, and can even cater your event! There are picnic tables, grills, and outdoor games for your use, or you can move the event inside to our Oak Lodge Great Room in case of rain.

  • Make sure perishable items are stored in a cooler

If you are taking meat to grill to an offsite location, make sure that it is kept cool on your journey so that you don’t end up with very sick picnic guests! If you will be grilling close to home, keep these items in the refrigerator until you’re ready to plop them on the grill!

  • Use a food thermometer

The best way to make sure that your meat is cooked to perfection is to check its temperature with a food thermometer. Here is a handy guide from the food network to help you make sure that the burgers you are serving are safe for hungry picnic-goers.

  • Remember sunscreen!

Don’t try to get a nice summer tan. The higher the level of protection, the better! Review our guide to making healthy decisions this spring and make sure you’re covered!

  • Bring hand sanitizer or wet wipes

The great outdoors involve a lot of dirty things. Even if you don’t realize it, getting your hands dirty could be very dangerous if you sneak a chip or piece of watermelon. To help keep germs at bay for everyone at the picnic, be sure to have antibacterial wipes or liquid hand sanitizer nearby, just in case you don’t have immediate access to a sink and soap.

  • Drink plenty of water

Dehydration is a major risk for seniors, so it is important to drink plenty of water when you’re going to be outside for extended periods of time. If you don’t like water, try adding some flavoring to it, or flavor it naturally with fruit!

  • Find shade if you need it

If you feel like you are getting overheated in the sun, move to the shade or go inside to enjoy some air conditioning. Heat stroke can come on quickly and be extremely dangerous to your health. Your family and friends will understand if you have to miss out on some of the fun to cool down.

  • Make up a first aid kit

A simple first aid kit will have you prepared for a wide array of situations that may pop up, from mosquito bites to minor cuts. It’s smart to keep these handy:

      • Band aids
      • Insect repellant
      • Antiseptic cream
      • Extra sunscreen
      • Bug bite cream
      • Larger bandages
      • Cloth tape and sterile gauze
      • Tweezers
      • Disposable gloves
      • Ibuprofen or another pain reliever
      • Ice packs
      • An antihistamine
  • Know your medicine

Some medicines have an adverse reaction when you spend time in the sun. Your skin can become inflamed and red, looking almost like a sunburn. In photoallergenic reactions, these symptoms can end up being very long lasting. Don’t take the risk. Check the labels of your medication and ask you’re doctor if you aren’t sure about how any of your medications will react with the sun.

With your health in check, it’s time to pack that picnic basket with hot dogs and potato salad!

Make New Friends and Keep the Old

It was probably extremely easy to make friends when you were younger. First, you interacted and bonded with those you went to school with. Then you met coworkers that you found common ground with, and eventually you became buddies of the parents of your children’s’ friends.

But as we age, it can become more difficult to make friends – especially if retirement takes us away from the area we are familiar with. It can feel awkward to introduce ourselves to others, and we may miss the groups of friends that we’ve held dear throughout life.

At Sherwood Oaks Retirement Community, we like to think that we nurture friendships between our residents. New residents are met with a Welcoming Committee, who invite them to join current residents for a meal, in order to help them feel more at home. Several times a year, Sherwood Oaks also has a welcome dinner for new residents, which includes the CEO, members of the management staff, and residents on the resident association board.

Soon after residents move in, they are contacted by our newsletter staff, who will collect information about their life, family, career, hometown, hobbies, etc., to be printed in our newsletter. Often, this gives residents something to bond over, whether it’s where they grew up or if they somehow have a mutual friend or acquaintance.

We provide a wide variety of activities and social events that we encourage our residents to take part in. One advantage of choosing a retirement community is that yes, it is a community! A community that specifically focuses on the needs and wants of residents in your age group.

Old friends are also always invited to come and visit at Sherwood Oaks, and even take part in activities. These people have shaped your past and will continue to shape your future. You can also go off campus with friends easily, as we provide transportation to local shows and shopping malls.

Some tips for making friends at Sherwood Oaks:

  • Invite others over to your patio home for dinner or a game night
  • Accept any invitations that come your way
  • Be active on campus and consider picking up a hobby
  • Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and show them your personality
  • Try a new activity and ask someone for help with it

When is it Time to Make the Move to a Retirement Community?

So – you’ve retired and you’re pursuing all of the things you said you would when you clocked out of your job for the first time. But how do you know when it’s time to pack up and leave the house you may have spent decades in and move to a retirement community? There are some questions you may need to ask yourself.


Is your home maintenance getting to be too much? 

