Transitioning from Independent Living to Continuing Care

With every stage of life comes a lot of new changes – and retirement is no exception. While retirement can be a time of freedom and relaxation, when medical issues make independent living difficult, residents may need to make the decision with their family to move to continuing care. Here are a few common questions residents and their families have when the time comes to transition from independent living to continuing care.

 1. What kind of conditions usually cause someone to move to continuing care? 

This typically happens when a resident is no longer safe living in their independent living patio home. Reasons for this could be frequent falling, forgetting to take medications, or a progressive neurological disease, to name a few.

2. Does someone at Sherwood Oaks discuss residents’ options when it comes to moving from independent living?

Our medical staff, in conjunction with the resident and resident’s family, are involved in the decision about when/if the resident needs to move to a higher level of care.

3. How does the process go when one spouse is ready for continuing care and one is not? 

In this situation, the spouse not in need of continuing care remains in the patio home, while and the spouse needing more care moves to the next level.  By being in a CCRC (Continuing Care Retirement Community) they can see each other every day without worrying about finding transportation.  They can have their meals together and attend activities together.

4. Is the resident’s family involved in the process?

Yes, they are involved in any decision dealing with a resident’s continuing care.

5. Does a doctor need to state that someone needs to be moved to continuing care? 

Yes, our medical staff will do a functional assessment in order to see what the resident’s capabilities are and if they need a higher level of care.

6. How does a daily routine change when someone is moved to continuing care? 

They have assistance from RN’s, LPN’s and Nurse Assistants for whatever needs they have, 24/7.  The staff also takes over ordering, storing and administering their medications.  They may need help bathing, scheduling and getting to doctors appointment, all which Sherwood Oaks will do.  They are provided three meals per day and daily activities including occasional off-campus outings.

7. What if a resident doesn’t want to be moved to continuing care? 

They can appeal the recommendation to our CEO. 

The decision to switch from independent living to continuing care is an important one that needs to be discussed with residents, family members, staff members, and health professionals. Talk to your healthcare provider at Sherwood Oaks to discuss your options for continuing care.

Educate Yourself During American Heart Month: Heart Disease 101

As a nice reminder to keep your heart healthy, February is American Heart Month. Heart disease can change your life in an instant, so it’s important to be informed about the risk factors and symptoms involved with problems like heart attack, coronary artery disease, pulmonary heart disease, and congestive heart failure.

Here is how the CDC defines heart disease:

“Heart disease is a term that includes several more specific heart conditions. The most common heart disease in the US is coronary artery disease (CAD). CAD occurs when the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle become hardened and narrowed due to the buildup of plaque.”

While heart disease is known to affect senior citizens, the CDC states that one in four deaths in the United States are due to heart disease. And while heart disease is the number one killer of both women and men, more than 50% of the deaths due to heart disease in 2009 were men. And for those who survive their ordeal with heart disease, there is still the risk of disability.

Here are some of the main risk factors for heart disease:

  • Diet
  • Physical Activity
  • Smoking
  • Cholesterol
  • Blood Pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Alcohol Use
  • Family History

Balancing a healthy diet, regular exercise, and managing your diabetes as suggested by your doctor are all great ways to lower your risk of heart disease. There are even some risk factors you may not even know about. For instance, according to AgingCare.com, “cardiovascular deaths spike by about 18 % [in the winter].” But with such prevalence in the U.S., how do you know when you are having a heart attack or suffering from another form of heart disease?

There are several kinds of heart disease, but they share many symptoms such as:

  • Shortness of Breath
  • Nausea
  • Pain or a Heavy Feeling in Your Chest
  • Sweating
  • Increase in Heart Rate
  • Fainting
  • Weakness
  • Anxiety

Of course, these can also be symptoms of other issues or diseases, but if you truly think that you are having a heart attack, it’s important for you or a loved one to call 9-1-1. It’s important to act fast when every second counts.

If you have any questions about heart health, contact the medical care providers at Sherwood Oaks.

Healthy for the Holidays

Friends, family, and food! These are the cornerstones of the holiday season. But as we age and develop more of a need for a healthy diet, it can put a damper on our holiday feasting. Whether because of diabetes, heart disease, or just for overall health, the entire family can benefit from healthier substitutions at the holiday dinner table.

Diabetics need to pay close attention to their carbohydrate and sugar intake, while those concerned with heart health should look for foods that help lead to lower LDL cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, and weight. We went on a hunt for some of the healthiest (but most delectable) holiday recipes out there. Would you consider trying one of these good-for-you goodies this year?
 

