Retirement Savings Won’t Save Itself: How to Know if You Have Enough

No one said it was going to be easy, but what if you’ve made it all the way to your early 60’s and you start worrying about your retirement savings. Have you really saved enough, and if not, what can you do now? Retirement can be a challenge at any age, but if you are in your early to mid-60’s it can be especially scary. Here is how to ensure you are secure through your golden years.

A Quick Run-Down of Facts

  • If you were born in 1960 or later, your full retirement age to start collecting Social Security is 67.
  • You can sign up for medicare at 65.

Steps to Grow Retirement Savings

It’s true, at one time the common age of retirement was 65 but times have changed. From the  new age of receiving full Social Security benefits to the scarcity of pension plans, what retirement looks like has  morphed considerably in recent years. Additionally, even if you are financially secure, 65 doesn’t always mean the time to retire. Many people love their jobs and want to keep working into their later 60’s. Still, there are a few things to consider when it comes to your retirement savings.

Determine Your Retirement Readiness

Don’t know if you’re ready to retire? No time like the present. Here are a few key considerations when determining if you are ready to retire:

How much will you need?

This will depend on how much you plan to spend. The general rule is that you will need about 80% of your pre retirement income when you leave your job. The reason for this percentage is that researchers assume you will no longer be paying into Social Security. 

How Long Will You Need It to Stretch

No one likes to think about it, and no one really knows how long they will need their money to last, so it is best to err on the side of caution. But, there are a few basic numbers you can consider. On average, men will live to 83 and women will live to 85. That means having savings that will last you 18-20 years.

Create a Retirement Budget

If you’re  reading this article, running out of money is likely a concern. That’s where a retirement budget comes in. How you spend it and where you make adjustments will help you prepare for the occasional surprise, like medical expenses or home repair. Taking the time to make a budget will help to put your mind at ease in retirement.

  • Gather Financial Records: Grab your checkbook, credit card statements, and other expense documents to calculate your yearly expenses.
  • Make a List of Monthly Expenses: Make a list of your monthly fixed expenses which could include mortgage, car payments, and anything else that gets billed every month.
  • List Monthly Variable Payments: These are payments that don’t get billed at regular prices like grocery bills, pet fees, gas, and entertainment.
  • Factor in Non-Recurring Expenses: These are expenditures  like vacation funds or buying a new car. List special expenses that require advanced planning.
  • Estimate Your Retirement Income: Add up your monthly income from all sources. Most retirees will start with Social Security, pensions, and 401K.
  • Compare Total Expenses to Your Income: This will tell you how much monthly wiggle room you will have.
  • Check Your Budget Periodically: Just to make sure you are still on track.

Decide When to Take Social Security

While there is no exact “correct” time to claim your benefits, the common approach is that if you can afford to wait, delaying Social Security can really pay off. Here are some guidelines for your benefits:

  • Taking Social Security Early: If you choose to receive benefits early, you can receive checks up to 36 months before full retirement age. But, be aware that this will permanently reduce your future benefits.
  • Delaying Your Benefits: If you choose to retire later and wait until 70, you will earn a delayed retirement credit (DRC). This grants you a higher baseline for your Social Security benefits.

Fortunately, if you are moving to a senior lifestyle community, many of your expenses can be rolled into one easy payment every month. To learn more about community fees, check out this article

Planning your retirement is a tricky business, so make sure you learn the 6 Money Planning Tips for Your Senior Living with this FREE eBook!

Life Enriching Communities, Inc. (LEC), is an integrated family of lifestyle communities and senior living services in greater Cincinnati and Westlake, OH. Best known for our Twin Towers and Twin Lakes senior living communities, and our recent affiliation with Concord Reserve in Westlake, we have made aging well a top priority for nearly 120 years.

Solo Aging and the Social Complications of Aging Alone

As baby boomers continue to redefine aging and retirement, there is a new trend on the rise. Solo aging, or aging alone, is becoming more and more common. These new seniors are living longer, maintaining more active lifestyles, and more likely to incorporate innovations in technology into their everyday lives. Yet, these solo agers are facing problems all too common to seniors, isolation and loneliness.

What is a Solo Ager?

A solo ager is someone who is aging alone. Other terms used are elder orphans as they are people who lack family or friends that can effectively function as an aging support system.

The Numbers About Aging Alone

It seems to be a double-edged sword. The seniors retiring since 2011 tend to be more independent and self-sufficient which makes them less likely to seek companionship. According to the U.S. Census, the rate of childless individuals among boomers is close to 20% with 27% of those without children living alone. This is because the number of childless seniors has doubled since previous generations, as well as the divorce rate.

What are the Challenges?

The biggest challenge to a solo ager is who will help with long-term care should they need it? Historically, this responsibility has fallen on the adult children of seniors. They may serve as caregivers, assist with housing issues, offer emotional and financial support, and provide socialization opportunities. Not only do solo agers, or those who age alone, lack these specific supports, they also must navigate a system that often assumes adult children are an option.

