My Options

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.

Access to transportation keeps seniors independent, engaged in civic & social activities


Transportation is essential to quality of life for seniors. Yet our country’s transportation network policy has not undergone any extensive updates in five decades. Transportation for America (T4A), a coalition working to ensure transportation for citizens of all ages, released a report in 2011 called “Aging in Place, Stuck Without Options: Fixing the Mobility Crisis Threatening the Baby Boom Generation.

The report defines the current state of transportation affairs and advocates areas for change, if we, as a country, are going to meet the needs of our aging citizens.

“Absent access to affordable travel options, seniors face isolation, a reduced quality of life and possible economic hardship. A 2004 study found that seniors age 65 and older who no longer drive make 15 percent fewer trips to the doctor, 59 percent fewer trips to shop or eat out, and 65 percent fewer trips to visit family and friends, than drivers of the same age. “

Hitting the road with upgrades

A growing number of cities and states are taking the initiative to make transportation accessible to the older residents of their communities. These steps include ensuring facilities and services for seniors are located in areas with nearby transportation and installing senior-friendly roadway upgrades to reduce accidents and increase the length of time seniors can drive.

The best practices cited by the T4A report include installing larger street signs and larger and brighter stop lights; keeping median strips painted and visible; and adding left turn lanes on busy streets. After Detroit implemented these changes, the city saw a 35 percent decrease in accidents with injuries among drivers 65 years and older.

While these roadway improvements will be a huge boost to the quality of life for seniors, most will eventually be dependent on someone else to drive. If they are to have quality of life at that point, access to transportation is imperative in order for them to remain independent as long as possible.

Alternative transit options
While many communities have taken steps to enhance public transportation so it is more accessible to seniors, including more routes and stops, the T4A report predicts public transit will be hard to find in communities of 65,000 or fewer residents, which is why many forward-thinking community officials have begun innovative steps to address this challenge.

Alternative transportation

meth-wick-transportation-vanFor those residents who drive, Meth-Wick provides abundant indoor parking so their vehicle is easily accessible no matter what Iowa’s volatile weather brings.

Meth-Wick residents who do not own a car have alternative transportation options, including courtesy rides in a chauffeur-driven car (14 free one-way trips per fiscal year) and a free intra-campus transit system. An additional option, Meth-Wick Home & Health Services wheelchair-accessible Mobility Van, is available to clients.

All of us at Meth-Wick understand the importance of transportation to your wellbeing. Life as it should be.


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!

Tips for Long-Distance Caregivers of Aging Parents


Many baby boomers are concerned about the health and wellbeing of their aging parents. Complicating matters is the fact that a large number of these adult children live far from parents. They feel guilty and worry because they are not close at hand to help.

If you are one of the seven million Americans who provide long-distance care for a family member, here are tips that can reduce your stress while also ensuring quality of care for mom and dad.

  • Keep a care notebook/organizer. This serves as your hub, keeping important information quickly accessible. A care organizer template, available from, leads you through gathering care information specific to your parent(s), including a medications list and schedule, financial planning, legal documents, and a home safety checklist, to name a few of the key areas.
  • Know your parent’s friends. Exchange phone numbers with your parent’s neighbors and close friends. Ask them to call you if they are concerned for your parent in any way (e.g., haven’t seen them at weekly bridge, they’re not answering the phone, etc.) Be sure and impress upon them that it’s all right to call any time of the day or night.
  • Know your parent’s doctors. Ask your parent’s physician to e-mail a summary of each office visit to you. This keeps you in the loop on changes in medications, health issues, etc. Try to plan a visit that coincides with your parent’s next doctor appointment. This allows you to place a face with a name when you call on your parent’s behalf. It also lets the doctor and staff know that your parent has family who are taking an interest in their medical care.
  • Identify your parent’s needs. The Mayo Clinic offers guidelines on gauging what help, if any, your parent needs. This includes observing the appearance of your parent and their home. Does either raise red flags? For instance, is your parent wearing a robe in the middle of the day? Is there a stack of unopened bills on the table? Unwashed dishes in the sink? All of these are indicators that your parent may need assistance.
  • Recruit help. Talk to your parent about hiring a helper to shop, clean, cook, do laundry or any other tasks that will make their life easier. Emphasize that bringing in help will keep them independent longer. If family and friends are nearby and willing to help, and the needs are minimal, this may be the route to take. Or you may opt to bring in professionals to assist with daily health care, personal care or household chores.
  • Share decision-making. Even when a parent needs help, it’s important to share decisions that impact their life. Include them in discussions about their needs. Rather than telling them what to do, ask them, “What do you think we should do?”

Navigating care for an aging parent can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t need to be. Call Meth-Wick Home & Health at (319) 297-8654. We understand the challenges of caregiving from a distance and can offer an empathetic ear and helpful resources.

Easy Elegance is Yours for the Choosing



Oakwood is a new condominium living option at Meth-Wick Community breaking ground in spring 2016. It will be an independent living option for seniors who value their privacy but appreciate having the option of on-campus dining and programs for the mind, body and spirit.

