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Figuring out the Basics of In-Home Caregiving


caregiverFor many adult children, it gradually becomes obvious that mom and dad aren’t safe living at home alone. Small signs begin to add up— scorched pots from meals that have been forgotten on the stove, dirty laundry that has piled up for weeks, burned out bulbs that have never been replaced. 

It’s a realization that’s fraught with anxiety— these grown daughters and sons find that they have no idea what to do when they are thrown into the role of caregiver.

A lot of concerned children of aging parents will attempt to ease transition by offering a move into the child’s home, where care can be provided by family members. But few seniors relish the prospect of moving away from their homes and into an assisted living situation, even if that assistance is provided by a caregiving child.

So what if your parent keeps resisting a move to your home?

Sometimes, that does happen. You need to be calmly and gently persistent. But you also need to know when to ease off. Leave the invitation open and look for the right openings to broach the topic again. 

If, for example, your mom mentions to you that grocery shopping and cooking for herself are becoming a real chore or that cleaning the bathroom leaves her knees sore for the rest of the day, you might remind her that an offer to move her in with you is on the table.

And it may be that your parent has to learn a hard lesson before he or she will consider change. It’s interesting how life can come full circle— just like you might have learned that riding your bike in gravel may cause you to fall, and thus you learned not to do so, a parent might learn that continuing to live unassisted in a cluttered home might result in a scary fall, and that they need more help.

Give your parent as many options as possible.

It’s important that your parents are not made to feel as if they are losing control of life decisions. Make sure that you lay out all of the options— in-home services, an assisted living community, moving into your home— though you can, of course, make what you believe to be the best choice seem like the most attractive option.

And as with most difficult choices, it’s best not to beat around the bush.

Be frank in bringing up your concerns about a memory lapse, but don’t take the choice away from your parent. Say, “Dad, I’m worried about your memory and these falls you’ve been having recently. I think you need a little more help. Should we start talking with your doctor about whether you need to consider assisted living? Or maybe you’d like to try moving in with me for a while so that I can make sure you’re getting everything you need? I’m happy to provide input, but I’d like to know your thoughts.”

Make sure everybody is on the same page.

If you have siblings who would want to be involved, make sure that you consult them and that you all present a unified front to your parents. The worst thing you can do is to appear inconsistent or to argue in front of your parent.

You also need to make sure that your parent designates a healthcare power of attorney and fills out advance directives and a living will. That way, there will be clear expectations and clear leadership for any future care decisions.

During this time, bear in mind that this is likely a stressful situation for you and your aging parent. But using these powerful tools to persuade your parent of the best course of action, you will make sure that your parents are safe and have the care and the caregivers they most need.

Worried about a loved one? Download our tipsheet to decideif it's time to talk about senior care.

Episcopal Retirement Homes is a Cincinnati-based leader in quality retirement communities and innovative elder care services.

Help Your Aging Parents Make the Right Choices about Senior Care


senior woman and adult daughterThere comes a time when many adult children realize that their aging parents are no longer able to take care of themselves. A lot of heartache and agonizing decision-making can result—especially when mom and dad are loath to admit that they need help.

So when the time comes for mom or dad to stop living independently, how do you convince him or her that a move is in his or her best interest? Here are tips you can put into practice— powerful tools for caregivers that you can use in your efforts to keep your parent safe.

Consult the experts.

According to registered nurse Stella Henry, co-author of The Eldercare Handbook, many aging parents are simply unrealistic in their estimation of their abilities to manage alone. She states that early and open communication between family members is the key to tearing down the walls that the senior might put up. If the groundwork for discussions about future care has been laid down before your parent ever needs assistance, Henry asserts, his or her fears will most likely have been alleviated by the time extra care does become necessary. 

Involve your parent’s primary care doctor or geriatric specialist in discussions, if possible. This will ensure the decisions you make together are medically appropriate, and will give your parent additional evidence to support your claims. If he or she is hearing the same message from doctor and family, it may be more convincing.

Develop an advance plan together.

If you want to bring your parent first into your own home before any move to future care in an assisted living facility, it would be wise for you and your parent to sit down and discuss this plan. Make sure that your parents understand that a plan for continuing care must be developed, but also ask for their input on what they would like to see happen going forward.

You might visit retirement communities and assisted living facilities together— in advance— so that your parents have a chance to view potential future homes and make their preferences known. If your parents are resistant to the idea of even visiting a senior living community, ask them to do so as a favor to you. It may help make a visit more palatable to them.

Once your parent sees a positive residential environment there, and that there is nothing to be feared about moving in to an assisted living community, he or she may become less apt to resist considering future care. You could even put a plan in writing together, so that your parent knows that his or her wishes have been heard and understood.

