The best gift this Christmas?


Ok, so maybe it’s not the absolute best present that you can get, but…

If you’re stumped on what to get your favorite senior for Christmas, consider some of the books available from Senior Housing!

Continuing Care Retirement Communities: An Insider Tells All (Print | Kindle)

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The Financial Planner’s Guide to Continuing Care Retirement Communities (Print | Kindle)

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UnSCAMable: How Seniors can Protect Themselves on the Internet (Print | Kindle)


If you think about it, knowledge is the best gift that you can give, right?

Blood pressure & Alzheimer’s, making the move to assisted living, caring for dementia patients, and a lawsuit against a retirement community


Common blood pressure meds can cut the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Figuring out when a loved one needs assisted living can be tough.

Learning to care for a dementia patient is slightly easier now: there’s a free online course for it.

Holiday Retirement is being sued by veterans for misleading advertising claims.


How to Score Free Stuff at Retirement Communities

In case you missed it the first time, here are some thoughts on negotiating the best deal at a CCRC:
I recently listened to a Planet Money interview with former Harvard professor Gary Loveman, who is now the CEO of Caesar’s Casino in Las Vegas.  Although the interview covers a number of different topics, there was something he said about getting “perks” that I found applicable to seniors housing.

In Loveman’s casino, the cost of providing benefits to consumers varies.  For instance, giving visitors a free meal at the casino’s five-star restaurant costs almost as much as the meal itself, but giving a free hotel room for the night costs a fraction of the price that most guests pay.  In other words, consumers are much more likely to get free services if those services are inexpensive for the hotel to provide.

In senior housing, there are a number of incentive programs designed to get seniors in the door.  These include free rent, apartment upgrades, and others.  As the economy worsens, these deals are likely to get even sweeter. If you’re in the market for an apartment at a senior housing community, consider some of the other benefits that you might be able to negotiate into your move-in cost:

Meals.  Sort of like how it’s cheaper to cook for a family than it is to cook for one person, it’s much cheaper for senior living communities to make your breakfast, lunch and dinner, than it is for you to make it yourself.  For instance, while it might cost you $10 to prepare a nice meal (not to mention cleaning the kitchen afterwards), it probably only costs the community about $4 to make the exact same thing.

Covered parking. In most communities, half of the parking spaces are already covered.  They typically charge an extra $35 to $40 a month for you to park in these spots, with the uncovered ones being “included” with your rent.  Since it costs the community almost nothing to provide this service, communities are likely to provide several months or even a year of free covered parking in an effort to get someone to sign a contract.

Linen service or washer/dryer.  Most communities offer some sort of laundry or linen service, but they often charge service beyond the basic once a month cleaning.  Also, some older communities do not offer washer and dryers as standard amenities in their apartments.  Depending on the community, you might be able to negotiate either an apartment that has been renovated to include the hookups or additional laundry service as part of your rent.

For new communities, consider asking for upgrades like free customized closets, stainless steel appliances, or a customized office space.  In these situations, there are already contractors on site.  Therefore, the cost of adding these amenities is very low.  If nothing else, you might be able to get a discount on these amenities.

During the negotiations, your main goal should be to find a product or service that would mean quite a bit to you and that they can provide at low cost to them.  You may not always be able to get them to agree to provide the benefit, but it can’t hurt to try.  Additionally, in this economy, most providers will do whatever they can to fill their apartments.  They want you to move in, and most will do what it takes to seal the deal.

Caregivers, sex, long term care, and the perfect nap


Caregiving can create a range of experiences for caregivers.

I can’t believe I’m posting this: Sex positions that won’t inhibit your hip replacement.

Another option to help pay for long term care: cash out your life insurance policy.

Lastly, because it’s important: How to take a perfect nap.

What Should Seniors Have on Hand Should Disaster Strike?


All people need to be prepared for disaster, but senior adults need to be particularly prepared, as some will have needs that should be addressed ahead of time.  Ideally, these items are not part of what is being used on a daily basis, and should be kept in a closet or somewhere that is easy to get to, and will stay dry and safe. A hall closet near the exit is always a good choice. Here are a few things to keep safe and “at the ready” should disaster strike:

Basic Kit

  • Water, one gallon of water per person per day, for drinking and sanitation
  • Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Non-electric can opener for food, church key/bottle opener
  • Paper towels, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils
  • Personal hygiene items and moist towelettes
  • First aid kit
  • Pet crate
  • Reading glasses or magnifying glass
  • Blankets, pillow and/or sleeping bag for each person
  • One complete change of warm clothing and shoes per person – including a jacket or coat, long pants, long sleeve shirt, sturdy shoes, hat, gloves and rain gear.
  • Garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper
  • You can use bleach as a disinfectant (diluted nine parts water to one part bleach), or if necessary, you can also use it to treat water. Use 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.
  • Paper with pencils or pens
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Matches in a waterproof container, waterproof matches or cigarette lighter
  • Whistle, horn or strobe to signal for help, Compass for direction


  • A first aid book
  • Battery-powered radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert, and extra batteries for both
  • Dust mask or cotton t-shirt, to help filter air if necessary
  • Cash
  • Documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification, bank account records and Advance Directives in a waterproof, portable container

We, at Saving Grace, are working to empower Seniors and their families to the best possible outcomes should disaster occur. There are a number of ways to find out about Saving Grace Alliance.

Home Health Compare

I must admit that home health isn’t my biggest area of expertise. Although I probably know more about that than the typical consumer, I still had no idea how to go about selecting a home health provider. But, today I stumbled across someone who works in the field. She mentioned a website called Home Health Compare.

Home Health Compare is managed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid and specializes in rating home health agencies. Since most home health is paid for by the government, home health agencies are also rated by the government.  Here’s the website:

Home Health Compare is pretty easy to use.  First, type in a city or ZIP code.  You can also search by home health agency.


The next page will give you a summary of service providers in your area.  When you click on a provider, it will give you a summary of their services:


You’ll notice that there are three tabs at the top of the page.  Those tabs show you quality scores and patient satisfaction.  For example, clicking on “Quality of Patient Care” will show you this:


You can also click on the “Patient Survey Results” tab to learn more about how patients rated the service.

I personally would not choose a home health agency that hadn’t been rated in both of these areas.  I also wouldn’t choose one that had ratings lower than the state average.  However, you can pick and choose among providers using this service and even compare up to three different companies.

Video games, hospice, home care agencies, and caregivers


Can video games be good for you?

The best question to ask when faced with deciding on hospice for a loved one: What would make his/her last days most comfortable?

Not all states require home care agencies to be licensed.  Check your state for specifics.

If you have specific opinions about the kind of care that you want at the end of your life, you’d better let your family members know.  A new study shows that most seniors don’t receive care based on what caregivers think is best for them.

tex playing video games” © 2005 RebeccaPollard, Attribution 3.0 Generic