• September 13, 2011
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A Friend And Caregiver In Need

For the past few months, I’ve been offering caregiving advice to a friend of mine in Los Angeles. Our parents lived in the same community and were great friends for many years until sickness and frailty put a damper on their social lives. Barbara is now an active caregiver for her mother, the last survivor of the friendly foursome, and she’s facing many of the stresses and frustrations that my sisters and I experienced when we helped our parents. Except now we’re a lot wiser. We know the ins and outs of finding the best team of people to help her care for her mother from afar, ensuring that she is always safe and well cared for. Specifically, I was able to personally recommend;

1) a geriatric care manager who will accompany her mother to doctor appointments when she can’t, do the necessary follow-up (lab tests, fill prescriptions etc), report back to her by email or phone and make frequent home visits to take vitals and confer with home-health aids;

2)  a high-integrity resource for home-health care workers who are experienced, trustworthy, reliable, and can work well together as a team;

3) a doctor who is experienced with seniors who will talk to her by phone (you’d be surprised how many physicians won’t take the time to talk with a family member unless they’re in the examining room).

Putting in team in place that combines medical and personal care support has made a world of difference to Barbara, who must balance her caregiving responsibilities with family time and a full time job; and her mother, who feels confident that she can safely live in her own home.

It’s very gratifying to be able to help families figure all of this out and it’s why I started Seniority Matters. I wanted to create a framework for replicating how we help our close friends (and friends of friends) for a larger circle of people in south Florida, the communities where I have lived and worked for more than two decades.

All of the research I’ve done to find the best people to help you or a loved one can be found in our searchable directory. It’s free to use anytime, anywhere and should be a great starting point for your own research. You can also exchange references and referrals with others on our discussion boards found in the Living Room. And you can use our private services for one-to-one assistance, which can be helpful when you don’t have the time or inclination to do your own research or just don’t know where to start. However you use Seniority Matters, know that we are here to help you.

  • September 25, 2011
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The Benefits Of The Stability Exercise Ball

The Swiss ball, also known as the stability ball, gymball and physioball, was invented in Italy in 1963 as a toy. Not long after that, two English physical therapists started incorporating its use in pediatric physical therapy. Then, along came Dr. Klein-Vogelbach, a Swiss physical therapist, who began using the ball in orthopedic and back rehab.

In the 1980s American physical therapists brought the knowledge being developed by Klein-Vogelbach back to the United States, hence the name "Swiss ball."In the 1990s the ball moved from the rehab arena and into the fitness world, starting a new craze in core training.

In case you have no idea what I'm talking about, stability balls are large, heavy-duty, inflatable balls that can hold up to 600 pounds. I can't tell you how often I've heard people say, "But I'm too heavy. ...I might break it!" Have no fear. The only way I ever burst a ball was by backing over one in my car! 

These ball are comfortable and supportive. They're great for improving core strength (that’s your abs and lower back), as well as flexibility and balance. When the ball is being used correctly, the body uses various muscles for stabilization. . These muscles often aren't challenged using traditional equipment. Because the ball demands balance, you end up challenging your muscles in new ways.

Last, but not least, these balls are great for stretching. I wouldn't be without one.

 

So how do you know which ball is right for you?  It goes by your height:

  • 55cm ----- 4'11''-- 5'4''
  • 65cm ----- 5'5'' --- 5'11''
  • 75cm ----- 6'0'' --- 6'7''

Balls can be purchased at Target, Wallmart, Sports Authority or online at www.balldynamics.com

In a future blog I'll write about ball exercises for abdominals, lower back, legs, balance and stretching.

  • October 10, 2011
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It's All About The Butt

One of my lovely clients asked me why women’s butts flatten out as we age. After an extensive Internet search that yielded nothing but a funny blog by young women bodybuilders who call it "pancake butt," I enlisted the help of a sister who has a degree in computer science. She couldn't find the reason either, so I just had to guess. Here's my humble opinion for the "pancake butt effect."

The gluteal muscles (that’s the butt) are among our largest and strongest muscles. Unfortunately, as we age our muscles generally decrease in weight, size and strength. The skin also changes in these ways: Elastin and collagen decrease, there's a reduction in the size of cells and a lessened ability of skin to retain water. The subcutaneous layers of fat dwindle, as well.