Diabetic Dining:

Appetizer:  Mix together some unlikely ingredients and whip up some Apple-Nut Blue Cheese Tartlets from this award-winning Taste of Home recipe.

Main Course:  Add a twist to a classic roasted turkey with this Citrus-Roasted Turkey from Diabetic Gourmet.

Side:  No matter where you’re celebrating this season, you can add some southern charm to your Thanksgiving dinner with these Southern Green Beans.

Dessert:  These gluten-free Pumpkin Spice Muffins are also great for diabetics looking to take advantage of seasonal flavors.
 

Heart-Healthy Options:

Appetizer: Bring the tart taste of cranberry to your pre-dinner snack with this Braided Cranberry Bread.

Main Course: Be unique and trade turkey for pork. Try out these Maple-Thyme Pork Chops.

Side: Better Homes and Gardens offers a Heart-Healthy Cheesy Potatoes recipe sure to please the whole family!

Dessert: It’s not truly the holidays without pumpkin pie, is it? Get a little bit extra with this Maple-Apple Pecan Crunch Pumpkin Pie recipe!
 

Here are some general rules to follow for a healthier holiday season:

  • Look for any chance to reduce the amount of butter or oil you are using in recipes. According to Fit Sugar, avocado, prunes, Greek yogurt or applesauce can replace butter in many baked good recipes. Smart Balance Heart Right Light Buttery Spread is also a heart-healthy alternative to use in cooking and on dinner rolls.
  • Pay attention to serving sizes. The American Heart Association provides a guide for eating in moderation. One serving of cooked meat is 3 ounces, about the size of a computer mouse, while one serving of low-fat cheese is 1.5 ounces, about the size of six dice.
  • Substitute whole grain bread for white bread in your holiday stuffing.
  • More sodium = higher blood pressure. Look for ways to cut salt when possible.

Whether you plan to have friends over, visit family, or spend Thanksgiving and other upcoming holidays at Sherwood Oaks, it is very possible to have a delicious and healthy holiday meal. We serve dinner for both Thanksgiving and Christmas, with plenty of room for residents to invite friends and family. Year-round, we provide nutritious dietary options, including the option of fish as well as diabetic and gluten-free selections.

So eat up!

Beat Winter Woes with These Healthy Tips

Winter might be the most wonderful time of the year, but it can also be a quite dangerous time for retirees. As we age, our bodies have a more difficult time defending from sickness and recovering from injury. But you can take preventative measures to be sure that you can spend this winter snuggling up to loved ones, not sniffling in bed.

Cold & Flu – According to Contac Cold and Flu, Cold and flu season spans October to May, with the peak of cases popping up in February. To avoid the aches and pains that come with cold and flu, you should be sure to wash your hands after coming into contact with others and before meals. Keep hand sanitizer handy when there is no soap and water nearby. Getting enough sleep, drinking the recommended amount of water, and reducing stress also help to keep your immune system strong. It is also recommended that you get the flu shot to avoid illness.

Frostbite and Hypothermia – The older we get, the more difficult it is for our bodies to retain body heat, which means that senior citizens run a higher risk of suffering from frostbite and hypothermia. To reduce your risk, be sure to cover as much skin as possible when you leave the house and to be on the lookout for signs of danger. According to the American Geriatrics Society Foundation for Health in Aging, these symptoms include shivering, pale or ashy skin, a feeling of sleepiness, confusion, slowed heart rate, or trouble walking.

Heartburn – Ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes… the food around the holidays is exceptionally good, but not always so good for you. Bigger meals can lead to heartburn that is less than merry, so you should try to take a preventative heartburn medication and eat slowly and in moderation to avoid paying for your meal later.

Dry Skin – Dry, itchy skin can make winter uncomfortable. To go from scratchy to smooth, be sure to moisturize regularly with an over-the-counter moisturizer, especially after a bath or shower as this removes moisture from the body. Running a humidifier can also help keep skin soft.

Arthritis – Many sufferers report that their arthritis is more painful in the winter. Ease arthritis pain by staying warm, which includes taking warm baths and enjoying some time in the hot tub. It’s also important to stay active in order to keep muscles strong.

