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Category Archives: Veterans

How To Teach The Grandkids That Memorial Day Isn’t Just For Unforgettable Picnics

For most Americans, Memorial Day Weekend is the unofficial kickoff of summer – an early chance to get out for an old-fashioned family barbecue in the park, along with some Frisbee flinging, some corn hole tossing, and maybe a pick-up game of softball. Lo and behold several Sunshine Retirement communities happen to be hosting their own Memorial Day barbecues, including The Continental in Austin, Texas; Dunwoody Pines in Dunwoody, Georgia; Garden Way in Eugene, Oregon; Fountain Crest in Lehigh Acres, Florida; Quail Lodge in Antioch, California; Waterford Terrace in La Mesa, California; and The Gardens at Brook Ridge, in Pharr, Texas.

The true meaning of the holiday, of course, is to honor and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving in our nation’s armed forces. And for those who served in the military or have lost family and loved ones in overseas combat, Memorial Day obviously takes on a much greater significance, one that has the potential to trigger painful memories or create misunderstandings among the closest of relatives.

One Sunshine resident, Jim Brothers of Heritage Point in Mishawaka, Indiana, would rather not think about his years serving on a Destroyer that searched for enemy submarines throughout the Pacific. On several occasions, they experienced hurricane-like weather that forced them to chip ice off parts of the ship in 15-minute shifts. After the bomb dropped on Nagasaki, effectively ending WWII, his ship was the first to arrive and experience the devastation.

When asked what he would like children to understand about his service, he responded, “You are shooting at people you do not know. They probably have a family just like you do.”

Because of experiences like Jim’s and because men and women end up in the military for different reasons, residents like Herb Carrell, Richard Smith and Willie Sanford of Creekside Pines in Dallas, Georgia concur that it’s good to ask a veteran for permission to talk about their service. Some are more willing to share than others, but the majority would agree with these gentlemen that serving their country taught them many valuable lessons about life, respect and leadership.

To make sure those principles don’t get lost on future generations, it’s important for today’s children to learn to love their country, value their freedom, and appreciate the brave men and women who have given their lives to keep us free. They can be guided in that direction by special Memorial Day events scheduled at Quail Lodge, Waterford Terrace, Creekside Pines, Garden Way and Fountain Crest, among others. Or you can try some of these simple ways to celebrate Memorial Day with grandkids:

  • Create an American flag using construction paper or simply draw the flag on a piece of paper. Staple the completed flag onto a straw so it can fly and be saluted. If you own an American flag, you can teach older kids how to fly it and fold it. This is a great way to teach your kids about the meaning behind the American flag.
  • Visit and pay tribute to fallen heroes at a local Veteran’s cemetery or war memorial. To show honor and respect, bring flowers to lie on a grave or at the memorial in remembrance of them.
  • Reach out to a Veteran by having your kids create a card, picture or care package and sending it overseas to a soldier on active duty. Visit www.anysoldier.com to discover how and where to send your items. See these great military care package ideas to help you know what to put in a care package. You can also support Veterans in your local area by taking cards, drawings or homemade treats to a nearby VA hospital or Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) post to show your appreciation for their service.
  • Celebrate with a parade in your local area. To find one near you visit vetfriends.com. If one isn’t available to you, watch the National Memorial Day Parade on television. Teach kids to stand and clap for Veterans marching past.
  • Sing a few patriotic songs like America the Beautiful, the National Anthem or say the Pledge of Allegiance, and talk about the meaning behind each one and why we place our hands over our hearts.

Of course, we’re not suggesting that everyone should completely forego the fun of a Memorial Day Weekend family picnic, barbecue or camping trip in favor of solemn patriotic displays. But, as veteran Bill Kincaid, our bus driver at Creekside Village in Hot Springs, Arkansas, suggests below, you might tell the grandkids that a little observance of Memorial Day in whatever capacity is the price of admission that makes the fun and freedom of an early summer three-day weekend even possible in the first place.

“I would want children to understand that the time when I served, it was when our nation was in danger and that people made a choice to protect our country. When someone approaches me and says, ‘Thank you for your service,’ I think it indicates that they realize the sacrifices that the military makes.”

– Bill Kincaid

*This blog was first published here: Sunshine Retirement Living, May, 2018.

Making an Unforgettable Memorial Day

You don’t have to live in a Sunshine Retirement Living community near a military town to celebrate Memorial Day. But when you do, you wear your colors proudly.

Waterford Terrace Retirement Community serves La Mesa, California, a suburb of San Diego, which of course, is known for its Naval and Marine Corps training centers. Not surprisingly, Waterford Terrace is home to no less than 20 veterans who served in WWII, Korea and Vietnam – some in multiple wars and many in peacetime, as well.

Waterford Terrace honors these brave men and women with a Veteran’s Wall that displays pictures of its residents, as well as photos of them in active duty, set against a backdrop of the American flag. These walls full of photos and mementos can be found at senior living properties managed by Sunshine Retirement Living across eight states.

“To be recognized for service to their country means a lot to our residents” says Ken Rorabaugh, Executive Director of Waterford Terrace. “It gives them a great sense of pride to know that we value our freedom and those who fought and died in securing it.”
Each year, the community expresses its appreciation by hosting a Memorial Day BBQ for all residents and their family members, where they read off the names of each veteran and give them a flag pin. The chef cooks up hamburgers, ribs, chicken, hot dogs and other traditional American favorites to large crowds.

A highlight of the day is when current active-duty military come for the celebration. They enjoy bonding with Waterford’s veteran residents and sharing stories about their military experience. Rorabaugh provides them with tokens of appreciation, as well.

“Everybody loves a party,” he says. “And being in a military town, all of our residents make an effort to participate and show respect. Many of them wear red in support of the troops.”

Inevitably, the day can get pretty emotional.

“We always have a moment of silence for fallen soldiers, family members and friends,” says Rorabaugh. “And we turn over a chair at the table for the unknown soldier.”

From the unknown soldiers to the loved ones who have fought and given their lives for our country, we hope you’ll join us this Memorial Day at a Sunshine property near you in remembering and honoring.

*This blog was first published here: Sunshine Retirement Living

Honoring Past and Present U.S. Soldiers

The fourth of July may have come and gone, but U.S. soldiers are serving everyday to protect us. Throughout the history of the country, brave men and women have given up parts of their lives to defend the most important values of our country, like freedom, liberty, and justice. Many have even given the ultimate sacrifice and lost their lives.

Chances are that you know a veteran or active duty soldier. Whether it’s your brother/sister, parent, child, family member or friend, there are many ways to pay respect to the many soldiers who serve our country.

 

Say “Thank You”

These two words are so simple, but so impactful. While it’s far less than they deserve for their immense sacrifice, they appreciate that you take the time to recognize the service and dedication they have to our country. If you have a little more time, consider writing a thank-you letter or card for A Million Thanks, which supports active, reserve, and veteran military men and women by sending letters of thanks and encouragement.

If you know someone who is currently serving and want to do something even more personalized, consider asking them to help you by giving you the first names of their colleagues. You can get a group of friends together and write a letter to each, and your contact can help distribute the letters to the specific individual recipient.

Many Sunshine Retirement Living communities host events for veterans, like a get-together for veterans and members of the Wounded Warrior Battalion at Waterford Terrace. Get involved in helping to plan or attend these events.

 

Add a Small Gift

Active duty soldiers give up so much to serve our country, and are dedicated to protecting our freedom – anywhere in the world. One of the ways to show those who are presently serving how much they are appreciated is to send a gift box or goody-bag to Armed Forces members serving around the world.

Some of the things service members love to find are:

  • Video games, board games, movies, and cards.
  • Personal hygiene products, like high-quality lotions, pain-relieving creams and gels, lip balm, and socks.
  • Hot sauce, individual drink-flavoring packets, barbecue sauce, tuna cans, and beef jerky.