While big houses are just right for growing families, you may find that your home is a little bit to spacious now that the kids have left the nest. And big houses require a BIG amount of maintenance that can include climbing up steps and using ladders to reach those clogged gutters. This can be not only inconvenient, but dangerous as you get older. At a retirement community like Sherwood Oaks, all of your home maintenance is taken care of, so that you can enjoy activities you love rather than spending your time trying to keep up with your space.


Are you starting to have more health concerns?

Even minor heath issues are cause for concern when you aren’t sure if you can get the help you need in an emergency. Sherwood Oaks residents can see health professionals on campus, which is helpful for both maintaining their everyday health and when emergencies happen.

A perk of retirement communities like Sherwood Oaks is that we have the resources to tend to residents who need all levels of care. Residents start out living independently in one of our patio homes, and if their needs change, we have personal care/assisted living, skilled nursing, and a state of the art memory care building.  If one spouse needs care and the other doesn’t, the healthy spouse can remain in their patio home and the spouse that needs more care can get that in our personal care level or skilled nursing level, on the same campus. Couples can spend their days together, have meals together, and go to activities together.


Are you thinking about downsizing?

If you are simply surrounded by too much house, you might want to consider a smaller townhome at a retirement community. While you may be losing space, you will also be gaining amenities that you probably don’t have as a homeowner, such as a convenient on-campus fitness center and food service. You could gain a whole lot more by giving up a little bit of space.


Are you looking for more of a community in your age range?

Retirement communities are just that – communities. And they include plenty of on-site activities and opportunities to make friends in your age range. And you are free to take control of the activities that you and your friends enjoy most! At Sherwood Oaks, we have no activities director who controls when, where, and what happens on campus. Everything is resident-run!


Is security a concern?

No home can be completely secure, and it’s unfortunately common for you to be targeted by thieves as you age. Retirement communities offer a higher level of security than you may have in your current home, including security to keep a close eye on campus – assuring that you and your home are safe.


Are you feeling isolated?

If you live alone, it can be tough to fill your social needs from day to day. Sherwood Oaks and other retirement communities surround you with new people to learn from, laugh with, and build friendships with!


Is transportation becoming a hassle?

Driving can become a huge concern as you get older, with changes in your eyesight and reaction time. But retirement communities offer transportation options to help you get where you need to go, without you having to put yourself in a dangerous situation.

Many of our residents still drive, but other options include buses that travel to and from campus, taking you to local malls, grocery stores, hospitals, or into the city (Oakland). These buses can also take you to Pittsburgh’s Cultural District for events. If you’re traveling and need to take a trip to the to the airport, or if you need to pick up friends and family from the airport, we can take care of that, too! And doctors appointments no longer need to be a hassle. We can take you to your appointment and even stay with you so that you don’t have to wait at your appointment alone.

If you said yes to any of these questions, give us a call today to find out more about life at Sherwood Oaks Retirement Community.

10 Reasons to Love Springtime in Pittsburgh

Spring has sprung, and the Pittsburgh area is buzzing with activities for the whole family. Here are the ten activities we are so excited for spring here at Sherwood Oaks Retirement Community.


1. The Point

The fountain at Point State Park is a great attraction to see with family.  It marks where Pittsburgh’s three rivers meet and is a must-see tourist attraction for those visiting Pittsburgh.  You can visit the Fort Pitt museum or take a walk downtown for lunch or dinner. It’s an easy walk from Market Square, where you can enjoy steak, tacos, oysters, or a Primanti’s sandwich!


2. Baseball Games

Pirates baseball is back! And with excitement still looming from last year’s successful season, it’s bound to be a beautiful spring and summer at PNC park! With affordably priced tickets compared to other ballparks, and something to eat and drink for every member of the family, PNC park is a great place to catch some sun – and maybe even a foul ball.


3. Public Parks

Pittsburgh has a beautiful collection of public parks for you to explore, and plenty of activities going on in each of them! Try a walk for a good cause, a picnic in the grass, or event take part in the senior games!


4. Just Ducky Tours

Sometimes it’s nice to be a tourist in your own city. And you can be one by land AND by sea with a Just Ducky Tour! You’ll explore many areas of the city in a boat that can drive down the street and then hop into the river. It’s a fun experience for the whole family and a great opportunity for you to appreciate the city you call home.


5. Kennywood

We had Kennywood on our summer list, too, but the park Opens May 3! Locals have their own idea of what the best part of the amusement park is, from the funnel cakes and ice cream to the whip and the Olde Kennywood
Railroad. Nothing says that summer is on its way more than walking into the entrance of Kennywood.