However, one of the greatest challenges to seniors living on their own is the problem of isolation and loneliness. With nearly 27% of seniors living by themselves, social isolation is both common and dangerous. Although living alone doesn’t inevitably lead to loneliness, the two often go hand in hand. In fact, as of June 2020, 56% of older adults reported feeling isolated. That’s more than double the number of seniors reporting feelings of isolation in 2018. As we discussed in the 3 Benefits of Social Living, a lack of socialization can lead to all kinds of negative effects in aging. Isolation can lead to depression, weight loss, cognitive decline, and other medical complications.

The Benefits of Community for Aging Alone

These realities have significant implications as the boomer generation ages. Without any family to step up when needed, solo agers may find themselves vulnerable in the years ahead due to a drastically shrinking market for paid caregivers. That is where a senior lifestyle community comes into play. 

Not only does a Continuing Care Retirement Community provide support that may not otherwise be accessible, but it also provides a thriving community of your peers with whom to socialize. This is especially important in instances where individuals have experienced the loss of a spouse. The loss of a spouse is heartbreaking and without a strong emotional support system, the experience can compound upon itself. 

In planning for your future, the possibilities of aging alone are a reality for more and more people every year. It’s important to know the challenges as well as the alternatives that are available.

Life Enriching Communities, Inc. (LEC), is an integrated family of lifestyle communities and senior living services in greater Cincinnati and Westlake, OH. Best known for our Twin Towers and Twin Lakes senior living communities, and our recent affiliation with Concord Reserve in Westlake, we have made aging well a top priority for nearly 120 years.

The Centenarians’ Secrets to Living Past 100

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could unlock the secrets to living past 100? 

Well, as it turns out it might not just be a matter of genetics, but rather a matter of lifestyle. Today, people are living longer than ever, with the number of nonagenarians (people in their 90’s) hitting a record 16.5 million in 2017. In fact, living past 100 is the fastest-growing age group. But how are people managing to live so long and how can you do the same?

New studies have been looking at the typical characteristics of people in their 90’s and 100’s and they found a few things in common.

They are Positive Thinkers

Life is full of downfalls and curveballs, but staying positive is the key to getting through each challenge. When you choose to think positively and face your challenges with optimism it reduces stress which is great for your overall health. Mind over matter really comes into play here, so here are a few ways you can stay more optimistic and think positively.

  • Smile often and freely. This is an indicator of several positive lifestyle factors that lowers stress.
  • Try not to dwell on negatives. It can be tough, but ruminating will only keep those negative feelings on your mind and can muddy your ability to see the good all around you.
  • Keep a positivity journal. Also called a gratitude journal, this little companion can keep track of all your positive thoughts so you can remind yourself when things get hard.
  • Be kind to others. This not only helps you build good connections with the people you love but being nice to others stimulates the reward centers in the brain.

They are Social

Good news, being social is great for your health! Loneliness not only affects the way we feel about ourselves but also is a major factor in developing memory challenges as we age. Staying social lowers your stress, reduces inflammation and swelling in arthritis patients, and becoming diabetic is less likely. If you are looking for ways to stay social, look no further.

  • Volunteer. This is also one of many ways you can be kind to others and to your positive thinking.
  • Education. Whether you are taking an on-line group class or getting out there to ask a friend to teach you a new game, learning things is a great way to interact with others. 

They “Eat Right”

So, this is a little loaded, but by “eating right” we mean eating in balance with veggies, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and low-fat dairy. This also includes less fatty meats, butter, sugar, salt, and packaged foods. Many studies have found that this diet helps you live longer and prevents heart disease, cancer, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s disease. If you are looking for some healthy snacks, try:

  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Mixed nuts
  • Greek yogurt
  • Popcorn
  • Avocado

They Are Active

Even just 30 minutes a day can greatly improve your long-term health. Regular exercise — especially if you do it briskly enough to feel a little breathless — delivers huge health benefits including keeping brain cells healthy by delivering more blood and oxygen. These exercises are ways to stay active:

  • Walking
  • Jogging
  • Stretching
  • Swimming

The Big Takeaway of Living Past 100

It’s important to challenge old fashioned attitudes about aging. We believe aging well leads to long-term happiness and health and everyone can attain it. Research is showing that the way we think and feel about ourselves is one of the greatest influencers to health as we get older. So now the ball is in your court to age on your terms.

Another key to aging well is proper planning, especially your finances. Want to learn a few money-saving tips and tricks? Check out our FREE money planning eBook!

Fight the Causes of Fatigue From the Inside-Out

If you’re having trouble focusing or feeling energized, fatigue might be to blame. But how does it differ from regular exhaustion and — more importantly — what are the causes of fatigue?

Think you’re just tired? Check out this article on ways you are sabotaging your sleep.

What is Fatigue?

Fatigue is the strange and lingering tiredness that persists after normal drowsiness should wear off. It is unexplained, constant, and relapsing exhaustion throughout the day. In most cases, if you are experiencing fatigue there is likely a reason.