 

Drop by for a Visit

Many soldiers are recovering in local VA hospitals, while others might be living in or recovering in nursing homes or rehabilitation centers. Don’t forget about them. Send them cards, notes, or care packages. If they are nearby, stop by for a visit. It will help to ease their loneliness and feel appreciated for the great contribution they gave our county.

 

Take Care of Their Families

Many soldiers worry about their family members while they are serving. Whether you choose to befriend a family, help to take care of young children, donate to organizations that provide for the families while the soldiers are away, like Operation Homefront, or putting together gift baskets and packages for these families. There are many ways you can give the fighting soldiers stress relief and peace of mind, knowing their families are being cared for.

Think about their four-legged friends as well. If you like pets, consider volunteering to foster pets for soldiers. Unfortunately, many military pet owners find themselves having to surrender their pets to shelters or rescue groups so they can go on deployments, trainings, or re-assignments.

 

Honor Lost Soldiers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

In Arlington National Cemetery, a white marble sarcophagus stands atop a hill protecting an unknown solider killed in action in World War I. Also buried at the site are soldiers who were killed during World War II, in Korea, and in Vietnam.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was built in 1921, when the U.S. Congress approved the burial. The sarcophagus features Greek figures, representing peace, victory, and valor — three ideals our soldiers fight to achieve. Six wreaths were sculpted in the piece to represent the six World War I campaigns, and the words, “Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God,” are inscribed on the back.

In order to protect the tomb, a civilian guard was posted, beginning in 1925, and in 1926, an Army soldier began protecting the tomb during the cemetery’s open hours. Since July 1, 1937, guard duty expanded to a 24-hour watch, and the tomb has been protected every second since that time. The Sentinels who protect the tomb go through a series of tests, and are part of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, or “The Old Guard.” The Old Guard is the oldest active infantry unit, serving since 1794.

Sentinels are both males and females, and must follow a strict service and dress code. The changing of the guard, which happens every 30 minutes between April 1 and Sept. 30, and every hour from Oct. 1 to March 31. Visiting the tomb is a powerful reminder of the sacrifice made by our U.S. soldiers.

To find more out about Sunshine Retirement Living and speak with one of our friendly and knowledgeable staff members, click here today.

*This blog was first published here: Sunshine Retirement Living

The Ultimate Guide to Managing Your Healthcare Resources

Quick Summary

Healthcare has a lot of moving parts, and it can sometimes be easy to get lost in the shuffle of everything that goes… on with your health. The time is now to take back your healthcare resources to better manage your healthcare needs.  Start by taking charge of your health care when it comes to your doctors, prescriptions, insurance, and other healthcare providers.  Learn more about how you can be more than just a silent partner that blindly follows what is said by healthcare providers, but how you can open a better dialogue to get the best care possible now and in the future.

Quick Links

SECTION I: Introduction to Managing Your Healthcare Resources

SECTION II: Become a Partner with Your Doctor

SECTION III: Manage Your Prescriptions Better

SECTION IV: Tackling Your Insurance Head On

SECTION V: Managing Other Healthcare Providers

SECTION VI: Pulling it All Together

 

SECTION I: Introduction to Managing Your Healthcare Resources

Patients are no longer silent partners in their healthcare decisions, and the time is now to start managing your healthcare resources.  You may be dealing with multiple doctors who prescribe multiple prescriptions, multiple hospitals, and other healthcare providers.  This can be a pretty frustrating process as it may seem that everyone is not always on the same page, and that could spell big trouble.  This is not even including the complicated world of insurance, and how frustrating the insurance company can be to talk to at times.  Although this may all seem rather intimidating to take charge of since you don’t have a medical degree, there are things that you can do to have a bigger role in what is going on with your body and care.  You are your own medical advocate!

 

Chapter 1: You Can Take Charge Of Your Health Care By Managing the Different Aspects 

Healthcare can be a very complex process, and because of the very technical nature of modern medicine, it can be a bit intimidating to deal with for anyone.  In the past, people were more willing to allow their doctors to tell them about their healthcare needs, but today, there are ways that people can become better partners in this process.  You can take charge of your health care to ensure that you start achieving a better outcome for your health and well-being.  You may have a few appointments a month or every few months where you come into contact with your doctor or other professional, so that means you are the one that will be providing your health care in monitoring your situation and taking provided meds.

You may have chronic conditions, and worry that if you speak up that you will upset the apple cart, but not speaking up can be detrimental.

Children also need to be ready to understand their parents’ healthcare situation in case of an emergency.  There may be times when they have to step up and step in as an advocate for you, and this means that you need to keep them more informed on what is happening with your current care.

 

SECTION II: Become a Partner with Your Doctor

No longer do patients need to just listen to their doctors. Opening a dialogue is vital to managing your health care.  Yes, some doctors are easier to speak with than others because of their personalities as some have that God complex, but voicing your concerns and opinions is vital to even these doctors.

 

Chapter 1: Evaluate Your Current Doctors to See if They Fit Your Current Needs

You are not stuck with your current doctors, even if it may feel that way sometimes.  Evaluate your current doctors, and determine if they are the right doctor for you.  Ask yourself if you feel comfortable speaking with your doctor, and if they treat you in the manner that allows you to be a partner in your health care.  If you are not happy with the way that your doctor is currently caring for you, it may be time to change things up.  Most insurance companies do require you to have a primary doctor on record that you use for general medicine, but you are allowed to change this doctor.  You may need to check over your plan to see what other doctors take your insurance, but it will be worth it to be more comfortable taking charge.

 

Chapter 2: Are You and Your Doctors on the Same Page with your Care?

Think of your body like a complex machine – like a car that needs everything working correctly to get a smooth ride.  When your car breaks down, you take it to a mechanic that usually can fix anything wrong with your engine or other car parts.  It would be nice if health care worked the same way, but the human body is even more complex.  This may mean that you have to visit more than one doctor because of how some doctors specialize in treating specific areas.

Going to multiple doctors may mean that you have multiple care plans with different medications and ways of attacking your health concerns.  You need to be sure that you are on the same page with your doctors on what each medicine does, and what the right treatment is for you.  Being on the same page will tell you what you need to do when you are under your own care.  This is important, but it is vital that your doctors are aware of each other and how they are treating you.  Some medicines that one doctor prescribes may have an interaction with another medication, or a treatment plan may not take into account another doctor’s treatment plan.  Make sure your doctors are aware of each other, and current treatments.

 

Chapter 3: You Should Investigate New Doctors If Necessary to Get the Care You Deserve

If you have decided that you are unhappy with your doctor because of your treatment or they are not working well with your other doctors to provide you the best care, it may be time to investigate new doctors.  Talk with your insurance company to get a list of local doctors in the specialty that you are looking for a new doctor to have, and then look over this list.  Learn about each doctor’s bedside manner, education, and other patient’s experience with the doctor.  At first, glance, take the time to see what information is available online about the doctors on your list.  There are websites dedicated to reviews on doctors that include information on them and other patient experiences with them.  Of course, reviews should not be your final deciding factor as sometimes those happiest with a doctor are not thinking about leaving a review, and those that are unhappy are more than willing to vent to anyone willing to listen.  You may need to schedule an appointment to speak briefly with the doctor to see for yourself what their bedside manner will be like since online searches can only go so far.

 

Chapter 4: Advice on How to Handle Your Doctor Appointments

Going to your doctor’s appointments may seem like a blur.  You arrive, wait, and get your short amount of time with the doctor before you are bustled out of the room for the next patient.  It’s easy to feel like a sheep being herded, but you can take charge of your visit.  Ask questions as you speak to the doctor.  If you tend to forget your questions, write them down to bring along.  This can be a good experience for your children to attend to learn more about the current care being received, things to look for, and what treatments may be necessary in the future.