Too bad. Gorgeous butts don't always come easily, but we can have rounder, firmer glutes with a little hard work. Here are some exercises to help keep or build a more beauteous gluteous:

Reverse lunge: 

  • Stand holding weights at sides, palms facing inward.
  • Step back with one leg until until the rear knee almost touches the floor. The front knee should not extend beyond the toes (it's best to keep the knee over the ankle to prevent injury).
  • Push back up forward to a standing position.
  • Repeat on the other leg. Do 5 to 15 repetitions on each leg.

Squats:

  • Stand with feet apart, holding dumbells at your sides, palms facing inward.
  • Slowly squat down until thighs are almost parallel to the floor, moving the glutes back as if you're stitting down in a chair.Try to keep our knees from extending over the toes.
  • Return to a standing position.
  • Repeat 5 to 15 times. 

 

Do you have any favorite butt enhancement exercises?

  • October 25, 2011
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Should You Join A Gym?

This blog post is the first of two parts. In this post, I talk about the factors on the plus side of joining a gym, and some questions to ask before you join.

The most important consideration in joining a gym is your lifestyle. If you are ready to commit the membership fee, the travel time to and from the gym and, of course, the time you will be working out, then a gym has a lot to offer.

Here are 6 reasons to join a gym:

  1. Gyms can provide mental stimulation (something we all need sometimes).
  2. A wide variety of exercise classes like Zumba, Spinning, Yoga and Tai Chi. This can keep your workouts from becoming boring.
  3. Good weather! You never have to worry about running in the rain. Good air conditioning, TVs, music, friends, locker rooms and showers. Think of it as entertainment that also keeps you fit.
  4. Great exercise machines. Joining a gym gives you access to a wide range of weight-training equipment and cardio machines, such as elliptical trainers, steppers and bikes. Another antidote to monotony.
  5. Personal trainers. Gyms offer personal trainers, usually at an extra cost, who develop fitness programs tailored to each client's individual needs and fitness goals.
  6. Community. Gyms provide an opportunity to make new friends who are as committed to their fitness as you are to yours. My personal trainer at the first gym I joined became my best friend of 30 years. We became training partners, then running partners, too. So joining that first gym was a very positive and life-enhancing step for me.

Gyms come in all shapes and sizes. There are large chains like Bally's, Gold's and LA Fitness, gyms in YMCAs and municipal recreation centers, and small privately -owned neighborhood gyms. Some are super upscale and some are hardcore bodybuilding gyms. To pick one, stop by and spend a few moments.

 

Here are some things to think about and good questions to ask before you sign up:

  • Location -- select a gym that is close to your home or office, not more than 20 minutes away. Take it from me, you won't go if it's too far away.
  • Membership fee -- Know what you want in a gym and what you'll be charged for membership. For example, if you just want to lift weights, but will be charged for the pool, classes and jacuzzi, is the fee worth it?
  • Safety -- find out what kind of first aid they have. There should be an emergency defibrillator and a first aid kit readily available. A CPR-trained employee should be on site at all times.
  • Number of members -- a gym shouldn’t be too crowded at the time you can go. It’s not any fun to wait to use the equipment.
  • Parking -- finding a gym with free and secure parking is a plus.
  • Qualified and friendly staff -- all trainers and exercise-class teachers should be certified in their area of expertise. They should be friendly and attentive to your form when you're working out.
  • Quality of the site -- all equipment should be well-maintained and the facility should be clean.
  • Lastly, especially in the larger gym chains, you can often get a 7-day trial pass BEFORE signing a contract. Using it will enable you to see any problems that will prevent you from making use of your investment.

Here are some gyms in South Florida:

Miami

  • Equinox 19501 Biscayne Blvd (Aventura Mall) 305-935-9514
  • Bally Total Fitness 3301 Coral Way 305-445-7140
  • Gold's Gym 3737 SW 8th Street 305-445-5161

Ft Lauderdale

  • Bally Total Fitness 959 East Commercial Blvd 954-491-9196
  • Gold's Gym 1427 East Commercial Blvd 954-491-4653

Palm Beach Gardens

  • Gold's Gym 4540 Donald Ross Road 561-799-1515
  • LA Fitness 3176 Northlake Blvd 561-848-7989
  • Loggerhead Fitness 901 Donald Ross Road 561-625-3011
  • November 01, 2011
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Choosing The Right Insurance Agent For Your Medicare Needs

Our recent blog post  "Guidelines for Purchasing (Medigap) Supplemental Insurance Plans" provided many resources and instructions on how to purchase Medicare Supplemental plans online. 

