Best Beach Towns In America For Retirement

Looking forward to retiring in the same community you slaved away in for 40+ years?  If not, you may be dreaming of life in a cozy beach community where the idea of fresh air, fresh fish, and fresh adventures await!  If that’s the case, here’s a list of the best beach towns in America for retirement.  Enjoy your golden active years near the many relaxing beach communities we have right here in our own backyard.

Top 5 Beach Towns In America For Retirement

#1 Manzanita (Oregon)Manzanita Beach

This sleepy little community boast a wonderful mix of full timers and part time residence.  With 7 miles of sandy beaches, Manzanita offers lots of room to run, walk, surf, or chill out.  The Oregon Coast Visitors Association maintains that “Manzanita possesses the third most photographed scenery in Oregon”.  Add in a local golf course, and a few nice restaurants/pubs and now you’ve got a full plate!  Located just West of Portland (and south of Cannon Beach) Manzanita has less than 1,000 full-time residence and at the time of the 2010 census just 315 households.  Median age in the city is 59.9 years young.  –photos courtesy of jamesonf via Flickr

Manzanita Beach Walk

 #2 Santa Cruz (California)

Santa Cruz CA

Santa Cruz is a throw back town.  Having just spent our spring break there this year, we loved every minute of this surfer’s paradise.  Looking for something a little laid back and dog friendly?  You just found it.  Add in a mix of fine dining, and local eateries (where the food is fresh and affordable), you won’t go home hungry.  2011 census pegged Santa Cruz at just over 60,000 residence with 32.1% of the population between the ages of 45 and older.  Median age in Santa Cruz is 29.9 (wikipedia).  Beach dwelling, wine tasting, museums, and a university add to the cultural appeal of Santa Cruz, and it’s a sure draw for those looking for an active retirement.  –photos courtesy of Thomas Hawk & Hudheer G via Flickr

Beach at Santa Cruz CA

#3 Beaufort (South Carolina)

Beaufort SC

Beaufort SC was named Coastal Living Magazine’s Happiest Seaside Town in 2013.  How’s that for an introduction?  Beaufort is located on Port Royal Island, in the heart of the Sea Islands.  Water, history and culture surround this area, and it’s about as friendly a town as you’ll ever come across.  “Chartered in 1711, it is the second-oldest city in South Carolina, behind Charleston. The city’s population was 12,361 in the 2010 census.  It is a primary city within the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton-Beaufort Metropolitan Statistical Area.” (Wikipedia)  As of the 2010 census there were just over 12,000 people residing in the city of Beaufort.  A full 30% of the people in Beaufort SC are over the age of 45.  –photos courtesy of scarter392 & Henry de Saussure Copeland via Flickr

Beaufort SC

#4 Friday Harbor (San Juan Island WA)

Friday Harbor WA

Friday Harbor is a gorgeous little island community available only by ferry service (or float plane).  With just over 2,000 residence, it’s not easy to get lost around Friday Harbor.  Census data notes that 44.8% of the city is 45 years old or older.  Lots of things to do on San Juan Island including hiking, biking, fishing, walking, kayaking and sampling the many local eateries and coffee shops around town.  Summertime brings in quite a number of tourists, but everyone is interested in fresh air and the active outdoor culture that abounds here.  –photos courtesy of Chase N. & Mike Kelley via Flickr

Friday Harbor ferry

#5 Steilacoom (Washington)

Steilacoom WA Sunset

Located 45 miles SW of Seattle, Steilacoom (pronounced “still-a-come”)seems to move in slow motion and that’s just how the 6,000 or so full-time locals love it.  The 4th of July celebration brings in over 18,000 visitors, and all come for good eats, good conversation, and fireworks over Sunnyside Beach.  This Puget Sound community boasts a median age of 45.4 (as of the 2010 census) and 39.3% of folks are 45 years of age or older.  –photos courtesy of L-M-E & camknows via Flickr

festival in Steilacoom WA

What Boomers Look For In A Retirement Community

Boomers on computerMedia Post’s Engage Boomers Blog wrote a nice piece on the 5 things boomers are looking for in a retirement community and we thought we’d pass a few of these tidbits along.  There are a few obvious features, and a couple not-so-obvious.

Today’s baby boomers are looking for pet friendliness, spacious living quarters and sustainability (environmentally functional) just to name a few.  Boomers today live active lifestyles, and their not looking to get bogged down!  Lot’s of activities are a must in any modern day retirement community, and a quality food menu is an absolute essential!!!!

The article doesn’t mention it, but it goes without question – staff friendliness, attentiveness and professionalism rank extremely high among the attributes of top retirement communities.  People really do make the difference.  What are you looking for in a top rated retirement community?

