6 Benefits of Learning a Language for Seniors

Monday, July 17th, 2017 by Acts Retirement Guest Contributors

further education


Whether you're a member of the greatest generation or a baby boomer, you should consider learning a new language. Why? Learning a new language can come with numerous benefits, including improved brain function, enhanced personal confidence and broadened opportunities for communication.

The prevalence of social media and the Internet in our society has caused our world to shrink and our knowledge base to expand. Want to talk to someone in China? Open Facebook. Want to learn a new language? Download a free app. It’s that simple.

Here are some reasons why seniors should consider learning a new language.


1. Sharpen your Decision-Making Skills

Do you ever feel like your children, grandchildren, or possibly just the millennial generation in general are in a constant state of multitasking and rapid-fire decision making? This can feel intimidating, but learning a new language can help you to train your brain to work at millennial-like speed.

A study conducted by psychologists from the University of Chicago indicated that when people speak in a language different from their native tongue, it eliminates the tendency toward loss aversion. Loss aversion is our human impulse to get caught up in the ‘here and now’ instead of making decisions that could become helpful in the future.

Even with full comprehension of different meaningful statements, people tend to react with less emotion when hearing it in their second language. So it’s possible that learning a second language could lead to benefits like better financial decisions with an enhanced ability to exercise self-control, retain focus and overall make good decisions.


2. Boost your Brain Power

We tell children that eating fruits and vegetables will help them grow and increase brain power, but once you become an adult this is no longer the case. Seniors need to find new ways of learning to increase brain strength and agility.

University College London researchers in 2004 conducted a study in which they examined the brains of 105 people, 80 of whom were bilingual. The research showed that learning a foreign language altered the brain’s grey matter, or the part of. of the brain responsible for processing information. This suggests that people who are bilingual have an easier time understanding new information than those who are monolingual.


3. Transform the Way You Travel

Travel experiences are greatly enhanced when you understand the native language of your destination.

You may not be dreaming of backpacking through Europe (or maybe you are), but that doesn’t mean you don’t still have a taste for adventure. Like Anthony Bourdain, you may want to travel and live like the locals. This becomes much easier when you can speak their language. By understanding the native tongue, you can more easily learn about the destination’s culture and people. You can interact more easily with the locals, and possibly build memories and friendships that will last a lifetime.

If you’re looking to test your linguistic skills but don’t want to stray from the comfort of home, senior living communities like Acts Retirement offer residents the opportunity to stay at one of their 22 communities in 8 states. Relocate to Florida for a week to test out your Spanish. Or stay in Pennsylvania and take a day trip to Philadelphia to visit Chinatown or take the train to New York and visit Little Italy!


4. Make Yourself More Employable

You may be retired, or your spouse may think you should be retired, but that doesn’t always mean you’re ready to stop working. More and more seniors are making the choice to reenter or stay in the workforce longer. This brings up the question – how do I make myself a desirable candidate to potential employers, and how can I show my company I’m a valuable asset? Here’s another example of how learning another language can benefit you.

Companies are constantly expanding overseas and more languages are consistently being integrated into American culture. Therefore, if two job candidates have an almost identical skill set but one of them is bilingual, that person will be likelier to receive the job offer. Companies need people with the ability to communicate with people from other countries, and in many cases, they’re willing to pay for it.


5. Meet More People

Seniors who learn a new language open themselves up to different sections of the world, and connections in other parts of the world can be invaluable. Networking is such an important concept in today’s business world, and the ability to network with people from other parts of the globe can open up unique opportunities.

Besides developing business connections, learning a foreign language also opens the door to an entire world of potential new friendships. Research shows that socializing later in life is extremely beneficial for your physical and mental well-being. But if you can’t speak the same language, forming new bonds is a challenge, to say the least.

Emotions are tough to translate, and thoughts can be perceived differently in different languages. For example, the Spanish word for the pencil is la lapiz. The ‘la’ before lapiz indicates that the word takes on a feminine entity, which alters the emotion towards the word. Knowing these types of nuances can make all the difference when you’re trying to connect with a new pal.


6. Help Protect Against Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Learning another language as an older adult has a great impact on the development and perseverance of the brain. Studies show that when children master a foreign language it aids in the development of the brain and allows then to perform better in school and on standardized tests.

Being bilingual has a muted effect on adults, but the effects rise to the forefront again in older age. Knowing another language can help protect against the type of cognitive decline that leads to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.


Learning another language has never been this readily available. You no longer need a physical school with a physical professor to get started. There are numerous online language instruction programs that allow you to learn the language of your choice in the comfort of your own home.

Rosetta Stone dominates the market for online language programs, but it can be pricey. There are a number of other programs available and each has its own teaching style.

Do you live in a senior living community or are considering moving into one? Today, many senior living communities provide opportunities for learning. At Acts Retirement, residents have the opportunity to take part in lifelong learning opportunities. The senior living company’s belief is that a happy life starts with maintaining a strong mind, and that requires daily exercise, challenges, stimulation and communication.

Take a page out of the Acts Retirement playbook and start strengthening your brain by learning a new language today! You’ll be amazed at what you can do, and the benefits you will experience, when you put your mind to it.


---- Acts Retirement-Life Communities is one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit continuing care retirement community organizations. Acts Retirement-Life Communities has 22 retirement communities in 8 states. The communities offer a range of apartments, villas and cottages that are a perfect fit for both your budget and your lifestyle. Acts Communities offer a variety of fitness activities and classes like art and book clubs.


10 Summer Health and Safety Tips for Seniors

Tuesday, July 11th, 2017 by Tammy Worth

Senior couple taking selfie on kayak in El Nido lagoon


When summer arrives, most of us want to spend time outside. But Mother Nature isn’t necessarily welcoming for everyone this time of year. Heat and sun can create health and safety problems for some older people, especially during prolonged exposure. But a little knowledge and preparation, you can easily enjoy summer fun alongside your family and friends.