Slips and Falls – Suggesting winter boots with traction might sound more like fashion advice than health advice, but slippery sidewalks and parking lots can be a serious issue for senior citizens, who already run a risk of being injured in a fall due to brittle bones. Choose footwear that is as functional as it is stylish. Snow might be falling, but you shouldn’t be, too.

General Unhealthy Feeling – If you’re just feeling a little bit crummy this winter, it might be because you need to make time for fitness in your schedule. We’ve written before about the top-quality exercise programs and amenities that come with being a Sherwood Oaks resident. Be sure to use them! Combined with a full menu of healthy foods, we are your partner in staying active and healthy this winter.

Some great news for the winter season (and every season)? Residents of retirement communities are shown to have a longer lifespan with greater quality of life because of the balanced lifestyle that they are able to take advantage of. With so many opportunities for socialization, exercise, and nutritional food, it’s easy to see why retirement communities like Sherwood Oaks are a healthy decision.

Cash in on Senior Citizen Discounts

Everyone likes to save a few dollars here and there, and one great benefit of being in your golden years is the senior citizen discount. From national chains to independent stores and attractions, discounts are available everywhere for you to take advantage of. This list we’ve compiled is just a sampling of the savings you could be getting!
 
On food:
There are plenty of food chains that offer discounts and free items to senior citizens, including:

    [one_half]

  • Boston Market
  • Burger King
  • Chick-Fil-A
  • Chili’s
  • Cracker Barrel
  • Dairy Queen
  • Denny’s
  • Dunkin Donuts
  • Eat ‘n’ Park
  • Friendly’s
  • Golden Corral
  • Hardee’s
  • [/one_half][one_half_last]

  • Hoss’s
  • IHOP
  • KFC
  • Longhorn Steakhouse
  • Long John Silvers
  • Ponderosa
  • Sonic
  • Steak & Shake
  • Subway
  • Taco Bell
  • Wendy’s 
  • [/one_half_last]

On products and services:

  • Anyone age 50 and over can get 20% off of their order at 1800flowers.com when you use the promo code SENIORS. Send flowers to family and friends without breaking the bank!
  • Most Ace Hardware locations will offer up to a 10% discount to customers 60 and older.
  • AT&T and T-Mobile both offer special packages for senior citizens.
  • While not available at all locations, many Roto Rooter branches offer a 10% discount to customers 55 and older.
  • Is Banana Republic just your style? Fill your closet with a 10% discount, offered daily at most locations to shoppers over 50.
  • While the discount varies by store, Goodwill stores typically offer a 10-20% discount to shoppers 55 and older, often on certain days of the week. The Salvation Army also offers discounts up to 50%.
  • Tuesday is the best day for you to shop at Kmart, as you’ll save 10% as long as you’re 55 or older.
  • Shoppers 60 and older shouldn’t forget their ID at Kohl’s on Wednesday, or they’ll miss out on a 15% discount.

On activities:

  • Planning on doing dinner and a movie? Save a few dollars by going to an AMC or Carmike theater! AMC theaters often offer a 30-60% discount on a regular ticket prices for customers 60 and older, while certain Carmike locations offer up to a 35% discount to those 65 and older.
  • The Andy Warhol Museum is located in Pittsburgh’s Cultural district, which is filled with galleries, restaurants and theaters. Make a day of it and save $3 on your museum admission with proof that you are 55 or older.
  • Speaking of museums, those 65 and older can also get $3 off their admission to the Carnegie Museums of Art and History.
  • The Carnegie Science Center is a fun activity for science students of all ages. Anyone 64 and older can get a discount off of their admission ranging from $4-6 as well as $2 off Omnimax shows.
  • History buffs and Pittsburgh’s biggest fans ages 62+ can save up to 15% off their admission to the Heinz History Center.
  • Have a day of fun and flight at The National Aviary for $1 off if you’re 60 or older.
  • Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens offers a beautiful view of nature year-round. Just as beautiful is saving $1 off admission fees if you’re 60 or older.
  • The exact same deal as Phipps applies at the Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium.
  • The Kelly Strayhorn Theater, located along Penn Avenue, offers $5 discounts to theater lovers 65 and older. 

On travel:

  • Did you know that senior citizens age 65 and older can ride Port Authority transportation (busses, the T and the Mon Incline) for free? All you need is a Senior Citizen ID card, which you can apply for at the Port Authority’s Downtown Service Center or at your local senior center.
  • Many airlines offer discounted ticket prices to senior citizens. If you’re booking with your favorite company, be sure to ask if there are any specials available to you.
  • Considering a cruise? If you book through Carnival Cruise Lines you could save more than $100 on a cruise. Be sure to ask about this discount if you are 55 or older.
  • Enterprise offers discounts to AARP members, and many other car rental services, such as Hertz, offer discounts to senior citizens. AARP members get a long list of discounts, which you can browse on the AARP website.