6. Southside Works

If you’re looking for an area of the city to shop, eat, and catch a movie – without having to look for parking between each activity – try SouthSide works! Southside works requires little walking and holds popular restaurants such as Hofbrahaus and the Cheesecake factory! It’s a great place to take teenage grandchildren and adult children for a beautiful day out.


7. Gallery Crawls

Pittsburgh’s cultural district and upcoming artistic communities in neighborhoods such as Lawrenceville and Garfield often have gallery crawls which feature local artists. They vary in location and price, but they are usually quite affordable and fun for anyone who enjoys art and is able to walk around well!


8. National Aviary

There is so much more to enjoy at the National Aviary than the beautiful weather. Like penguin feedings, bat feedings, and flamingo encounters. Get your whole nest together and flock together to the aviary to check out some of the nation’s most beautiful birds.


9. Dinner on Mount Washington

Mount Washington is home to some of the most beautiful views in the city. You’re just a incline ride away from some of the most high-end restaurants in the city, too. Mount Washington is great for date night! Start with a ride on the incline, stop to take some photos at the outlook, and dine in style at the wide range of restaurants available, which vary from formal locations to fun pubs.


10. Dog Parks

Want to spend a fun day with man’s best friend? Spring is the perfect time to get out and get active with your favorite four-legged friend at one of Pittsburgh’s many dog parks!

It’s Spring at Sherwood Oaks!

No matter what your favorite season is, you were probably happy to have some sun and see the snow melt. We love spring here at Sherwood Oaks… and it should be clear why. There is SO much going on around campus now that everything has defrosted. Here are just a few things that you can look forward to this spring:


Our Weekly Walking Group

Our “Take a Walk with a Friend” program will have you mastering our walking trails, which go through the woods, around the lake, and over the three miles of designated walking space on our 84-acre campus. It both social and physical, which helps keep our residents happy and healthy!

Our Farmer’s Garden and Perennial Garden

Have a green thumb? You’ve laded at a gardener’s paradise! You can grow fruit, vegetables, and flowers in our Farmer’s Garden, which features raised beds that are tilled up and ready-to-go for residents who love local product. Really, really local produce!

Outdoor Activities

We have a full selection of outdoor activities for residents to enjoy with their family and friends, from Outdoor games such as bocce ball, shuffleboard, corn hole, a new volleyball court, a Wimbledon court, badminton, basketball and horseshoes at Sherwood Oaks’ Summer House.  There is also a designated area for outdoor games and grills for outdoor cooking! And for the little ones in the family, there is a playground to enjoy.

Trips and Tours

Sherwood Oaks has a Trips and Tours Committee run by the residents that plan day trips and occasional overnight trips to see local sites and tourist attractions. Attractions may be that a three or four hour bus ride away that would require an overnight (or two-night) stay. Be on the lookout for news about upcoming trips!

Looking to branch off of campus to enjoy some sunshine? Be on the lookout for our upcoming post, “10 Reasons to Love Springtime in Pittsburgh.”

All in the Family: Planning a Multigenerational Vacation

It’s easier than ever for us to travel in comfort. Not to mention, we are healthier and have the tools to make travel more simple and affordable than ever. So it’s no wonder that multigenerational travel is on the rise.

According to industry marketing firm MMGY Global, reported by the Wall Street Journal, “Thirty-seven percent of grandparents with a household income greater than $50,000 who took a vacation last year did so with grandchildren, up from 28% in 2007. And 78% of these trips included all three generations.”

If you’re one of those grandparents who are looking forward to a fun family vacation this summer, you’ve got an exciting but stressful task on your hands:  Helping to plan. While you, your children, and your grandchildren may all be part of one family, you may live in many locations, enjoy a wide variety of activities, and be living on very different budgets. As you speak with your children and plan out what will be a great time to bond, keep these things in mind:

Who is going?

When you’re planning a family trip, you need to decide what “family” means. Are you inviting Aunt Mildred and Cousin James? Just the kids and grandkids? Knowing who you want to include – and taking everyone’s feelings into consideration – will get the trip off to the right start.

Does everyone have a say?

A lot of people on one trip means a LOT of opinions. And while you can’t please everyone all of the time, you should allow everyone on their trip to have one “must-have.” This is the one attraction or activity that they HAVE to do while on vacation. Meet everyone’s top expectation and no one will be able to say that they didn’t have a say in the trip.

Where are you staying?

While booking a few hotel rooms to fit your family may be the right decision for you, or the only option you have, consider booking a house or condo with more amenities and more room for each family member to have their own space.

What is the budget?