1. Stay hydrated

Probably the biggest summer health concern for older adults is dehydration. As we get older, it’s easier to dehydrate because our thirst mechanism and ability to sweat can both be reduced, says Michael Perskin, MD, assistant professor of geriatric medicine and palliative care at New York University Langone Medical Center. Without these two sensations, you may not be aware you are losing fluids so you don’t replenish fluids.

Other signs of dehydration are dark, concentrated urine or dizziness when you stand up. To avoid this altogether, make sure you’re drinking plenty of water -- an easy rule to remember is eight 8-ounce glasses a day. If you’re exercising vigorously outdoors, coconut water is a good way to replenish electrolytes like potassium and sodium. A salty snack, like pretzels, works well for this, too.


2. Get physical in the morning and evening

If you're over 65, it’s a good idea to avoid strenuous exercise outdoors when temperatures start to rise. But taking a walk, gardening or playing a round of golf can keep you active and healthy. If you are going outside for exercise, remember to do so in the morning or evening, when it’s cooler.

Avoid staying outside for extended periods of time when it’s hot out, and take a friend or family member with you in case you get overheated. Carrying a water bottle with you will help you remember to stay hydrated. And if the heat gets to be too much, move indoors – get your steps in at the mall or try out classes at a local senior center.


3. Get insects to bug off

It’s important to use bug spray and cover up to avoid mosquito bites (especially when they are their most active – from dusk to dawn). This is especially key since some mosquitoes may be carrying West Nile virus, which is more likely to cause problems among people over 50 and those with weakened immune systems.

If you are in one of these two groups, you have a harder time fighting infection, making the chance of developing meningitis or encephalitis (swelling around the brain) from West Nile more likely. If you’ve been around mosquitoes and have any of the following symptoms – fever, headache or body aches, nausea, a skin rash on your torso, stiffness in the neck or disorientation – call your doctor immediately.


4. Mind your meds

There are a handful of medications that potentially increase problems for older people in the summer, according to Carla Sutter, director of operations at SYNERGY HomeCare. This includes beta-blockers, a class of medications that reduce the heart rate, slowing circulation and making it tougher to cool off.

Two other types of medications that increase your risk of dehydration are antidepressants (which can make you sweat more than normal) and diuretics (which encourage urination).


5. Travel safely

Summertime is typically vacation time, and if you’re flying or driving long distances, it’s critical to make sure you move around frequently, says Mattan Schuchman, MD, a gerontologist from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Schuchman recommends stopping the car to move around a bit or getting up from your airplane seat and walking up and down the aisle about every two hours to help with circulation.

Moving your legs keeps your blood pumping, which reduces your risk of getting deep vein thrombosis (blood clots in the leg veins), which in some cases, break free and cause an embolism in the lungs.


6. Carry emergency info

Whether you’re traveling or staying home this summer, one helpful thing to carry with you is an ICE (in case of emergency) card, says Andrew Craig, RN. The ICE card should include your name, medications, allergies, medical conditions and contact information for family members, your primary care provider and pharmacy.

Having one of these cards on hand provides important health and contact information to emergency responders and admitting physicians in case you’re physically or mentally unable to provide it in an emergency. Even if you aren’t incapacitated, you probably won’t be able to remember a lot of this pertinent information if you need it quickly or are in distress.


7. Shield your skin

As you age, sun exposure can not only dry and damage the skin, it also increases your likelihood of developing skin cancer. If you want to get a daily dose of Vitamin D, you only need about 15 minutes of sun exposure each day. (If you are Vitamin D deficient, talk to your doctor about taking supplements).

Beyond that, you should be covering up and putting on sunscreen. Tsippora Shainhouse, MD, a dermatologist at Rapaport Dermatology of Beverly Hills, recommends using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Before going outdoors, apply a thin layer to any skin that is exposed (don’t forget the ears and scalp if you have hair loss). You need to reapply every two to three hours when you’re outside, particularly if you’re in the water or exercising.


8. Take extra skincare precautions

Not only does our skin thin and get drier with age, in the summer, heat, wind and air conditioning can all wreak havoc on it during the summer. To avoid dryness and keep your skin looking and feeling good, Shainhouse recommends applying moisturizer within three minutes of getting out of the bath or shower to hold in water and seal the skin barrier.

Products with antioxidants help repair and limit future damage from UV exposure. Look for ingredients like Vitamin C, Vitamin E, green tea extract and resveratrol. Finally, retinoids and retinols help turn over skin cells quickly, a process that slows as we age. Using them before bed can help reveal healthy, stronger and thicker skin, says Shainhouse.


9. Protect your eyes

As important as it is to protect your skin from the sun, it’s just as crucial to keep your eyes safe, especially as you age. Some glaucoma medications can make the eyes more sensitive to light, and long-term sun exposure has been shown to contribute to cataracts. It’s important to block those UV rays with sunglasses – just be sure to look for ones that have 100 percent UV protection.


10. Choose the right clothes

Wearing sunscreen helps protect from sun damage, but avoiding exposure altogether is an even better bet. Keep in mind the protective power of clothing when outdoors during the summer. A wide-brimmed hat will shield your scalp, ears and face and keep you cool. Longer sleeves and pants will protect your skin.

Remember that when it’s hot out, clothes should fit loosely, natural fibers are more breathable and a tighter weave helps minimize UV penetration. And if you’re out at the pool, beach or a ball game, remember that your best accessory may be an umbrella to keep you shady and cool.



Downsizing Tips from a Professional Organizer

Friday, June 30th, 2017 by Lea Schneider



The ups and downs involved with downsizing your home mean you could probably use some help navigating the trek. It can be both exciting and daunting to let go of stuff and simplify.