There is so much information to absorb. In addition to everything that is on the hundreds of related websites, there is also news that we cannot ignore. As an example a published article this week in Health News Florida  reported that 40% of drug plans offered in the state are sub standard, emphasizing the need to fully understand the fine print in your supplemental policy.  

That coupled with the increasing trends to do everything online as well as the limited time frame in which to evaluate, decide, and purchase policies, can make a challenging task even more overwhelming and it may be wise to turn to an independent insurance agent for personal help and guidance.  

The mere thought of it may make you give a sigh of relief but you must be diligent in choosing the right agent for you.

Here are some guidelines in choosing the right insurance agent for you.

  1. Make certain that they are licensed to sell insurance. In Florida you can check by going to the Division of Agent and Agency Services page on the State of Florida Financial Services website. In addition to verifying their license status, the site also provides detailed information on the insurance companies and policies they are authorized to sell.  There is a resource like this available in most states. 
  2. Make certain that the agent represents more than one insurance company, to be sure that he has your best interest in mind.
  3. Don't be afraid to ask for references. 
  4. Feel free to ask all the questions you have, and make sure you understand the responses. 
  5. Ask who handles your business on a daily basis. Do they have office staff that will service you if you have questions throughout the year or do they refer you to an "800" number call center, or will your contact be directly with them?
  6. Do they review your plan with you each year to make sure you have coverage for your anticipated medical needs. 

The Seniority Matters Directory is designed to do a lot of the legwork for you and we include two professional insurance agents in south Florida whose longstanding careers have been spent helping individuals identify their insurance needs and matching these needs with available supplemental plans.

Joe Jaffe is the principal of Secure Future Financial Group. Located in Boca Raton Joe, he can service accounts anywhere in Florida. Joe is available 24/7, especially during the medicare open enrollment period. In addition to selling medicare plans Joe is also certified in Long Term Care and sells annuities and life insurance as well. -- For more information on Joe Jaffe, including his contact information, please view his listing in our directory as well as his company website.

Doug Jacobs is the owner of Douglas M Jacobs and Associates located in North Miami Beach. He services clients throughout Florida. In addition to medicare supplemental plans, Doug also specializes in all various types of personal insurances including life, health, disability, dental, and long term health. He is available around the clock and has the knowledge and patience to answer your individual medicare questions. For more information on Doug, including his contact information please view his listing in our directory and his website.

  • November 15, 2011
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Should You Join A Gym OR Train At Home?

This is the second of a two-part blog. In my first post, I gave six reasons why joining a gym is a good idea. In this post, I take the opposite perspective ...reasons why you might NOT want to join a gym.

Gyms can be costly, overcrowded and, of course, it takes time to drive to and from the gym. I find that a lot of people 40 and over, especially those who work full-time, prefer the serenity and convenience of training at home.

Here are some reasons to work out at home:

  1. No travel time...it can cut your workout time in half.
  2. No lines of people waiting to use the equipment.
  3. No loud music (unless you want to play your own).
  4. No annoying person telling you his life story on the next treadmill over.
  5. It's easier to get your family and friends involved once they actually see you working out.

There are several ways to set up a home gym. You can go to a store like Busy Body and buy a full set of equipment with cables, pull-down bars, a bench press and leg machines, as well as a weight rack (for free weights) and the weights themselves. They also sell cardio machines like treadmills, steppers,stationary bikes and elliptical trainers.

