Finance and Planning

3 Ways Community Living Can Make You Happier

Older adults have dozens of choices for where and how to spend their retirement years. Some of those choices are limited by ability but, for the most part, today’s older adults are largely healthy and living independently. So, if you’re in good health and capable of staying in your own home, why make a change? What would you gain from community living?

  1. Time

By the time you’re ready to retire, you’ll have spent thousands of hours mowing the lawn, raking leaves, shoveling snow and cleaning out gutters. It takes a lot of time to maintain a home – time that could be spent enjoying the freedom offered by retirement. Older adults enjoying community living don’t have to worry about home upkeep. They can even elect to have their laundry and housekeeping done for them as well. Use that time doing things you really care about like spending time with friends and family, volunteering, traveling or cooking.

  1. Money

It doesn’t just take time to maintain a home. Issues with the water heater, faulty buttons on the microwave, burned out lightbulbs on the front porch — all unexpected headaches that come with homeownership. Senior living communities like Meth-Wick offer a variety of independent living options such as apartments, condos, townhomes and single-family homes that work with different lifestyles. Each living option includes things like appliance maintenance, transportation, and exercise classes so you can live the life you want without having to worry about your budget.

  1. Community

With age, social circles inevitably shrink as family and friends move away and driving gets more difficult. But community living keeps older adults active and connected with a peer group close at hand. Studies show that stronger social connections lead to happier and healthier lives for older adults. Researchers at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine questioned a group of SuperAgers, men and women in their 90s and 100s who have exceptional memories, about their lifestyle and habits. Genetics, diet and exercise obviously play a role but where the SuperAgers stood out was “the degree to which they reported having satisfying, warm, trusting relationships.” Turns out having a good group of friends is as good for the brain as it is for the soul.

Don’t think of senior living communities like retirement homes. Think of them like big neighborhoods where everyone has had a lot of the same experiences you’ve had. It’s not about bingo and bus trips – it’s about living the life you’ve been saving for and planning for decades. That life looks different to everyone. Some people want to spend half the year traveling and like knowing their home is protected by staff 24 hours a day. Others are looking for like-minded people to share new experiences with, like taking in local art and culture or trying a new exercise class.

Whatever life you want to live, there’s a community here for you at Meth-Wick.

Know When To Draw Your Social Security

In a recent study, 82% of pre-retirees didn’t know that the age they begin drawing their Social Security benefits affected the amount in their monthly payments. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) wants to make sure you aren’t a part of that statistic.

Consider these five tips from the CFPB to help you plan ahead and make the best decision for yourself and your family:

  1. Know your “full retirement age”

Did you know? One recent survey found that seven in ten consumers believe that 65 is their full retirement age. In fact, the full retirement age actually varies depending on the year you were born.

Full retirement age is the age at which you can begin collecting social security while still working, without facing a reduction in benefits. For most people, that’s usually around 66 or 67. Claiming before your full retirement age leads to a permanent decrease in monthly benefits, while claiming after leads to a permanent increase.

  1. Don’t claim early if you don’t have to

Did you know? You could see as much as a 30 percent reduction in monthly benefits by claiming before your full retirement age. But, you can get as much as a 32 percent permanent increase by claiming after your full retirement age – up to age 70.

Allowing your benefits to grow for one year makes a difference in your benefits. You’ll get an additional five to eight percent in monthly benefits for every year you wait to claim after age 62, maxing out at age 70. A higher monthly benefit could be important as you age, when Social Security may come to play a more central role in your retirement income.

  1. Know your retirement budget

Did you know? Retirement years could be more expensive than you expect due to changing health and housing expenses.

Start with a simple budget that accounts for your income and expenses. Consider both your actual income and expenses before retirement and your expected income and expenses after you retire. This can help you understand how a reduced or increased benefit will affect your ability to meet your needs in retirement. In addition, this kind of budgeting can help you decide if you should reduce your expenses and pay off any debts before retiring.

  1. Keep working if you can

Did you know? Forty-five percent of people believe that their benefits are based on how long they work as well as their pay during only the last five years of employment. In fact, they are based on their highest 35 years of earnings.

Staying in the workforce – full or part time – for even one or two additional years can earn you an even bigger increase in your Social Security benefit by replacing years with low or no earnings from your earnings record. Working longer also gives you more time to save for retirement. 