Appeal to your parent’s sense of empathy.

If your parents are able to see and understand that their condition has become a source of concern to you, he or she may ease up on the resistance.   Most parents don’t want to worry their children— as you yourself have likely experienced, a parent sees looking out and providing for their kids as a lifelong role.

“Make it your problem instead of your parent's problem," Henry suggests. "If you say 'you have to do this, or do that,' you'll lose them. Instead say something like, 'Mom, I'm concerned about you; it makes me worried to see you like this.'"

But you need to be wary of an aging parent’s attempt to hide his or her true condition, too. And that’s where regular, open and honest communication is again essential. If you are fostering regular, positive contacts with your parents, and they perceive that your concerns for their wellbeing are genuine, they will probably feel more comfortable about being honest with you.

Worried about a loved one? Download our tipsheet to decideif it's time to talk about senior care.

Episcopal Retirement Homes is a Cincinnati-based leader in quality retirement communities and innovative elder care services.

The Simplest Senior Care Devices May Be the Best


simple senior devicesTechnology is supposed to make difficult jobs easier. Smart phones makes it easier to share personal experiences through pictures and videos, for example, and keeping a checking account balanced has never been easier since the invention of online banking. State-of-the-art toys featuring all the bells and whistles will always attract the attention of young people but simple devices have always found the best traction among seniors.

While young people have no problem adapting to the each new technology to come along, many seniors have trouble learning how to operate some of the more sophisticated gadgets.

Devices with multiple functionalities are overly complicated and difficult to use, especially in times of emergency. Many seniors become confused, overwhelmed and frustrated when technology, instead of offering much-need assistance, seems to make simple tasks more difficult. When this happens, some seniors simply give up trying to use these tools.

Don't Psych Yourself Out

It is a myth that older people cannot learn how to use new technology – six in ten seniors now go online and 77 percent have a cell phone, according to Pew Research Internet Project. But, despite these numbers, many seniors still remain uncomfortable with adopting new technologies-- at least when it comes to figuring things out on their own.

According to the Pew study, most seniors would be unlikely to sit down at a computer, or with a hand-held device, and play around until they figured out how things work.  77 percent of respondents said they would need someone to walk them through a new technological process.

Seniors who find help and overcome challenges to make technology part of their daily lives, however, will find a powerful tool in their future care arsenal.

Simplicity in Technology: Future Care for Seniors

Chronic medical conditions like arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia, poor vision and hearing problems can make life difficult for seniors-- especially those who want to live independently at home. The little problems, like forgetting to take medication or leaving the stove on, can cause serious emergencies. Simple technologies help seniors stay independent by reducing the risk for life-threatening problems.

  • Medical alert devices are perhaps the easiest tool for seniors because they are simple– just press a button in case of emergency to call for immediate help. These devices are lightweight, unobtrusive, inexpensive and, best of all, easy to install and use. You do not need to dial a telephone to communicate with an emergency response center.
  • Medication reminders are another type of simple technology that seniors can really use. The old-fashioned pill trays keep daily dosages organized but don't let seniors know when it's time to take a pill. Today there is a variety of medication reminder apps for smart phones, automatic pill dispensers, and vibrating pill timers that help seniors take their medication on time. While these devices are handy, some may be difficult for the senior to set up or update with new medications.
  • Locator devices are essential for people who regularly lose their keys, eyeglasses case, canes, TV remote, and other household items. Many locator devices work by simply pressing a button then following a high-pitched tone.
  • Other types of technology, not specifically meant for senior life, can also come in handy. Clocks and calendars help seniors keep track of time and important events. Clocks that show the time of day and day of the week are especially helpful to orient confused individuals.

In the future, care for seniors will likely include all the latest, greatest gadgets that engineers can dream up but the simplest senior care devices will always be the most popular because they are easy to use and reliable.

Want to learn how Cincinnati Seniors are  Living Well Into The Future?Click here to download our free tipsheet!


Episcopal Retirement Homes is a Cincinnati-based leader in quality retirement communities and innovative elder care services.

Want a Better Senior Lifestyle? Be Proactive About Your Health


seniors proactive healthAmerican healthcare is moving towards a “help yourself” mentality that encourages everyone– even seniors– to become proactive about their own health.

The new age of healthcare that has followed the Affordable Care Act has placed much of the responsibility on the individual to keep his body in the best physical shape possible so that he may avoid chronic or fatal illnesses during his senior life.  In response to this, many hospitals and other care providers have initiated prevention and wellness programs to help patients become proactive about their health.

The direction of these prevention and wellness initiatives has been guided by a number of factors within the American healthcare system.