The Causes of Fatigue

Though there are many causes of fatigue, there are two primary categories:

  • Lifestyle
  • Physical factors

Lifestyle Causes of Fatigue

  • Strenuous physical exertion
  • Lack of exercise
  • Lack of sleep
  • Weight gain and obesity
  • Emotional stress
  • Boredom
  • Grief
  • Certain medications
  • Overuse of alcohol
  • Not eating a nutrient-rich diet

Physical Factors That Cause Fatigue

  • Anemia
  • Arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Infections, such as cold and flu
  • Addison’s disease, a disorder that can affect your hormone levels
  • Hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid
  • Hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid
  • Sleep disorders, such as insomnia
  • Eating disorders, such as anorexia
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease

When Are You Too Tired?

When fatigue persists for prolonged periods of time — often weeks — there may be an underlying condition. Though you might just need to get some sleep, if you are experiencing persistent fatigue you should talk to your doctor.

If you want other helpful tips to keep you energized as you age, check out our FREE e-book Living and Aging the Way You Want. Inside you will find helpful bits of advice on living your best life. Download your PDF by clicking the icon below.

13 of the Best Frightful Fiction Reads to Add to Your Horror Book List

Whether you are preparing your fall reading list or are just a lifelong lover of horror, get ready to bombard your Goodreads’ Want-To-Read section! From cozy to chilling, here are our best horror novel choices to keep you up at night, reading. To keep this horror book list a healthy mix of authors, Stephen King and other huge names in horror have been limited, otherwise those two would fill the whole list.

The further into the horror book list you read, the darker the content of the books will get. Consider yourselves warned.

Cozy Horror Book List

That’s right, cozy horror. These are scary stories that are pretty low on the grim, bleak, gory factors that accompany darker stories in the genre. Though as a rule, cozy horror is not young adult (YA), younger individuals could read them and be fine — in case you are thinking of birthday gifts.

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss

The first of this intertextual adventure trilogy, The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter follows Mary Jekyll as she investigates the mysteries of her deceased father’s past. In an unexpected discovery, she finds evidence that her late father has been involved in a secret society as well as Diana Hyde. The half-wild child of Mary’s father’s partner, Mr. Hyde.

This story includes many classic characters and their descendants for a fun and mysterious mash-up of gothic proportions.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Joining the ranks of classic Gaiman leading characters, Nobody Owens is a boy with a perfectly abnormal life. And by normal, we mean extraordinarily strange. After the murder of Nobody’s entire family when he is eighteen months old, he is raised by his adoptive parents after he runs into a graveyard in the middle of the night. Oh, and did we mention his adoptive parents are ghosts?

Well, they’re ghosts.

And his life gets weirder as he gets older. From his first friend in the flesh (as it were) to her parents who believe Nobody is her imaginary friend, this story is as strange and delightful as we could expect Gaiman to deliver.

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

A dystopian alternate history set in 1984 Tokyo, IQ84 opens as Aomame takes a taxi to work. When the taxi gets caught in traffic, Aomame decided to get out and walk to the location of her work assignment. Her assignment? To murder a hotel guest and make it look like an accident. 

But after, she starts to notice some strange changes that make her question her sanity and the reality in which she lives.

Classic Horror Book List

Who doesn’t love a classic? In this section, we are turning the fright factor up a little and getting into some existential dread and cosmic horror. And we can’t talk about cosmic horror without mentioning…

Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff

Spinning off of the Lovecraftian Mythos, Lovecraft Country is a classic in the making. Taking a note from the father of cosmic horror himself, Ruff updates the elements of the genre. 

In this dark fantasy, join Atticus Turner in 1950’s Chicago as he returns from the Army to discover that his father has gone missing. In his search for his father, he discovers a strange lineage, an enchanted manor, and cosmic creatures of the Eldrich persuasion.

The October Country by Ray Bradbury

If you have read our other book blogs, you may know that this is the second appearance Ray Bradbury has made on our book lists. Which should come as no surprise for such a prolific author. 

In this collection of short stories, aptly named for the time of year best to read it, Bradbury flexes his muscles of the mysterious and macabre. With nineteen different stories ranging from a carnival worker who wishes he was taller to a child who drowns in a lake, there is something for every horror connoisseur within these pages.

I Have No Mouth Yet I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison

This short story quickly became a cult classic upon its publication in 1984. Exploring ideas of consciousness, being, and technology this psychological horror is a mind-twisting read.

Opening with the arrival of a new consciousness to “our group” some strange events are revealed as the narrator exposits the most recent events. This story is quite short and to say more would get into spoiler territory, however, it is worth a read. Perhaps more so now than when it was originally published.

A Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Join us as we visit Basil Hallward in his Victorian English home and gaze upon a strange picture of a man named Dorian Gray. 

Gray is a youthful muse who Hallward — an artist — has asked to sit for a portrait painting. Though this sounds innocent enough, the story descends into a gothic philosophical critique of beauty and explores what one man will do to keep his skin deep.

Contemporary Horror Book List

Contemporary horror is a mixed bag of social, political, and philosophical nightmare fuel. Essentially, even though these stories might incorporate the supernatural or paranormal, the real horror here is other people. 

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Though considered to be a dystopian novel, The Handmaid’s Tale certainly contains some seriously horrific prospects.