More likely, you’d go the the simpler and cheaper route and buy only the basics needed for a complete workout. It’s easy:

  • You will need a few pairs of dumbells. Your strength determines the weight of the dumbells you'll need.  To determine what weight to start with, just start with a light weight. You can always buy heavier ones as you get stronger and get a set routine. A basic rule of thumb is that you should be able to do a few sets of your exercises, with the last one being a little difficult  but not too stressful on your muscles. Here's a little guide  for beginners that will help you get started. Be sure to check with your doctor if you have any medical conditions or injuries before you begin weight training. 
  • A stability ball can be used for a lot of exercises and the size of the ball is determined by your height (sizes and heights are listed on the box).
  • It’s good to get some rubber tubing or exercise bands for resistance training. They are color-coded from moderate to difficult.
  • And last, but not least, buy a mat for abdominal exercises and stretching. 

If you already know what you're doing, get to work! If not, you can buy any number of videos to teach you. One downside to working out alone at home is no personal guidance. Exercises done poorly can be ineffective, or, in the worst case, dangerous. So you might want to hire a trainer until you know at least the basics of form and injury prevention. 

Fully equipped gyms are available at Busy Body Gyms To Go.

  • Miami: 13619 S Dixie Hwy 305-259-0443
  • Pembroke Pines: 11966 Pines Blvd. 954-442-9218
  • Boca Raton: 9183 Glades Road 561-4772723

Balls, dumbells,mats and tubing can be found at Sports Authority.

  • Miami: 8364 S Dixie Hwy(Dadeland Station) 305-667-2280
  • Ft Lauderdale: 1901 N Federal Hwy 954-568-6226
  • Boca Raton: 20851 State Road 7 561-488-5754

What’s your preference … do you work out at a gym or prefer to train at home?

  • November 18, 2011
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South Florida Easter Seals: A Gem For Alzheimer's Patients & Their Caregivers

We get many calls from Caregivers inquiring about Adult Day Care services for their family members with Memory Disorders. Our mission at Seniority Matters is to arm you with as much information as possible so that you can make good and informed decisions.

So yesterday I visited the South Florida Easter Seals to learn more about the programs and centers they operate throughout South Florida for individuals with Alzheimer's Disease and other Dementias. The South Florida Easters Seals is located in downtown Miami, just behind the Miami VA, on the Western tip of the UM Medical Campus.

I always thought that Easter Seals was primarily about children with disabilities. Have I been wrong! While they have wonderful programs for autistic children, and a culinary program for young adults with physical and mental disabilities, they also place a huge emphasis on programs on frail adults, adults with memory disorders, and even a program for devoted caregivers. The environment was so warm and inviting and my visit was incredibly gratifying.

I had the pleasure of meeting first with Angela Aracena, VP of Programming.  As we toured the different rooms Angela gave me some great advice to give to caregivers who are investigating programs for their loved ones. "Look at the faces of the caregivers." Make sure they appear engaged with their work and the program participants. I did and each and everyone was involved. The rooms were loud with activities. There were nearly 70 participants yesterday, however, it seemed much larger due to the high employee/participant ratio.

There are different programs and grants in place that provide assistance with payments. They have two grants that provide funds for the daily programs. Qualifications for the grants are based on age, and level of frailty. They also will guide qualified individuals through a medicaid diversion program.  The daily cost for those who pay privately is $45.00 and transportation can be arranged.

 I also met with Lila Labarces, the Senior Director of Adult Day Services who explained that Easter Seals runs similar programs in Hialeah and Pembroke Pines. Lila is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and is the point of first contact for those wishing to join the programs. Lila can be reached at (305) 547-4713.

And last, but certainly not least, I met with Karen Lopez, Manager of Volunteer Services. Karen recruits and trains volunteers for the Respite Program, where a strategically matched AmeriCorps volunteer is assigned to supervise care of the patient, providing a break for the caregiver. If you'd like more information on this program call Karen at (305) 547-4751. Maybe you'd even like to become a volunteer!

  • December 29, 2011
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How To Get Into A Good Fitness Routine

Fitness is one of the greatest things you can do for your health. Exercise can help you lose or maintain your optimal weight, improve balance, coordination, flexibility, muscle mass, aerobic capacity and even bone density. It can also reduce the risk of chronic diseases like COPD and diabetes.

The Department of Health and Human Services suggests that healthy adults include AT LEAST 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week and strength training a minimum of twice a week. I suggest that you also include core, balance and flexibility into your exercise program.

