Fun? You should ask! A few tips for choosing the right retirement community

  • Written by Barbara Koshar

When visiting his favorite restaurant, my dad can’t help but tell the waitress a goofy joke or two. At the grocery store, he sometimes stops to coo at a baby just for the joy of watching a little one giggle. My sisters and I smile, sigh, and sometimes we even roll our eyes (although, we’re all closer to 50 than 15). He may still like to make silly faces, but that’s just Dad. At 83, he’s not ready to be a seriously grumpy old man. And that playful spark of his—is a quality I cherish. I believe my dad agrees with Oliver Wendell Holmes who stated, “Men do not quit playing because they grow old: they grow old because they quit playing.”

So what promotes happiness and a playful attitude? Research shows that seniors who move to retirement communities often benefit from a happier and higher quality of life. It’s simply wonderful to feel secure, be surrounded by pleasant and caring people, and enjoy a variety of fun and engaging activities.

Yet, many people are not familiar with today’s independent retirement communities because they are a relatively new concept. Most are for those 62 or older, but realistically folks in their mid-70s and 80s move in when they no longer want to cook and clean, they tire of maintaining their homes, or they have become isolated and alone. Many retirees move to be near their children.

Most communities offer comfortable apartment homes with various amenities. The rent typically includes meals, utilities, weekly housekeeping, scheduled transportation and social activities. The price of community living may seem high at first glance. Yet, a cost comparison between maintaining a family residence and moving to a retirement community may be surprising.

Many seniors maintain and heat large homes when they are only using a few rooms. They may pay professionals to do housekeeping, yard work, and home maintenance. And at some point, help with daily tasks can become necessary. Living in a community offers simplicity, opportunities to socialize, and peace of mind.

There are many choices when deciding where to move.

Location, amenities, and costs all need to be carefully considered. I believe, however, you should take fun seriously too. Why grow old when you can stay young in the right surroundings. When visiting retirement communities, I suggest you observe the people you meet and ask yourself these questions.

1. Is the staff friendly and accessible? Ask how long staff members have worked there and look for a low turnover. You benefit when surrounded by people who are not only professional, but pleasant and enjoy their work so much they stay.

2. Will you enjoy socializing here? Take the time to chat with a couple of residents.

3.  Are some of your favorite hobbies on the activities list? Is there something new and fun you’d like to try? Ask if you can meet the activities director and arrange a visit during an event, activity, or class that interests you.

And another tip: Ask if trial stays are offered. If they are, pack a bag and spend the night. A trial stay will allow you to experience the personality of the community and help you decide if it’s the right retirement option for you.

When not working in the marketing office at Fairwinds-Brittany Park, Barbara Koshar writes, enjoys photography, and sometimes she playfully annoys her teenage daughter by singing silly songs in the car. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. © 2011 Barbara Koshar

Caring for your mom and dad: cost effective tips to create an accessible bathroom

  • Written by ARA

14008_B27_rgbMany boomers caring for their aging parents don’t realize that their bathroom is the most important room in the house.

Remodeling a bathroom for an elderly parent can make life not only safer, but also more enjoyable, improving comfort and personal dignity. Temporary fixes like plastic bathtub seats and toilet frames with elevated seats can be rickety, but even worse, they can be depressing and demoralizing.

Upgrading to new fixtures built with accessibility in mind can cost less than you might think. Upgrading helps maintain independent living for the elderly, and is a wise investment for any home, given that anyone can experience temporary disabilities, such as surgery or broken bones.

Try these helpful ideas to create a bathroom that will look great and work wonderfully for you and your loved ones well into the future.

• Switch to an ADA-compliant faucet. Some faucet handles require a surprising amount of force to operate, and knobs can be difficult to twist for seniors. Instead, try an ADA-compliant single lever faucet that allows for easy on-and-off operation without the need to grip. This faucet style, which complies with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), also has an adjustable hot limit safety stop that helps reduce scalding. This simple and inexpensive alteration will make washing up more comfortable for elderly parents and grandparents, and is also a great excuse to perk up the look of your bathroom.