The key to a less stressful move is to break the process into increments. As a professional organizer, I’ve helped families downsize for a variety of reasons—from empty nesters with empty rooms to those with the travel bug or seniors who are tired of stairs to climb and lawns to mow.


Start with the Right Mindset

It’s too easy to get mired down in all the details. Begin with an attitude adjustment. There is clearly a reason why you started thinking about downsizing. Try to focus on the benefits of going smaller instead of dwelling on what you may need to leave behind.

Make a list of the things that drew you to this decision. Perhaps you will be living closer to family, or you’ll have less space to clean and maintain. This means you’ll gain more free time to explore hobbies and community activities, which should equate to less stress and more fun.


Focus On Your New Home First

The easiest way to decide what to keep and what to let go of is to fill up your new home with things you love and things you need. Once your new space is arranged to your taste, you’ll feel more comfortable letting go of the excess.


  • Start with the Basics. Just like you had your very first apartment, start with the basics. You’ll need a bed to sleep on, a nightstand, a dining table and chairs and a couch or favorite comfy chair.
  • Add Furniture You Love. You likely own at least a couple of furniture pieces that have history for you. Work those in next. For example, your grandmother’s hope chest might not be a necessity, but you love it. Plan to make space for it at the foot of the bed, under a window or as a coffee table.
  • Build in Storage. Your smaller space will still need some storage. You may have photo albums, off-season clothing or extra bedding that you still need to store. If you are trying to decide between furniture pieces, always choose the one that allows for storage. For example, a pretty dresser can be used at an entrance instead of a foyer table.
  • Add in Necessities. Take a look around your current home for things you’ll need in your new home. You’ll want to move some lamps for light as well as things to provide enjoyment such as a television, computer or stereo.
  • Make It Feel Homey. Once you’ve selected the basic furniture and necessities, it’s time to choose decor accessories. Start with art. Select favorite family photos, prints or pieces from travels, or find new pieces that speak to you and fit your new home’s aesthetic.
  • Bring in Textiles. Anchor your new conversation spaces with an area rug. It will create warmth and help tie together all of your various furniture pieces. A rug can instantly transform a cold, empty room into something that feels like home. Then, add matching accent pillows and pretty throw blankets to keep the cozy feeling going.
  • Keep It Safe. While you’re choosing all of these items, make sure to keep an eye on safety. Choose sturdy furniture pieces that aren’t likely to tip over. Make sure bookshelves are anchored to the wall. Inspect older lamps to make sure cords are not frayed or cracked. Keep pathways clear of trip hazards such as magazine racks or extension cords. Be sure to arrange items so no stepladders are needed to reach things. Swap out older rugs and mats for new area rugs with a non-slip backing.

Tackle What’s Left

Once you’ve worked through your decisions about things to move to your smaller home, you’ll be more ready to let the rest go. There probably isn’t one solution for all of your extra belongings. Some items may be valuable, some may be historical and others might only be worth a dollar. Consider some of these solutions I’ve used in my time as a professional organizer.


  • Gift to family. You may want to gift items with history and sentimental value to family members. Or, you may have a young family member just starting out who could use your extra sofa or kitchen gadgets.
  • Find a historical society or museum. You may have items—from stacks of letters from the war, old family books or all manner of collectables—that a museum or library could use.
  • Sell online. You may find a large market online for specialty items like collectables, china or silver. Keep in mind you can sell these kinds of items at resale sites.
  • Hire an estate sale company.  For a percentage of the sales, you can hire a company to come in and do a clean-sweep sale. They will handle selling everything from furniture to lawn equipment.
  • Host a garage sale. Price your goods and host a garage sale. It takes some work, but the advantage is that you don’t have to share the profits.
  • Donate. Local charitable thrift stores often offer pick-up services for big or large quantities of items. Let your cast-offs do good work for the community.
  • Toss it. In most communities, you can arrange a special trash collection. Call your waste management firm and find out details of what they will pick up. Ask if you can stack it curbside or if you need a dumpster delivered. You can also search ads for a local hauler and truck.

It should be an easy transition to settle into your new home once you’ve outfitted it with the basic items you need, family treasures and accessories to make it feel like home. Take the time to fulfill promises you made to yourself to enjoy the extra time you have by pursing all the fun things you’ve planned.


Lea Schneider works with homeowners on important organizational issues that take place with major life events, including downsizing. Lea is a nationally known expert on home organization and writes on her experiences for The Home Depot. If you are considering downsizing in the near future, you can visit the Home Depot website to review a wide assortment of home decor items, including rugs.



5 Smart Ways to Help Lower Your Alzheimer's Risk

Wednesday, June 14th, 2017 by SeniorHomes Staff Writers



June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, an important chance to learn more about a disease that affects an estimated 5.5 million people in the U.S. alone. The progressive neurological brain disorder and one of the most debilitating common forms of dementia was first diagnosed by German physician Alois Alzheimer in 1906, and has become increasingly prevalent ever since.

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) notes that the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease risk increases with age. In fact, research by the National Institute of Aging shows that Alzheimer’s prevalence doubles every five years after the age of 65. Symptoms of this devastating illness include memory loss, confusion, inability to recognize friends and family and perform daily tasks and a lack of interest in appearance and hygiene.

You may be wondering if there’s anything you can do to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. While there are no clear-cut answers, research suggests that there are steps you can take that may lower your risk. The following are some of the measures that have been shown to help reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's.


