Written by: Meghan O’Dea
In this age of technology, not everyone realizes just how much has changed in the past century. But taking the time to tell stories to your younger relatives can be a great way to share history and life lessons. They can’t always be around to listen to what you have to say, but you can still share your life with them!
Writing down your life experiences is a wonderful way to connect with your family. It will give them tangible memories to hold on to and learn from when you can’t be there to talk to them. Angela Burton, a creative writing instructor who hosts the Oh! I Remember workshop for seniors, says, “The true gift is the legacy they are leaving their families… These stories would be lost forever, but by writing them down, we are capturing their whole persona before it’s too late.”
Delving into your past and writing it down can be good not only for your family, but also for you! Taking a look back and reminiscing can help improve cognitive function in seniors. It keeps your imagination active, and writing can give you a means of self-expression.
If you decide to begin writing about your life, here are a few things that might help:
You never know how your life can affect the lives of others; even years after the fact, a lesson you learned can help someone else! Writing gives you a way to make that connection with future generations, and your family will cherish your stories for years to come!
After years of taking care of a sprawling home top to bottom, wouldn’t it be a relief to spend your time on something more fun than housework? After years of working hard to pay off your mortgage, get the latest lawn mower to keep up your yard, and repaint the place every few years, wouldn’t it be a relief to into retirement without the extra effort and expense? These are just some of the reasons than many people decide to downsize at some point during retirement. Without work and kids in the house, it can be the perfect time to create a new living situation to suit your new lifestyle!
This is the time in your life that is all about you, and how you want to spend your time. Many people pick up new hobbies and a new sense of adventure during retirement, and love the extra freedom and time on their hands. Many retirees also choose to join a retirement community so they can even further reduce the daily burden of housekeeping in exchange for more social opportunities and fun. Downsizing is a great way to save money and time for all these things.
It can be simple to start—just open a closet door. Pick a room that’s used primarily for storage of things you don’t use often—old sports equipment, guest sheets and towels, old VHS tapes, or whatever you might have piled up. Decide what you absolutely need to keep or would genuinely miss and what can go. As you go through your things room by room, keep separate boxes or bins available for each category to help you visualize your downsizing project. It would be very frustrating to move and realize you’d brought too much and have to further sort while trying to get settled!
It doesn’t need to be a stressful process. By going room to room and sticking to just a few categories to sort, you can quickly clear out your home without much hassle. As you finish sorting a room, drop the things you aren’t keeping off at charity shops, consignment stores, friends’ houses or wherever its final destination might be. Pack the rest into boxes to move. That first closet you started with can be the place you keep your boxes leading up to the move so they don’t get in your way day to day. Save the rooms with major essentials for last—rooms like the kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom.
Be sure to set the essentials you’ll need right away in your new home aside to pack into a special box to come with you on moving day. That will be things like your pillow, toothbrush, toilet paper, sheets, a few changes of clothes, light bulbs, scissors, your medications, and anything else you can’t go a day without or will need to make moving easier. That way you won’t be regretting packing something important up or hunting through boxes as you downsize.
With a little organization a big life change can become a huge life benefit. Downsizing is exciting and can set you up to do all the things you want, and spend less time on the things you don’t. So go ahead—free yourself from the burden of the house and open yourself up to new adventures!
Today’s retirees love an active, independent lifestyle. They may enjoy the amenities and community of a senior living facility, but they also have looked forward to a retirement full of adventure. With work, school, and kids off their plates, now is their time to travel and check items off their bucket lists. If you are one of these active, vacation-planning retirees, we have some tips to help you have the best trip possible:
· Take advantage of a freer schedule to book at slightly off-peak travel times for your destination. It can be habit to book a trip as you might have when restricted by work or the school year. You can avoid the hottest temperatures and biggest crowds this way, and even score a great deal on airfare and hotel rates
· Don’t be afraid to ask for discounts wherever you go. From train travel to restaurants to museums and more, it never hurt to inquire and offer up your ID. Organizations like AAA and AARP also offer many discounts and benefits that can get you great deals while traveling.
· If you’re concerned about speed, mobility, or simply saving your energy, do ask for assistance at the airport or train station. If you call the airline or train station ahead of time you can arrange for a wheelchair or a ride on the electric cart to ensure you reach your connections and manage your luggage.
· Find a way to make your dream trips come true. Retirement isn’t what it used to be, and neither are today’s independent, active retirees. You don’t have to take a cruise or a stay at a golf resort if that isn’t your style. There are more options than ever for those who want to go to Europe, explore Mother Nature in Australia, or jet set in a big city. Be true to yourself whether you crave a beach vacation or a hanggliding package—or both!
· Plan some downtime in between big parts of your day. You want to enjoy as much as possible, so give yourself time to rest and recover for the next item on your itinerary!