Oakwood will:

  • Be a three-story building with six units per floor, ranging in size from 1,300 to 1,822 square feet.
  • Allow residents to personalize their homes, from appliances to cabinetry to flooring. They can move walls or change the layout, as long as it meets construction guidelines.
  • Have some homes that include a sunroom.
  • Have underground parking to protect your car from those Iowa winters.
  • Have access to Meth-Wick’s network of care if and when their health needs should change.

Future Oakwood residents Mary and Tom Nurre had never visited our campus but decided to drive through out of curiosity. “It was simply beautiful,” says Mary. “We couldn’t believe such a place existed inside of Cedar Rapids!” Being the planners they are, the Nurres began to consider the idea of moving. “We love our home,” says Mary. “But there comes a time for all of us when we don’t want to do the house upkeep anymore.”

In addition to the fact they could personalize their home, the Nurres really liked that Oakwood is located close to The Manor, where they could enjoy the many social activities at Meth-Wick.

Take a tip from the Nurres and plan for tomorrow—call Julie Farmer today at 319-297-8638 for a free, private consultation. Or visit our website and fill out a form.

Your First Day Home

Meth-Wick has an in-home assistance and home health care program available to every senior living in Linn County. This community outreach program is called Home & Health Services, established eight years ago in response to a resident need. The professional staff of Home & Health Services can assist you with health care related tasks, household chores or both.

An important service of Home & Health, Your First Day Home, is designed to help prevent hospital readmissions. “Studies show that patients who do not follow up with their doctor after a hospital stay are 10 times more likely to be readmitted,” says Amber Jedlicka, former Operations Director of Home & Health Services. “We are committed to helping seniors take a proactive approach to their health and reducing the likelihood they need to return to the hospital.”

This service has been a very positive one for Meth-Wick residents who have been hospitalized. In the last nine months, 32 residents who were discharged to home from a higher level of care entered into the Your First Day Home program. Out of these 32 residents, 24 have not needed to return to the hospital.

With Your First Day Home, Home & Health Services offers a free nurse visit to any Meth-Wick resident or any off-campus client who has been released from a hospital or from a Meth-Wick care setting. A Home & Health nurse will visit the patient approximately 24 to 48 hours after their arrival home, with lunch! Her follow up visits will be once again after six days and then 20 days, when she will offer an optional nursing assessment.

Your First Day Home is designed to give patients peace of mind that they will be well taken care of their first day home and every day that follows.

Questions about Your First Day Home or other services Home & Health offers? Visit our website or contact Sandi at or (319) 297-8654.

Worried about Mom or Dad?

When we were children, we relied on Mom and Dad to help us feel better when we were sick, to drive us wherever and whenever we needed to go, to help us with homework…all of the things, big and small, that made us feel healthy, happy and safe.

As adult children, our relationship with Mom and Dad undergoes a change. Children become caregivers to parents. We begin to see a shift in our role when Mom or Dad needs help with the tasks that are part of their daily life such as driving, shopping, managing appointments, organizing medication and household chores. This change signals the need for a conversation between children and parents.

While adult children may find their new role daunting, helpful insights are offered in “Be Your Own Hero: Senior Living Decisions Simplified,” by Catherine Owens. The author writes about the fears, struggles and social stigmas that aging and health concerns can create for the elderly and their families as they explore senior living options. In her chapter “Understanding Key Influencers,” Owens stresses that although adult children can’t make senior living decisions for their parents, they need to realize their decision-making role may change over time, as their parents’ needs change.

Owens says, “Adult children often are the first ones to recognize the impact that a decline in health or ability to manage daily activities is having on a senior…It is an act of love and care when an adult child gives the appropriate help and assistance that loved ones need…” Children want to do what is best for their parents in all aspects of their lives; keeping them safe and providing peace-of-mind that they are making the right decisions are some of the biggest responsibilities children will take on.

As you sit down to talk to your parents about their senior living options and lifestyle preferences and needs, Owens suggests you bring the following questions to the table:

  • Who is the primary decision maker?
  • What decisions are being considered and why?
  • Who are the key influencers?
  • What decisions are they currently making or advocating and why?
  • How important is this decision to you?
  • What will be easier about this decision if you wait to make a change?
  • When was the last time you felt peace of mind?

Knowing the answers to these questions as your parents begin retirement planning will help them—and you—know when they’ll need their children’s help. It is natural to begin to worry about your parents as they age. The best thing you can do is be there for them.

If you or your parents have questions about senior living or other aging-related issues, we encourage you to contact Julie Farmer at

Helping Your Parents Plan for Retirement

Planning for retirement is important at any age. For most active seniors, retirement is a time of opportunity and freedom to explore life’s next chapter. Parent/child conversations are an integral part of planning for this next chapter. This conversation can help children understand what their parent’s feel is important, so if needed, they can assist in the research, decision and planning process. Here are some tips on how to start the conversation with your parents.

Ask them questions. Get an idea of what their retirement wants/needs are and ask them how much help they would like with next steps.