The Internet is an amazing tool that has brought the world together, and there are plenty of online self-diagnostic tools when you are feeling poorly.  The key to remember is that they do not replace your doctor.  Sometimes, these tools can be misleading about what your symptoms may mean, and you may be doing more harm to your health by blinding following this information.  These tools can hold an important place when it comes to your doctor visit as you can use it as a conversation starter about your concerns.

 

Your doctors should be working together when prescribing your medications, and while you may not have control over having to take medications, you can manage them.  Some tools available to you include creating a prescription chart, finding ways to cut costs, and using your doctor and pharmacist effectively.

SECTION III: Manage Your Prescriptions Better

Chapter 1: Create a Prescription Chart for Your Records in Case of an Emergency and to Find any Discrepancies

You may be on several prescriptions that need to be taken following set directions, and often, these directions may differ.  This is a lot of important information to keep track of so creating a prescription chart can be a great idea.  You can also include your doctor’s information and any other important health information that may be necessary in the case of an emergency.

Not only will a prescription chart let you know when your prescriptions should be taken and how they are taken, but it is also a comprehensive list of what you are taking no matter which of your doctors prescribed the medicine to you.  You can take this information with you to all of your appointments for your doctors to review what you are taking.  Plus, this information is great for when there are any medical emergencies, and you are unable to remember exactly what you take, such as the name of the drug or the dosage.  This information can speak for you when you cannot or can inform your loved ones that can relay the information to your healthcare providers.

There are several ways that you can keep an organized list of your medications in a prescription chart.  You can create one online that you can print out.  There are several different types of templates to choose from when creating your personalized chart.  Some are even able in card form that will easily fit in your wallet or purse.

 

Chapter 2: Examine The Costs of Your Prescription Drugs

Prescription drug cost can be high, so you should examine the costs of the different medications that you take.  It can be a good idea to get a documented list of how much your medications cost with your current dosage and brand.  You should also contact your health insurance company to receive their formulary list as this can be used to help you to find ways to cut costs.  Your pharmacist and doctors are also great sources of information on ways you can get more bang for your buck when it comes to your prescriptions.  Your prescriptions are important or your doctor wouldn’t have prescribed them to you as they did, so skipping doses or cutting pills is not giving yourself the full benefit.

 

Chapter 3: Get Help at the Pharmacy from the Pharmacist

Your pharmacists might not seem like part of your healthcare team, but they certainly are, and should be used as such.  Often, people sign for the medications that have been prescribed to them, and never speak to the pharmacist about what they will be taking.  Your pharmacist is a fount of information that can let you know about the side effects, how to properly take your medications, proper storage, and other information that your doctor might not have let you know about when giving you the prescription.  Don’t be shy, but ask questions.  Part of their duties as a pharmacist is to help you with taking your medications the right way and keeping you informed.  They can even sometimes provide you with the right dosing tool.

One tip is to use the same pharmacy when possible as often the pharmacist is the first to spot when you may have drug interactions with prescriptions prescribed by different doctors.

 

Chapter 4: Speak with Your Doctors for Lowering Costs and Interactions

Your doctor should be your next stop when it comes to lowering the cost of the prescriptions you are taking and dealing with any potential interactions that the pharmacist may have identified.  That formulary list and prescription chart can come in handy when speaking with your doctor as they will let the doctor know what you are taking along with what similar drugs are covered by your insurance company under the formulary.  Talk to your doctor about using generics if there isn’t another brand similar enough that is covered by your insurance.

In some cases, doctors may also change the prescription to a higher dosage to let you cut the pills because often the price for the number of pills doesn’t change even if the pill’s dose is higher.  That means you can get twice the amount of doses, but at the same cost as before.  This may not work with all your prescriptions, but is a good idea for those that can be prescribed in this fashion.

Although it is a good idea to stick with the same pharmacy as noted above, shop around.  You may have a location that offers better prices on the prescriptions than other pharmacies.  For instance, if you have a warehouse club in your area, such as Costco, speak with their pharmacy about their prices.  Often, you can have your prescriptions filled with them at a lower cost without having to be a member of the club.  It never hurts to ask, and not asking might hurt your wallet.

 

SECTION IV: Tackling Your Insurance Head On

Insurance is one of those necessary evils that everyone needs to have to afford their health care but often is confusing or hard to deal with in life.  Talking with your insurance company may seem like an insurmountable task, but that is not the case.  It just takes a little persistence and a lot of patience.

 

Chapter 1: Evaluate Your Insurance to See If It Fits Your Current Needs

Not only should you evaluate your doctors, but you can also evaluate your insurance to make sure that it fits your current needs.  Think about if many of your prescriptions are not being covered, changes have been made to your coverage that you don’t like or other things you are unhappy about in general with your current plan.  These may all be signs that your insurance is just not good enough for you anymore, and that it’s time to shop around to find a better plan.  There are options with Medicare, Medicaid, private health insurance companies, and veterans plans that you can evaluate to see which you qualify for and what will work best for your current situation.

 

Chapter 2: Research Other Insurance Companies Before Open Enrollment Periods

The first step that you need to take when evaluating new insurance options open to you is to research the different options and companies.  You may even find that your current insurance company has a different plan that will be a better fit for your current needs.  Some of the things that you will want to research include whether or not your current doctors take this new plan, what prescriptions will be covered under it, and how will your out of pocket costs change?  Open enrollment for 2016 has already ended, but getting a head start for next year can be advantageous because it gives you plenty of time to do extensive research.  Just be sure to ask whether or not the insurance company may be planning any changes before the new enrollment period.  Comparing plans is a great idea, and may give you a list of a few that you like just in case there are any of those pesky changes.

 

Chapter 3: Is Ancillary Insurance Right For You?

If your health insurance plan does not cover everything that you want, you can look into purchasing ancillary insurance if you don’t already have coverage in these areas.  Dental insurance is often a great idea because your health insurance company may only cover certain dental procedures. Dentures, partials or keeping up your own teeth can help your current well-being greatly.  Not being comfortable enough to eat can cause health problems all of its own.

The same is true of vision insurance.  Very few health insurance companies cover anything when it comes to needing new glasses or bifocals.  For those who have eye health problems like cataracts and glaucoma, you should speak with your healthcare insurance first about what is covered, and then try to fill any gaps with your ancillary vision insurance, if possible.

You may even want to look at other options in ancillary insurance, such as long-term care or home care to see if there are any plans that you qualify for that meet your needs now or protect yourself and your family in case you need it in the future.

 

Chapter 4: Tips on Dealing with your Insurance Company

You would probably rather go to the dentist than have to call your insurance company, especially if it is about a pending or denied claim.  There are some things that you can do that can greatly help you when it comes time to pick up the phone.  First, try to call when they are having a lower volume of callers.  Mondays are often pretty busy days since everyone has been waiting the weekend to finally call.  This may not be easy to determine for other days, but some companies will give you an idea through a phone message or message on your correspondence about the best times to call.

You should also have all your information with you when you make the call.  Keep your insurance card, any information about what you are calling about, and any documentation that they have sent you about your plan or claims.  This will make it easy to refer to when finally getting a live person to speak with about your issue.

When dealing with something that has been denied or some other issue, you should get all the information that you can about how to appeal the denial or deal with the issue.  This can help you to reverse that denial, and get your insurance to cover this item.

 

SECTION V: Managing Other Healthcare Providers

You may be using other healthcare providers, such as case workers or chiropractors, and these are resources you can manage, as well.  Talk with them about any questions or concerns that you may have about how they treat you and how their work interacts with what your other providers are doing for you.