• Try a taller toilet. Standard toilets have a bowl height of about 15 inches, but many manufacturers have recently introduced models that are an inch and a half higher. These taller commodes make sitting down and getting back up less stressful on the body. Bring high style and performance as well as comfort to your bathroom by upgrading to a luxury toilet. Porcher offers several elegant “Right Height” toilets in sleek, easy to clean, one-piece styles.

* Think about accessible storage. Keep bathing and grooming accessories neatly stowed out of the way to reduce trips and falls, and to keep them clear of wheelchairs. Accessibility and functionality are essential when planning for convenient storage options in the bathroom.

• Make it easy on the eyes. High-gloss paints and tiles can produce an uncomfortable glare, so introduce matte finishes for better visibility. Choosing wall and floor colors or patterns that contrast is another great way to increase visual perception of space and help older adults feel more confident as they move about the room.

• Replace an unused bathtub with a walk-in shower. Holding on to the ability to bathe independently is key to aging gracefully and with dignity. The ubiquitous tub/shower unit in so many homes may be uncomfortably high for the elderly and disabled to step over, and too low to sit down into for bathing. American Standard has a unique low-cost solution with its walk-in seated shower that features a wide, contoured, full-sized seating area with recessed front to make standing or sitting while showering comfortable and easy. This unit has a low 3-inch threshold for easy access in and out, plus a built-in wrap-around grab bar for added safety.

• Provide a spa-like walk-in tub. Why shouldn’t Mom have her own home spa? The greatest generation is also the “bathing generation.” Boomers’ parents are more likely to benefit from replacing an old, under-used bathtub with one of today’s walk-in tubs. Installing a walk-in bathtub or shower system with a built-in seat brings back a measure of independence in self-care. Many walk-in tubs are designed to fit perfectly in the space of a conventional tub for easy installation and are now available with luxurious special features. American Standard offers a smart QuickDrain option that removes water in less than two minutes, so there is no need for a long, cold wait for the tub to drain before opening the door to exit the bath. American Standard walk-in bathtubs are available with advanced features like whirlpools and combo massage systems, so bathing can be safer and more luxurious for aging parents and for you.

Zerona Slimming Laser and HCG weight loss program.

  • Written by Sima Rafii, ARNP of Sima Medical & Cosmetic Clinic

The Zerona® Slimming Laser and HCG weight loss program could be the weight loss program  you have been looking for.  The HCG weight loss program was created from the extensive research of world-renowned physician Dr. ATW Simenon. Dr. Simenon studied extensively and found that in addition to a specific diet, HCG can help safely speed up weight loss. HCG is a natural hormone which stands for Human Chorionic Gonadotropin. HCG is believed to break down your abnormal body fat, causing you to lose inches. At the same time, it protects your body’s good fat and muscle from depleting. That means that you can go on a low calorie food plan and lose weight without the typical problems such as muscle loss and sagging skin.In addition to the HCG weight loss plan we offer Zerona treatments. Through clinical studies it has been demonstrated that the Zerona® low level laser stimulates the fat cell to emulsify (liquefy) the fat within the cell. Then the liquefied fat moves from inside the cell through a temporary pore formed in the cell membrane to outside the cell where it is in the interstitial space until absorbed by the lymphatic system.This results in millions of fat cells becoming smaller so inches are reduced off the waist, hips and thighs. The fat cells are not injured in any way by this process. The Zerona® treatment can be used effectively on essentially every part of the body where localized fat deposits exist that are resistant to diet and exercise. Most patients start with treating the waist, hips and thighs which can all be targeted in ONE treatment. Other areas include upper arms, bra-line fat, inner knees, back fat and buttocks. The combination of these medical treatments can assist in pound and inch loss.

Five reasons to address your hearing loss if you haven’t already

  • Written by ARA

13973_B19_rgbIf you’re having problems hearing but haven’t yet done anything to address them, you’re not alone. Every day people put off getting help for hearing loss for a number of reasons that range from not wanting to show signs of vulnerability to being fearful of having to wear a bulky hearing aid. While these reasons are understandable, the benefits of getting hearing help far outweigh the reasons for avoiding seeing a hearing specialist.