1. Eat Brain-Boosting Foods

Eating the right foods can help lower your Alzheimer’s risk, not to mention your risk of developing a host of other chronic illnesses. A 2015 study published by the Journal of Alzheimer’s and Dementia found that people who adhered to what is known as the MIND diet were less likely to experience cognitive decline. This diet combines elements of the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet and is rich in green leafy vegetables, nuts, berries, fish, poultry, whole grains and healthy fats like olive oil.

Ingesting foods rich in Vitamin E may also reduce your Alzheimer’s risk, as this vitamin also protects your neurons from free radicals, according to a 2002 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Some foods rich in Vitamin E are spinach, almonds avocado, sunflower seeds, and wheat germ. Berries are also rich in antioxidants that stop inflammation and can improve brain cell function.


2. Don't Skimp on Sleep

According to the National Sleep Foundation and researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine, intermittent sleep can be an early warning sign of Alzheimer’s disease. Getting enough sleep is necessary for regulating the metabolic homeostasis in your brain, whereas losing sleep can increase neuron degeneration, or brain damage.

Your brain also needs adequate sleep to detoxify via its glymphatic system, and this includes the removal of toxins containing proteins linked to Alzheimer’s. Sleep deprivation may also increase stress hormones such as corticosterone, which may result in less brain cells being produced. Adults are advised to get seven to eight hours of sleep every night.


3. Make Exercise Part of Your Routine

Did you know that physical activity serves as mental gymnastics for your brain, since it boosts blood flow and oxygen consumption? According to the Mayo Clinic, studies reveal that those who are physically active have a lowered Alzheimer's risk, and are less likely to decline mentally.

Working out a few times per week for 30 to 60 minutes can improve your mental alertness, memory, cognitive function and judgment. Regular physical activity may also delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, because it boosts the production of chemicals that protect your brain.

The Alzheimer's Research and Prevention Foundation recommends getting at least 150 minutes of exercise per week, with a combination of strength training and cardiovascular activity. To lower your Alzheimer’s risk, try incorporating aerobic exercises such as brisk walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, or dancing into your isometric sessions.


4. Keep Socially Active

Staying social can not only boost your mood, it may also help protect your brain. A study of 800 adults over 75 years old revealed that those who were more socially active had a lower Alzheimer’s risk. The chances of developing Alzheimer’s were reduced even more when the seniors combined social interaction with cognitive exercises and physical activity. Research reveals that partaking in cultural activities and forging close interpersonal relationships, served as a protective mechanism against dementia.

You could remain socially active by volunteering for good causes and community projects. Avoid early retirement if you can, and join social groups such as bridge or dancing clubs. Traveling can also help.


5. Get Your Vitamin D

While you don’t want to overdo sun exposure, catching some rays is be one way of ensuring you get enough Vitamin D – which research shows may help stave off cognitive decline. A 2015 study observing 1,600 seniors over a period of six years revealed that those who were Vitamin D deficient were more likely to develop Alzheimer's and other dementias.  It's also important to note that seniors require more Vitamin D than younger adults, as their skin produces the vitamin less efficiently.

Make sure to consult your doctor about the recommended time spent outdoors and remember not to leave home without your sunscreen.



4 Key Steps to Moving After Age 55

Wednesday, June 7th, 2017 by Lin Nulman

Senior Adult Couple in Front of Real Estate Sign, House


Moving has been called the “forgotten stress” of selling a home: it’s a big project with a lot of parts and logistics. And as you get older, it can be harder to manage a big move on your own. Luckily, there are things you can do to to minimize the moving blues.

At 23, I was proud to help haul a mattress up to a second-floor porch with muscle and a roll of twine, but now that I'm over 50, I would rather make moving as easy as possible.

In an attempt to help make your next move stress-free, we put together a list of some of the key moving tips we wise 50+ folks should embrace.


1. Selling the House

The best way to remove stress isn’t even a moving tip, but a selling tip: get a great real estate agent. Selling your home is an ongoing project that eats up huge chunks of your time, and a good real estate agent minimizes time and anxiety.

Your agent should have the market knowledge and the professional experience to:

  • Price the house correctly
  • Access listing venues you can’t
  • Mount a successful marketing campaign
  • Show the property
  • Connect you with good contractors
  • Stay on top of any legal issues
  • Negotiate with the buyer’s agent
Do you want to have to handle those responsibilities while you’re preparing to move? Who would, when top rated real estate agents are there for you?


2. Preparing Your Home

  • Start preparing to move before you list your home. You need to declutter to show the house anyway, so make that effort with your move in mind.
  • Sort your possessions into Keep/Sell/Donate/Trash categories, and start early enough to keep it feeling manageable. A head start now means there’s less to pack later, and “pre-packing” creates the openness in your living and storage spaces that attracts buyers.
  • Remember to label everything you pack, whether it’s marked for donation or for you to identify and unpack in your new place. Boxes, you know, do look alike.
  • Sell some of the contents of the house along with the house. Furniture you don’t want, or want to move, can be part of the deal. So can pretty much anything else, including appliances, kitchenware, dishes, those huge down comforters, or the lawnmower. Consult with your agent and let her gauge prospective buyers’ interest in various items.

3. The Actual Move

  • Get written estimates from multiple moving companies, and have their reps do a walk-through to calculate cost. Do your homework: read online reviews, consult them on any “tough” or unusual aspects of your move (like transporting a piano), and ask if they include packing in their services.
  • Select your top three choices, and don’t lose their contact info! Once your house sells, book the movers right away.
  • Consider temporary housing. If the whole move-out/move-in process is too hard or too fast for comfort, consider a furnished rental, house sitting, Airbnb, or accepting hospitality from loved ones. Give yourself the time you need to get into or find your next home.
Even if you don’t need temporary housing, consider it for your pets. What’s safer and less stressful for them is also less stressful for you.