Before designing your personal fitness program, consider your fitness goals (lose weight, want to run a marathon, get stronger or just be healthier) and fitness likes and dislikes (hate running, but love swimming--like dancing, but not walking).

How do you get started?

  • First choose the time of day that is most convenient for you to workout. That's usually early morning or late afternoon and evening for working people. Scheduling your workouts is the key to adhering to a fitness routine. 
  • Next schedule in that 150 minutes of aerobic activity a week. (That's only 2 1/2 hours)  That's walking 30 minutes a day 5 days a week. You will have to allow a few minutes for stretching after.
  • You also should comply with the recommended minimum of two days of strength training. If you are only lifting weights twice a week you could do legs (the largest muscle group of the body), back and abdominals on one day, and the second day should include biceps, triceps, chest and shoulders.
  • Take at least one day off between workouts and always warm up (at least 5 minutes) before strength training.

When you have completed the workout you need to stretch out. Some examples would be:

  • Back Stretch over a ball
  • Sitting on the floor with the legs straight out in front, try touching your toes
  • Lie on your back and bring the knees to the chest (good for the lower back)
  • Lie on your stomach and hold yourself up by leaning on the elbows(sphinx stretch). The sphinx is a lower back strengthener.

Many people start training because they want to lose weight and have a good body image. I have found that as people start to age, they become more interested in their health and maintaining their independence.

What motivates you to workout?

  • January 09, 2012
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Eat This For That: 100 Best Foods For Women

I found a terrific list of 100 healthful foods that every woman should include in her diet. Compiled by Alissa Miller on her blog at Nursing Degree.Net, she has grouped them into nine categories and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by some of the foods on her list:

Overall health - Flax seed tops this list

Skin Health - Includes foods with high concentrations of vitamins E and A and anti-inflammatory properties such as avocados, hazelnuts, olives and spinach

Cardiovascular System - Onions, grapes and raspberries were a surprise to me!

Cholesterol - Oatmeal, almonds and garlic are among 10 foods in this category

Bone Health - Sesame seeds, beans and eggs are some of the foods that are rich in potassium, magnesium, calcium and other nutrients essential for bone health.

Weight loss - Dried papayas, watermelon and fruit smoothies are excellent foods that will fill you up and add some sweetness – not calories – to your diet

Nuts, Beans and Grains - Foods such as lentils, quinoa and barley provide lots of protein and a great substitute for red meat.

Antioxidants - Cherries, artichokes, blueberries are on this list of foods that are high in antioxidants, which can help reverse the damaging effects of oxygen on our bodies’ cells. 

Super Foods - Acai and Goji berries top this list of 11 foods that are incredibly packed with important nutrients.

Can you guess what else is on this list?

Healthy Snacks - Pretzels, pistachios and graham crackers are recommended here for low-cal in-between meal snacks.

Healthy Desserts - An oxymoron? Not according to Alissa who explains, “dark chocolate with at least 60% cocoa can reduce blood pressure and is full of antioxidants.”

 
  • January 28, 2012
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Do You Have The Bedtime Blues?

Sleep is essential to maintaining both physical and mental health. If you're like most people, you have at some time had difficulty either falling asleep, staying asleep or getting quality sleep. What are some causes of sleep difficulties?

Stress: stress can be caused by fear or worry.

Mental or emotional conditions: such as depression or loneliness.

Stimulants: tobacco, caffeine and some drugs.

Some health problems: such as fibromyalgia pain and apnea

Lack of exercise: (I know I sleep better the more exercise I get)

Bad sleep habits: not having a regular bedtime or watching TV in bed.     

So what can you do to get those 40 winks?

If you have pain or an emotional problem you should first see a doctor. My clients with fibromyalgia find that combined with a prescribed sleep medication, exercising and keeping the temperature warm at night improves their chance of a good night's sleep. Talking to someone about an emotion problem helps as well.

