Building a Plan for Aging Alone, Tips for Solo Agers

Sometimes called elder orphans, solo seniors, or solo agers, there are many names for the growing group of older adults that are aging alone. Whether they never had children or lost their spouse, there are many reasons a person might find themselves aging alone. For those who find themselves on their own, making a plan for your aging is of utmost importance. Decisions about where you want to live and how, what medical care you should receive, and end-of-life care. These tips should help soo agers age well.

Tips for Aging Alone

Meet with an Elder Law Attorney for Aging Alone

It is incredibly important to meet with an elder law attorney and develop a plan to fill out and file estate planning documents. This attorney can help you execute a Will or Trust as well as a Durable Power of Attorney.

  • A Will or Trust grants you the ability to designate who will receive certain bits of the property after you expire. Trusts can help you avoid probate.
  • A Durable Power of Attorney grants you the ability to assign a person to manage your financial affairs in the event that you are no longer able.

Devise a Safety Plan

If you are a solo ager, living alone, you may need to ensure you have a plan in place to keep you safe. For those seniors who are comfortable using smart products, there are lots of apps that can help you. Some apps even require you to check in throughout the day to verify you are alright. If you don’t respond, the app will alert an emergency contact.  In some cases, you can program them to contact the police to perform a “wellness check.”

For the non-tech-savvy senior, there are still other options. If you are living on your own in your own home, you may want to contact a Care Coordinator. If you are interested in living in a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) some safety securities are built into the campus lifestyle.

Make Sure You Have Aging Allies

What is an “aging ally” you might ask? An aging ally is someone who is ready to help you, should you need more care. They are essentially your safety net. 

Who qualifies as an aging ally? An elder law attorney, friend, financial advisor, care manager, doctor, trusted neighbor, relatives, or anyone you trust. Ideally, you would have two aging allies.

With all the senior living options today, researching each of them can be exhausting. To help, we have created your FREE Continuing Care Retirement Community Guide to get you started.

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.

4 Retirement Myths to Free Fact From Fiction

Thinking of retirement should inspire thoughts about fun vacations to the coast and more time with family. Not anxieties about your finances. With all the retirement myths out there, it can be difficult to sift through the fiction to find the facts. Fortunately, we’ve cleaned some retirement myths up for you.

Retirement Myths

Social Security is Running Out

There are no federal programs more important to retirement than Social Security. Half of retirees in America depend on Social Security for half of their income. While another 25% rely on Social Security for roughly 90% of their retirement budget. According to a Pew Research Center survey, 42% of survey takers believe Social Security will be a gone by the time they are ready to retire.

However, the truth is that, yes; social security needs some help but it’s not going anywhere. Even in the unlikely event that nothing is done to protect Social Security, monthly checks in 2035 will still be higher than they are now. This is because Social Security benefits increase at a greater rate than levels of inflation. Additionally, retirement security draws bipartisan support politically, so much so that the 2019 Security Act was passed.

Retirement is Short

Every day, the medical field is making more breakthroughs for successful aging, but this also means longer retirements. Many people plan on retiring at 65. However, the average life expectancy now is about 80. This means you can expect to spend about 15 years in retirement.

Some people plan on working into their 70’s, making their retired years shorter. However many aren’t physically able to carry out this plan. This is due to the fact that time can take a toll on your body and even though you feel great at 60 and plan on working the next 10 years, any number of health scares can crop up in that period of time.

Medicare Will Cover My Needs

While it is true that Medicare is advantageous to those 65 and up, it is not as all-encompassing as some people think. One of the most common misconceptions is that you won’t incur any medical expenses because Medicare will cover them. However, Medicare has some serious limits. 

Things like long-term care, dental appointments, and vision assessments are not often covered by Medicare. Additionally, you will still need to pay for copays and deductibles when applicable which often means you will have medical expenses in retirement. 

I Will Need to Move to a Nursing Home

For many, “retirement” means “old” and “old” means it’s time to move to an “old person’s home.” This is probably the worst myth of all for multiple reasons. Over the last decade or so, the retirement industry has changed substantially and is now a time for opportunity and excitement rather than a slow march to “the end.”

These days, there are more options than just moving to a retirement community and many choose their communities not based on care needs but on lifestyle choices. Those who choose to downsize have the ability to move to a smaller home of their own or join an active retirement community. A retirement community offers activities, social opportunities, and fewer daily responsibilities which allows individuals to live their fullest lives in retirement.

Thinking of living a stress-free lifestyle? Check out what a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) has to offer with our FREE Guide!

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.

7 More Spectacular Destination Books to Cure Your Wanderlust

Since you loved our first 9 spectacular destination books, we thought we would give you 7 more! Enjoy your spectacular destination and happy reading!

Spectacular Destination Books

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

Welcome to the Belgian Congo, and one evangelical family’s tragic mission into the heart of Africa. Told from the perspectives of multiple family members, the Price family embarks on a journey that will transform them through their suspenseful and epic family journey. Set against the backdrop of the Congo’s fight for independence, the dramatic and dangerous political climate thematically matches the struggles of the Price family in adapting to the obstacles of their new home.

The Waterdancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Travel back in time to a plantation in the south where young Hiram Walker is born into bondage. The son of the wealthy plantation owner, Hiram is trapped between the world of the free and the burdens of a slave. When his mother is sold, he loses the memory of her face but is gifted with a mysterious power. A power that comes to his aide one day when he nearly drowns in a river with his free-born brother.

The Terror by Dan Simmons

You can almost feel the unforgiving bite of the arctic cold as the first steam-powered expedition sets out to find the Northern Passage in 1845. But as their mission meets obstacle after obstacle and gets trapped in the frozen northern ice-flow, there is something terrible out on the ice with them. And it is looking to feed.

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

Another trip back in time to the German front of WWI. Join young Paul as he and his classmates enlist in the army and become entwined in the fray. Through the horror of war, Paul tries to hold to the idea of meaningless hate that puts men at odds with one another. Now, his only wish is to make it out alive.

The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss

As the story opens, you find the Robinson family manning a ship during a great storm. The Swiss pastor, his wife, and four children have been abandoned by the crew and left to their watery fate. Yet, as the family comes together they are able to weather the storm until they are eventually shipwrecked on a tropical island. Once there, the family takes on the herculean task of creating a home for themselves.

Oral History by Lee Smith

When Jennifer is in college, she decides to return to Hoot Owl Holler, her childhood home. She goes armed with a tape recorder to retell the tales of murder and mystery that materialize there. But as she begins to uncover the history of her family, not everything is as it seems.

Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain

Join Mr. Twain himself while he pilots a steamboat down the Mississippi, beginning in 1883. The book begins with a history of the river, dating as far back as the Spanish explorers of 1542. The book goes onto Twain’s memoir as an apprentice on the steamboat and recounts the trip between St. Louis to New Orleans. This book sets Twain apart from other American humorists. 

Looking to put down the destination books and flip the pages of something a little more educational? Click the icon below to download your FREE copy to Real-Life Tips to Selling, Downsizing, & Moving.

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.

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.

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.