4. Moving-related Life Logistics

  • Let everyone know your new address who needs to know. Most organizations will let you change it online. Your list includes the Post Office, utilities and cable (which also need to be shut off), credit card companies, insurance companies, newspaper/magazine subscriptions, employers, family and friends.
  • Have prescriptions refilled before you move and transferred to a new pharmacy if necessary. Get referrals for and connect with new doctors, dentists, vets, and other important health service providers in your new area before you arrive.
Planning ahead lets you cross things off your Moving To-Do List sooner rather than later, and that will mean a smoother move and a lot less stress.


Lin Nulman is a guest contributor from Homelight.


11 Books You Need to Read if You’re Over 65

Thursday, June 1st, 2017 by Madeline Vann

Senior woman portrait


Aging brings new challenges and questions, as well as new opportunities. And there’s evidence to suggest that a positive attitude towards aging might even slow down the aging process itself.

With that in mind, we put together a list of 11 books about aging that should be on your reading list. Each one is packed with encouragement, tips, and in-depth information to help you prepare for and embrace the decades to come. Whether you check them out of the library, download them to a tablet, or listen to the audio version, we promise you’ll be inspired, challenged, and well informed when you’ve finished one or all of these picks.


1. Blue Zones: 9 Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who've Lived the Longest

by Dan Buettner

Dan Buettner drew research for this renowned book from “blue zone” communities in the United States, Japan, Italy, Greece, and Costa Rica where people live longer than average. He also lays out nine key behaviors that people from these areas have that may help explain their above-average lifespan.

As you read, you’ll explore healthy aging concepts such as defining your purpose, staying connected to friends and family and keeping elders nearby, managing stress, eating a Mediterranean-style diet, drinking up to one to two servings of alcohol daily, and participating in a faith community at least four times a month.

To order: Amazon


2. American Medical Association Complete Guide to Prevention and Wellness

by the American Medical Association

Have you ever wanted a one-stop resource that explains just about everything you need to know about chronic disease, bone health, preventing dementia, managing allergies and how maintain your health throughout your life? The American Medical Association has compiled this useful guide to help you understand basic health concerns – and how to ask better questions during visits with your doctor or other health professionals to help boost your health and wellness.

To order: Amazon


3. A Couple’s Guide to a Happy Retirement

by Sara Yogev, PhD

Written by Sara Yogev, a psychologist and coach focused on marriage and family, this book helps couples prepare for the inevitable changes that come with retirement and aging. Yogev helps you think through discussions about how you spend money and time, as well as how you connect with friends and family as a couple and as individuals. She also delves into some of the more personal concerns of aging, ranging from finding a new purpose after retirement to enhancing your sexual intimacy.

To order: Amazon


4. What Really Matters: 7 Lessons for Living from the Stories of the Dying

by Karen Wyatt, MD

You don’t have to be dying or have a loved one in hospice to benefit from this book. Dr. Wyatt, a hospice physician with 25 years of experience in end-of-life care, shares the insights she’s gained from her patients and their families about what really matters at the end of life.

While she uses a Christian framework to discuss themes such as suffering and forgiveness that arise at the end-of-life, Wyatt stresses that people of all faiths or no faith can learn from the framework she proposes. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and perhaps more importantly, you might come away from this book inspired to make some changes in your life.

To order: Amazon


5. Fitness Over Fifty: An Exercise Guide from the National Institute on Aging

Regular exercise is especially important as you age. But you do not need a gym membership, tight fashionable workout clothes, or a pricey home weight set. The National Institutes of Health has put together a guide filled with basic yet effective exercises that will increase endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility without breaking your budget. Not only will these exercises help you stay fit, they can also help you prevent crippling falls and injuries by preserving your balance and strength.

To order: Amazon


6. Younger Next Year: Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy Until You’re 80 and Beyond

by Chris Crowley and Henry Lodge, MD

Chris Crowley, a septuagenarian former litigator, co-authored this book with internist Henry Lodge, MD, to give older adults practical advice for staying fit well into their later years. You’ll find helpful guidelines, tips, and the authors’ personal stories to inspire you. They argue that exercising six days a week with a mix of aerobic activity and strength training is the key to successful aging. You’ll find a host of other helpful information as you implement their advice.

To order: Amazon


7. Use Your Brain to Change Your Age: Secrets to Look, Feel, and Think Younger Everyday

by Daniel Amen, MD

Neurologist Daniel Amen, MD has decades of experience in brain health research and treatment. In this book, he offers ten strategies for boosting memory and mood, decreasing your risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia, enhancing your skin, reducing outwards signs of aging, promoting brain healing after injury or stroke and helping counter the effects of substance abuse and exposure to environmental toxins.

To order: Amazon


8. Personal Finance After 50 for Dummies

by Eric Tyson and Bob Carlson

Let’s face it – most, if not all of us, need to periodically think through our financial planning. This book will help you get started if you haven’t yet hired an outside expert to keep you on track with saving and budgeting for the future and other financial considerations you’ll inevitably face as you age. Author Eric Tyson covers the basics as well as financial concerns you might not have considered before, including Social Security, pensions, Medicare, and how to think through common financial situations that arise in retirement.

To order: Amazon


9. Second Act Careers: 50+ Ways to Profit From Your Passions During Semi-Retirement

by Nancy Collamer, MS

Just because you’ve officially retired from your career doesn’t mean you have to stop making money. In fact, according to author Nancy Collamer, retirement is an ideal time to explore the money-making potential of your hobbies and passions. Find out how you can dig deeply into your interests and talents and, with a little business savvy, make a little money doing activities you love.