Don’t let your age or assumptions about retirement hold you back from the trips you’ve dreamed of for yours! When you have a quality retirement housing to return to and a wonderful adventure to look forward to, you really have it all!
Did you know that September 22nd to the 28th is Active Aging Week? It’s a time to celebrate the valuable role seniors play in their community, whether it’s a retirement community, a civic community, a cultural community, or a spiritual community. No matter what kind of community you’re a part of, it’s sure to keep you young. There nothing better for aging well than living well, and fully participating in the diversity of life.
Being an active participant in your communities isn’t something new—after all, you may have had a career, or been a parent, or gone to church for years before retirement. One of the challenges and rewards of growing older is to both maintain the communities you’ve been a part of and seek new ones out.
Your retirement community, for example, is a new one you might join, or you may finally have time to get involved in a new club or volunteering for an organization or joining in an activity you’ve always wanted to try. It could be as simple as forming a weekly bridge group or a group that enjoys walking for fitness together.
Active aging isn’t only about the exercise that can benefit you physically and help you stay more comfortable and healthy as you grow older. It’s also about being an active participant in the world around you. Stay positive and excited about everything you get to see and do and you just might find yourself feeling like a little kid again—wide eyed at the possibilities!
The holidays can be a wonderful time to enjoy a special season with loved ones, but they can also highlight when an older loved one is struggling with memory or everyday tasks. Winter can be especially hard on those coping with memory loss or other health issues. To help make the season merry and bright, we have a few tips for helping you senior have a wonderful holiday.
Especially if you loved one will be staying with you for a visit, plan ahead to accommodate any mobility limitations or health needs they might have. Adjust furniture placement or remove slippery rugs, for example, to prevent sudden accidents or trouble moving wheelchairs, walkers, and oxygen canisters about, or simply to help your senior have the greatest ease of movement.
Many seniors, especially those with memory challenges, need something to look forward to. Although the freedom and leisure of retirement sounds wonderful to those who are still working, it can be overwhelming for some elderly people. Make sure there are several small activities woven into your holiday celebrations that your loved one can help with, such as making dinner, or an outing to see the Christmas lights in a nearby neighborhood. Bring these up ahead of time so your loved one can have the fun of anticipation.
Make sure to build in a mix of quality time and boisterous family time throughout your celebrations, so your loved one doesn’t feel lonely but also doesn’t get too stressed out. Try to anticipate when they will tire or need time to rest, and schedule some special time just the two of you. That’s one of the best holiday gifts you can give—a real sense of connection and attention that can keep depression and stress at bay.
By planning ahead before the holidays are in full swing, you can make you’re your elderly loved one has the best possible time, and help him or her stay healthy and happy. Especially if you are concerned about your senior’s mental health, this is a great time to monitor his or her behavior and consider if they might need a greater level of care, such as joining a retirement community, or going to the next level of service such as assisted living or memory care. This, too, is a wonderful gift to give someone you care about.
It can be one of the biggest choices in your life to decide you are ready to move to a retirement community. It’s right up there with other big moments like choosing a university or buying a home or choosing a school for your child. After all, when you make the decision to move into senior housing, you’re making a proactive choice to ensure your medical, financial, and emotional health will be taken care of in your golden years. All too often seniors are robbed of that proactive moment by waiting until there is an emergency for them to pick a retirement community or seek out assisted living. However, by planning ahead now, you can make the decision easier whenever you are ready to make your move.
No matter how good your health might be right now, it’s always important to plan ahead for the unexpected. Unlike in years past, when nursing homes were only for those who were very ill and frail, retirement communities are suitable for all stages of aging and provide services that you can enjoy from early retirement throughout your golden years. If you are considering a retirement community now and are still quite mobile and independent, it still doesn’t hurt to look at facilities that can age with you should you need a greater level of care in the future.
It’s also important to plan ahead wisely so that you won’t have to “downgrade” later to a less desirable community should your health or finances change. Just as you talked to an accountant or investment strategist prior to retirement to ensure you had a financial plan for after you stopped working, you might want to check in before this next big step. You may need to sell your house, rearrange some investments to suit changes in the market, and otherwise fine tune your accounts to accommodate your new lifestyle.
By educating yourself now about the options, you’ll be able to make the best possible decision for yourself when you’re ready. Whether you arrive at that moment at your own pace or after a bout of illness, you won’t have to make a rushed decision when everything feels up in the air. Going over all the factors now also gives you the opportunity to talk to friends and family about it, prepare yourself both financially and emotionally, and truly meet this new phase of your life on your own terms. Choosing a retirement community is at its best about choosing what is best for yourself. By preparing ahead of time, you can be sure that you are greeting that choice with open arms.