Camille Forte, Author at Amber Courtal

Financial Wellness Tips for Seniors

Getting older is a large transition physically, emotionally, and financially. As your needs change, so do your financial circumstances as you retire and pursue other opportunities. With over 15 million older adults aged 65+ being economically insecure, educating yourself on effective financial wellness practices is vital for living your golden years successfully. In fact, experiencing financial stress as you age can be detrimental to your mental and physical health. According to Verywell Mind, it can lead to anxiety, depression, social withdrawal, stomachaches, and headaches.

While everyone’s financial situation is different, there are steps you can take to become more secure. Here are some financial wellness tips to consider as you age.

Plan Ahead

Retiring is a wonderful milestone to achieve in life. There’s a lot to look forward to, but it’s important to plan ahead to ensure you can afford the lifestyle you envision for yourself. Before you start celebrating, determine your goals during retirement and create a plan to achieve them. If you have a partner, discuss your thoughts and aspirations openly – you might have different ideas of how you’d like to spend retirement.

Whether you want to travel, maintain independence, spend more time with family, buy a second home, or retire in a different location, these activities all involve money. Once you know your goals, determine if they’re feasible with your current financial situation and do research on the requirements needed to achieve them. For instance, if you want to buy a retirement home, knowing how much mortgage you can afford can help you narrow down your options and ensure you aren’t overspending. Considering the cost and financial implications of your goals as you age can help you live within your means.

Create a Spending Plan

As you age and eventually retire, your income will decrease when you stop working. Since most seniors depend solely on their retirement savings and Social Security benefits during this time, it’s important to create an organized spending plan to live on. As you get older, reevaluate your financial situation to ensure you’re prepared for the drop in income.

Once you know how much you have in savings, create a budget to live on during retirement. Compare your monthly income to your living expenses and account for any goals you want to save up for. If you can, try to eliminate any unnecessary expenses and spending like unused subscriptions or regular dining out to save some extra cash. With your change in lifestyle, you may be able to save on car insurance rates since you won’t be driving to work, and you can also  take advantage of senior discounts and deals. Having an organized budget will help you organize your spending so your savings will last you throughout retirement.

Pay Off Debt

Having debt at any point in your life can be stressful, but this can become a major burden as you get older and have less income. Whether it’s credit card debt, a car loan, mortgage, or other forms of borrowed money, these can prevent you from achieving your retirement goals or even retiring at all. To ensure your finances are healthy as you age, create a plan to pay off any outstanding debt.

Small steps like cutting back on expenses and dedicating that money toward debt repayment can be helpful, but you can also get a part-time job or sell homemade goods for some extra income. Try to tackle high-interest debt first to save money on interest payments, and work your way down. By paying more than the minimum amount and more than once a month, you can save money long-term and get your debt paid off faster. If you have several loans, you can also consolidate your debt into a single payment to secure a lower interest rate.

Protect Yourself from Scams

Seniors are common targets for financial scams. In fact, older Americans lost almost $1 billion in scams in 2020. As you get older, it’s important to protect your finances so you don’t become a victim of elder fraud. Consider these tips to secure your money:

  • Put alerts on your bank accounts for suspicious activity or large withdrawals.
  • Put your name and number on do not call lists.
  • Do not provide your personal information such as your Social Security number, bank account information, PIN, or password to unsolicited calls or requests.

Remember, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. If you think you’ve experienced a scam, report it to the proper authorities.

Consider Assisted Living

As your body and needs change when growing older, you may want additional assistance. Assisted living can help seniors age in a safe and comfortable environment. The cost of assisted living can vary, and some services may be covered by certain Medicare coverage.

Amber Court Assisted Living and HarborView Home (an Amber Court Community) offer both luxurious yet affordable accommodations that can cater to different budgets. We allow seniors to continue living in their residences if their assets are depleted, which provides them the safety and comfort of aging in place. Our mission is to preserve dignity, promote well-being, and provide quality care where each person is treated with kindness, compassion, and respect.

Contact Amber Court Assisted Living Communities today for an individualized discussion about how to manage your assisted living costs in our lovingly managed assisted living community.

Social Isolation in Seniors – the Real Risks

Social disconnection doesn’t just affect seniors’ mental health and quality of life, but their physical health too.

Social isolation and loneliness in the elderly is an increasing problem in the United States, but too often it’s one we don’t want to think about. The older adult population is growing. With that comes the risk that some seniors may lose the social connections that they need to thrive.

The Health Impact of Social Isolation on the Elderly

It can be difficult to measure loneliness and social disconnection precisely. The experience varies dramatically from person to person. There is strong evidence though that social isolation in the elderly is a problem that puts their physical health at risk:

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine noted that recent studies have  found that:

  • Lack of relationships was associated with about a 50% percent increased risk of dementia.
  • Poor social relationships were associated with a 29% increased risk of heart disease and a 32% increased risk of stroke.
  • Loneliness was associated with higher rates of depression and anxiety.
  • Loneliness among heart failure patients was associated with a nearly 4x increased risk of death, 68% increased risk of hospitalization, and 57% increased risk of emergency department visits.