To order: Amazon


10. Relax into Yoga for Seniors: A Six-Week Program for Strength, Balance, Flexibility, and Pain Relief

by Kimberly Carson, MPH and Carol Krucoff

In this book, authors Kimberly Carson, MPH, and Carol Krucoff outline 12 principles of starting and maintaining a regular yoga practice for older adults. This book can be used by those with varying levels of mobility – including those who will practice yoga in a seated position. Yoga has been shown to improve chronic pain, high blood pressure, heart disease, bone health, arthritis, and mood.

You can use the program outlined in the book to enhance range of motion, balance, posture and strength. The book also provides tips for finding a qualified yoga teacher near you, for those who want to explore yoga more deeply.

To order: Amazon


11. The MIND Diet: A Scientific Approach to Enhancing Brain Function and Helping Prevent Alzheimer's and Dementia

by Maggie Moon, MS, RDN

Author Maggie Moon provides a comprehensive guide to the eating plan that has been proven to boost memory, mental acuity and concentration while slowing cognitive decline during aging. You’ll find detailed information about the science behind her recommendations, recipes you can easily prepare at home, and a list of foods that could be harming your brain health. The plan focuses on consuming whole foods to boost brain health, from leafy greens and vegetables to poultry, olive oil and wine.

To order: Amazon



Travel Tips for Seniors

Tuesday, May 30th, 2017 by Tracy Layden

Happy senior tourist reading map


I’m not sure traveling ever gets old – even if we do. One thing I do know is that as older adults, we deserve a well-planned trip that doesn’t involve our bodies feeling their age. With that in mind, here are my tips to make your next vacation the best one yet.


Plan Ahead

They say the early bird gets the worm, and it turns out, that bird also gets to save money and fly away without stress. Take care of the logistics before you board the plane to save yourself a headache on arrival.
  • Prepare all your travel documents in advance. Leaving the country? Apply for your passport (and travel visa, if needed) early to avoid paying for expedited shipping. Be sure to make a copy to keep in your safety deposit box as a backup.
  • Book accommodations ahead of time. Save your energy for touring a foreign city, not for worrying where you’re going to sleep. The earlier you book flights and hotels, the cheaper they’ll be and the better rooms you can get.
  • Choose a good time for travel. One of the best perks of retirement is getting to travel whenever you want. Most destinations have the best weather in the spring and fall. And even better? You won’t have to compete with the kids, because they’re all in school. Enjoy the freedom of having attractions all to yourself.

Pack the Essentials

It’s tempting to pack your whole closet so you'll have everything you need, but who wants to lug all that around? Opt for a light suitcase with wheels instead. Pack just what you need and choose wrinkle-resistant fabrics.
  • Don’t forget your medications. Talk with your doctor about your prescription medications, and get enough refills to last the duration of your trip. You don’t want to add a pharmacy to your must-see vacation list.
  • Pack an extra set of glasses. The whole point of a vacation is to see the sights. Don’t miss out because you left your glasses on the bus or cracked them on the flight over. Bring an extra pair in a sturdy case, just in case.
  • Remember snacks and reading materials for long flights. Traveling often comes with long delays. Pack snacks, reading materials, and portable games to keep you occupied until you reach your destination.

Stay Healthy

Is there anything worse than getting sick on vacation? Avoid spending your trip in your hotel room. The following common-sense tips can help you steer clear of germs so you can stay healthy and enjoy your travels.
  • Bring hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes. When you first get on the plane, wipe your space down with disinfecting wipes. Don’t forget both sides of the tray table. Throughout your journey, sanitize your hands before you eat and before touching your face.
  • Bring your own pillow and blanket. Don’t rely on how the airline defines ‘clean’. Using your own pillow and blanket means you won’t be sharing germs and you get to rest with a pillow and blanket that are actually comfortable. A neck pillow and travel blanket, available at many retailers, should do the trick.
  • Get up and move around. They call it ‘economy class syndrome’. It’s when the blood starts to clot in your lower legs from sitting too long. Get up, walk around the airplane, and do some stretches. Your body will thank you when you land in your destination and you’ll be doing your part to prevent deep vein thrombosis.


Make Travel Golden

You’re in your golden years, and you deserve a vacation that lives up to your standards. By taking care of all the prep work before jetting off, you’ll be in for a smooth and relaxing vacation. Don’t forget the sunscreen!


Tracy Layden is a Certified Aging in Place Specialist. Born and raised in Silicon Valley, Tracy leads the marketing efforts at Alert-1, a personal safety technology and consulting firm dedicated to helping seniors live safely and independently. Tracy holds a degree in mathematics from Scripps College and is an accomplished ballroom dancer and equestrian.


The Rising Cost of Alzheimer’s Care (and How To Prepare)

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017 by SeniorHomes Staff Writers

Adult Daughter Helping Senior Tie Shoelaces


Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive illness that occurs due to degeneration of the brain and is the most common form of dementia. There currently is no cure for the disease, and in spite of the billions of dollars going to care for those who suffer from it every year, less is spent on research to learn more about it.

While a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s can be devastating, it’s important to remember that it encompasses a whole spectrum, and an early diagnosis can help you and your family prepare for the future. If you or a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, it’s important to understand the costs associated with treatment and what your options are for future care.


Why Are Alzheimer’s Care Costs So High?

According to a recently published Alzheimer’s Association report, 2017 marks a milestone in that it will take more than a quarter of a trillion dollars to cover the care of individuals who live with Alzheimer’s disease.

Because there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, individuals must consider long-term Alzheimer’s care options, whether that includes help from a family member or moving into a memory care facility. Although it might seem more affordable to have a loved one take care of someone with Alzheimer’s, the costs can still add up. Those with Alzheimer’s visit the hospital more often for their other ailments than those who have the same ailments but no Alzheimer’s, for example.

Family members who become caregivers also have to take into account the added cost of caring for their loved one as well as the impact it has on their ability to work. Many must take cut their hours at work or quit their jobs entirely to devote proper Alzheimer’s care to their loved one, the Alzheimer’s Association report found.


