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 atwww.Guidestar.org.


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 towww.medicare.gov/NHCompare. 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.

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.

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.”

Redesign Your Space for Spring! (Using Little Time & Money)

Sherwood Oaks Retirement Community is a collection of a variety of unique residents, and we love when they put their own spin on their patio homes. With spring on its way, many people are beginning to do their spring cleaning and, in turn, giving their home a new look for the new season.

We know that redecorating can get expensive, so here are a few tips on how to get a new look in your space for less.


Recycle Across Rooms

Sometimes you don’t need to buy new home items in order to get a fresh new look, you just need to move them from one room to another. If there is a side table you particularly love in your bedroom, consider showing it off in the living room. Move your favorite framed photograph from the hallway to the kitchen, where you can look at it more. You can even give items a new paint job to fit in with another room’s theme. Quick, affordable, and resourceful! Wasn’t that easy?


Rearrange Furniture

Sometimes the furniture in the room is right… but not in the right place. Take a look at your living space. Could it be arranged differently? Is your space being underutilized? Could you incorporate feng shui? Does the space make it easy for guests to socialize when they visit your home? Moving the couch against the wall or the chair further from the doorway can make a world of difference.


Update Photographs

Photographs add a world of personality to a room, but it’s easy to forget to update them. Children and grandchildren grow quickly, and printing out photos of their big life moments is easy now thanks to the Internet and convenient photo centers at stores like Target. Don’t have any recent family photos? Set up an appointment to get a new one done!


Update Focal Points

Curtains, rugs, throw pillows, blankets, and art are all things that attract a lot of attention and can be easily replaced. Think about a major item that attracts attention in each room of your home and consider updating it. This may include a new centerpiece for your dining room table, a new welcome mat, or new tea towels in the kitchen.


Add a Pop of Pastel

Light and airy colors are great for spring. Consider swapping out darker items in your décor for something more fresh and sunny. Put them in storage until you can use them again in the winter! Mirrors can also add a lot of light to a room.


Spend a Little Bit on Organization

Often, simple home clutter can be solved with a few organizational items. Purchase a wicker basket to store extra blankets in. Put a small basket in your entranceway to throw keys into to avoid losing them. You can ever scour Pinterest to find a fun DIY project, like this refurbished cake stand that you can use to display items in your bathroom or bedroom.


Replace Small Items

Small can make a big difference. While you may not think that replacing a lampshade or knobs on a dresser would make a big difference, it definitely can! A new vase or a houseplant can make a world of difference when it comes to adding that “home” feeling to your space. It’s great to dream big – but you can start small!

10 Simple New Years Resolutions for Senior Citizens

Happy 2014! We’re glad to have another exciting year in the books at Sherwood Oaks retirement community, and we are looking forward to everything the New Year will bring. With each New Year comes a new set of resolutions to set for a happier and healthier you.

If you’re looking for simple ways to make 2014 better than the last, here are some of our favorite suggestions:


1. Take Your Health Into Your Hands

Listening to health professionals is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Knowledge is power at any age. Do your own research on healthy habits you can begin based on your individual health needs. If you’re trying to watch your blood sugar levels, find some great sugar-free versions of your favorite foods. If you’re active and trying to come up with stress relief techniques, think about yoga or meditation. From dropping your diet soda habit to taking an hour-long walk a day, you can make small changes for a big difference.


2. Eat Better

Speaking of food habits, 2014 is a great year to provide you body with the right fuel that it needs.ChooseMyPlate.gov is a great resource on nutritious eating, and it suggests that 50% of your plate be fruits and vegetables. It’s a known fact that when you eat better, you feel better!


3. Find a New, Healthy Activity

Not everyone is a runner, and some people hate working out in a group! The great thing about physical fitness is that there are so many ways to incorporate it into your lifestyle. Now is a good time to try out a sport you’ve always wanted to take part in or to swim laps a few times a week like you used to. Experiment and find the right activity for your personality and activity level.


4. Check Something Off of Your Bucket List

Entering your golden years doesn’t mean that the excitement is over! This can be the year you finally take that trip to Paris, reunite with your childhood best friend or buy your dream car. It might take some work, but think about the biggest goal you have yet to accomplish and start working toward it!