The Risks of Loneliness

Aging and retiring from work are a major life transition. They can pose significant challenges to the health and well-being of older adults.

Large-scale studies have shown that around 25% of retirees in the US experience a significant decline in their health and well-being during this period. For every social group that participants reported losing in the years following retirement, they reported a 10% lower quality of life 6 years later.

While a decline in health is not universal and many factors are at play, overall there is evidence that social isolation in the elderly plays an important part in their health. Social relationships are a significant predictor of longevity. Social connections have shown to be even stronger influences than other health behaviors such as:

  • physical exercise,
  • smoking or
  • alcohol consumption.

Overall, socially engaged seniors report reduced depression and better cognitive health.

Special Populations Are At Higher Risk

Certain populations of older adults are at even higher risk for loneliness and social detachment. These include immigrants, LGBT populations, and minorities.

There has been less research done in these groups but the research that does exist shows that these populations experience loneliness and its impacts more often than other groups.

First-generation immigrants may experience stressors that increase their isolation. These include:

  • Language barriers
  • Differences in community
  • Family dynamics
  • Newer relationships that lack history

What Causes Social Isolation in the Elderly?

Social connection is a term used to describe the structure, function, and quality of human relationships and interactions.

Social isolation in the elderly and others occurs when there is a lack of or limited extent of social contact with others.  Loneliness is the subjective feeling of being lonely or negatively perceiving your lack of social connections.

Not all people who are socially isolated are lonely. Some people may naturally spend more time by themselves and are not bothered by it. Additionally, it is possible to have many social connections but still feel lonely if those connections don’t meet the person’s needs.

What’s most important is that older adults feel socially supported. Social support refers to a person’s ability to get their needs met by others in their social network. The amount of social support needed is unique to each individual.

Social Isolation Symptoms To Watch For

The signs and symptoms of social isolation in the elderly can vary from person to person. If you find yourself or your loved one consistently feeling any of the following, you might be suffering from a lack of connection or loneliness.

●      Feeling Unable to Connect with Others

  • You may have friends or family around but struggle to feel connected on a deeper level. You may have casual friends or acquaintances but don’t feel like you have a “best friend” or someone who “gets you.

●      Feeling Isolated Even Around Others

  • Even if you have friends and family around, you still feel isolated or separate. You feel like you are in your own bubble even when you are out in public spaces.

●      Doubting Your Self-worth

  • If you are feeling like you try to connect with others but it isn’t reciprocated, you may start to doubt yourself. Feeling less than or doubting your worth regularly can be a symptom of chronic loneliness.

●      Feeling Exhausted When You Try to Engage

  • When you are dealing with chronic loneliness, trying to engage socially can leave you feeling burnt out or exhausted even though you may think socializing was what you wanted.

How To Keep Seniors Connected

Social isolation in the elderly is not an inevitable fact of life. Fortunately, there are more ways than ever for seniors to stay connected to friends and family. Here are some ways that seniors can stay socially active as they age:

help seniors connect with others
Help seniors use tech to connect with others
  1. Seniors can seek out groups with similar interests. Whether it be a class for something they have wanted to learn, a volunteer group, or a faith-based group, group activities can be a lower-pressure way to meet new friends.
  2. An assisted living community can allow seniors to maintain their independence while still having easy access to friends and social activities.
  3. Technology is becoming more user-friendly every year. Seniors may find it easier than ever to utilize social media, video conferencing, or other communication technologies to keep in contact.
  4. If you do feel like isolation is causing depression, reach out for help and come up with a plan to manage and increase your connection.

Assisted Living Can Help

Isolation and loneliness can take a toll on older adults. Assisted living can help seniors stave off social disconnection by providing a supportive environment to age in place.

Some of the features at Amber Court Assisted Living that can help promote a sense of social connection and combat social isolation in older adults include:

  • Restaurant-style dining
  • Spacious recreation areas (indoor and outdoor)
  • Relaxation and social lounges
  • On-site hair, barber and (at some locations) even nail salons
  • Easy access to local transportation (at some locations)
  • Scheduled group activities every day
  • Regular, on-site visits by gerontologists and other specialists such as cardiologists, gerontologists and more

Reach out to Amber Court Assisted Living today and find out how we can help your family to prevent social isolation in someone you love.

Maintaining Both Safety and Independence

The little tasks we take for granted as part of day-to-day living are the things that can actually become safety concerns for senior citizens. At any age, our independence is something we hold dear – but even more so as we get older. At the same time, the smallest tasks can become risks. We often think aging in place at the same home one has been living in for years or even decades equals independence, but our own stairs and stoves are just two of many things that can get dangerous when it comes to senior living. Seniors often think that it’s one or the other – independence vs. safety. That may have been true decades ago, but now it’s very possible to age in place and keep one’s independence, stay safe and truly enjoy being a senior.