  1. Consider your spouse’s long-term needs

Did you know? On a more somber note, a married couple reaching age 65 can expect that one spouse will outlive the other for about 10 years or more on average — something forward-thinking planners should keep in mind.

Your decision of when to claim your Social Security benefits could affect the benefits your spouse will receive later in life. Because surviving spouses receive the higher of the two spouses’ benefits, it often makes sense for higher earning spouses to wait and claim at or after their full retirement age. They will then get their full or highest possible benefit. This can minimize the reduction in income a surviving spouse may experience. Talk to your spouse about your claiming options so you can make this important decision together.

Do you need more information to help you decide when to claim Social Security? Before you claim, check out this “Planning for Retirement” tool.

To get more facts about Social Security, check out this Consumer Financial Protection Bureau factsheet.

(Source: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau)

Senior fraud steals $36 billion annually: Be aware and be safe

Although anyone can become a victim of financial fraud (deceptive sales and marketing tactics), predators frequently target senior citizens because they are trusting, often live alone and may have reduced cognitive function as part of the aging process. A recent study reveals the problem of senior financial fraud is at an all-time high.

Fraud on the rise

A 2015 study by True Link Financial, a firm that helps clients protect themselves from financial fraud, reported a whopping $36.48 billion is lost annually to elder financial abuse in the U.S. This number is twelve times greater than reported by previous research. True Link tasked its data research team with designing a study to capture the true nature and scope of senior financial abuse in order to provide a complete picture—something dearly lacking in past research.

An under-reported crime

How did past researchers get it so wrong? A study by MetLife in 2011 was based on financial losses reported in published news stories over a three-month period. This seemed to be a very loose attempt to quantify the crime, given the fact that other research indicated 90 percent of senior financial fraud goes unreported. The “New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study” found that for each case of financial fraud reported, 44 cases were unreported. In other words, published newspaper stories are not an accurate reflection of the problem.

Past studies also failed to consider mass-market financial exploitation, including products sold in the anti-aging realm. One example is the fake Botox scam by Arizona thieves that reaped $1.5 million in a year. This type of fraud is especially unsettling because renegade labs create a Botox “home mix,” with no licensing or government supervision, that can include toxic ingredients that cause long-term adverse health problems.

Iowa Scams

Although Iowa older adults are at risk for many types of financial fraud, there are some scams in our state identified by Iowa Fraud Fighters as being the most common financial investment scams. They are:

  • Ponzi or pyramid schemes promising high returns.
  • Promissory notes, used by companies to raise money by selling a portion of its debt to investors.
  • High-yield investment.
  • Oil and gas drilling.
  • Gold and precious metals investments.
  • Free dinner seminars, used to sell shoddy investments.
  • Self-directed IRA.

Grandparents scam

A scam not on the Fraud Fighters’ website is the “Grandparents scam,” which has been reported to Meth-Wick management by a number of residents. With this scam, a caller tells the senior that his/her grandson is in jail (usually for drunk driving) and needs bail money, often for $5,000. If the senior balks, the caller says they can probably get it reduced to $2,500, $1,000 etc. The caller, identified as working at the jail, says a public defender will be in touch. A few minutes later said lawyer calls and is very convincing.

Unfortunately, as you can read on reportscam.com, people are panicked at the idea of their grandson in jail and will wire money, buy gift cards, etc. in an attempt to free him. Most of the reports on this site were made in recent months and are from many states, including Iowa. It is worth taking the time to read these reports to be aware of how the scammers operate in order to protect yourself. Knowledge is power!

Fraud protection tips

The following suggestions are offered by the National Crime Prevention Council to spot a con artist and protect yourself.

  • Never give a caller your credit card number, social security number or bank account number. It’s illegal for a telemarketer to ask for this type of information in order to verify a prize, so that should be a red flag!
  • Beware of phone numbers with “900” area codes. If you call a 900 number to claim a prize, you will be charged for the call.
  • Take your time. Don’t let an aggressive con artist pressure you into making a decision.
  • Register your phone number with the National Do Not Call Registry at donotcall.gov to stop telemarking calls.
  • Hang up. If the caller makes you suspicious or uncomfortable, end the call. The longer you are on the phone call, the more likely the caller will succeed in talking you into buying something.

It is worth noting that even when following the above guidelines, con artists are not always easy to identify. Many people have been victims of financial fraud, from financial counselors and doctors to teenagers and seniors. The easiest rule of all to remember is this: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

Making an Informed Senior Living Community Decision

The good news is: seniors today have many retirement community options to choose from. The bad news is: seniors today have many retirement community options to choose from.