In a future where women have become infertile, the human race as a whole is facing mass extinction. This leads people in power to resort to some pretty desperate measures, and not the least of which is public execution for agitators. We follow the narrator, Offred, as she is forced into sexual slavery under the new American regime.

Beloved by Toni Morrison

Instead of going into the future to explore horrific possibilities, Beloved takes us back in time to explore one of the worst eras in American history.

Sethe may have escaped “Sweet Home” though she will never escape the horror of what it cost as she and her one surviving daughter are haunted by it. Literally. 

It killed Sethe’s mother-in-law and made her son run away. Sethe’s surviving daughter, Denver, must watch as her wastes away after finding a feral girl with a strange scar that seems to feed on her mother’s pain

Fevre Dream by George R. R. Martin

Join world-renown author George R.R. Martin as he takes you on a historical horror journey down the Mississippi on the steamboat, Fevre Dream. 

Playing with the idea of vampire survival tactics throughout the American industrial revolution, the story follows Captain Abner Marsh as he agrees to take Joshua York down the mighty river. Though only a few nights into their journey, his pale passengers seem to be keeping a secret as members of his crew begin to disappear. 

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

In the vein of his father, Stephen King, Joe Hill is a true apprentice of his family craft of horror writing. 

Presenting a new twist on the vampire genre, Charlie Manx is a villain who’s inhumanity and cruelty seems all too familiar in the real world. A hunter of children with special gifts, Manx has noticed a particularly strong meal in the form of young Vikki McQueen. An eight-year-old girl with a gift to find lost things, including “missing” children.

Chilling and Dreadful Horror Book List

These are the books that hold no bars and an overall terror warning should apply to all that follows…

The Shining by Stephen King

For the one Stephen King book on this list, we thought we’d go with a good starter read. And don’t worry, if you are familiar with Kubrick’s adaptation, there is still plenty to surprise you.

Jack Torrance — an aspiring writer and failed educator — takes a job at the Overlook Hotel. He and his family are locked away in the remote Colorado location to slowly go mad together.

The Cipher by Kathe Koja

In this author’s debut novel, Koja explores issues of human potential and transcendence. She is asking the question “how can we choose what to become?” 

With some serious Pet Cemetery and The Fly vibes, we watch as Nicholas is discovering some… disturbing changes. But this is not the beginning of Nicholas’ story. It tarted years ago as someone else began to feed a hungry entity that calls to its disciple for food. This story is some of the best in mind and body horror with some deeply unsettling images.

Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist

If you’re a horror buff you may have seen one of the two movie adaptations of Lindqvist’s novel. However, if you are a newbie to the genre this is a must-read for those craving the dreadful.

Meet twelve-year-old Oscar, a boy from Sweden with a Rubix Cube and a crush. Though the object of his affection, his new neighbor comes at the same time as a few gruesome and ritualistic murders. And notably, one of the victims is a boy who has been bullying Oscar day in and day out.

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski 

Another first novel to wrap up the list, Danielewski lures us into his torrid tale by selling us on the possibility of the paranormal.

Johnny Truant has just landed a new apartment. But as he finds the manuscript of the previous tenant, a professor who died mysteriously, Truant begins to uncover the strange circumstances of the late professor’s death. And with it the enormity of the professor’s studies. But don’t get too attached to any one character. Any of them are liable to meet a graphic end.

We hope you enjoyed our list of frightful reads and hope you will find your new favorite horror novel. If you would like to read something less scary, check out this FREE A-Z guide on Living and Aging the Way You Want you can learn the ABCs of aging successfully

Connecting to the Next Generation: A Grandparent’s Guide to Emojis

Emojis have quickly become a common form of communication with millennials and the zennials (or generation Z). Even Oxford has recognized the significance of the communication images by making an emoji the Word of the Year in 2015. But what is so great about this type of communication and how can you use it to communicate with your grandkids? We’re glad you asked. Here is a grandparent’s quick guide to emojis!

It’s actually not all that tough to catch onto and can be a lot of fun. There are also some additional benefits to learning the lingo, so to speak. 

Why Are Emojis So Popular?

Well, you could say that it’s just because everyone is doing it. But that’s too simple an answer. The real reason is that many young people see it as an easier, less judgemental form of communication. They don’t have to worry about embarrassing themselves by misspelling words, worry if their bilingual friend will know what they are talking about, or wasting time typing lengthy texts. The fact is, we process picture meanings a lot faster than we do words and there are fewer possibilities for misunderstandings when sending quick messages. Just think of how an “Ok” message is fine, but an “Ok” message with a period at the end is considered aggressive or angry. Emojis eliminate that sort of nuance.

Why Should You Give Emojis a Try?

Apart from being a bit of fun to have with your grandkids, this is also a great way to show interest in the things your grandkids are doing. If you haven’t read our article on bridging the generation gap, then you might not know that connecting with the younger generation goes both ways. One of the most effective ways to interact with your younger grandchildren or great-grandchildren is to show an interest in things that are important to them. Let them explain and teach you how to use emojis.