Covering the Expense

Who is covering the cost of care for older adults with Alzheimer’s if it’s now surpassing a quarter of a trillion dollars per year? Medicare and Medicaid actually foot over half of the bill at a combined 68 percent – if the person with Alzheimer’s is covered by Medicare or Medicaid, that is – but 22 percent of the costs still come out of pocket.

The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that the cost of hiring home health aides is for someone with Alzheimer’s is about $20 per hour, and a semi-private or private room in a nursing home costs anywhere from $82,000 to more than $92,000 annually. Insurance, Medicare and Medicaid can help in covering some of these costs, but that’s not taking into account the costs of personal care supplies, prescription medications and other expenses such as adding safety modifications to a home.

Given the foggy future of medical care and coverage and the increased frequency of hospital visits for Alzheimer’s patients, it’s understandable that Alzheimer’s care costs would concern any person at risk for developing the disease or ending up caring for a loved one with a diagnosis. That’s why early preparation is so key.


Preparing For the Future

Part of any thorough financial planning for your and your loved ones’ golden years should include the cost of Alzheimer’s or dementia care. Even those who don’t think they’re at risk should consider making a plan for the unexpected, including talking with loved ones about their end-of-life wishes. Some items to carefully consider include
  • Deciding on a Power of Attorney. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease with no cure. It’s crucial to decide who you want to make decisions in your stead when you are unable to do so yourself, whether you one day develop the disease or not. Choose someone you trust wholeheartedly, and include them in your planning for your end-of-life care.
  • Creating a Savings Account for End-of-Life Care. If costs worry you, it may be a good idea to start setting aside a little money regularly now to help cover any long-term Alzheimer’s care, whether a loved one takes you in or you live in a memory care community.
  • Estate Planning. If you’re like the majority of U.S. adults who have put off planning how your estate will be divided when you’re gone, there’s no time like the present to sit down and make a plan. You can even specify how you want your loved ones to care for you if you become unable to do so yourself, taking that difficult decision off the shoulders of your family members.
As the cost of Alzheimer’s care rises each year, preparing in advance for an unexpected diagnosis may help to soften the blow for you and your family. If you’re starting to look into future options for long-term care facilities for memory care and more,  we can help.



4 Great Savings Accounts for Grandchildren

Friday, May 19th, 2017 by Laura Dixon

A savings account could mean a big financial boost for your grandchild.


If you’re a grandparent, chances are you’ve thought about how you can help your grandkids save for their future. And in many cases, it’s easier for grandparents than it is for parents of young children to put away money for the family’s youngest generation.

For one, as a grandparent you may have more available resources than your adult children, who must cover childcare costs and other child-rearing-related expenses. And in some cases, you may have more time on your hands to research and keep track of a new savings plan of some kind.

These days there are plenty of dependable options that will not only help your grandchild get a solid start toward their financial future but that also allow you to leave an important legacy.

When mulling which type of savings account to open for a grandchild, it’s important to consider how you want those funds to be used, says Jaime Quiros, CFP and portfolio managers at FBB Capital Partners. “The biggest question is what the grandparents are trying to save for, whether it’s for only for college or just for getting their grandkids a step ahead in life,” he says.

Let's take a look at four main types of savings accounts for grandchildren.


1. 529 plans

Since its creation by Congress in 1996, the 529 plan has become one of the most popular ways to save for college. Named for a section of the Internal Revenue Code, 529s have a lot of advantages. For one thing, this type of account grows tax-deferred, and many states offer state tax deductions for contributions to a 529, Quiros notes.

“It’s the most flexible plan because you can change beneficiaries if you need to,” he says. That means you can still remain the owner of the account and either use the money for yourself or transfer it to another loved one if your grandchild doesn’t need the money.

Cathy Curtis, CFP, and owner of Curtis Financial Planning, LLC, says that 529 plans can also be a good estate planning tool, because these accounts can be “super-funded,” meaning that you can contribute up to five years of gifts (at up to $14,000 per year or $70,000 total) without being taxed for them.

There are two main types of 529 plans:

  • Savings plans
With a 529 savings plan, you invest funds on behalf of a beneficiary. The interest earned on those funds is not taxable if used for qualified expenses such as tuition, fees, room and board, and books.
  • State prepaid tuition plans
This type of 529 plan locks into the current tuition rate of a public college or university. It can also be used to pay for private or out-of-state schools while receiving an amount equal to the average state tuition at the time of withdrawal.


2. Trust funds

A more traditional way for grandparents to pass down assets, trust funds are also among the best types of saving accounts for grandchildren. You can use many different types of assets to establish a trust, and you also get to determine how they’re used. The grandchild can legally access the money after turning 21.

“The benefit of a trust fund for education costs is that they can be very specific, the trustee is legally obligated to fulfill the wishes and access to the funds can be restricted to any age,” says Curtis.

The big disadvantage of trusts is how pricey they are – setting one up can run you anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000. And maintaining the trust can also be on the costly side, Curtis says, since income earned in the trust will be taxed at high trust tax rates.


3. Coverdell Education Savings Accounts

A Coverdell Education Savings Account (ESA) is an investment account that allows you to save money for your grandchild’s higher education costs. The money saved in these accounts is typically used toward college tuition, books, room and board and other related costs.

“Earnings in this type of account will grow tax-free and won't be taxed at withdrawal, and investments can be self-directed,” Curtis notes.

The main drawback is that there are limits to how much you can give each year -- contributors to Coverdell ESAs can save no more than $2,000 annually for grandchildren under 18.

Coverdell accounts are less flexible than other types of savings accounts – for one, the funds must be used for specific educational expenses or else the money withdrawn is subject to a 10 percent penalty. Additionally, you won’t be able to contribute to the account after your grandchild turns 18, and he or she has to use the funds before turning 30.