  • Where do they want to live?
  • What type of home do they want to live in? Condo, apartment, house?
  • What activities or hobbies do they want to make sure they can do?

For some children this conversation can be had in person with their parents and they can be by their side in the search as much as their parents need them to be. For other children that may live further from their parents, this conversation gives them the opportunity to search online for communities that fit what their parents are looking for and still be involved, as need be, from a distance.

Financial comfort may be another aspect of retirement you need to talk about. By talking about retirement goals first, it opens the door to talking about budgeting for those goals.

  • If you know how they would like to stay active, look for those opportunities around potential retirement communities. Get a clear understanding of membership fees or any costs tied to that activity.
  • Where are the closest grocery stores, restaurants, doctor’s offices and entertainment spots? Knowing where those key destinations are can help determine transportation costs and budgeting.

Finally, make time to talk about healthcare. Without knowing what could happen, it’s hard to predict the type of care that your parents may need down the road. If you find out the different care options, it will give you, and your parents, peace of mind that they will be well taken care of no matter what happens.

Conversations about retirement with your parents are just that, conversations. It is an opportunity for both of you to learn and understand what is out there and what is the best fit. If you have questions, contact Julie Farmer at She can walk you through the process and answer any questions you have about lifestyle options or in-home care so you all can make the best choice.

Benefits of Volunteering


You’ve done all the planning and have found your ideal place to retire. Now what? Have you made plans for how you will spend your time? If you haven’t considered volunteering, you should. There are many benefits to volunteering that go beyond doing something good for others. According to, here are some reasons volunteering is beneficial in retirement:

  • Improvement of cardiovascular health. Being a volunteer can lower your blood pressure and improve heart problems. A study done by the University of Michigan Research Center showed that volunteers with a history of heart problems had reduced chest pain and lower cholesterol levels compared with non-volunteers.
  • Lower risk of death. Another study on older adults who volunteer regularly demonstrated that those who spend time volunteering may enjoy a longer lifespan.
  • Better mental functioning. Concerned about preserving your brainpower as you age? An increase in cognitive (mental) functioning is yet another potential benefit of volunteering.
  • Overall mind and body improvement. Volunteers have been shown to reduce anxiety and depression and an overall sense of well-being. Volunteers have also been found to recover more quickly from surgery, sleep better, and have healthier immune systems compared to people who do not volunteer.

Not sure where to start? How about your retirement community? At Meth-Wick, we have volunteer positions that include:

  • Front desk coverage at various buildings
  • Assistance with wellness and recreation programs
  • Working in the gift shop
  • Delivering mail to Woodlands residents
  • Popping popcorn for residents
  • Driving the on-campus car
  • Various office work for the chaplaincy program
  • Presenting programs of personal interest for other residents (music, lectures, etc.)
  • Being a church greeter
  • Serving Communion during Sunday services
  • Managing campus library spaces
  • Friendly visits with other residents
  • … And more!

It’s never too early to start planning what you would like to be involved in. Think beyond reading books, watching TV, traveling. What will keep you energized and interested for many years?

Questions about getting involved at Meth-Wick? Contact Eryn Cronbaugh at 319-297-8620 or

The Importance of Whole-Person Wellness


When looking for a retirement community, making sure the community you are moving into can take care of you as your health changes is normally the top priority. But making the most of your retirement goes beyond your health. That’s why looking at your retirement with the goal of whole-person wellness is crucial.

According to, whole-person wellness is “a way to recognize that the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. Focusing only on one muscle group or characteristic of your health may unfortunately have a negative impact on other critical aspects of wellbeing.” Elements that make up whole-person wellness include:

  • Social/Emotional Well-being – being connected, having a support system, managing stress, manifesting optimism
  • Physical Health – including cardiovascular wellness, flexibility/balance and strength rather than just the absence of disease
  • Intellectual Health – the ability to use thoughts and logic to solve problems
  • Spiritual Well-being – connectedness with a higher power, the eternal part of one’s self that provides solace in times of challenge
  • Occupational/Vocational Health – having a sense of purpose or being needed by someone else either for paid or unpaid work

A focus on whole-person wellness at a retirement community stresses the quality of life for residents. A recent article on says:

Often we suppose that we have no control of our health issues, believing that we age as our parents did and that genetics predispose us to the same disease processes.  However, the book Successful Aging, by Drs. Rowe and Kahn, debunks this myth.  Based on a ten-year MacArthur Foundation Study on Aging, “Successful Aging” shares the research which reflects a different reality:  while there are some disease processes that are unavoidable, only 30% of the way we age is driven by genetics; 70% is based on our lifestyle choices!

For active seniors in a retirement community, your lifestyle choices can be as easy as taking advantage of the benefits your community has to offer. Ask:

  • What volunteer opportunities are available?
  • What kind of health/wellness classes do you offer?
  • Is there a transportation option if I need to go to church, a meeting, etc?

Have questions about how Meth-Wick focuses on whole-person wellness for their residents? Contact Eryn Cronbaugh at 319-297-8620.