In other words, some people are so overwhelmed by the quantity and variety of choices they are unable to move forward. This blog is intended to provide the information needed to make an informed decision when choosing a Life Plan Community.

Moving to a retirement community does not mean an end to the life you lead. Instead, it enables you to enjoy your life with a new sense of freedom because someone else is handling the home maintenance: no more shoveling snow or mowing the lawn.

The right questions are important

The key to choosing the right retirement community is to ask questions that give you the insight you need to make an informed decision. Here are questions to ask of each senior community under consideration. These are intended to get the ball rolling. Other questions will no doubt come to mind as you hear the responses.

  • Do they provide transportation to shopping, medical appointments, etc.? If so, what is the fee? Staying connected to the same life you had prior to moving is important to your physical and mental well being. You need reliable transportation to reach the people and places (shopping, restaurants, theater) you love.
  • How much is the monthly resident fee and what services/programs does it include? You want to be sure you are shopping for the right home with both eyes open. Be sure you are aware of what is included in the fee and what is not.
  • Are additional services available for a fee? If so, what are the services and the fee for each? Be sure to think ahead when asking these questions. For instance, you may not want or need help with housekeeping and shopping today, but may in the future. Cover all your bases.
  • Are you a Life Plan Community? (This is the term for a senior community, such as Meth-Wick, that meets a range of lifestyle needs, from independent living to skilled nursing care. It was formerly called Continuing Care Retirement Community.) Life Plan Communities are vibrant communities where residents live their lives to the fullest. It is important that you have programs available to you that exercise body and mind. Moving to a Life Plan Community means you will have access to the care you need if your health should change. You will never again have to endure the demanding process of shopping for a home.
  • Is your retirement community financially stable? Occupancy rate and numbers of year in operation are two good indications of a company’s financial health. The condition of the building(s) and grounds is also a good measuring stick.
  • What security do you provide? Buildings and parking areas that can only be accessed with a key or with assistance from a staff or resident are good indications that management is serious about keeping residents safe. Other pluses include after-hours on-site security personnel and security cameras.

Finding the right home for your retirement is important. Including family in the prospecting and evaluation can make the process less stressful and more manageable. As the old saying goes, “Two heads are better than one.” And an entire family thinking on your behalf is a thing of beauty!

Calculating the Cost of Senior Independent Living

Many seniors who own their home (and are therefore free of mortgage payments) believe their cost of living is lower than it would be at a senior living community. However, when you do the math and make an item-by-item comparison, the expenses are often nearly the same and in some cases, the cost of living at a senior community is even a little less.

In “Be Your Own Hero: Senior Living Decisions Simplified,” a chapter is devoted to calculating the real cost of senior living. You’ll need to itemize your monthly and annual expenses to get a true picture of what it costs to live in your home.

Expenses to consider:

  • Appliances (repair & maintenance)
  • Cable, internet, phone
  • Carpet cleaning
  • Entertainment/Dining Out
  • Garbage collection
  • Groceries
  • Health club fees
  • Home renovation (painting, carpeting)
  • Home repairs (roof, gutters)
  • Housekeeping service
  • Insurance (health, life, home)
  • Lawn care
  • Medical (prescription & nonprescription drugs)
  • Mortgage or rent
  • Property taxes
  • Utilities (electricity, water, sewer)
  • (clothing, household supplies)

While working through the above will help you put dollars to concrete expenses, the book’s author, Catherine Owens, points out the importance of weighing the intangible costs as well. “The cost of remaining in your home is more than just dollars,” Owens writes. Life should not be about “getting by” and surviving; it should be about day-to-day contentment and well being. This means you need an environment, be it your single family home or your home at a senior living community, which can support and address your mental, emotional and physical needs. All of these are important to maintaining health.

A Life Plan Community like Meth-Wick provides easily accessible, ongoing support for these needs. A broad range of planned programs help residents exercise both body and mind while also interacting with others, which is another important factor in healthy senior living.

While it is possible for an individual’s needs to be met in their home, it takes effort. For instance, it can be difficult to locate senior-focused exercise classes and to make sure there is social interaction with friends or relatives several times a week. Older adults who remain in their home, especially those living alone, often do not have their needs fulfilled.