It’s very important to set a clear budget at the beginning of the trip, and to have an understanding that there may be members of the family who cannot afford to go over that budget. Make a list of all of the activities you would like to do, as well as necessities like gas, food, and cost of your hotel or rental property, and make sure that everyone agrees to how much they will be paying.

Who is in charge of the kids?

Babysitting your grandchildren can be a very fun experience, and letting mom and dad go out for a night without the kids on there vacation may be a dream come true for them. But if you have small children along, make sure you know who will be attending to them and the special needs that they may have during the trip, or divvy up the work so that one person doesn’t spend the week on diaper duty!

What do you need to pack?

You won’t need four coolers, five curling irons, ten bottles of sunscreen or seven beach umbrellas on your trip, so make sure that you discuss with your family what you will be sharing. With many people headed on a vacation, there is going to be little room for packing the non-essentials!

Should you talk to a pro?

Large family vacations can be a big undertaking, so you may need to call in a pro, especially if you are taking a trip that involves flights, hotels, tours, and rental cars. Consider working with a travel agency if you think that it would be easier to let them make some of the plans for you.

Is everyone in touch?

If you’ve ever seen “Home Alone,” you know that it can be tough to keep track of everyone while you’re travelling. Make sure that everyone has each other’s cell phone numbers in case of an emergency. Some people prefer to use walkie-talkies if they won’t be too far from one another. For kids, consider getting them an identification bracelet, or try out the new SafetyTats:  Temporary tattoos that have your contact information on them! Kids won’t fuss with them like the do with a bracelet.

Do you have some wiggle room?

Even the best-laid plans don’t always work out. Making plans for a large group can get difficult when it comes to time management. It takes a large group longer to get out the door in the morning. They have longer waits at restaurants. They have to take more bathroom breaks! Make sure that your trip has a lot of space for taking breaks for you and the kids, as well as some flexibility in case the restaurant you wanted to go to isn’t open the day you go.

Can you get group discounts?

Depending on how large your group is, you may be able to get group discounts for some of the attractions you go to see. Call ahead to ask for their group policies.

Bonus: Here are our suggestions for vacations that mean family fun for everyone!

  • Disney World, Orlando, Fla.
  • An all-inclusive cruise
  • Myrtle Beach, S.C.
  • Outer Banks, N.C.
  • New York City, N.Y.
  • Hershey, Pa.
  • Gettysburg, Pa.
  • Busch Gardens, Va.
  • Washington D.C.
  • Presque Isle, Erie, Pa.
  • Splash Lagoon, Erie, Pa.

Thinking about a stay-cation? Consider Moraine State Park, the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium, the Aviary, the Children’s Museum, Kennywood, Idlewild, or a Pirates’ baseball game.

Time to Heat Up the Grill!

Is it just us, or does food just taste a little bit better when it’s made on a grill on a nice summer’s day? At Sherwood Oaks, we love a good hamburger or hot dog straight from the grill, especially when it’s prepared surrounded by friends, family, and laughter.

Each Sherwood Oaks resident is able to have a grill on their patio, but our common area, the Summer House, has grills and an open area for picnic activities.

Here are 10 delicious looking recipes that we have stumbled upon for you to grill up this spring and summer!


1. Pesto Grilled Shrimp

Seafood lovers looking to add some flavor to the classic taste of shrimp will love the bold flavor of pesto!


2. Grilled Asparagus and New Potatoes

Potatoes are a comfort food – and a delicious one, at that. Combine them with grilled asparagus for a healthy and flavorful veggie mix.


3. Grilled Pizza

Did you know that you could grill pizza? Now you do! Step away from that oven and put a twist on this Italian favorite using your grill.


4. Grilled Beet Salad

Have some vegetarians in the family?


5. Grilled Monterey Chicken

A very big step away from vegetarian options is this grilled Monterey Chicken, covered in cheese and smoky bacon.


6. Grilled Steak Tacos

Turn your picnic into a fiesta with these delicious grilled steak tacos.


7. Grilled Italian Pork Chops

Pork lovers, don’t fret. There is an option for you on our list, too! And it includes some of the best flavors in Italy.


8. Grilled Strawberries Over Vanilla Ice Cream

You might not think of desserts when you think of grilling, but a few minutes on a grill can add some serious flavor to an already sweet dessert.


9. Grilled Chocolate Banana Melts

And if you’re having some chocolate cravings, try out these grilled chocolate banana melts!


10. Ham and Pineapple Kabobs

We couldn’t finish off the list without including a kabob, and this one has some Hawaiian flare – just in case you don’t make it to the Islands this summer.


Try out these recipes and let us know if they will be a regular dish at your cookouts from now on!