 

Chapter 1: Evaluate Your Current Needs When it Comes to Other Healthcare Providers

As with doctors and insurance companies, make sure that these other healthcare providers are meeting your needs.  If they are not, think about moving to one that might be more appropriate for your needs.

For those that do not currently have a case manager or other healthcare providers, you may want to look into how these roles may benefit you in your life.  Many insurance companies want you to get the best care possible with preventative care and other programs because that may cut their expenses for you down the road.  To this end, they may assign you a case manager or case worker to help you with managing your health care needs.  Take advantage of this service if it is available to you because they will often help be your advocate and speak on your behalf with great experience dealing with the medical community.

 

Chapter 2: Does Your Insurance Cover Them?

Your current insurance coverage may impact what other healthcare providers you can have access to for your care, as they may be too cost prohibitive to afford without help.  Talk with your insurance company about your coverage to get the full picture of what you can do without help.

Then, it may be time for you to look into other sources of assistance.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help in affording the things that you need that may help to improve your quality of life.  Not only are their federal programs available to assist seniors, but there are also state and local programs that look to enrich the lives of seniors.  You may find that you can get meals delivered or a home health aide to visit several times a week through these types of programs where you are not responsible for bearing the cost.  Contact your local council of aging or other senior advocate groups in your area.

 

SECTION VI: Pulling it All Together

Your health is important, and the healthcare resources that you have access to can be managed by you.  It is up to you to be your own advocate, so the time is now to start pulling this information all together in a way that will help you to achieve a better health care outlook for yourself.

 

Chapter 1: Help Others Help You by Formulating a Plan For Managing Your Health Care and Keeping an Updated Medical File

It is wonderful that you have decided to do this for yourself and take charge of your health.  You also need to be able to help others help you by creating a plan that is going to inform them of your current health care needs and provide them an updated medical file.  You never know when this information may come in handy, so having it around is a good idea.  All of the research and tools discussed in this guide can be put together into a file for your reference and your loved ones.  It can be helpful to use online tools to create your file and keep a hard copy, but a folder or file box would work just as well.  Not only do you need to let others know about your health care plans, but you also need to let them know where they can find this information.  Emergencies and accidents are never planned, so being prepared is the best way to face them head on.

 

Chapter 2: A Special Note to Caregivers

The information provided in this guide is not only for seniors but also for their loved ones, especially those that help provide care to their parents or other relatives.  You can and should take a more active role in managing the health care of the seniors in your life.  Just because you are not the patient doesn’t mean that you don’t have any rights when it comes to the health and wellbeing of your loved one, especially if have been granted power of attorney.  If you feel that you are not getting the help you need, or are unsure about your rights with the privacy laws, HIPAA.

You should also note of keeping records as you may be the one that had an emergency or accident that causes another family member or friend to have to step up to the plate for providing care to senior loved ones.  Knowing prescription routines or when doctor appointments are coming up will be helpful information in just such a circumstance.

 

For more information on Sunshine Retirement Living and to speak with one of our friendly and knowledgeable staff members, click here today.

*This blog was first published here: Sunshine Retirement Living

A meeting of patriots: Veterans Day at Waterford Terrace

By Nancy Miller

“It makes me feel good that young people are taking over protecting our country. Us old guys can’t do it anymore,” said… Dusty Ward (89), a resident of Waterford Terrace, La Mesa, and a veteran himself. On November 10, to celebrate and honor Veteran’s Day, a group of young Marines from the Wounded Warrior Battalion West, Balboa Naval Hospital, visited the residents of Waterford Terrace and swapped stories about life, war and the challenges of re-entering civilian life.

Waterford resident and veteran Dusty Ward shares experiences with a member of the Wounded Warrior Battalion
Waterford resident and veteran Dusty Ward shares experiences with a member of the Wounded Warrior Battalion

Casually sitting around the tables scattered outside of the dining room, the residents and Marines had a chance to share photos and swap tales of their experience in the service. Many branches of the armed forces were accounted for with the Marines, Army, Air Force and Navy represented.

One of the high points of the day was when the two young women Marines had a chance to chat with some of the women at Waterford who had served in the armed forces. As they were thanked for their service, the women from the Wounded Warrior Battalion were able to thank the women who served before them and to find out what it was like to be a woman Marine or WAC, before it was commonplace for women to enlist. When asked about their injuries, the marines were able to explain to those who asked that “their injuries were internal” and did not always show on the outside. Many of the Marines have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI), which are difficult to diagnose and treat.

Waterford resident Barbara Bradbury poses with members of the Wounded Warrior Battalion
Waterford resident Barbara Bradbury poses with members of the Wounded Warrior Battalion

The Marines in the Wounded Warrior Battalion are still on active duty and their “job” is to work at recovery 24/7 by going to doctor’s appointments, working with their physical therapists, attending classes and doing everything in their power to either return to their units or reintegrate in society with the ability to use the skills they have learned in the Marines to start a civilian life.

Waterford resident, Barbara Bradbury (82) welcomed the Wounded Warriors to Waterford and said, “ If it weren’t for these young people willing to go to war, there’s no draft today – they volunteered — half of us wouldn’t be here. They didn’t have to be there, they could have gone to college, gotten jobs or lived their lives. Yet, they are fighting for us. They are risking their lives every day; we owe them our freedom, our thanks and God’s blessing.”

After Ken Rorabaugh, General Manager, officially welcomed the guests to lunch and presented each Marine with a certificate of appreciation, one of the Marines stood up to address the full lunch crowd. As he looked out across the faces of those who had served before him, and the women who served or kept the home-fires burning bright, he said, “Many of us signed up because we were escaping, but you signed up for the real reasons. You are the true patriots.” There was a moment of silence, a few tears, and a round of applause to remember the veterans and thank the Wounded Warriors who shared this memorable meeting with the residents of Waterford Terrace.

 

About the Wounded Warriors: The Wounded Warriors Project is a nonprofit organization that aims to provide and facilitate assistance to wounded, ill and injured Marines, sailors and their family members throughout their phases of their recovery in order to successfully return them to full duty or transition to civilian life.

*This blog was first published here: Sunshine Retirement Living

Wise and Wonderful: How to Find Even More Sunshine and Health in Your Retirement

 

Why People Choose To Retire in Sunshine States

Senior couple on country bike ride

Many seniors seek out a warm climate in which to relocate during retirement. They look forward to spending their golden years focused on hobbies, traveling, and especially enjoying their grandchildren. Selecting the ideal location for these pursuits requires a great deal of planning, primarily because of the costs associated with relocating and creating a new household budget in the chosen community. Another consideration is whether you plan to continue working, which may necessitate choosing an area where the unemployment rate is low and the economy is rising.

Wherever you consider moving, make sure there is quality healthcare to accommodate your needs. In addition, consider the proximity of activities like fishing or golfing, to maximize your long-awaited recreational time. To make the best use of your leisure time, set your sights on locations that provide more of your chosen activities.

Some people select scenic areas like wine country or high in the mountains. Others choose to relocate to towns with historical significance, or to enjoy simple country living. Either way, the first step is to identify your retirement goal, and then design a plan to make that dream come true. Find a place that fits both your lifestyle and your budget, so that your retirement years are truly enjoyable.

Many people choose to retire in sunshine states for several reasons. For those living in states with harsh winters, the reason to move is simple. Not only does cold winter weather become harder to bear as time goes on, it may actually exacerbate certain health conditions. Those long winter months also limit the ability to enjoy outdoor recreation. Throughout your life, you may have enjoyed experiencing four individual seasons and the varying climate conditions each season brings. But as time progresses and the aging process continues, dealing with bitter winter weather may have lost its appeal.
Warmer states not only offer an endless supply of recreational activities but, often times, incredible sightseeing opportunities, as well. Although states with colder climates boast beautiful landscapes, the harsh weather may deter you from participating in outdoor activities. If your goal is to experience more time outdoors, a better decision is to choose a state that allows you to comfortably enjoy the seasons throughout the year.

