Self Defense: What Retirees Need to Know

Retirement and moving to a retirement community like Sherwood Oaks means leaving behind the worry of maintaining your busy career as well as maintaining an oversized house. But retirement can also bring a lot of new worries into your life.

You may worry about money and how you will pay for your living expenses now that you no longer have a steady stream of income. You may worry about what to do with your free time. You may worry that retirement living may lead you to have a more sedentary lifestyle. And, more than likely, you will be worried about your personal safety.

Violence against senior citizens is an unfortunate reality. Strength and endurance make seniors a target of violent crime, including assault and battery. Luckily, Sherwood Oaks is a safe and secure community. But you can rid yourself from some of the fear that comes with grocery shopping at night or eating at a restaurant in a new part of town with one thing: Self-defense.


Take a Public Self-Defense Class

Self-defense classes are a great way to get a workout while taking control of the safety of you and your family. You might not think that retirement is a good age to start looking into self defense, but it’s becoming a trend in that age bracket. While pricing and class content vary by where you go, there are plenty of options available to you in and around Pittsburgh. Here are a few places to check out:


Carry a “Weapon”

Pepper spray is extremely convenient to carry around, and an inexpensive investment in your safety. Most can clip to your keyring and come with practice canisters so that you can get a feel for what spraying the pepper spray will feel like before and if you ever need to use it.

You may actually already be carrying a weapon and not know it! “Cane-Fu,” a self defense class that teaches seniors how to use their regular old canes to protect themselves in a scuffle. Beyond that, they also learn how to make their canes more effective in a fight by choosing the right materials.

A weapon that just about everyone has if they are out in public? Keys. Place your keys so that they are sticking out between your pointer and middle fingers so that if you get into a dangerous situation, you won’t have to shuffle around looking for something to defend yourself with.


Don’t Put Yourself in a Bad Situation

Try not to walk alone at night or in areas that you are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with, and if you need to park somewhere, make sure it is well lit. It’s not silly at all to ask a friend or your son or daughter to accompany you to the store if you have to run out at night. Make sure that your hands aren’t completely occupied with groceries so that you have a hand free to defend yourself if something would happen.

It’s good practice to know whether or not your cell phone has an easy way to access 911. Some have a designated button, while others reduce the amount of steps you need to take in order to dial out in an emergency. For instance, on an iPhone, you can slide to unlock your screen and then immediately click on “Emergency” to activate a keyboard to dial 911 on.

We are always looking out for the safety of our residents. If you ever have a concern about you or your spouse’s personal safety, please make us aware.

Continuing Education for Retirees

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

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

Waivers, Scholarships, and Grants

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

Alternatives to the Traditional University

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

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

Do Your Research

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

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

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

When to Give Up Your Driver’s License

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


Dangerous Freedom

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

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

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


How Do You Know?

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

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

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


Avoiding Accidents

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

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

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

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

Weight and Retirement: What is Healthy?

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

Reasons for Weight Gain

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

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

Where You Should Be

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

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

How to Get There

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

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