Innovative new wheelchairs, service organizations, prisons & nursing homes, and sex after heart attacks

Wheelchairs have just gotten a bit cooler.  A design student from New Zealand has redesigned the wheelchair:


Service to the community is becoming easier.  Some CCRC’s are forming their own service corps!

Could prison really be better than a nursing home?  I didn’t think so, but this article makes me question my assumptions.

Heart attacks and sex: a new study says that you shouldn’t be shy when talking to your doctor about getting back in the sack!

Exercise & Alzheimer’s, techonlogy isn’t perfect, help coordinating care, and retiring


Being physically active can help you avoid Alzheimer’s disease. (Bonus: There’s a new technique for brain imaging that helps identify the disease.)

Having a lot of technology doesn’t always make things better.  A new study shows that seniors who were monitored remotely using technology didn’t have fewer hospitalizations than others who were not monitored.

Having trouble coordinating care for a loved one?  The Internet might be able to help you!

Forbes has a new article out entitled “6 Reasons You’ll Never Retire.”  It’s a scary read!

Photo courtesy of Spirit-Fire on Flickr.

The Most Interesting Thing that I Saw While Visiting Senior Housing Communities


I normally post about ways to get the most bang for your buck at senior housing communities.  But, there’s an interesting story that I’d like to tell. 

During my time as a consultant for senior housing communities, I traveled all over the country investigating properties.  I spent a lot of time sitting in lobbies waiting for the marketing representative, and I remember one community in particular.  It was in a poor neighborhood, and I considered skipping it altogether and moving on to the next community.  But, it was late in the day, and I couldn’t make it to any other locations before they closed.  So, I sat and waited for the marketing representative.

While I was waiting, a woman sat down next to me.    She was about 35 years old, dressed in scrubs, and had just come off of her shift.  I was bored, so I started talking to her.

I found out that it was her birthday.  She was waiting for her mother to come pick her up.  They had dinner plans.  Her kids were baking her a cake. 

I enjoyed hearing her talk, so I started asking her more questions about her job and how she spent her time.  I learned that her job was the lowest, most menial job at the nursing home.  She was basically there to change diapers and empty bed pans.  She made it pretty clear that some parts of the job were pretty awful.  But, then she said something that I’ll never forget.

“It’s interesting,” she said slowly.  “I was assigned to one man for the last six months.”

“What happened to him?” I asked.

“He died,” she said. 


“Yeah,” she continued.  “I was in the room with him when he died.  His children didn’t come to visit.  No one was there except for me.  I held his hand.”

I just sat there, unsure of what to say.  She continued, “It’s funny, you know?  We live our whole lives, and yet, the one person who was there when this guy died was me.  Makes you wonder what it’s all about.”

At that moment, the marketing agent approached and asked me to follow her back to her office.  I stood and shook hands with the nursing assistant that I had just met, thanking her for the conversation.  I never caught her name.  I never knew anything more about her than that it was her birthday and that she had watched a man die.  But, the event will be forever etched in my mind.  For me, it helped make the distinction between senior housing as a business and senior housing as a place where real people live and die. It solidified my appreciation for those who care for the sick and the dying.  It also made me appreciate my own life and the time I get to be alive.

Today’s a beautiful day.  Carpe diem!

Photo courtesy of Will Clayton on Flickr.

Living longer, poverty among seniors, and Boomers


The science of aging: It’s possible to develop a medicine that lets us live even longer than we currently live.

Poverty rates among seniors are increasing.  Some of the reasons have to do with increasing life spans and larger care costs.

More than 8.3 million seniors are “food insecure.”

Time magazine has a new article on Boomers living alone and the potential economic impact of building new assisted living facilities.

Photo courtesy of SMercury98 on Flickr.

Can you really know how well a community is managed before you move in?


I’ve been doing some research lately into CCRC’s that have gone bankrupt.  While these sorts of events aren’t an everyday occurrence in the industry, it’s not a risk to be taken lightly. 

As part of my research, I’ve been thinking about ways to help potential residents spot trouble before they sign on the dotted line.  However, it isn’t as easy as it sounds.  For instance, the Disclosure Statement that communities are required to give you prior to signing the contract is already dated by the time you receive it.  In other words, by the time the financials reach your hands, it’s already been a year and a half.  How are you supposed to learn anything from that information?

Additionally, it may be hard to tell from the outside whether or not the management team is doing a good job.  Just because the community is clean and well-kept does not mean that residents are happy or that management is doing a good job handling all of its responsibilities.

Finally, residents themselves might be reluctant to tell you about problems with the management and finances.  Especially for start-up communities, residents have an incentive to help fill empty apartments since new residents help the community’s financial stability.  Their goal is to get you in the door and into an apartment.  Therefore, they might not be inclined to warn you of impending doom.

Your best bet is to see if the community is accredited by CARF International.  The organization reviews the CCRC and requires the community to submit a quality improvement plan if it’s found to be deficient. 

If the community isn’t accredited, then you’re on your own.  You’ll want to review the Disclosure Statement with a fine tooth comb.  You can also look for a few big warning signs:

  • Too many empty apartments.  By far the biggest warning sign is when there are too many vacant units on the campus.  Sure, in this economy, almost all communities have vacant apartments.  But, if you find the marketing coordinator is offering you a choice between dozens of apartments, then the community might be having trouble keeping those apartments occupied.  If it’s a new community, you’ll want to figure out whether or not the units are filling up on a schedule.  Ask about how many new move-in’s there are each month and how many total apartments are occupied.  If there aren’t at least 3-4 move-in’s per month, there might be trouble brewing.
  • Unhappy workers.  If you pick up on the fact that the marketing managers are unhappy or upset with management, then it’s a good bet that the rest of the community’s employees are unhappy.  When people don’t enjoy their jobs, their performance slips.  You don’t want that at the community that you’ll be calling home.
  • Disorganized or unprofessional sales visit.  I’ve certainly seen a lot of bad sales pitches in communities that were full.  However, if the marketing office isn’t organized enough to sell you on the community’s amenities and activities, then it probably won’t do a good job marketing to other potential residents.  If management isn’t making sure that potential residents see the best side of the community, then it’s a good bet that management isn’t paying very much attention to the rest of the community’s operations. 