Popular States to Choose for Retirement

Rear view of a senior man and woman couple walking arms around each other on a deserted tropical beach with bright clear blue sky

During the research phase before retirement, you will come across many “best and worst states to live” in lists. Ultimately what you need and want out of the state is up to you.  It is important, however, to consider as much information as possible in order to make an informed decision. Below are some popular retirement destination states, and the reasons they are considered so, for your consideration.
  

1.  Arkansas is considered to be one of the best-kept secrets when it comes to retirement destinations. It offers a humid, tropical climate, which is strongly influenced by the Gulf of Mexico. Summer weather is humid and hot, but frequent thunderstorms help cool things off. For those looking to get away from states with harsh winters, Arkansas winters are generally mild, with typical lows in January around 30 degrees Fahrenheit, with high temperatures in the 50s. Because of its mild climate, Arkansas is one of the most popular places to retire.

Hot Springs Village is a CDP (census-designated place) located in both Garland and Saline Counties that is considered to be the largest gated community in the U.S. Hot Springs Village has a plethora of recreational amenities available to its residents year-round. The Planning and Inspections Department ensures that all homes and landscaping are well kept, providing a picturesque environment for residents.

In addition to the variety of amenities available to residents, Hot Springs National Park is well-known for their hot spring water that is commonly used for therapeutic baths. For over 200 years, the water has been known to treat rheumatism and other ailments. Years ago, the property was considered to be a reservation; it was later developed into a resort named The American Spa. The Park attracts people from around the globe who are looking to improve their health. Today, you’ll find numerous bathhouses in the Hot Springs area that help people relax and wash away the tension from their busy lives. These waters are known to heal and have a rich history among world travelers who come to experience the area’s healing power.

In addition, the beautiful Arkansas landscape provides a perfect setting in which to retire. The cost of living is lower than most typical retirement destinations. There are many active communities that cater to people over the age of 55. In the northwestern parts of the state, the population is growing fast — making it one of the fastest growing regions in the United States for people age 55 and older.

Arkansas is also a top pick for retirement because it offers retirees a lower cost of living than areas typically considered for retirement. In addition, in Arkansas, retirees can enjoy some of the best fly fishing anywhere.

2.  California is filled with gorgeous sunsets, serene beaches, picture-perfect mountains, and beautiful homes within great communities. The high cost of living is equal to the high quality of life that can be experienced here, if your goal in retirement is to experience the symphonies, world-class opera, museums, restaurants, and beautiful scenery that the golden state offers.

The exceptional climate is why California has remained a long-time retirement destination. It is said to be one of the most comfortable for retirement because although the sun is often shining, the Mediterranean climate provides cool temperatures. Summers temperatures are warm and dry while the winter weather is cool and wet. The marine air controls the weather on the coastline, but further inland, the climate is more varied.

3.  Florida is called the sunshine state with good reason. Florida is among the sunniest and warmest states that have a tropical climate in the United States. There is no other sunnier state with more beautiful coastlines or golf courses. There is also a plethora of outdoor recreational activities.

Over 17 percent of the population in sunny Florida is comprised of retirees’ age 65 years and older. Florida is one of the most common destinations to retire, especially for former military personnel. Roughly ten percent of the state’s retirees are veterans, who choose to settle near military bases to take advantage of discounted rates on medical and pharmacy services.

There are many economic incentives for choosing the state for retirement. Florida is one of the few states that provides financial incentives to retirees, providing reduced taxes on both retirement and inheritance income compared to other states. And for those who plan to work during retirement, the job market has been steadily increasing, with many job opportunities for seniors.

4.  Georgia is another popular states for retirement, where you’ll find welcoming communities and peaceful, scenic living. The peach state is home to a variety of activities. Recently many fair-priced retirement communities have popped up in beach towns along the Atlantic coast.

The climate is considered humid to subtropical, making the summers hot and humid, and the winters very mild. Although it is often overshadowed by Florida as a chosen retirement state, Georgia is often the more cost-effective choice, featuring a lower cost-of-living than Florida, and favorable tax incentives for retirees.

5.  Hawaii is a great place if you envision retiring in paradise. Every day will seem like a vacation, since the state boasts some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. The climate is appealing, with only two seasons. Winter averages around 70 degrees and summer temperatures reach around 90 degrees. Humidity can be high, as it is a tropical climate, but the breeze from the ocean makes it very pleasant.

There are many islands to choose from in Hawaii and each has different amenities.  It would be best to plan what type of climate and lifestyle you want before choosing which island will best suit your needs.

While some may feel that Hawaii is more costly, there are other factors that outweigh the higher cost of living. Healthcare and taxes in the state are lower than the national average. When you factor that savings into your monthly budget, it may not be unrealistic to set your heart on retiring in paradise.

6.  Louisiana is uniquely rich in culture and has communities that are attracting seniors more than ever. It is not only a beautiful state but the climate is mild, and the cost of living is low as well as taxes. Louisiana offers state-of-the-art medical facilities, friendly people, and culture like you may not find anywhere else. There are various recreational activities to fit most lifestyles.

If forests and hills are what you envision for your golden years, you may want to consider the northern part of the state. Winters are mostly mild, and the average temperature is about 53 degrees. In the southern parts of Louisiana where you’ll find prairies and bayous, the summers are hot with an average temperature around 82 degrees. Louisiana doesn’t really have a rainy season, but there are plenty of spring showers with the occasional thunderstorm during the summer months.

Taxes in Louisiana have been categorized as “friendly for retirees.” State income tax does exist, but you may be exempt from taxes depending on several factors.

Mardi Gras is not the only activity that Louisiana has to offer. There are several hundred festivals throughout the state; there is always something going on. But the people of Louisiana are probably one of its most valuable assets.

7. Oregon is a lot more that just a beautiful coastline. Living near snow-capped mountains and green river valleys appeals to many; the state is filled with small towns that offer active seniors some unique outdoor adventures. Many people in retirement communities are enjoying the mix of arts and culture as well as hiking, sailing, white water rafting and other outdoor activities.

Some of the coastal towns are becoming increasingly attractive to retirees because of the gorgeous scenery and abundance of recreational activities. People who are looking for a laid back lifestyle would find this the perfect state to settle in.

8.  South Carolina attracts many retirees and has been often ranked among the top ten states to retire. It is mainly loved for its Southern charm and gorgeous landscape, but also because of its rich history and low cost of living. In fact, the slow paced living and outdoor recreation makes this state a great destination for a relaxing retirement. There is plenty of music, art, and theater for those who enjoy a cultural setting.   

The coastal area from Myrtle Beach to Charleston has over 100 golf courses. The beaches along the coast are beautiful and may be appealing to live in as well depending on how close to the water you’d like to live. The people of South Carolina are some of the friendliest and family-oriented folks you’ll find in the country.

9.  Texas has many big cities with small towns that are perfect destinations for retirement. Don’t allow the population numbers to discourage you from considering a move to this immense state. The most major attraction to living in Texas is the great outdoors. There are beautiful country landscapes, picturesque bodies of water, and best of all ten months of comfortably warm weather.

The lone star state is home of many music legends and during this new phase in your life; you may welcome the opportunity to enjoy music festivals and events featuring some of your favorite artists. There is also a symphony and ballet company to enjoy, as well as a lyric opera. The cost of living is comfortable for retirees and has a wide variety of trusted medical facilities and health care programs to fit many different budgets.

How Climate Affects Your Health

Senior Couple In Fitness Clothing Running Along Beach

Statistics show that warmer weather can reduce death rates throughout the United States. A two-year study analyzing monthly death rates in particular states across the country found that deaths peaked during the winter months and were significantly lower during summer months. The International Journal of Biometeorology (WCR Vol. 4 No. 9) published literature highlighting the beneficial factors of heat versus cold weather.

