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.
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:
- Educational Resources
- Coffee Spots
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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:
- Yoga for Seniors
- Staying Healthy for the Holidays
- How to Make the Most of Your Daily Walk
- Staying Healthy and Active in Retirement
- Making Healthy Choices
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!
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
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!
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.”
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.
Spring is officially here, even if it doesn’t feel like it in Pennsylvania today! Pretty soon, we will turn our attention from shoveling snow and remembering our gloves, to whose barbecue we’ll be at this weekend and which pair of shorts to wear!
With a new season comes a new opportunity for you to make better decisions about your life and your health. Luckily, there are small changes that you can make in order to be healthier by summer!
Get Enough Sleep
You aren’t your best when you’re tired or groggy. You are irritable and have trouble focusing on everyday tasks. The bad news is that insomnia is very common for people at retirement age. The good news is that senior citizens need less sleep than younger adults (around 7 hours), according to a 2008 study.
If you’re having trouble getting to or staying asleep at night, try to avoid coffee, tea, and alcohol before bed. Also try to avoid working on the computer or watching television, as well as exercise. All of these things can stimulate your brain and keep you awake much longer. Try setting a goal bed time and aiming to get the correct, customized amount of sleep so that you feel perfectly rested!
Drink Enough Water
You’ve probably heard that it’s good to aim to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. Well, that recommendation remains the same when you reach retirement age. Drinking the recommended amount of water per day has many health benefits, from weight control to healthier skin. But if you don’t love the boring taste of water, here are a few other ways to stay hydrated:
- Eat fruit
- Add fruit to your water for flavor
- Eat certain vegetables, such as cucumbers
- Drink Milk
Kick a Bad Habit
We’ve all got them. From sneaking our favorite cookies to smoking, there are plenty of habits that we develop that can have a negative effect on your health. But what do you gain by giving them up? It turns out that you get a lot. According to a 2012 study, “… A vibrant social life and quitting smoking can add five years to women’s lives and six years to men’s.”
That is five to six more years of growing your garden, celebrating birthdays with best friends, and watching grandchildren grow up. These are all things worth kicking your habits for! Whatever your vice, start small when removing it from your life. If necessary, consult the help of a doctor or a nutritionist who can help you make the right decisions for your health.
Add Super Foods to Your Diet
AARP recently came out with an article on “super foods.” These are foods that have an exceptional amount of nutrients and health benefits. The five foods that AARP highlighted were artichokes, asparagus, fava beans, arugula, and green peas. Explore your favorite recipes for ways to incorporate these super foods. And if this small list doesn’t sound very delicious, here is a list of 50 super foods that you can pile on your plate!
Protect Yourself From the Sun
The sun is a warm welcome after a winter filled with snowy days, but that doesn’t mean that the sun is always your friend. Seniors still need to protect their skin from harmful UV rays by choosing a broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection sunscreen with at least 15 SPF, but more is better! Check out this handy information from Bayhealth Medical Center on senior skin.
The small choices that you make each day can effect your health in big ways. Make the right choices and let this be the healthiest spring yet!