Many businesses offer senior citizen discounts without promoting them too much, from heating and cooling companies to local coffee shops. If you think you might be able to score a great deal, don’t hesitate to ask!

Educate Yourself on Cancer Risks in Patients Over 50

Cancer can affect patients of any age, but cancer risks increase with age. According to Senior Homes, “Approximately 2.15% of all adults over 65 will be newly-diagnosed with cancer each year compared to 0.2% of those under 65.”

With October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the word “cancer” seems to be everywhere. And while everyone has been affected by cancer, whether firsthand or by watching a family member or friend fight the disease, those near and above retirement age should take a particular interest in the topic and what it means for them.

Women and men should do monthly self-examinations to check for Breast Cancer, and women over the age of 40 should schedule yearly mammograms.  According to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, women who go through menopause later in their life have an increased risk of breast cancer.

But there are also things you can do to lower your risk! According to recent research by the American Cancer Society, taking a brisk walk for an hour a day can help women over 50 reduce their chances of breast cancer by 14%.

Here are some other facts about cancer as you age:

  • Age-related illnesses, such as arthritis, can make cancer treatments less effective and make healing after cancer treatment more difficult.

  • The most common fatal cancer in men is prostate cancer, which is why it is important to get a yearly exam.

  • Men die from cancer more often than women because they fail to visit a doctor and get proper treatment, according to the Daily Mail. Women are also more informed about the signs of cancer.

  • As is important to patients at any age, a healthy diet, limited exposure to UV rays, not smoking, and living an active lifestyle can all reduce your risk of cancer.

The American Cancer Society clearly lays out guidelines for cancer screenings, and the closer you follow these guidelines, the better chance you will have at detecting a problem early. If the unthinkable would happen and you are diagnosed with cancer, you can find comfort in Sherwood Oaks Retirement Community’s excellent level of medical care.

Share Travels with Friends and Family

Saint Augustine said,  “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” Many people choose to use their retirement as a time to experience new places and make memories through travel. And they love to share their adventures with friends and family! Today’s technology makes it simple to instantly share your travels with the ones you love.

Use your smartphone

There are plenty of applications on your smart phone that can help friends and family feel like they are there with you as you explore. Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Foursquare and Instagram make it easy to share photos and videos, check into places, and let users know what you are up to.

But there are also apps made specifically for travel. These apps include Travelog, which allows you to share stories and media from your travels

Start a blog

Blogging is a great way to keep people updated with each leg of your travels. If you have a laptop, you can take it along with you to document your trip. Or you can simply plan out posts for when you come back, writing about individual days, weeks, or locations. Blogs are also great for including video and photos and can easily be emailed to friends and family.

Send a letter or email to friends and family

Speaking of emailing, why not email a summary of your trip to friends and family to keep them updated on your journey? You might even consider snail mail if there is a specific person you would love to reach out to. You can include photos, funny stories, and give them the best souvenir that they could have asked for.

Take good notes

Take a notebook with you or use your smartphone to jot down interesting, funny, or romantic details of your trip. When you go to tell your stories to your loved ones, you’ll remember the best moments in vivid detail. Because you wouldn’t want to forget that time you ate pizza in Napoli or finally saw the Statue of Liberty!

Or snap a photo wherever you go

If you don’t feel that you will have time to take notes while you’re on your trip, you can just snap a photo when you want to remember a specific moment. It will save you time and help you keep memories alive and frozen in time!

Make a scrapbook

If you’re crafty, consider making a scrapbook of your travel time to show guests. While this can be a little bit more costly than the other solutions on this list, it is also the most creative! In fact, you can make this a project for you and your spouse, children, grandchildren, or friends! Let everyone share in your adventure.

Make an online photo album

Once you’ve snapped photos of your trip, you can simply upload them to a photo-sharing site like Flickr. You can then share the link with whomever you please and have a place online where these photos will always be stored.

At Sherwood Oaks Retirement Community, we love to hear our residents’ travel stories. And we keep an eye on their home while they are gone! Security keeps an eye on their patio home, and maintenance is on-call in case of an emergency. So pack your bags and start making memories to share!