5. Connect More With Friends and Family

As children and friends get older, their families grow – and their free time shrinks. Make connecting with loved ones a priority this year. This can happen by scheduling a weekly Skype call with your grandchildren, having coffee every other week with your old high school pals or making sure to fit in a date night every month. Time spent laughing with those that mean the most is time well spent.


6. Reduce

One of the best lessons we ever learn is the difference between “want” and “need.” Making the move from a house to a retirement community is a great example of downsizing and making this important decision. But it doesn’t have to stop there. Look around your home and see where you can reduce clutter. In just a few minutes you can sort through one of those messes you’ve “been meaning to get to” and make your space more usable!

Similarly, the beginning of a new year is a good time to look at your budget and decide where you may be able to cut back.


7. Be a Kid Again 

Did you love riding bikes as a child? Did you take Saturday morning shopping trips with your mother? Think about a happy memory from childhood and bring it back to your life in a new way!


8. Tell Your Story Your Way

Sharing your life with your children and grandchildren will mean more to them than you know. Technology makes it easier to share photos and stories than ever before. Upload old photos toFlickr or start a blog to share your story with the world!


9. Brush Up on New Technology

Speaking of new technology – are you confused about theFacebook feature your granddaughter explained to you? Would you like to figure out how to video chat on your own? Learn about a piece of technology that is of interest through a local community class or your own research! Searching YouTube for tutorials is a good place to start, or reach out to the tech addict in your life!


10. Celebrate the Little Things

Every healthy check up, child’s birthday, and reached goal is another reason to celebrate. Make 2014 the year that you acknowledge and celebrate the good moments!

10 Reasons to Love Winter in Pittsburgh

It’s beginning to look (and feel) a lot like winter in Pittsburgh and at Sherwood Oaks Retirement Community. And while winter doesn’t officially kick in until December 21, winter activities in and around the city are already happening!

We’ve already made some suggestions for a few wonderful holiday shows, but our city has plenty more to offer. So we’ve made a list, checked it twice, and decided to share our top 10 Pittsburgh winter activities with you!

1. Gingerbread Houses

The PPG Place Wintergarden is one of the best places to get some holiday cheer in Pittsburgh. Each year, dozens of Gingerbread Houses call the building home for the Gingerbread House Display Competition. Many groups, from elementary schools, professional organizations, families, and nonprofits, will decorate gingerbread houses in hopes of getting named the number one gingerbread house in the city! You can see all of the winners for free every day through the New Year.

2. Ice Skating!

Whether you are a fan of ice skating or enjoy seeing family and loved ones on the ice, you have plenty of options right near home! The Rink at PPG Place allows skaters to circle a beautiful Christmas tree while skating with Santa and taking in a great view of the city. Plus, it’s close to some other fun winter activities in Market Square that are also on our list! To avoid some of the holiday rush, you could also visit the Schenley Skating rink.

3. Giving Back

It’s the season of giving, and volunteer opportunities are an easy but meaningful way to bring joy to yourself and your neighbors during the holidays. Browse resources like Pittsburgh Cares to search for a volunteer opportunity close to your heart.

4. Light Displays

What makes the holidays so bright and cheery? The lights certainly help! You and your family can enjoy the lights at both Kennywood and Phipps Conservatory.

5. First Night

Ring in 2014 in downtown Pittsburgh at First Night on Dec. 31 beginning at 6 p.m. The evening’s festivities include a parade, children’s activities, live music, fireworks, and more!

6. Winter Sports

Football and hockey will be going strong this season. While we love catching a game at Heinz Field and Consol Energy Center, it’s also fun to curl up on the couch and watch a game from home!

7. The Holiday Market

Located next to The Rink at PPG Place, The Holiday Market is a spectacular display of cultural gifts, food, shows, and more! Pick up a fir tree or a handcrafted ornament while snacking on European sweets.

8. Joy of Cookies!

Sugar, gingerbread, chocolate chip… which is your favorite holiday cookie? No need to narrow it down, because you can get your fill of holiday sweetness with the Joy of Cookies Cookie Tour in Lawrenceville from December 5 to December 8 for free! More than 30 businesses are taking part in the event, where shoppers can enjoy shopkeepers’ favorite cookies at stores throughout Lawrenceville.

9. Pittsburgh Twists

We love holiday traditions, but we especially love when holiday traditions have a Pittsburgh twist. It’s hard not to sing along to the yinzer-inspired carol, “Santa Claus is Coming Dahntahn.”