This is especially true when you take into account that hearing aids are more discreet than they’ve ever been - some can even be considered invisible. This makes it easy for someone to correct hearing loss without experiencing the discomfort or self-consciousness often associated with hearing aids.

If you’re experiencing trouble hearing, here are five reasons to get help and visit a hearing care professional:

1. Increase your financial growth opportunity. If you have untreated hearing loss, there’s a good chance you aren’t reaching your full potential in the workplace, as you may be missing important items in conversation or unconsciously withdrawing yourself from your duties. Correcting hearing problems can allow you to perform your job to the best of your ability.

2. Improve your social life. Whether you know it or not, hearing problems can cause you to communicate ineffectively with others, which can hinder relationship building. It may also cause you to decide not to participate in activities or social gatherings as you otherwise would.

3. Improve your relationship with your family. Communication is even more important in the intimate relationships you maintain with family members. When communication is interrupted by hearing loss, it can weaken those relationships without the intention of doing so. Hearing loss can affect the subtle communication that is so important to maintaining a strong bond with your loved ones.

4. Today’s hearing aids are no longer obtrusive. For example, U.S. hearing technology company Starkey offers invisible hearing aids that are worn deep in the ear canal or are hidden behind your ear.

5. Hearing aids work better than ever. Today’s hearing aids address the most common concerns of wearers, including virtually eliminating feedback (buzzing and whistling) and providing noise management technology that identifies and preserves speech even in the noisiest environments. Volume control has also become more sophisticated, so you don’t have to constantly make adjustment based on your environment. Finally, some hearing aids can connect directly with the media devices in your home including TV, MP3 player or stereo.

When you get help for your hearing problem, you have the potential to improve your life in ways you may have never imagined. With the right hearing aid and treatment, you can improve the way you communicate, which can help you reach your full potential and improve your relationships with those who are important to you. The first step is to visit a hearing care professional to find out what course of action is right for you. To find a professional, visit

Be Good To Your Bones and They’ll Be Good To You

  • Written by Submited by Northwest Hand and Orthopedics

The human skeleton is made of 206 bones linked by joints and soft tissue. Those bones hold us upright, assist in propelling us through our daily lives and protect our vital organs. On any given day, most of us probably don’t give our bones a second thought — but we should. Keeping your bones strong and healthy is a cornerstone in living an active and fulfilling life.

We hear a lot today about “fragility fractures.” Frequently this conjures up the image of an elderly person falling and breaking a hip (“I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.”). But you don’t have to be elderly to be at increased risk for a fracture. Truth be known, up to half of all women and a quarter of men over the age of 50 can expect to break a bone related to low bone density or osteoporosis. And studies have shown that if you have one broken bone related to low bone density, you are four times more likely to have another fracture compared to those who have not had a fracture.

So what can you do? Regardless of your age, make sure you get adequate calcium and vitamin D in your diet. Starting as early as age 4, children should get at least 1000 mg of calcium daily to build a good bone density base. Young women need to increase that intake to 1300 mg per day during childbearing years. Both men and women over age 50 should continue to take 1200 mg per day to aid in maintaining bone density.

Vitamin D is key in helping the body absorb and utilize calcium. While you can get some vitamin D from sunlight, here in the Northwest, our lack of sun makes depending on it as a source a dicey proposition. Currently, there is some debate about the optimal recommended dosage, but at least 600 IU daily should be a minimum.

As for medications that help with decreasing bone loss such as bisphosphonates (eg. Fosamax, Reclast,Boniva etc), these are not without side effects including increasing the risk of certain type of hip fractures. Before trying any of these have a full discussion with your doctor about the pros and cons.

Exercise! Weight bearing activities strengthen bones naturally. You don’t need to be a triathlete – just go for a walk.

For more information, a great resource is Here’s to your health!