4. UGMA or UTMA Funds

The Uniform Gifts to Minors Act and Uniform Transfers to Minor Acts (UGMA and UTMA) are laws that exist in some states that let someone to make a gift of money, real estate, patents or other valuable assets to a child that he or she can later claim once they’re of age.

One benefit of these funds is that unlike the last option, the money doesn’t necessarily have to go toward college-related costs. And there are no limits on how much you can contribute to UGMA or UTMA funds, though there is a federal gift tax penalty on contributions of more than $14,000 per year from a single person (or $28,000 from a married couple). Plus, for grandkids under 19, the first $1,000 contributed to the account each year is untaxed, while the second $1,000 contributed will only be taxed at a “minor’s rate,” which is typically lower.

As with 529 plans, depending on the amount contributed, the funds in this account could have an effect on your grandchild’s eligibility for scholarships and other types of financial aid for college, Quiros notes.



How Kitchen Downsizing Can Help Simplify Your Life

Thursday, May 18th, 2017 by Lea Schneider



Downsizing to a smaller home isn’t about doing less, it’s all about doing more with less.

As a professional organizer, I’ve experienced the joy of helping others downsize from a big house to a smaller space. I say “joy” because downsizing can be one of the most fun home projects. What starts out as a daunting task for some can soon become an exciting undertaking as homeowners begin to grasp the vision of a new, easier lifestyle.

If you’re downsizing your home or preparing to help a family member do so, keep in mind that it will be easier to let go of things when you keep an organizing rule in mind. Your sorting rule is to keep the items that allow you to do what you love to do now. Let go of the things you used to do but don’t any longer.


3 Changes to Make When Downsizing a Kitchen

Sometimes people worry that downsizing will keep them from doing something they’ve always loved to do. One of the biggest changes to make is to shift your mindset about the way things have to be done. Embracing new ways of doing old things is a key to a successful move.

1. Think easy

Since downsizing is all about making life easier, use that core idea as momentum for decision-making. Ask yourself how you can do what you love but in a stress-free way.
  • Remember that one way to cook something is all you need when paring down your kitchen appliances. You can cook a hotdog in the microwave, brown it in a skillet, boil it in a pot or throw it on the grill. Do you really need a hotdog cooker?
  • Always ask yourself, “If I don’t have this, what could I use instead?”
  • Look for the easiest option—even if it means switching to a new method. For example, downsizing to home with a smaller yard doesn’t mean you have to give up grilling. Instead, switch to a smaller electric grill that fits in your outdoor space and fires up quickly and easily.
  • Keep appliances that save time, such as a slow cooker or instant pot, and that allow you to get out of the kitchen. Don’t move small appliances that are seldom used and seem like too much effort to haul out, like a salad spinner or food processor.
  • Reduce quantities. For example - how many 9x13 casseroles can you imagine baking in one day? Perhaps two would be enough.

2. Embrace entertaining differently

Much of the storage space in a home tends to be devoted to entertaining. There are china cabinets or kitchens full of dishes, trays, glasses and barware for the occasional party.

While downsizing certainly doesn’t mean you have to stop entertaining, it does mean that you’ll likely make changes in how you entertain. You may host more dinners for four or six guests instead of 12. You might not have a formal dining room, but you can still find ways to serve a fun and festive meal.

Why not host a backyard barbecue and fire up the grill? You can still grill up favorites and serve them in a more relaxed atmosphere. If the weather isn’t cooperative—or you don’t have the backyard space—you could opt for a more casual buffet-style meal instead.

Consider how your entertaining style will change and use that information to help you decide what to bring to your new home.

  • How many guests do you picture having over for a meal? Maybe you only need to keep a place setting of six of your china. You could gift the remaining pieces to a grandchild or pass them along to a relative or friend who’s just starting out.
  • Do you plan to host big holiday meals, or do you expect to go to family members’ homes more often for these events? Perhaps it’s time to let go of large serving items like big platters or punchbowl sets.
  • Reduce your supply of drinking glasses, coffee mugs and barware by considering the size of your new place and the number of guests you can accommodate. Would you ever have 24 people over for coffee? If the answer is no, then you don’t need 24 mugs. Eight or so should suffice.
  • Remember there are no rules to break, so you can—and should—break up sets of your everyday dishes. Keep as many pieces as you need and sell or donate the rest.
  • Don’t forget to sort linens in the same way. Only keep tablecloths that will fit the table at your new space. The same goes for cloths, placemats and napkins. Keep enough only for the number of people you can seat.

3. Reconfigure storage

Just because you kept something in one spot in your old home doesn’t mean you need to replicate that arrangement in the new one. Be open to locating items in different spots in your new kitchen.
  • If you use an appliance or tool daily, keep it close at hand. If it’s something you use only occasionally, such as a hand-held mixer, it’s best to store it out of the way.
  • Add baskets or pullout drawers to lower cabinets so no one has to get on the floor to hunt for things.
  • Use cabinet stackers or organizers to maximize storage space.
  • Make use of the inside of cabinet doors or pantry doors with organizers to hold various products such as plastic wrap or stick-on hooks for potholders.
  • Keep the countertops as clear as possible to maximize working surface in your smaller kitchen. Only keep out what you use daily, such as a coffeemaker.
Downsizing really can be fun. It’s all about less—and more. It means fewer things to clean, less stuff to put away, less to worry about and more time to enjoy friends, family and activities.


Lea Schneider is a pro organizer who writes for The Home Depot. She provides advice on the easiest way to downsize a kitchen by sharing practical tips on topics such as switching from charcoal grill to an electric grill to have more portability and pairing down your dishes and linens to fit your new space.