According to the publication, a higher percentage of deaths occurred during winter months. Taking the study into account, recent cold waves across the Northeast and Midwest have brought record-breaking, low temperatures. This resulted in increased health threats and in turn, increased mortality rates during winter months. It is clear that weather can have an extreme impact on our well-being and health. Climate change will not only take a toll on our physical health but our mental health as well. These factors may increase in years to come as global warming continues.

How to Choose the Right State to Retire In

Depositphotos_67115863_s

Every time you open a magazine or browse online, there is a new article on the best places to live in during retirement. Whether its content on the best 50 cities, most cost-effective, most popular, best health care, transportation, or even lowest tax rates, it is not easy to pinpoint just one ideal location.

It is important to keep in mind when reading articles suggesting retirement cities, that these ranking change year-by-year. Rankings help sells magazines and advertising space,  which is why the articles are so popular. Whether or not they provide accurate information is questionable. The main problem is that these lists are based on broad geographic statistics, and while the data may measure certain significant factors, there will always be criteria that cannot be quantified.

The ideal retirement location is something only you can decide, and while lists may help by providing information about different states, the lists will not determine what best fits your specific needs or circumstances. Only you can define the ideal location for you. The best way to determine that is to ask yourself:

  • How close in proximity do you want to be to your family and friends?
  • Do you have aging family members that you may have to take care of in upcoming years?
  • What interests and hobbies are important to you and are they available where you’re thinking about living?
  • Do you plan to work during your retirement? If so, it is important to consider the work market wherever you move and your access to transportation.
  • Do you have medical needs that require specific accommodations?
  • Does your retirement destination meet your budget?

Remember that as you age you may not want to drive, so choosing a city with a better public transportation system may become more important. You’ll also want medical facilities within a close proximity, as well.

An easy way to focus your research and planning is by basing your decisions on where you can live your best life rather than where is the best place to live. Use the lists you find during your research phase as a tool for comparing potential locations, but don’t be swayed by the hype.

When You Should Start Saving for Retirement

Saving

The most practical answer of when to start saving for retirement is in your 20s. As soon as you have completed your education and begin your career, you should allot a percentage of your earnings each pay period towards your retirement fund. The sooner you begin, the more your money will grow. Each year’s savings will generate their own gain year by year; this is known as compounding.

Let’s review an example of compounding. If you begin saving at age 25, setting aside $3,000 into a tax-deferred account over a period of ten years and then stop, by the time you reach 65, your $30,000 investment will have built to more than $472,000, assuming an 8% annual return.

If you wait to start saving until 35 years of age, and save the same $3,000 per year over a 30 year period, by the time you’re 65 and ready to retire, your savings will be up to $90,000. Assuming an 8% annual return would garner approximately $367,000 — a major difference.

Tax-deferred retirement accounts, also known as IRAs and 401Ks are the best account types to save your retirement funds. The different plans have various features but mostly they allow you to defer taxes on the amount you save and the returns you earn.

Tax deferral is best defined as the amount you contribute escaping the usual income tax until you begin to withdraw the money during your retirement phase. The result is that more of your money can earn investment returns over time which is a great advantage over ordinary taxable accounts.

There are other advantages to these plans depending on your contributions and the contributions of your employer. Consult your financial planner or employer to learn more about your options.

In the following videoRon DeLegge talks about retirement savings readiness with Ron Surz, President of PPCA.

 

Financial Resources for Retirement

Discussion of papers

With all of the advancement in education and medicine, people are living longer, which means that there is a good chance you will outlive your retirement funds. With that in mind, you should know what other income sources may be available to you.

Savings. As discussed earlier, the earlier you start your retirement savings, the better off you’ll be when retirement time finally arrives. If you haven’t started saving, now is the time. You can start small and try to increase the amount you set aside each month. The sooner you start, the more your money will grow over times. Saving for your retirement should be a priority. Create a plan and stick with it because it’s never too early or too late to begin the process. Some people make the mistake of thinking that because they waited to think about saving, they might as well disregard the process altogether. In terms of saving for your future, doing something is always better than nothing.

Medicare. Medicare provides health care coverage for people who are 65 and older, despite your income. Medicaid is a federal and state program that offers health care coverage to people of all ages that meet particular low-income criteria. Medicare can provide seniors with different inpatient and outpatient services and a variety of prescription plans. There are several plan options that you should review before applying to make sure your needs will be covered.

Social Security. Social Security will pay benefits during retirement at approximately 40 percent of your pre-retirement earnings. You will receive a payment each month and can have the amount adjusted based on your cost of living. Spouses are also eligible to receive Social Security benefits. If you work during your retirement, an estimate of your earnings will play a role in the amount of Social Security benefits you receive. Visit the Social Security Department’s website to calculate what your monthly earning will be before you apply.

The following information is provided directly on the Internal Revenue Service’s website

Retirement Accounts. Below you will find a list of the available retirement accounts. You can review each account type to learn more about what each one offers and decide what will best fit your needs.

Types of Retirement Plans

Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs)
Roth IRAs

401(k) Plans
403(b) Plans

SIMPLE IRA Plans (Savings Incentive Match Plans for Employees)
SEP Plans (Simplified Employee Pension)
SARSEP Plans (Salary Reduction Simplified Employee Pension)
Payroll Deduction IRAs

Profit-Sharing Plans
Defined Benefit Plans
Money Purchase Plans
Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs)

Governmental Plans
457 Plans409A Nonqualified Deferred Compensation Plans

Depending on your financial status prior to retirement, you may have other income sources available to you from previous investments, pensions, profit-sharing, and home equity. Speaking to a financial advisor during your planning phase is ideal so that you have a full picture of your financial future.

The following charts are available from the Department of Labor’s website.

 

Timeline for Retirement

fishermen perfectly spend time on the river bank

Your timeline to retire depends on a number of factors; generally people retire around the age of 65. Depending on when you were born, you may have certain benefits available to you in addition to the money you set aside throughout the years. Below is a timeline to give you an idea of what’s to come.

At 50 Begin making catch-up contributions, an extra amount that those over 50 can add, to 401(k) and other retirement accounts.
At 59½ No more tax penalties on withdrawals from retirement accounts, but leaving money in means more time for it to grow.
At 62 The minimum age to receive Social Security benefits, but delaying means a bigger monthly benefit.
At 65 Eligible for Medicare.
At 66 Eligible for full Social Security benefits if born between 1943 and 1954.
At 70½ Start taking minimum withdrawals from most retirement accounts by this age; otherwise, you may be charged heavy tax penalties in the future.

Age to Receive Full Social Security Benefits

If you were born: You can receive full Social Security benefits at age:
In 193765
In 1938 65 & 2 months
In 1939 65 & 4 months
In 1940 65 & 6 months
In 1941 65 & 8 months
In 1942 65 & 10 months
Between 1943 & 1954 Age 66
In 1955 Age 66 & 2 months
In 1956 Age 66 & 4 months
In 1957 Age 66 & 6 months
In 1958 Age 66 & 8 months
In 1959 Age 66 & 10 months
In 1960 or after Age 67

 

Your Needs and Wants for Retirement

Happy Senior Couple Sitting On Sofa With Dog

Balancing your finances can seem like a juggling act. One of the most significant skills is to manage your wants and needs. It may seem difficult to decipher the difference between the two at times, but you will become more adept at the distinctions over time. Wants are the items that you don’t need for survival, but would like to have. Sometimes wants disguise themselves because of how much they are desired.