Top 5 Dementia Articles for 2014

canstockphoto1476746We thought it fitting to provide you with a new top 5 list to ring in the new year.  Listed below are the top 5 articles on DEMENTIA for this, the first week of 2014.  We hope you find it both interesting and informative.  As always, if you have comments, suggestions, or additional resources to add we invite you to participate in our comments section below!

Top 5 Articles on Dementia

1.  Bringing Dementia Patients Back To Life (The Atlantic; Jan. 5, 2014):  This article focuses on the many misconceptions of a dementia diagnosis, and it focuses what dementia patients CAN DO, not what they can’t.  Money Quote: “In some cases, unresponsiveness may say less about a patient’s disability than a failure on our part to offer something worth responding to.”

2. Heart Disease Could Be Tied To Dementia For Older Women (Reuters; Jan. 2, 2014)  Reuters reacts to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association entitled Cardiovascular Disease and Cognitive Decline in Postmenopausal Women: Results From the Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study.  This study looked at the relationship between heart disease and cognitive decline in elderly women.  Researchers confirmed the association noting that “Women who’d had a heart attack, in particular, were twice as likely to see declines in their thinking and memory skills”.  Money Quote:  “Understanding the connection between heart disease and dementia is important because heart disease is reversible but Alzheimer’s disease is not, O’Brien said.”

3. What Is The Global Impact Of Dementia (CBS News.com; Jan. 4, 2014)  CBS News VIDEO discusses the global impact (including economic implications, human implications and potential therapies). Money Quote: “Where we’re really lacking – is drugs that can hit that inflammation response where the brain’s immune cells are turning against it.  We really have nothing that can help you.  Ibuprofen and current anti inflammatories won’t do it.”


4. A Daily Dose Of Vitamin E Slows Ravages Of Dementia (Daily Express – UK; Jan. 1, 2014)  For the first time, US researchers have found a benefit of adding Vitamin E to the diets of mild to moderate dementia sufferers.  Researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital and the Veterans’ Administration Medical Centers in Minneapolis are reporting that “the annual rate of functional decline among dementia sufferers was reduced by 19 per cent thanks to a daily vitamin E supplement”.  This particularly study noted that those taking Vitamin E were able to carry out everyday tasks for longer periods of time.  Money Quote:  “Now that we have a strong clinical trial showing that vitamin E slows functional decline and reduces the burdens on care-givers, vitamin E should be offered to patients with mild-to-moderate symptoms.”

5. The Younger Face Of Dementia: Ottawa Man Shares Wife’s Battle With The Disease (CTV news.ca- Jan. 6, 2014)  When people think of dementia they think of it as an older person’s disease, but as Matthew Dineen explains – his wife was just 41 when she began exhibiting signs of the disease.  Today, Lisa Dineen lives in the secure wing of a Ottawa nursing home, a stand-out among the elderly residents there.  A year ago she was diagnosed with FTD (Frontotemporal Dementia) a devastating brain disorder for which we know no cure.  Money Quote:  “We have people who get a divorce … their families leave them because some of them start acting very inappropriately. They don’t understand that it is a brain disease, they don’t understand that they are not doing it on purpose.”

Long Term Care Insurance Advice: Video

Last year Suze Orman reported that she was paying around $30,000 per month for 2 full time in-home care nurses.  She’s doing this for her (then 96 year old) mother because she loves her very much, AND because she can afford it.  In this brief video, Suze offers advice on Long Term Care Insurance, and recommends that you get involved with your older parents money before it’s too late.

 “If you have older parents, and they’re not talking to you about what they’re doing… I’m asking you to get involved with they’re money!” — Suzy Orman

What is Long Term Care Insurance?

Wikipedia has a tight and concise definition that I like: “Long-term care insurance (LTC or LTCI), an insurance product sold in the United States and United Kingdom, helps provide for the cost of long-term care beyond a predetermined period. Long-term care insurance covers care generally not covered by health insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid.”

“Long-term care insurance generally covers home care, assisted living, adult daycare, respite care, hospice care, nursing home and Alzheimer’s facilities. If home care coverage is purchased, long-term care insurance can pay for home care, often from the first day it is needed. It will pay for a visiting or live-in caregiver, companion, housekeeper, therapist or private duty nurse up to seven days a week, 24 hours a day (up to the policy benefit maximum).” — Wikipedia on the benefits of LTC Insurance

Long Term Care Statistics

According to the American Association for Long Term Care Insurance:

  • 8.1 Million Americans are protected with long-term care insurance.
  • 322,000 new Americans obtain LTC insurance coverage in 2012.
  • $6.6 Billion in LTC insurance claims paid (2012).
  • Over 264,000 individuals received LTC insurance benefits (2012).