Basic Guide to Emojis

Here is a quick guide to the most common emojis. These were copy and pasted from Facebook, however, if you are using your phone or tablet they might look slightly different.

😂 Tears of Joy

Remember how we mentioned that Oxford’s 2015 word of the year was an emoji? This is it. Often, this emoji is used instead of “LOL” to indicate you are laughing out loud to the point of crying.

😀Grinning Face 

This is one of several Smiley Face options and this group of emojis are among the most commonly used. It is used to show excitement or happiness or just to ensure a message sent has a friendly tone.

😅 Grinning with Sweat

This emoji has been around for a very long time in Japanese pop culture and was often depicted in animated cartoons. It can be used for good-natured embarrassment or relief. Think of it as an awkward laugh in a tense or slightly uncomfortable situation. It can also mean you are simply sweating, from exercise or otherwise.

😍Smiley Face with Heart Eyes

The Smiley Face with Heart Eyes is pretty straight forward and infers love or admiration. Either to say you love a person or thing. This can be used for anything like good news, a nice outfit, or a person.

😘Kiss Face

This is the Kiss Face and it depicts a kiss being blown. It’s not necessarily romantic, though it could be depending on the context. However, it is more commonly used as a sign-off or at the end of a message.

😎 Smiley Face with Sunglasses

This is the cool emoji, used to convey that something or someone is easy-going or “chill.” It can be used genuinely, sarcastically, and often to playfully self deprecate. As in someone talking about doing something nerdy and making fun of how cool it makes them. The cool emoji can also be used to indicate approval.

🙃Upside-Down Smiley Face

This emoji is one of the smiley faces flipped upside-down and has a wide range of interpretations, its meaning usually based on context. It can mean something is sarcastic or that you are feeling goofy. It is also sometimes used to replace a shrug. 

Now that you know the basics, have fun mixing things up.

Life Enriching Communities, Inc. (LEC), is an integrated family of lifestyle communities and senior living services in greater Cincinnati. Best known for our Twin Towers and Twin Lakes senior living communities, we have made aging well a top priority for nearly 120 years.

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How to Connect Across the Generation Gap

We all know it is important to have communication between generations, but especially important between grandparents to their grandchildren. According to a study conducted by Boston College, the grandparent-grandchild relationship is unique among family dynamics. Not only do grandparents help their adult children in child-rearing, but they also serve as a different type of adult role model. These relationships are also associated with better mental health and fewer behavioral problems in children. This is especially true in single-family households. That is why now, more than ever, it is important to connect across the generation gap.

Why Time With the Grandkids is Good For You

But staying connected with the new generation is also good for seniors. Just listen to what these people had to say about the joys of being a grandparent

The benefits of spending time with the younger generation affect you both mentally and physically. Interacting with children creates opportunities to use reasoning and logic in ways we don’t often have to practice with other adults. There is also a correlation between time with grandkids and longer life expectancy, better memory, and lower rates of depression. According to one study, grandparents who spend just one day a week with their grandkids scored higher on memory and mental function tests. 

As for the physical benefits, its no surprise that chasing around toddlers or playing with older children would help keep you active. After all, movement is medicine.

The New Family Unit

However, in the digital age, families are stretching geographically farther apart seeking new education, career, or family opportunities. When grandchildren live so far away, it can be difficult to cultivate those vital cross-generational relationships. Fortunately, the digital age is making it easier to bring families together despite the distance.

Now, more than ever, the average senior is in touch with technological advancements than their parents had been, using mobile phones and messenger platforms to stay in touch with their families. In fact, according to this report by the AARP, 68% of people between 39-75 have some kind of social media account — bucking some outdated stereotypes about the ability of old dogs to learn new tricks. And this is vital for staying in touch with their grandchildren.

Studies show that children under ten have difficulty maintaining phone conversations while older children and teens have a lack of interest. Most contemporary kids and teens are more comfortable using video chats, however, many people over 70 may need help installing and understanding how to work the features.

So how do we bridge this gap?

Connect Across the Generation Gap

Understand that communication goes both ways and it is important for you to make an effort to use technologies that your grandkids are comfortable with and visa versa. Making an effort is one way both sides of the gap can demonstrate care and interest in one another. And what better than to lead by the wonderful example you are?

Ready to give some new communication styles a try? Here are a few good places to start to stay in touch with your grandkids:

  • Open a social media account if you don’t already have one (bonus points if you ask your grandkids which ones they use).
  • Don’t like the idea of social media? That’s alright. You can get an email address and send emails.
  • Get used to the text features on your phone.
  • Want to give video chat a try? Grandy is designed to help grandparents video chat with their grandkids.

Staying in touch and bridging the tech gap with grandkids is always easier if you have a pre-established relationship. But with these digital advancements, there is no reason you can’t start developing that relationship. One way to learn new technology and start a loving relationship is to ask your grandkids to teach you. Teaching is an opportunity to feel capable that children seldom get and can help build a trusting relationship.

Understand that learning new things is not only good to stay in touch with family, but it is a good way to keep your mind sharp as well. With time, patience, and a little effort, staying connected with your grandchildren is only a text, email, or video chat away.