Here are some changes you can make to improve your sleep:

  • Get regular exercise, preferably at least 3 hours before going to sleep.
  • No alchohol or caffeine for a few hours before bedtime
  • Have a regular bedtime and get up at the same time every day.
  • Try breathing exercises. By breathing deeply and concentrating on our breaths, the body relaxes. Breathing is an important component of martial arts and yoga for this reason. Breathing exercises calm the central nervous system and quiet the mind.
  • Do a lttle yoga just before bed. Here's an exercise that never fails:

Lie on your back in the corpse pose (hands at your sides, palms up, feet apart). Close your eyes and be aware of every part of your body starting at your scalp and moving towards your toes. Soften your forehead, eyes, face, jaws, neck and shoulders. Continue moving down your body by giving attention to every area...the arms, legs, trunk and toes. Next, stay in the corpse pose a few minutes longer and focus on your breathing. This exercise tells your mind and body that it is time to stop thinking and working.

Do you have any secrets for getting a good night's sleep?

  • February 08, 2012
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Fitness In A Hospital Parking Garage.....Really?

Last Monday, I woke at 5:00 am so that I could drive a friend to South Miami Hospital(SMH) for a 6:30 am surgery. After about 45 minutes in Pre-Op I was told that I could leave. Bleary- eyed and light-headed, I knew I needed food. Down to the cafeteria I went and had a high protein breakfast. I immediately felt better.

Now it was time for my morning workout (I had 5 hours to kill!). I decided to take a walk, but was rained out after only 15 minutes. What to do? Hmm, the hospital garage was dry and so was the stairwell. South Miami Hospital has signs on the stairwell doors encouraging people to take the stairs for their health. So I did! Eight flights later, I started to wake up.

Next, I took the elevator to the 5th floor and walked the ramp up a few floors, stopping to look at the view and to stretch on each floor. Going down I did 3 sets of walking lunges, stretching intermittently. At this point my legs were getting tired. Time for another stretch, lots of H2O and to move on to upper body.

How do you do upper body in a parking garage? Push-ups, of course! Not wanting to get run over or to get my hands dirty, conventional prone-on-the-floor push-ups were out. By placing my hands on a ledge, I did 3 sets of 15 incline push-ups, which are much easier than the fore-mentioned kind, but are still effective.

And last, I went down to the first floor, found a bench and did 3 sets of dips.Security was very polite to me, but I think that was because at this point, they thought I was nuts!

So what did I accomplish that rainy morning at SMH? By walking, climbing stairs and doing walking lunges I worked all the major muscle groups in the lower body; quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and calves. Push-ups primarily target the chest muscles but work the arms as well. Dips work the triceps specifically.

I dare you to share a stranger workout experience!

  • February 10, 2012
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How To Choose A Retirement Community Or Assisted Living Facility

In a 2012  New Old Age Blog, Paula Span described the outrage felt by residents at an upscale continuing care retirement community (i.e.: type of community that offers different levels of care including independent, assisted, and memory care) when they changed their policy to allow only those who lived in the independent units of the community to dine in the most luxurious dining room.  

Those residing in assisted living were required to dine in their own smaller dining room, and nursing care residents were restricted to dining rooms designated for them. While some residents have hired an elder attorney to protest the new rules, others agree with the changes.

If you're contemplating a move to a retirement community you must do your homework. The first level of  due diligence is making certain that they're fully licensed by the state and knowing how they have performed on their state inspections.  Don't be afraid to ask if they're financially solvent. And of course you want to understand the services they provide, for both medical care and in the general assistance of daily activities of living.

But Span's blogpost illustrates the need a second level of investigation that explains just how daily life works within the community. Most retirement communities have policies in place and if you want to avoid one of those “wish I knew then what I know now” moments you should think about what's important to you, and come prepared with a comprehensive list of questions. Understanding the ambience of the community can make the difference between the community being a great fit, or just tolerable. You cannot ask too many questions. 

Some of these "second-level" considerations may be: 

  • Do independent and assisted-living residents dine and reside together, or in different structures?
  • Is there a cafe in the community where one can dine outside of meal times for snacks or tea?
  • Is there a library or a card room where you can relax outside of your own apartment?
  • Are there daily exercise classes?
  • Is there a shuttle bus that will drop me off to do errands, take me to a medical appointment or classes at a nearby College or University?

These are just few of the many issues to think about when researching retirement communities. We will be posting more on this topic in upcoming blogs.

In the meantime, however, please email us any questions you may have about this often, overwhelming topic.

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