 

Tips to Keep Your Brain Sharp

Aging does a lot to the body as well as the mind. Most retirees find that their memory and cognitive health decrease as they age, which can be frustrating and hard to deal with. But exercising your brain can help with these issues. In fact, it can help at any age. The New York Times reported that in a 2012 study, “Participants [of all ages] who regularly did more to challenge their brains — reading, writing, attending lectures or completing word puzzles — did better on fluid intelligence tests than their counterparts who did less.”

So, what can you do to keep your brain as sharp as a tack?

Read Up!

If you’ve been a lifelong fan of books, you may have been slowly building your memory without even knowing it. According to Smithsonian Magazine, being a bookworm throughout your lifetime leads to a slower decline of your cognitive function in old age. Beyond that, “Remaining a bookworm into old age reduced the rate of memory decline by 32 percent compared to engaging in average mental activity. Those who didn’t read or write often later in life did even worse: their memory decline was 48 percent faster than people who spent an average amount of time on these activities.” So whether you prefer a romance novel or a thrilling historical read, you’re doing yourself a favor by cracking open your favorite book.

Play Some Games

Some websites harness the power of science to create games and puzzles that are designed to help with memory and superior brainpower. Sites like Lumosity give you more tailored activities, but it comes at a price (this one is $15/month). Similar is My Brain Trainer, which provides brain teasers that are supposed to “train” your brain just like you train your body during a workout.

Laugh With Friends

According to Fitness Magazine, a study done on 80-year-old subjects showed that those the most social people in the group suffered 70% less cognitive decline than their less social counterparts. That’s great news if you love spending time with family and friends. Not only can they make you happier with their presence, but they can make your brain more sharp. Perhaps you should thank them.

Take a Class

It’s never too late to learn something new in order to enrich your life and keep your brain pumping. At Sherwood Oaks, we offer continuing education classes that are free and open to the public. During the month of October and in the spring, we offer classes three days a week on topics such as history, travelling, books, and more. Plus, some of our residents speak about their interesting careers!

While some memory loss is out of your control, taking these steps will help you to keep your brain in top shape AND add some enriching activities to your life. For more information on October’s upcoming speakers, call 800 642-2217.

Talking to Your Family About Your Retirement

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

Your family is concerned with your living situation.

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

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

Your family is concerned with the cost.

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

Your family wants you to be happy.

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

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

Make the Most of Your Daily Walk

You may just think that “Walk this Way” is a catchy song, but did you know that there are actually ways for you to make your walk more effective? With so much room on campus to make walking outdoors a part of your healthy lifestyle, Sherwood Oaks Retirement Community is perfect for avid walkers. Here are some tips to help you make the most of every step!

  • Keep a good pace. According to the University of California, a person who weighs 150 pounds who walks at 3.5 miles per hour on a flat surface will burn 300 calories in one hour.

  • Step up! You might be walking more (or less) in a day than you think! If you have a goal of how much you would like to walk in a day, it’s a great idea to purchase a pedometer. They are inexpensive and can count all of the steps you take in a day, whether you are working out or running around the kitchen cooking a meal.

  • Pump it up. Pumping your arms can turn a nice walk into a full body workout! Don’t forget your upper body when it comes to your daily walk. If you’re looking for an extra challenge, try out some hand weights!

  • Walking the same course every day might help to keep you on a good schedule, but it can also get a little bit boring. Try to liven your workout by walking different paths on different days of the week or by getting off campus every once in a while for more diverse terrains. The Cranberry area has plenty of public park space to make the most of, and we are happy to recommend one to you!

  • Don’t be afraid to look for some support. If you are having a little bit of difficulty getting around or want some extra support on your walk, consider a cane or walking poles to help you out.

  • Remember to wear comfortable and supportive shoes, also.

  • Want to speed up a little bit? According to Active.com, “Instead of taking longer steps, take faster steps. Lengthening your stride can increase strain on your feet and legs.”

  • Find a buddy. Walking with a friend is a great motivator. And there are plenty of friends to walk with at Sherwood Oaks Retirement Community. In fact, we have a walking group led by our fitness director called “Take a Walk with A Friend.” The group walks all over the campus, including the 3 miles of covered walkways, trails through the woods, and around our lake.  This organized activity takes place outdoors from May through November, although many residents can be seen walking outdoors throughout the winter. For more information, email us at marketing@sherwood-oaks.com.

On your marks, get set, walk!