Are you looking to live the best life you can as you age? To learn everything about aging well, download our free A to Z Guide here.

Life Enriching Communities, Inc. (LEC), is an integrated family of lifestyle communities and senior living services in greater Cincinnati and Westlake, OH. Best known for our Twin Towers and Twin Lakes senior living communities, and our recent affiliation with Concord Reserve in Westlake, we have made aging well a top priority for nearly 120 years.

9 Spectacular Destination Books to Cure Your Wanderlust

A good book is a perfect way to explore new vistas and is certainly one way to cure your wanderlust. With titles that will make you happy to stay inside, you’ll be adding these titles to your booklist next! These destination books will bring spectacular landscapes to your living room.

1.Eat Pray Love by Elizebeth Gilbert

As a New York Times Best Seller for over three years, Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia is the perfect book to kick off this list. The autobiographical story follows 34-year-old author, Elizebeth Gilbert, as she rebuilds herself out of the ashes of her past.

The lessons she learns as she spends months in three countries and learns how to find balance. This book explores Italy, India, and Indonesia as well as the philosophical themes of happiness, spirituality, and balance. If you are looking for a soulful read, you’ll enjoy this journey that delves into romantic love, self-love, and healing.

2. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by  Deborah Moggach

We all know the troubles of dealing with difficult in-laws, however, London doctor Ravi Kapoor has his work cut out for him. Fortunately for Ravi, his cousin is creating a London inspired retirement home in India. Unfortunately for Ravi’s father-in-law, development is falling far short. And other prospective residents are due to arrive imminently.

While the resort fails on promises to its inhabitants, the story delivers everything from humor to morality. If you are looking to be transported from London to the mountains of India, then this book is just what you need to cure your itch to travel.

3. Night of Rain and Stars by  Maeve Binchy

Join an ensemble of characters in Greece as a strange riverboat disaster brings their lives together. The book opens with a Grecian tour boat, the Olga, on fire in the bay. Several of the strangers had just been on it the day before. As the group gets to know one another and the small village, they discover the more they open up with each other, the more the village opens up to them.

With themes of generosity, friendship, and intimacy from tragedy. Join these dynamic characters as they journey into each other’s lives, loves, and losses.

4. Angels and Demons by Dan Brown

Somewhat less popular than it’s sequel — The Davinchi CodeAngles and Demons still holds its own in crime adventure books. Join the scholarly Robert Langdon in Vatican cities as he helps look for a weapon of mass destruction. With threats to the Catholic church while voting for a new pope and a crazed killer terrorizing the city, the scholarly Robert is taking his knowledge into the field.

This book contains detailed descriptions of locations all around Vatican City, Rome, and Italy.

5. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Travel to the low country of North Carolina as the locals investigate the murder of a local man. Pinning the blame on “The Marsh Girl,” an intelligent recluse named Kya Clark, this is a coming of age tale for lovers of contemporary fiction. 

Mingling romance, mystery, and murder all against the backdrop of a small coastal town will have you reflecting on abandonment, nature, and relationships. With Owen’s elegant prose, you will almost be able to smell the ocean air.

6. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie is one of the best mystery writers the world has ever seen. In this story, she entangles readers in the complex relationships between one detective and the passengers on the Orient Express. As the name suggests, the Orient Express is an express train taking passengers from Syria to Istanbul and —as protagonist  Hercule Poirot points out — is strangely crowded for a midnight trip. Join him as he slowly pulls the thread on the tapestry of a convoluted murder plot across the Turkish mountainside. The chilly setting is perfect to add to your stack of destination books.

7. Moby Dick by Herman Melville

An undisputed American literary classic, Moby Dick is still influencing readers and appearing in pop culture, even lending a character name to one of the most popular coffee chains, Starbucks. Join Ismael on the open sea as the Captain slowly descends into obsession and madness as he fiercely pursues the white whale that took his leg.

Explore themes so prominent they nearly become characters themselves while you read through the inventory logs of the Pequod as the captain and crew venture farther and farther into peril.

8. The Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Sticking with the nautical theme, The Life of Pi is both a fantasy and adventure novel that follows young Piscine Molitor “Pi” Patelas as he fights to survive a deadly shipwreck. Oh, and did we mention he must share a raft with a full-grown tiger that grows hungrier each day?

Filled with literary Easter eggs for the well-read bibliophile, this tale explores the themes of the shipwreck narrative itself. Ultimately, it is a tale of making the story of your life into what you wish it to be.

9. The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

Want to travel? How about reading something completely out of this world? With this avant-garde classic by Ray Bradbury, you travel through several generations to the surface of Mars and see how the planet, the Martians, and humanity itself is altered over the course of a planet’s history. 

Though a classic, this book is not for every reader as the closest thing to the main character is the titular red planet, seasoned with a sweet melancholy flavor. If you enjoy probing at the nature of humanity, war, and rebirth, then this little history might be the read for you.

The Benefit of Destination Books

Whether the weather is bad or your budget is tight, destination books allow you to visit different places and experience different cultures without leaving your home. Not to mention, books give you something to talk about to stay social.