Throughout life, you develop habits that may affect your financial stability during your retirement. Living on your retirement income can create a weaker support structure for your new life. The transition into retirement may seem uncomfortable because finances may impede you from continuing old spending habits while you enter a new phase of life. Most people would like to retire with the freedom to do everything the heart desires. After all, this is supposed to be your leisure time, and it can be as long as you plan ahead before retirement. Consulting a financial planner early in life can help you put your spending into perspective so that you can satisfy both the wants and the needs of your retirement.

It is important to make a plan in order to determine what type of lifestyle you want to experience during your retirement. In your planning, include all of your day-to-day expenditures. Make sure to list all expenses, including housing, food, transportation, utilities, and possible medical expenses. Your “wants” list should include travel, social activities, car, and shopping expenses. Some people also create a wish list that would include items like charity donations and gifts to friends and family. By categorizing your expenses, you will have a better outlook on the money required to maintain your desired lifestyle during retirement.

Finding and Securing the Right Living Arrangement

lake charles

Independent living is designed exclusively for retired, active seniors looking to experience worry-free living. This housing arrangement works well, since most communities offer a safe environment with on-site staff, restaurant-style or buffet-style meals, activity programs, transportation and the flexibility to live in an easy to navigate apartment that requires little to no maintenance. Although residents live independently, there are plenty of recreational activities available on site. Independent living allows residents to connect with each other, while still enjoying all the comforts of a private residence.

In the future if needed customized nursing services are available to provide assisted living and memory care for alzheimer’s and dementia.  These services cater to each individual patient’s needs, but can provide round-the-clock care, if needed. Independent living communities can provide the full array of necessary services, ensuring residents safety

within in a relaxed, comfortable community.

Typical services provided at an independent living community:

  • Easy access to medical & healthcare
  • Three meals per day
  • Housekeeping
  • 24-hour security
  • Recreational & Social activities
  • Exercise program
  • Wellness program
  • Transportation
  • Laundry service
  • Medication management
  • Emergency call system
  • Full staff that can accommodate your scheduled needs

Once you’ve decided if an independent living community is right for you, begin researching which location will best fit your needs. Try not to get overwhelmed during the process — remember to make a list of your needs and wants. Amenities are a significant matter to consider, as is interaction with staff and other residents. The people who around you can  make a huge difference in your comfort level. The type of people who currently reside in a community indicate how well you will live there. If you enjoy an active lifestyle, make sure that there are plenty of social activities available to residents.

You’ll want to visit potential locations during different times of day to get an accurate picture of what the facility has to offer. There are also many senior living resources online that provide resident and employee community reviews. It’s important that you get feedback from existing residents and their family members as well. There is no more accurate way to learn about a community than from the people who live and work there.

Remember to check for cleanliness throughout the community but especially in private rooms or apartments. Remember to verify that the community is compliant with local and state licensing requirement. Lastly, you want to verify their security systems and procedures in order to ensure your safety in case of emergencies.

Are interests and hobbies vital to your health?

Happy elderly woman painting for fun at home

Some of the main ingredients in a happy, healthy life consist of making positive choices to maintain a healthy diet and to exercise regularly. However, interests and hobbies can also play a vital role in your health, as they provide nourishment for your mental health and serve to relieve stress. Over time, you will find that outside interests can become an asset to your physical health as well.

Having lived a life full of to-do lists that are full of stress, finding a hobby or taking up an interest in an activity that is to your liking can bring you a much needed mental break. Hobbies and interests are refreshing because you’re spending time doing things that you enjoy and can help recharge you as you put aside the worries you’ve had up to the time of retirement little by little.

When you take up a new hobby or activity in your life, you’re also increasing your social standing. Meeting new people and building relationships with people that share the same interests can be quite fulfilling. It can bring a new sense of happiness, which improves your quality of living.

Just as important as exercise is to your physical health, exercising your mind is beneficial to your mental health. Spending time enjoying activities like puzzles, reading, card games, and travel will help build bonds with new people, and help will you maintain a positive outlook.

In addition to providing benefits to your mental health, hobbies and interests play an integral role in boosting your self-esteem. It helps you improve yourself by learning something new or reaching goals and accomplishments you can be proud of. For example, taking on a sport you’ve never tried before is a step in the right direction. Building this new skill is not only enjoyable mentally but also physically. You will have a sense of accomplishment that will boost your spirits.

Healthy Activities to Nourish Your Mental Health

Senior woman decorating a ceramic pot

Where do you begin to choose an interest or hobby that best fits your likes and lifestyle? Let’s review some of the great activities that may nourish your mental health and more importantly improve your quality of life. Learning how to fill your time during retirement can be a challenge but the research will teach you about yourself and will benefit your mental health.

Connecting with others. Maintaining relationships with the new people around you will help greatly enrich your life. The strength of your personal relationships has a huge effect on your well-being. It can be quite rewarding to get to new different people. You’ll not only learn about them, but in the process, you may rediscover aspects of yourself that have been buried for forgotten.

Community Outreach. Volunteering time to a cause or issue that is close to your heart can actually help you feel good about yourself. Utilizing your free time by being active in your community will also give you a sense of purpose. Contributing to causes, therefore, may help you contribute to your own needs as well.

Wellness Activities. The fact that you are retired from working doesn’t mean you’re ready to slow down. This is a great time to find an activity that exercises not only your body but also your mind. Consult your physician in cases to see which activities are feasible for you. From water sports to golf and yoga, there is something out there just waiting for you to enjoy.

Crafts. Creating crafty items is always an excellent pastime. There is something to be said for the instant gratification from completing a project. Some may find interest in creating decorative items, while others may choose to make everyday items. Find your niche in the arts and begin your journey to creativity.

Antiquing. Selling and collecting antiques is a challenging and exciting hobby where you can meet other people while making money. If you’ve ever collected items throughout your life, this activity may appeal to you. Start by going through your own collections, and anything you may feel may be of value. Once you’ve sold a few items, you can begin to collect and sell more. Antiques can be very profitable, and the process of collecting is quite enjoyable.

Photography. Capturing life’s moments can be very therapeutic; there is a plethora of possibilities in photography. You can spend days taking pictures of subjects that interest you, or perhaps you enjoy shooting landscapes. You may even find that photography can bring in income by selling your pictures to stock photo companies.

Model Cars. Car lovers that enjoy building but never had the time to do so may find that this is the perfect time to take up the old hobby. Building model cars as a hobby is rewarding and relaxing. If you are crafty and patient, taking the time to build model cars is a great hobby to develop.

Travel. Many retirement communities offer travel programs that will allow you to stay at a sister property free of charge. During retirement, there is no better time to make a list of places you’ve always wanted to visit but never had the chance. Designing a ten year wish list for starters is a great way to set goals for your retirement. Make sure your list is realistic to your budget so that you don’t set yourself up for disappointment. Rather than decide on countries or states that you wish to visit, make a list of things you’ve always wanted to see or do and then find a place that offers those things. You may think that you always wanted to visit Paris to take in the arts and architecture. You may find that you get similar satisfaction somewhere in the Unites States, and that the opportunity to explore arts and culture was what you sought.

Writing & Scrapbooking. One of today’s most popular crafts is scrap-booking, where you create books filled with pages and pages of memories. Creating a written memoir of your life experiences can also be quite satisfying. Revisiting old times will remind you of all the great things you have experienced and accomplished. One of the benefits about writing and scrap-booking is that your loved ones will cherish your stories — you may even find a unique way of telling your untold stories to your children, helping them appreciate the life experiences that helped shape you.

Another avenue of writing that can bring comfort to your mind and soul is writing poetry. Throughout your life, you may appreciated the art in limericks and lyrics but never had the chance to explore your inner poet. Writing is a great way to occupy your mind and relieve stress. Joining a poetry group where you can recite your work can be gratifying as well.

