Widows may see benefits in shared housing

Widows may see benefits in shared housing

Today, widowed persons make up fully one-third of the U.S. population age 65 and older. The vast majority of them are women. Women are more likely than men to be widowed for two reasons.

First, women live longer than men. And second, women tend to marry older men, although the gap has been narrowing.

For several decades, the proportion of our senior population living alone has been increasing, especially among those age 85 and older, and more people are living alone now than at any point in the country’s history.

Losing a spouse is one of the most traumatic events that can occur in a person’s life. Oftentimes there is a snowball effect—first the trauma of losing the life partner and then the trauma of living alone.

According to “The Lonely American: Drifting Apart in the Twenty-first Century,” authors Drs. Jacqueline Olds and Richard S. Schwartz cite studies that living alone increases social isolation as well as loneliness and results in reduced happiness, health and longevity.

How to be a savvy residential care shopper

Along with buying a new home come mounds of paperwork that must be signed. Most of us review documents in detail for accuracy and completeness because we recognize that we’ll be held to their terms and conditions. Some even hire an attorney to triple-check everything.

Do seniors or their loved ones take the same precautions when signing residential-care-facility contracts? Whether you’re the senior or the responsible party, the complex journey to entering a care facility can be daunting.

So many of the activities along that path are emotionally challenging: accepting that living on your own is no longer the best option

Housing choices for life

old woman looking out window

According to former MLB pitcher Vernon Law, “Experience is a cruel teacher. She gives the test first, the lesson afterward.” My neighbor quoted Law the other day in regard to the lessons she learned caring for her father. If she’d only known then what she knows now as a result of her experience, she said, the journey might have been better for both her dad and herself. This rang in my ears as I recalled a conversation I had with a woman named Mary over the holidays. This strong, stubborn Irish woman, who had lived through many challenges in her life without so much as a tear, was in front of me sobbing. “I never thought I would end up this way,” she said. “What way?” I asked. She recounted how she’d worked since she was a young teen and saved money with her sister to come to America. Once in the United States, she married and raised three boys. She and her husband put the boys through Catholic school, then college, then graduate school for two of them. But in her later years...

Home safe home

011003_bld_building_plans

My husband and I are in the planning stages of renovating our living quarters, including the downstairs bath, kitchen and living room. It dawned on me as we began our plans: 30 years ago, homes were designed for a person of average height who has perfect eyesight and hearing, can walk from one room to another with ease and has no trouble getting up or down. Considering the cost of remodels, my husband and I are hoping that our renovations will last us 20 years and maybe more. But once we age another 20 years and reach 75 (which seems young and spry), it’s not inconceivable that we may have physical limitations, especially when it comes to bending, stooping, stretching or reaching. Upon close inspection, our house is stylish and well-maintained, but it is a bit of an obstacle course. For example, the upper cupboard in the kitchen that holds frying pans and platters requires us to open the refrigerator doors to reach the contents. Additionally, when the kitchen pantry door is...

Retirement community of the future

volunteerRecently, a Seattle-based hospitality company, One Eighty, announced plans to convert the former hospital site at 4415 S. Lakeview Canyon Road in Westlake Village into a boutique-style retirement community. If Dan Madsen, CEO of One Eighty, is listening, here’s one boomer’s advice on how to make the facility succeed. No. 1: Connect residents with the city around them Trips to the farmers market and the Civic Arts Plaza are nice, but what I’m talking about is providing retirement community residents the opportunity to really become involved in their local community. Invite city officials to discuss important topics, create a help desk that pairs talented residents with community needs and align with local elementary and high schools for mentoring. Encourage residents to create a project where residents and their neighbors work together to improve life in our city. There is so much talent in residential communities that goes unnoticed and unused. Programs like these bring...

The definition of home may change as we age

AssistedLivingNewThe word “home” has personal meaning for most people. A home may convey a sense of family, security, comfort, independence and even financial freedom. Often as we age, transitions in our lives may directly impact our housing choices. Divorce or loss of a spouse may prompt us to look for a home that better suits our individual needs. Changes in our health status—the onset of an illness or disability— may trigger the need for a different type of living arrangement. A desire to live closer to family sometimes means a move. Entering retirement often gives individuals the freedom to make new housing choices. And changes in financial status often influence decisions on the type of lifestyle and home we can sustain. According to Christine Kennedy of the Institute for Age-Friendly Housing, “Individuals in the second half of life often do not consider housing changes until at least one life transition occurs.” In an AARP poll, 80 percent of those over 50 say they want to age in...

Senior moving simplified

Senior_MovingAdele’s vision loss from glaucoma was forcing her, at age 78, to leave her home in Maine. She planned to move to Simi Valley, into a retirement community close to her son Bill. Though she had some fears, Adele knew she could enjoy life more and get the help she needed if she moved near her son and granddaughter. “Mom had increasingly become worried, as well as isolated from the things she liked to do,” Bill said. “She could no longer drive to the senior center and stayed in her bedroom more often because it was the easiest to navigate with her vision loss. Preparing meals was also becoming more difficult for her.” Bill, a dentist, had worries of his own. He couldn’t leave his job for the amount of time it would take to sort through the furnishings and memories his mother had accumulated over the years. “At lunch one day I was sharing my concerns with my staff, and my receptionist suggested I hire a senior move manager,” Bill said. According to Mary Kay Buysse, executive...

Boomers: home remodels for our future

house-remodelingA new home design center recently opened in The Oaks mall. Last week I toured the center looking at a majestic Jacuzzi tub, lovely bathroom fixtures, high-end appliances and solid wood kitchen cabinets. Approaching the salesperson to compliment him on his beautiful store, I asked him if the company incorporates any elements of Universal Design. He directed me to their corporate website, which had no mention of the principle. The design center is not alone—in fact, they are in the majority. “Not incorporating elements of Universal Design in remodels is unfortunately quite common,” said Holly Spiegel, senior design consultant at Adaptive Design Associates in Westlake Village. “Many consumers are unaware of the concept,” Spiegel continued. “Universal Design is intended to simplify everyday life by making products and using designs to create comfortable and functional environments for everyone, regardless of age or ability. Many designers overlook this important concept in...

When Living Alone is No Longer an Option

alzheimers-s12-light-switchMany of us live in Never Never Land: We’re never going to get old and we’re never going to need help. Of course, just the opposite is true. According to clinical bioethicist Viki Kind, author of the book “The Caregiver’s Path to Compassionate Decision Making: Making Choices for Those Who Can’t,” “Only 10 percent of us get to die fast; the other 90 percent will endure long-term health issues.” So what do you do if your loved one can no longer live alone? That problem is all too real for Cathy. Her 83-year-old father lives alone in New York City. He’s been having difficulty remembering things, and a day before his planned trip to California for the holidays, he experienced a fall. He’s now in the hospital, and Cathy must help her father make decisions about his living arrangements. “I’m not even sure where to start,” Cathy said. “Should I move my dad near me or help him find a place in New York? What happens if he doesn’t want to move or have someone come to his home to help...

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