Looking to put down the destination books and flip the pages of something a little more educational? Check out our free A to Z Guide to learn everything about aging well. 

Life Enriching Communities, Inc. (LEC), is an integrated family of lifestyle communities and senior living services in greater Cincinnati and Westlake, OH. Best known for our Twin Towers and Twin Lakes senior living communities, and our recent affiliation with Concord Reserve in Westlake, we have made aging well a top priority for nearly 120 years.

How to Downsize Like an Expert: 7 Amazing Tips to Get Started

Everyone could use a little tidying up, but if you are looking to downsize your home you will have to approach your efforts with intention. The key to downsizing is to get rid of the things you don’t need, don’t use, and don’t have space for if and when you move. This may seem a bit obvious, however deciding what you need and what you want is tricky. 

Fortunately for you, we have comprised a list of tips to help you tackle your mountain of stuff and fit your downsizing. 

How to Downsize Like an Expert…

1. Set Your Goals

Your downsizing success will rest largely on how well you have planned for it. Since you are here, you are already on the way to properly plan for your downsizing. Set a date to go through your belongings. Start with one room so you don’t get too bogged down.

Systematically go through each room and follow the tips we have outlined below. Repeat this process until you have gone through every room in your home.

2. Take an Inventory

Prior to getting rid of things, find out how much stuff you have before you downsize. Not only will this help with the next step, but it will give you a starting place for setting your downsizing goal. Do you want to reduce your stuff by 20% or by a single room? Figuring out how much you have when you start will help you figure out how much you need to reduce. 

Don’t feel overwhelmed if you have more than what you thought you did, most people do. That’s what makes this step so important. Not only to get you started with your organization but to keep you on task to rid yourself of things you don’t need. 

3. Create Categories for Your Belongings

Taking a page out of Maria Kondo’s book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” categories can be very helpful and keep you on track. Putting your belongings in categories will help you organize what you are going through and make the process less overwhelming. It will also help you identify duplicates of items.

Some basic categories would be: 

  • Furniture.
  • Clothes.
  • Recreation. 
  • Games. 
  • Appliances. 

One category you could create is your one-year category. If you haven’t used the item in over a year, you should let it go.

4. Determine Your Lifestyle

Usually, when people downsize it is because they are planning a move. If you are moving into a smaller home, it is important to focus on what your lifestyle in the new space will look like. 

Since you will only want to take what you will need, thinking about your lifestyle will help you determine this. Do you want to move into a smaller home, but plan on traveling and camping? Well, you’ll certainly want to hold onto your camping gear then. Plan on spending your summers at the beach? Hold onto your beach chairs.

Remember, if you plan on continuing a certain lifestyle, you will want to make sure you have room for the items you will need to enjoy it. 

5. Measure Your Large Items

This is especially important if you are moving into a smaller home, like an apartment in a senior living community. Since you will likely be more limited on space, you will want to make sure the large items you wish to take with you will fit in your new space.

6. Plan a Yard Sale

This one seems like a no-brainer as “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

Items that always sell at yard sales are: 

  • Furniture
  • Baby clothes.
  • Maternity clothes.
  • Toys.
  • Board games.
  • Dish sets.
  • Jewelry.
  • Camping gear.
  • Fishing gear.
  • Arts and crafts materials.
  • Board games.
  • Video games. 

If you plan your sale well and focus on pricing for all your unnecessary stuff, you should be able to unburden yourself of many of these items. For the digitally savvy, there are online options for selling your items as well. Everyone knows about eBay, but did you know there are online market places that help you sell particular items. This is helpful since you already broke your belongings into categories. Here are some places you can sell your second-hand wares:

  • OfferUp specializes in furniture.
  • Poshmark is for clothing.
  • Discogs helps you sell records and stereo equipment. 

7. Find Local Places to Donate After Downsizing

Most people know about a few places to donate clothes or furniture, but did you know there are other options? 

For example, if you have luggage bags you don’t need, you can donate them to foster care so kids have something to keep their belongings in as they move from home to home. For a good list of places to donate in your area, follow this link and find these non-profit organizations near you.

We hope that you find these downsizing tips helpful. If you are having some trouble letting go of sentimental things, check out this article.

Life Enriching Communities, Inc. (LEC), is an integrated family of lifestyle communities and senior living services in greater Cincinnati and Westlake, OH. Best known for our Twin Towers and Twin Lakes senior living communities, and our recent affiliation with Concord Reserve in Westlake, we have made aging well a top priority for nearly 120 years.

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The Hidden Benefits of Movement as Medicine

A new motto is floating around fitness and physical therapy circles: Movement as medicine.

But what does that mean and how does it work? In this article, we explore the hidden benefits of movement as medicine and how you can harness those benefits as you age.

What is Movement as Medicine?

The Hidden Benefits

Movement as medicine refers to the tendency of active people to have healthier muscles. This is especially true of active people over 65. According to an article published in The New York Times, they found that people in their 70’s could have healthy muscles indistinguishable form from a 25-year-old. What these older individuals had in common was maintaining an active lifestyle for decades. Biologically speaking, these people were 30 years younger.