Activity Groups. No matter where you choose to retire, there is a local group that enjoys doing some of the same things that you do. From playing cards to golfing and fishing, your new friends await you to join them in this adventure-filled phase of your life. Take the time to do a little research and ask around about the available activities in your area.

There are an endless number of hobbies and activities to partake in during your retirement. As long as it’s something that makes you happy and does not put your health or life at risk, it’s a good choice to explore. Prior to retirement, you may not have had the time to indulge in these passions. Use your retirement as a reward for all your years of hard work.

Putting It All Together

A married couple planning their retirement life

Now that we’ve covered mostly all of the aspects of the retirement process, we will break down the steps to the “golden years” in a brief and clear form.
At age 50. This is an excellent time to envision the type of retirement you envision. Once you’ve concluded where you’d like to set your heart on living, it’s time to have a conversation with family and friends. For some people, how close to your family you live is vital to your happiness. If your ideal retirement location is too far from family and friends, it may not be the best choice for you. Remember to factor in your health needs when it comes to choosing the right climate to reside in. You still have ample time to decide, and many factors can change before you’re ready to retire. However, having a general idea can help you reach that goal.

Start your research on different living communities after you’ve decided which state you would like to live in. Remember to factor in your wants, your needs, and your budget.

Although you are years away from retirement, you may have an idea by now of what your medical needs are and will be. During the research phase regarding living facilities, make sure you also keep in mind the various levels of care that the location offers. If you are predisposed to any medical conditions, it is wise to prepare for all possible future medical care. Selecting a location that will not meet future needs will cause for you to start your research over again when the time to retire arrives.

Financially, now is the time to begin making “catch-up contributions” to your retirement account(s). People over the age of 50 can add to their 401(k) plans as well as other retirement accounts.

Consider your physical and mental stability and adjust where need be. If you have never really been adamant about exercising or visiting your physician every six months, now is the time to begin. You want to make sure that you are in top physical and mental condition from here on in so that you can fully enjoy your retirement phase as long as possible.

Remember that we learned the importance that having leisure time will be to your retirement years. Now may be a good time to start brainstorming what it is you love to do recreationally. You may want to test the waters in different areas to see what hobbies and activities fit you best.

At age 59.  It’s time to revisit the state you chose to either remain in or move to. If it’s still your ideal choice, then another conversation with family and friends may be in order so that everyone who is important to you is aware that your decision is becoming a firm one.

In terms of living communities, it’s time to narrow down your selections. If anything has changed for you medically, then remember to choose a community that will meet your needs.

At this time, there are no more tax penalties when withdrawing money from your retirement accounts. However, leaving the money is beneficial because you will be allowing more time for it to grow. Remember that the same rule applies at the age of 62 when you are eligible to receive Social Security benefits. The longer you delay the application process to receive benefits, the more your monthly benefits amount will be.

At age 65. Welcome to retirement! You officially qualify for full benefits and are now eligible for Medicare. You’re just another year away for Social Security benefits (if born between 1943 and 1954).

This is actually the perfect time to start the relocation process if you’ve decided to move to a living community. No sense in putting off all the great activities and travel you have planned up to now. This is your time, enjoy it.

By now you should be comfortable and content with your chosen recreational activities and social life. Make sure to keep up the good work as it is conducive to healthy living. If you’re not finding full enjoyment in your chosen activities, there is no one holding you hostage. Explore! Try different hobbies and see what else fits your lifestyle. If you haven’t started your traveling goals, then it’s time to do just that. Bon voyage and don’t forget to send everyone postcards throughout your trip.

At age 70. Six months into your 70th birthday, you can start withdrawing from most of your retirement accounts, at least minimally because otherwise you may be charged tax penalties.

Senior couple with their daughter

The key to a successful retirement lies in your happiness; your physical and mental health lies on the forefront. Financial planning is an integral part of obtaining that happiness because money is what facilitates all of the needs, wants, and wish during your retirement. The only thing you want to worry about is having enough time to do all of the things your heart desires. Having control over how you spend your time should be your only concern, next to enjoying your family and friends. Pursue your passions and interests like never before so that you’re allowing yourself to live your very best life.

*This blog was first published here: Sunshine Retirement Living


Hard Working and Proud Merchant Marine

Sam Casarez an Austin, Texas native was born on May 7, 1923. His family worked at the Pannell Dairy Farms while Sam attended elementary schools. Sam’s father died at a young age leaving a wife and five children, which ultimately lead to Sam working full time at the Dairy Farm. He also labored as a truck driver and deliveryman for an Austin area lumber company, and cleaned rugs at a Laundromat.

At the age of 19, Sam decided to join the Merchant Marines. His oldest brother had died while serving in the Army Air Corps and his other brothers were already in the Army.

After his physical in San Antonio, Texas, Sam was sent to St. Petersburg, Florida. He was trained by the Coast Guard as an Engineer Assistant, where he operated machines in engine rooms. His first mission involved working on a tug boat that transported goods to Cuba, where he was able to bring back sugar.

Later Sam was assigned the most dangerous mission of transporting 128 train-cars loads of ammunition across the rough North Atlantic. In New York they picked up a naval convoy of 68 ships. The Merchant Marine ship was encircled by Navy Ships. The convoy encountered Nazi U- boats and brutal storms. They lost an entire cargo of trucks and trailers. Fortunately, the ammunition remained intact. They finally made it to Le Harve, France after three attempts.

6,000 Merchant Marines died in WWII and they lost 733 ships. 600 men were made prisoners of war. Merchant Marine life was difficult, sleeping in life jackets and bouncing from cargo boats to tankers.
Upon his return from WWII, Sam met Mary Rina, the love of his life for 62 years. They have two sons, Jesse and Sam Jr. and five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

After returning to Austin, Sam worked at Capital Linen Service eventually becoming plant manager. He also owned a furniture store. For most of Sam’s life, he was not granted privileges and benefits of Veterans. In 1988, President Reagan recognized the Merchants Marines for their contributions to WWII. At this point, Sam was officially a Veteran. Sam states “The Merchant Marines allowed me to grow in knowledge. Going through the Suez and the Panama Canals were highlights of my service.” Sam has been retired for twenty five years. He was a member of the Knights of Columbus and enjoyed traveling with Mary.

He has lived at The Continental Retirement for two years. Sam enjoys his retirement, family, friends, different activities and the food.

*This blog was first published here: Sunshine Retirement Living

Wise and Wonderful: In Honor of a Veteran

Bravery, courage, selflessness and honor, these are all words we use to describe that unique group of individuals that offered to risk their lives to serve and protect our country. At a very young age our service men chose to offer it all because they believed it was the right thing to do. Throughout the month of November we are asked to honor those individuals who fought so hard to protect our freedom.

Resident Clifford Mott, Dunwoody Pines, Dunwoody, GA

One of the ways Sunshine chooses to show support and appreciation for their veteran residents is through a Veteran’s Wall of Honor. The Veteran’s Wall of Honor, which may be found in all Sunshine Communities, highlights photos of our veterans both during their years of service as well as today. It’s a reminder to all of us that those brave men and women who chose to serve our country are the same ones that we share our morning coffee with!

Veterans living at The Continental in Austin, TX visit the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, TX. They are honored by the Museum with a special name tag and free entry.

Once a year we are asked as a nation to remember the brave men and women who have selflessly chosen to serve our country. There are veterans all around us: loved ones, neighbors, friends, community members. We hope that this Veteran’s Day, all of you take the time to do something special for a veteran who has touched your life.

Veterans Wall of Honor, Country Club Village, Hot Spring, AR

There are a number of different museums and historical sites throughout the country dedicated to educating U.S. citizens about some of our battles of the past. Visiting these sites not only helps us better understand these significant historical events, but it allows us to honor those who served.

*This blog was first published here: Sunshine Retirement Living