Senior Placement Agencies Find Their Niche in Portland Oregon

Senior Placement Agencies advocate for familiesThis weekend’s Oregonian featured an informative article entitled “Senior placement consultants help clients find care communities that fit their needs“.  It’s a story about how placement and referral services can help families find senior housing, and act as expert liaisons between community and client.  Senior List co-founder Amie Clark (who also owns and operates The Senior Resource Network) was featured in the article, as was colleague Jennifer Cook (with Living Right Senior Placement).  The key to finding the right placement agency is to find an agency that has the best interests of the client at heart.  A placement agency needs to be well informed, aware of state filings, and personnel should be credentialed.  In the Portland metro area, there are over 250 assisted living/memory care facilities and over 1,000 adult care homes to navigate, so having an expert on your side makes all the difference.

“Finding the right fit between our clients and a community makes all the difference in the world” says Clark.  “We do the leg-work for the client ahead of time, like reviewing state records, understanding the level of care provided, and in some cases policing monthly service costs.  Even the little things like how good the food is, or social/recreational services become big things when your loved one moves into a care community.”  Amie and Jennifer are both members of OSRAA, The Oregon Senior Referral Agency Association.  The association regulates local agencies by requiring member agencies be in business for 3 years minimum, AND meet standards and ethics requirements.  Click through to read how placement and referral agencies can help find senior-housing solutions in your local area.

Exercise May Improve Dementia and Alzheimer’s Risk Factors

Alzheimer's Association International Conference Logo

The Alzheimer’s Association International Conference

More and more studies are showing a relationship between cognitive function and exercise.  New results from clinical trials were reported recently at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference held in Vancouver BC.  Four (4) studies noted a reduced risk factor when targeted exercise was implemented as part of a regimen.The first study noted that moderate walking may enhance the region of the brain related to memory, and increase the nerve growth factor.  Kirk Erickson, PhD from the University of Pittsburgh noted that “the aging brain remains modifiable, and that sedentary older adults can benefit from starting a moderate walking regimen”.  The study reported an increase in the brain region identified with memory (in those that exercised).

The second study from the University of British Columbia examined the effect of resistance training on thinking and memory in older adults.  This study entitled the EXCEL (Exercise for Cognition and Everyday Living) study looked at resistance training vs. balance and tone exercises and found that the more rigorous resistance training led to improvements related to memory and other outcomes (vs the balance and tone group).

Two additional studies reported found similar results.  The bottom line?  Exercise is good (for everybody)… Especially older adults at risk for MCI (mild cognitive impairment).

For more information visit the Alzheimer’s Association or visit the AAIC 2012 homepage.

Senior Housing Referral Companies- What you Need to Know

Senior Placement and Referral Agencies; Explained

A senior housing referral company helps clients locate appropriate senior housing in a given geographic area.  A reputable placement and referral service can save you time and energy in your search for senior housing. They should know which communities can supply appropriate care and be able to refer their client to all types of communities. To validate the reliability of a referral company, ask them if they work only with communities that they have contracts with or if they will also refer you to communities that won’t sign contracts. Also, make sure they have personally toured each of the prospective communities and see if they collect information on both substantiated and unsubstantiated complaints. Finally, when looking for a referral agency, choose one that provides you with a list of suitable living options and will escort you on visits to the properties at your request.

Referral companies who do not charge clients for their services will expect the client to work with them exclusively; referral companies gather similar information, so there is no need to work with more than one. This type of referral company receives a “finder’s fee” from the community that the client chooses. Other types of senior referral companies may charge for their services at hourly or set rates. When working with a fee-for-service company, make sure to get the charges in writing before you begin the referral process.

When working with a referral company, let them know your needs, preferences, comfort levels, and expectations. Be honest and straight forward. The more information you provide to them, the better they can serve you and find a place that will best suit your needs.

Choosing suitable housing for a loved one is an important decision for you and your family. Utilizing a referral company will help ensure you find a great place.

Caregiver Tips For Treating Dementia Patients: Flash Cards

One of the most painful realities for dementia caregivers is the loss of recognition.  As memory erodes, the patient loses the ability to recognize those most dear to them such as spouses, children, and siblings.  Michelle Bourgeois, a speech-pathology professor at Ohio State University has come up with a system that allows caregivers to bridge that communication gap, at least temporarily.  She advises caregivers to use flash cards to help ease those identity issues and answer the questions which dementia patients will repeat endlessly.

For instance, Bourgeois had a caregiver create two flashcards .  One had a photo of herself as a child, which she labeled “This is my daughter Susan, at age 6.”  The second card had a photo of her at her current age.  That one was labeled “This is my daughter Susan now.”  The woman showed the cards to her mother, who had lost the ability to know who her daughter was.  The mother studied the two photos and captions and was able to recognize her daughter and converse with her as her daughter and not as some vaguely familiar stranger.

One had a photo of herself as a child, which she labeled “This is my daughter Susan, at age 6.”  The second card had a photo of her at her current age.  That one was labeled “This is my daughter Susan now.”