Recently, there has been a lot of attention drawn to “movement as medicine” and the theories suggest that it alters how we age. It affects everything from injury prevention to healthier immune and cognitive function. This research is challenging the idea that cardiovascular health and muscle building declines as a by-product of age, but rather as a result of inactivity.

In one study by Ball University, scientists looked at three groups of people; active 65 plus individuals, inactive 65 plus individuals, and a group of people in their 20’s. They found that the active group of senior individuals had muscles as capable as those of people in their 20’s. Those muscles also showed physical similarities, with equally healthy capillaries and enzymes (indicators of healthy muscle build). However, the inactive group showed a 40% reduction in muscle capabilities. 

Simply put, science backs up the old expression use it or lose it. So, the idea of movement as medicine indicates that the more active you are, the fewer health problems you will have. 

Now, that all sounds great for those who have stayed active and boast healthy muscles, but what about everyone else? What about people recovering from injuries or struggling with pain?

Well, it turns out that there are some hidden benefits of being active even if the activity is difficult.

Reduce Risk of Type Two Diabetes

This one is a little obvious, so calling it a hidden benefit isn’t entirely accurate. Nonetheless, we thought this was important enough to include anyway considering how many Americans struggle with the disorder.

Contrary to popular belief, type two diabetes is caused by more than just being overweight. However, in America, obesity is the leading cause of developing the condition. Millions of Americans have “prediabetes” and many aren’t aware of it. Prediabetes is when your glucose levels are elevated but not so much that you become diabetic. Basically, it is what it sounds like; a condition that develops before you become diabetic. Though overall health, genetic factors, and diet are major factors in the condition progressing, being active has a positive impact.

Improve Arthritis Symptoms

According to this article by The Washington Post, only 40% of Americans with arthritis are above the age of 65. Meaning that simple everyday tasks are considered difficult for about 24 million people with arthritis. 

Doctors recommend exercises for people with arthritis of all ages. Even though it can be painful, the benefits, in the long run, are worth it. Not only can an increase in physical activity help alleviate arthritic symptoms, but it can reduce the risk of developing other conditions associated with chronic pain, such as obesity. 

Here are a few quick exercises you can do to reduce pain caused by arthritis. 

Note: If you are experiencing any abnormal discomfort, please consult your physician. 

  • Stretching
  • Walking
  • Tia chi, yoga, and pilates
  • Water cycling
  •  Gardening
  • Low impact aerobics

Effects on Parkinson’s Symptoms

Exercise is vital to people with, or at risk of, developing Parkinson’s Disease. Since the main struggle with those with Parkinson’s is balance and motor function, an active person will diminish the progression of symptoms. The best results can be found by taking medication and working with a physical therapist or personal trainer. Though any regular exercise will help. If you don’t have a personal trainer or prefer to get your activity in other ways, that’s alright. The important thing isn’t what kind of exercise you are getting, simply that you are getting it regularly.

According to Parkinson’s News Today, here are a few quick exercises to diminish the progression of Parkinson’s symptoms:

  • Intensive sports training.
  • Treadmill training without body weight support.
  • Resistance training.
  • Aerobics.
  • Alternative exercises, such as yoga.
  • Home-based exercises.
  • Practicing movement strategies.

Reduce Chronic Pain

It has long been common knowledge that exercises release endorphins associated with the pleasure centers of our brains. But these same neurotransmitters, namely dopamine, and endocannabinoids, can also reduce the pain caused by inflammation and chronic disease. According to this NPR article, these naturally occurring endorphins have the same reported pain relief results as medical marijuana.

This is typically caused by intermittent, high-intensity exercise such as running, cycling, or swimming. Due to the intensity level and the strain these exercises can put on joints, you may want to work your way up with some of the other exercises we mentioned earlier.

Improved Social Life

Another benefit of the release of endorphins we experience when we exercise is to feel closer to people. This is particularly prevalent in group exercise activities like yoga, spin class, and synchronized swimming where groups of people are moving together as a group. Because of the release of endorphins and the team mentality of these activities, many people experience feeling a bond or closeness with those in their fitness groups. This reinforces our positive feelings toward being social and increases our likelihood to be social and more outgoing outside of group exercise.

Get Moving

Every day, we are working to reinvent the way people think about aging. Your number doesn’t mean being sentenced to the couch, and science suggests that empowering yourself to move is the key to staying healthy. There are so many helpful people here at LEC eager to work with you to achieve your fitness goals. Reach out to one of our health professionals today!

Looking for some other new secrets to living a healthy lifestyle? With this FREE A-Z guide on Living and Aging the Way You Want you can learn the ABCs of aging successfully. Download your PDF and start living the lifestyle you want.

Life Enriching Communities, Inc. (LEC), is an integrated family of lifestyle communities and senior living services in greater Cincinnati and Westlake, OH. Best known for our Twin Towers and Twin Lakes senior living communities, and our recent affiliation with Concord Reserve in Westlake, we have made aging well a top priority for nearly 120 years.

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