Consider the following questions as you assess your cost of living. These are the intangibles, but carry as much weight as your “dollars and cents” expenses:

  • What is important in my day-to-day life? What is the cost if I don’t have it?
  • What is important for me to have in a community? What is the cost of living without it?
  • What value do I see in the intangible I will gain by moving to a senior community? What will be the cost to my health and quality of life if I don’t make a change?

As you compare the cost of staying in your home versus moving to a senior living community, it’s important to remember that the goal of Life Plan Communities like Meth-Wick is to enrich your life, not to change who you are. The knowledgeable, experienced staff and senior-focused programs at these communities provide the peace of mind and support needed for every resident to live their best life.

As you evaluate your needs and ask yourself “Can I afford to move to a senior living community?” it’s also important to ask, “Can I afford not to?”

Contact Julie Farmer to discover how affordable life at Meth-Wick can be.

Affordability at Meth-Wick

One of the biggest questions and possible misconceptions about moving to a retirement community is what it will cost. It may be surprising to seniors when, in some cases, their living expenses in a retirement community are actually less on a monthly basis than their current living costs.

A resident at Meth-Wick doesn’t invest in real estate. They invest in peace of mind that comes from their supportive and secure environment. With various levels of personal care and six different lifestyle options, residents can find their best personal fit.

Julie Farmer, Sales Manager, breaks down a few FAQs about affordability for you to use as a guide in your retirement community search:

  • How are monthly fees/dues calculated? How often are they adjusted? What has been the annual average increase over the years? Our prices are based on the services that are provided on a monthly basis. Prices are adjusted annually based on budget analysis of cost of services and have increased approximately 3-5% over the past few years.
  • What if we outlive our assets and our long-term care insurance? Meth-Wick is a non-profit that has been in existence since 1961 and has several foundation type funds. For over 50 years, a promise has been kept that if someone is a resident at Meth-Wick outlives their resources through no fault of their own, they will remain at Meth-Wick and have the continued care they need. We participate in the State Medicaid Program as well as using the interest income from the charitable funds for our residents only.

At Meth-Wick, we have competitive prices to give you peace of mind to live a carefree life. Any service you may need in your future life, we have available. With a little research and by asking the right questions, seniors will find the cost of a retirement community is affordable and is within a range that they can feel comfortable paying.
 

What You Think You Know About Community Living

You’ve begun to ask yourself if it’s time to downsize. But moving into a retirement community is out of the question because you can still take care of yourself. You start looking at condos and townhomes.

Before you make any final decisions, here are some important things to consider.


 
LeadingAge.com published an article touching on some of these same points. They said, “A (Senior) Housing Options Service Comparison Overview chart provided by Legg Mason really drives home an important point: The only senior housing that provides all levels of senior living is a continuing care retirement community.” 

As much as we don’t want to admit it, there are some physical limitations that come with growing older. Planning ahead to accommodate for those limitations can help bring to light the benefits of community living.

Retirement community living offers many benefits:

  • It embraces its resident’s independence. Just because you are moving into community living, does not mean you have to become part of a community.
  • You can keep all of your stuff. Often times community living is mistakenly seen as giving up everything to move into a small space. It’s important to look for a retirement community that offers a variety of lifestyle options and floor plans.
  • If you move into community living now, you are opening yourself up to all the services that you may need down the road and you won’t have to move again!
  • It offers many socialization opportunities, where you can choose how involved you’d like to be.

“They’re not really giving up their independence or their things when they move to a retirement community,” Meth-Wick president Robin Mixdorf noted. “They’ve just looked down the path and have seen that there might be other needs that they’ll have in the future. All of those things can be taken care of in one spot when you come to a retirement community.”

Planning for your future is a daunting task. It’s important to look at all of your options before you make the decision that’s right for you.

meth-wick-community-living-aerial-photo

Get The Facts & Resources The First Time

Know the factsWhen turning to the internet for information on senior living options, hundreds of websites and links appear shortly after typing in your desired search. How do you choose the right link? Is all the information out there correct? This is the age of technology, and turning to the internet for facts, resources, and information, is natural. The information may be easily accessible, but the challenge comes when you need to find resources that are applicable to your own personal situation.

Too much information can be stressful, and when it comes to considering senior living options, most people are first time shoppers. There are a number of different options to choose from such as: senior living services, levels of care, for profit vs not for profit, and more. It is hard to find the option that seems best for your loved one.