As a consumer, it’s in your best interest to make sure that your future community is in good hands.  However, it’s hard to get that sort of information these days.  Retirement communities want you to move in, so if you’re at all worried about the financial stability of your chosen CCRC, then insist that the community either becomes accredited or provides an independent, third-party account of their finances.

Photo courtesy of ToastyKen on Flickr.


Senior Housing posts that you missed the first time!


How to be a social butterfly in senior housing.  If you’re new to a community, don’t worry.  We’ve got the best tips on how to make new friends fast!

Why does a CCRC want my home?  In this economy, retirement communities are doing what it takes to get you moved in… even if it means buying your house.

Do CCRC’s offer good value for residents?  Handing over several hundred thousand dollars doesn’t seem like a good idea, but for those that are interested in lots of amenities, CCRC’s can offer great value.

Joining a CCRC resident association.  CCRC residents have created organizations in several states that are dedicated to lobbying for resident interests.

Is a CCRC an investment?  Your entrance fee isn’t an investment in the traditional sense, but you might still want to treat it like one.

Do I choose the 100% or 50% refundable contract?  It’s tough to know which contract works best, given your needs.  Here are some tips to help you decide.

How to start your senior housing search.  It’s overwhelming to even know where to begin, but we’ve boiled it down to the essentials!

Are pods the solution?  Is it really a good idea to buy a portable building and move into your kid’s back yard?  There are some benefits to this new form of housing.

Photo courtesy of soa2002 on Flickr.

Pets, negotiating with retirement communities, working is good for you, and driving,


Moving into senior housing doesn’t always mean that you have to give up Fluffy or Spot.  A coming trend is allowing people to keep their pets after they move in!

An update on my post: I’m not the only one advocating that residents negotiate their contracts prior to moving into senior housingFinancial advisors all over are doing the same thing, and they’re saving their clients lots of money!

Do you plan on working for the rest of your life? There’s a new Freakonomics podcast that says working is good for you! (Unfortunately, a new study from the GAO says that it’s harder to for older Americans to stay employed as they age.)

It’s not as simple as just taking away the keys.  There’s evidence that suggests most people stop driving in fits and starts.

Photo courtesy of Tomi Tapio on Flickr.

Outsmarting scam artists, grading nursing homes, retirement communities & younger residents, and Facebook in your will


AARP has a new book out on avoid fraud.  It’s called “Outsmarting the Scam Artists.”

If you’re going to die, at least do it in a nice place.  Medicare is going to start grading nursing homes based on how well they provide end of life care.

Retirement communities are working harder to attract younger residents.  They biggest efforts include adding more services for younger people, adding wellness classes and events, and remodeling. 

Do you have a Facebook page?  If so, what do you want to happen to it after you die?  You might consider putting it in your will.

Photo courtesy of Eastlaketimes on Flickr.

Nursing homes & natural disasters, parking lot tips, retirement destinations, and technology in assisted living


Most nursing homes aren’t very well-prepared for natural disasters.

Another way to check out a nursing home: Pay attention to the parking lot.  You might meet families who can tell you about their experiences with the facility.

The Washington Economics Group has compiled a list of the top retirement destinations.  Here’s a hint: head south.

Assisted living is going high-tech.  Some communities are installing pressure and movement sensors in the apartments to make help warn nurses if the resident has a fall or doesn’t get out of bed.

Photo courtesy of PhotoJunkie! on Flickr.

How to be a Social Butterfly in Senior Housing


It may be scary to move into a new community, especially if it’s you’re relocating to a city where you don’t know anyone.  But, don’t worry.  The best advice that I ever got on adjusting to retirement community living was from a woman who was the president of the resident activity association.  She was well over 80 years old, but she made sure that each and every new resident got the same treatment when moving into her community. 

In her community, a resident made the rounds once a week to greet the newcomers.  However, if your community doesn’t offer the same greeting service, there are other ways to make friends:

  • Attend orientation.  Most communities will hold a new resident orientation once a month to help new residents get oriented in their new homes.  These events can be a good opportunity to get to know staff and to ask questions that weren’t covered during move-in.
  • Join a club.  There are plenty of activities in a CCRC to keep you busy for a thousand lifetimes.  Part of the reason you probably moved in was because you wanted to take advantage of the activities.  Now’s the time to take up woodworking or golf.  If you like wine tasting, organize your own parties.  If you want to knit or sew, there is probably a group for you.  Plus, while you’re busy pursing your passions, you’ll be meeting others just like you who enjoy the same thing!
  • Get out of your room.  If all else fails, just leave your room.  Hang out in the cafeteria or read a book in the library.  At the very least, you’ll get the opportunity to enjoy a new view or sit in the sun for a while.  But, even more than that, you’ll probably meet a few people who are interested in learning more about you!

Don’t be afraid of moving to a CCRC because you don’t know anyone.  There are plenty of people and activities that happen every day in these communities.  Enjoy every minute of your life in your new home!

Photo courtesy of bijoy mohan on Flickr.