Bourgeois advises caregivers to use similar systems to provide answers to the obsessively repeated questions.  When the asking begins, the caregiver can hand the card to the patient and say, “The answer is on the card.”  She reports that in the majority of case, it calms the patient and the questioning stops.  One key to using this system to bridge the communications gap is to be sure that the print on the card is large and easy to read, and that whatever is printed is a short, simple sentence.

Blessings, Joanne

 *Photo: Rasdourian via Flickr

Moving Mom Into A Nursing Home

In elder or dementia caregiving, one of the hardest decisions to make is to move your loved one out of his or her home (or your home) and into a more institutional setting.  Making the move bearable for your loved one may not always be possible.  They may stand firm… They’re staying put, and that’s that!

It may help with the transition if you can remember some significant changes from your own life:

Questions to consider before moving mom into a nursing home:

  • What did it feel like to you as a child when your family moved to a new home in a new location?  Think about those first few days of trying to find your things, especially if some of them had to be left behind.  Try to recall what your emotions were when you went to the new school the first time—all those strangers and you didn’t know anyone.  Did your parents’ logical explanations and promises that “everything will be alright” make any impact on how you felt?
  • What did it feel like as an adult when you went to a new job for the first time?  Managing to learn a lot of new names in a short period of time was stressful, wasn’t it?  The same was probably true of learning new work rules—written and un-written—so that you weren’t creating problems right off the bat.
  • Can you remember what it felt like to give up control of your life when you went into the military or other organization?  You know, when someone else told you what to do and how to do it… You were probably a bit resentful, even if you managed to comply.  Most of us find small ways in which to act out that rebellion—sneaking a forbidden treat, making jokes about the people in charge, etc.

“For emotional preparation, the prospective resident should be involved in as much of the decision-making as possible. Fear of the unknown can make an admission more difficult. Both the caregiver and resident should be able to spend some time in the facility, with the staff, other residents, and other family members until some kind of comfort is developed.”  Peter Silin, MSW, RSW

I think you get the point.  Moving your loved one puts them into the emotional pool I’ve just asked you to swim in.  By answering these questions, you can begin to experience some of what your loved one is experiencing.  This sense of loss of the familiar, confusion in the new place with new people, and new regimes is especially heightened if your loved one is suffering from dementia.

Stretch your imagination far enough to strategize ways to ease the transition and AND the emotional upset it will engender.  There’s a terrific article by Peter Silin, MSW, RSW entitled “Moving Into a Nursing Home: A Guide For Families“.  Take a look at it if you’re in the process, or if you can see this in your future down the road.  It can be a big help in easing the stress for you and your loved one.

Blessings, Joanne

*Photo: Bardaga via flickr

Downsizing To Community Living- What To Bring With You

The Senior Resource Network is a leading placement and referral agency in Portland Oregon.  Amie Clark (owner/operator of The Senior Resource Network, and co-founder of The Senior List) wrote a helpful post entitled “Downsizing To Community Living- what to bring and what to let go”.  It contains some valuable tips that we’d like to share with you here on The Senior List.  Here is a list of what to bring with you.  For the list of what to leave behind, click through to the original article.

What to bring to your new senior community:

  • Bed- Generally, beds are not furnished (the exception would be an adult care home), unless your insurance is paying for a hospital bed.  Depending on the size of the bedroom, a twin, double, or full-sized mattress is best.  You want to make sure there is plenty of room around the sides of the bed to maneuver safely, especially if other furniture is in the room.  A foot-board and headboard may be desired, depending on the space.
  • Chairs and Sofa
  • Shower curtain and rings- Most communities supply the rod.
  • Towels- Several (2-3)complete sets of towels.  If housekeeping is done weekly, this should be plenty.
  • Sheets- At least two sets, unless the bed is changed frequently, most housekeeping is weekly that includes laundering sheets.
  • Bedspread, blankets, and pillows
  • Laundry Basket
  • Garbage cans- In a retirement or assisted living setting, a small garbage in the bathroom(s) and kitchen area are handy.
  • Clothes Hangers
  • Personal Items & Toiletries- toothpaste, toothbrush, denture products, comb/brush, soap, shampoo, shaving products, incontinence supplies*, glasses, hearing aids.
  • Clock, personal photos, and decorative items- familiar items in your new home, like curtains, artwork, and houseplants can make a world of difference to make your new accommodations feel more like home.
  • Telephone (optional)
  • TV/ Radio
  • Dresser/ Nightstand
  • Clothing- Garments that are washable- commercial washing machines can be very harsh on clothing, I would limit dry clean items, and comfortable for everyday use.  Perhaps a few dressy items for special events.

*Some communities will assist in ordering incontinence supplies as they may be able to purchase in bulk at reduced prices.

For a list of local placement and referral specialists in your community, check out the agency listings on The Senior List Eldercare Directory.  Be sure to look for ratings and reviews as they can be a helpful tool when deciding who to work with.