What kind of risks can aging in place at one’s family home, long after the nest is empty, could there be?

Common Risks to Senior Living at Home

Falls

The most common safety issue for seniors is falling. Falls are the most common cause of head injuries among older adults. Falls also cause more than 95 percent of hip fractures among seniors. Seniors are often unable to live independently after being injured in a fall.

Cooking Safety

Cooking is one of the leading causes of fire at home. There is a 2.5x risk of being injured in a kitchen fire for seniors than the general population according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).  Physical impairments, medication side effects, memory impairments, and lack of someone around to help all increase the risk of a fire occurring while cooking.

Medical Emergencies

Older adults experience similar health problems as younger adults. However, these problems may present differently or be brushed off as normal aging. In senior patients, minor illnesses can lead to deterioration resulting in immobility, confusion, or falls.  For older adults with less social support, this can result in not having someone available to recognize and call for help in an emergency.

Social Isolation

While not the most obvious, social isolation is also a senior safety issue.  Studies have shown that about 25% of retirees in the US experience a significant drop in health and well-being after retirement. Increasingly, medical literature points to the fact that social factors have a profound impact on older adult’s health. Social relationships with others are a significant predictor of their longevity… even more so than other behaviors such as physical exercise, smoking, or consuming alcohol!

Assisted Living Helps Seniors Live Safely

Assisted living allows seniors to maintain their independence while still receiving any personal care assistance they might need. Additionally, seniors can “age in place”. This means that care can be customized as needs change without having to move.

Senior Living with Independence and Wellbeing
Every day is a day with friends

Physical Spaces

Assisted living communities are specifically designed with senior safety in mind. It is specifically constructed to promote accessibility and mobility for older adults. This can include features such as ramps, hand railings, raised toilets, specially designed walk-in showers, and grab bars in bathrooms. They can also have amenities, services and activities that improve their quality of life!

Having Help Right There, Always

Many assisted living communities feature emergency call buttons. Staff is notified in case of falls or medical concerns. This means seniors don’t have to worry about struggling to contact help or waiting to be found after a medical event at home.

Financial Freedom

Finances are often a real concern in retirement. Some assisted living communities offer Medicaid solutions that ensure a resident can continue aging in place, even if their financial situation changes. That’s an enormous burden lifted for any senior!

Household Safety & Maintenance

Older adults living alone are responsible for maintaining their own homes, which can be much harder than it used to be. Most important are smoke detectors, carbon monoxide alarms and keeping fire extinguishers current. Other household concerns like water heaters, plumbing and even basic handiwork can be insurmountable setbacks for the senior living alone.

Some assisted living communities work with Medicaid, which allows residents to age in place, even if their financial situation changes.

On-Site Medical Care at Amber Court
On-site care at Amber Court

The Best of Both Worlds at Amber Court Assisted Living

At Amber Court, assisted living residents enjoy private or semi-private rooms. This allows for independence while also having access to amenities that help them remain safe and socially connected.

These include services that promote senior safety such as:

  • A front desk concierge
  • Restaurant-style dining rooms
  • On-site nursing services
  • Regular visits by General Practitioners, Gerontologists and other specialists
  • Personal care assistance as needed
  • Someone always available to help

You can also prevent social isolation and maintain connections with amenities such as:

  • Easy access to local transportation
  • On-site hair and barber services
  • Social lounges and recreation areas
  • Outdoor social areas
  • Medicaid options
On-Site Hair Salons at Amber Court
On-site hair salons at Amber Court

Concerns About Senior Safety During the Pandemic

Many seniors are justifiably concerned about living in senior housing during the Covid-19 pandemic. Assisted living facilities aren’t set up the same as nursing homes. This is an important difference.

In nursing homes, there are often multiple residents living in a room. Staff is in and out all day providing care. In assisted living, residents can enjoy private or semi-private accommodations with only the help from staff that they need.

Along with more spacious living accommodations, assisted living facilities such as Amber Court have several recreational spaces. These allow for safe, socially distant activities for those who want them.

Amber Court Assisted Living Facilities follow all Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines and protocols. They also follow all state Department of Health regulations for protective equipment, infection control, and visitations.

For many seniors, assisted living offers the best quality of life the retired years can offer – both the independence of aging in place with the safety, services and socialization needed to stay as healthy and happy as possible.

Considering Assisted Living?

Assisted living can be an easy and effective way to maintain independence and safety as you age. The services provided in assisted living can help you avoid common senior safety issues associated with falls, cooking, medical emergencies, and social isolation.

At Amber Court, we believe everyone deserves to age in a comfortable, safe, and cheerful environment. Our mission is to preserve dignity, promote well-being, and provide quality care. We emphasize individuality and enjoyment in a warm, nurturing environment.

Considering an assisted living community in the New York or New Jersey area? Contact Amber Court Assisted Living today to talk to us about how we can help with both senior safety and independence.