10. Nationality Rooms at Pitt

Experience holiday traditions from around the world with the Nationality Rooms Holiday Tours. Not only are the tours fun, but you can give yourself the gift of learning something new.

Talking to Your Family About Your Retirement

Retirement is something you look forward to through most of your career. Finally having freedom from the stress of the 9 to 5 is something that comes well-earned. But with the decision to retire come a lot of decisions: decisions about money, decisions about your home, and decisions about your family. That is why it is critical to talk to your family about this change in your life. Keep the following things in mind when bringing up the next phase of your life to your loved ones.

Your family is concerned with your living situation.

Open and friendly communication is key when explaining your retirement plan to your family. Part of looking to the future is anticipating your living situation long-term. Many retirees choose to continue to live in their homes, while others downsize based on space or budget. Others choose to move to a retirement community such as Sherwood Oaks to help relieve the household duties they have and build a relationship with their neighbors.

If you do decide to sell your home, consider the consequences to your family. Retirees who sell their homes often are leaving the home that they raised their family in, making this an emotional decision, but one that may have their best interest at heart. Having an open discussion with your family where everyone’s feelings are heard, even if they don’t affect the end decision, will help everyone feel more comfortable with the retirement situation you choose.

Your family is concerned with the cost.

Money is a touchy subject, even when you’re talking about it with the people closest to you. It is important to explain how you plan to finance your life once you retire, as well as how you will handle any costs of long-term care. Most people are concerned with the burden that it could put on you… and possibly them. Be sure to come up with a clear financial plan to explain to your family to help ease their minds. This is especially important if you are retiring before your spouse. Going from two steady incomes to one will take some adjusting.

Your family wants you to be happy.

Families are very concerned with your quality of life following your retirement. They will want to know how you plan on spending your free time when you enter retirement. Do you want to take up volunteering or a hobby? Will you have a part-time job? Would you like to travel? Your quality of life will be a topic that your family will want to explore and be reassured about.

When discussing your retirement with your family, it helps to start talking early so that they have time to process and help you with the transitional period. And don’t worry if you and family members don’t exactly see eye-to-eye on your decisions. Make the choices that are right for you, and your family will be supportive.

Turn Your Residence at Sherwood Oaks from a House to a Home

We don’t want your patio home at Sherwood Oaks to be just another house. We want it to truly feel like home, which is why we take every step we can in order to help you settle into a home that you feel is uniquely yours.

If you are moving into a Sherwood Oaks residence that isn’t quite finished, you are able to choose your own paint colors and carpeting. And when it comes time for you to get a new kitchen, which Sherwood Oaks replaces every few years, you are able to choose the style of your cabinets.

If you want to truly customize your home with a bigger project, like removing a wall to unite your kitchen and dining areas or replacing a sliding door with a French door, we can accommodate you! You will simply need to pay for the work yourself and run any project by us first.

Here are some other DIY projects that you can use to take your patio home from just another foundation, to the foundation of a happy life:

  • What truly makes a home is family. Display photos on your walls in unique ways, such as in memory boxes or thrifted frames that you can paint to match your décor. Sherwood Oaks residents are permitted to hang anything on their walls!

  • Speaking of family, invite friends and family over often to get that warm feeling of home that no piece of furniture will ever be able to bring you.

  • It’s amazing what a difference a comfortable throw, throw pillow, and rug can do to a space. If you want to add a new level of comfort to a space, reach for something cozy!

  • Memories can be displayed in a variety of different ways –not just pictures. Consider framing maps of places you’ve visited, tickets from you favorite concerts, and other things that are close to your heart.

We are always looking for ways to make our residents feel happy and comfortable in their homes. If you have any suggestions on how we can help you, please email us at marketing@sherwood-oaks.com.

Are Retirement Communities Accredited?

Sherwood Oaks retirement community is accredited, even though most retirement communities are not.  It takes extra effort on our part, but we feel that the benefit of being accredited by The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities and Continuing Care Retirement Community (CARF/CCAC) is worth the extra effort. CARF/CCAC is an independent accrediting organization that provides comprehensive quality standards to senior living communities.

Achieving this accreditation signifies a commitment to meeting recognized quality standards.  By continuously improving our services we can improve the quality of life for residents and their families.  Click on this link to read about the criteria for accreditation by CARF/CCAC.