How do you get the facts and resources you need right at the beginning of your search so you don’t have to filter through endless pages of generic information? At Meth-Wick Community, we offer valuable information on our website to help you get started. Under our guided tabs such as Styles of Living, Services, and Resources, you can learn about the different levels of care we offer, the services offered such as home and health services, rehabilitation services, wellness and recreation, and downsizing services, as well as links to our calender downloads, and our most frequently asked questions. While you are there, browse campus photos and view videos.

If you like what you see, but still have more questions, take your search one step further and contact one of our Sales Representatives for Independent Living or our Admissions Coordinator for health services areas. Our team is ready and willing to help you every step of the way, and can provide you with the right facts and resources to aid in your decision making process. Call 319-365-9171 or email today!

Additional Resources:
LeadingAge Iowa
LeadingAge

 

Could The Right Time Be Now?

MovingSign1

When we think about moving, many emotions, questions, and thoughts arise. The thought of moving into a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) is no different. Some questions that you might have are: Is it the right time? Is it the right style of living? Am I making the right decision? All of these questions are important to think about before moving, and it’s important to take advantage of the resources available to make sure you have the information you need to make the best decisions for you!

Sometimes, it’s easy to put off moving into a retirement community. Many people think they might have to give up their freedom and independence. In truth, you are able to maintain your freedom and independence, with additional amenities, and services available if and when you need them. As you work your way through the questions you have, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. Most of the people you will meet in your new home had the same questions and feelings as you did. And, most often, we hear “I wish I would have done this sooner!” or “Why did I wait so long?”

Daniel Sean Kaye who is the director of life enrichment for Rydal Park Continuing Care Retirement Community, recently published an article in The Presbyterian Outlook that provided some ideas for working on issues that may make your move a bit easier:

  1. Give yourself time to adjust: Change like this isn’t always easy to absorb. It may take a little while before this new life fits like a glove.
  2. Try to positively set the stage: Think of the move as embracing life’s next chapter or a brave new adventure.
  3. Be proactive: Ask all the questions you have a make sure you understand and are comfortable with the answers. If you aren’t, keep asking.
  4. Make the decisions to move intentional: No eenie-meenie-miney-moe on this one, you should make the choice that gives you most of what you want.
  5. Maintain control of what matters: You still play the major role in your life. You just need to decide what is important for you to continue to be in charge of, and what you are willing to give to another to manage.
  6. Age your way: There’s no “right” or “wrong” way to get older. Do you want to keep painting, read great works of literature, take classes? You can. Do you want to sit quietly outside or take long walks? It all depends upon what your body will let you do and how your will guides you.

Whatever you reason for moving, when the time is right, remember that this is a life change, and will take some adjusting. Change takes time and energy. Before you know it, those changes and adjustments will take place. You will adjust, you will meet people, and you will call your new surroundings home. In time, you will discover that a CCRC such as Meth-Wick Community provides just the answer and services you were looking for, and will allow you to live your life “as it should be.”

If you have questions about Meth-Wick, please contact our Sales Director, Julie Farmer, at lifestyles@methwick.org, or by calling (319) 365-9171

The Presbyterian Outlook Published Jan 6, 2014

Come Along As We Explore “Life As It Should Be”

Welcome to Meth-WickThe new year calls for some new things happening around The Meth-Wick Community.  Welcome and thank you for checking out the official “first” blog post from Meth-Wick.  Like most of you, we wanted to start something new this year, and you have ventured upon just that, our blog!  The overall purpose of this space is to focus on specific areas of interest to our residents, families, friends, and visitors!

As we move forward through the year, there will be a number of topics discussed.  The topics range from: living options, caregiving, industry news, health and wellness, and everything in between.  There is so much information out there regarding retirement communities that it can be hard to know where to start.  Our mission in this blog is to provide you with adequate information, facts, stories, and overall “good reads” whether you are looking or thinking about retirement living for yourself, or for a loved one!

Meth-Wick is excited to take the leap into the blog world and we are so glad you have joined us on this journey.  We hope to discuss all points of senior living, our community, and the way our campus can help you or your loved one “live your best life.”  Beginning your move into a retirement community is a big step, and it requires a lot of thinking, planning, and decision making.  So I encourage you to sit back, relax, and follow along.  We hope to provide you with the information you are looking for.  If there are topics you would like to see, please send us an email with your ideas or feedback to sphipps@methwick.org!