1. The prevalence of chronic diseases is increasing in the United States.

Chronic illnesses cost the U.S. economy more than a trillion dollars a year, according to the Milliken Institute Study. Prevention and wellness improves the health of all Americans, enhances the quality of care each American receives and reduces costs for everyone.

For older adults, two of the major obstacles to a better senior lifestyle are obesity and inactivity-- which can lead to a whole host of debilitating age-related conditions. Being overweight and sedentary increases your risk for diabetes, heart problems, among other chronic conditions.

2. People have trouble communicating with their doctors.

According to the Center for Advanced Health, only about half of all Medicare participants bring a list of questions to ask their doctors during appointments. About 60 percent of patients do not tell their doctors about drug allergies unless specifically asked. Approximately two in five bring a list of the medications they are taking-- which means that 25 percent of patients never bring a medications list, increasing their chances for dangerous drug interactions.

This lack of communication leaves health outcomes with much to be desired.

About one-third of patients over the age of 44 suffering from one or more chronic conditions say they sometimes leave the doctor office feeling confused about what they are supposed to do.

3. Many people are reactive to their own healthcare rather than proactive.

Many seniors are lackadaisical about their health, taking action in the nick of time, only after an illness occurs or seems imminent.

One internet survey mentioned by the Center for Advanced Health demonstrates just how reactive most patients are: 90 percent of respondents in that survey said they would become active in improving their own health if they were diagnosed with a chronic illness. Taking control of one’s own health only after an illness occurs is much too late to improve health during senior life.

How to Have a Better Senior Life through a Proactive Approach to Healthcare

You can enjoy a better lifestyle in your senior years by adopting a proactive approach to your own healthcare today. You could, for example, start by

  • Work on your health literacy. Learn everything you can about good health, nutrition, proper exercise and information about common illnesses. Educate yourself before you become sick so you can learn symptoms and preventative strategies.
  • See your doctor regularly. Bring a list of questions to ask and write down the answers. Ask a friend or family member to come with you if you tend to feel confused or overwhelmed during doctor appointments. You may also want to start keeping your own copy of your medical records which would help every doctor you see understand your complete health history, including chronic illnesses, allergies to medicines and complications during previous treatments.
  • Adopt healthy habits. Eat low-calorie, nutritious meals and exercise regularly to keep your weight under control. Stop using tobacco and keep drinking alcohol in moderation, if you drink at all. Reduce stress and increase social interaction to improve your mental, emotional and social well-being. Proper nutrition, physical activity, a healthy lifestyle and slim waistline reduces your risk for developing many chronic illnesses common today, including diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

You can improve your own health and the quality of healthcare you receive by adopting a proactive attitude about your health. Learn about your body and the illnesses that can affect you. Start communicating with your doctor as an informed patient so that you can get the most out of the healthcare she provides. Become proactive about your health today to have a better senior life tomorrow.

Want to learn how Cincinnati Seniors are  Living Well Into The Future?Click here to download our free tipsheet!


Episcopal Retirement Homes is a Cincinnati-based leader in quality retirement communities and innovative elder care services.

Independent Living Really Does Mean Independent


independent living seniorsWhen you discuss your future care options with your family, you probably can’t help wondering if “independent living” is a misnomer. A potential move into a community setting from a home you’ve lived in so long can seem downright frightening.

You might be worrying that independent living isn’t actually independent at all; that you won’t be able to set your own schedule, come and go as you please, or live the lifestyle you’ve chosen to lead. That may have even been the case in days past when seniors elected to move into retirement homes. But not anymore.

Modern retirement centers are not “old folks homes.” They are part of a continuum of care.

Let’s start off by addressing a common misconception: independent living centers are not assisted living facilities, nor are they nursing homes. Independent living, assisted living and nursing care are all different types of service along a continuum of future care.

Independent living is exactly as advertised: Residents often have their own vehicles, can have guests, cook for themselves, and do everything they would normally do on their own.  The only difference may be that, just like in any other apartment complex, you’re freed from the necessities of house maintenance that with home ownership—with the added bonus of having certain aging services on premise.

Assisted living, the next level along the continuum, provides more intensive help with daily tasks— cooking, bathing, dressing and medication monitoring, for instance — but other than that, you’re able to go about normal activities as before. It’s like being cared for at home, without the worry of placing burdens on loved ones or of spending a lot of time alone.

Nursing care is advanced monitored medical care for people who can, temporarily or permanently, no longer care for themselves. It’s a step beyond assisted living, although modern nursing care is much more concerned with enabling a person to conduct their daily lives to the fullest extent of their abilities, and is far more concerned with maintaining a person’s dignity than were nursing homes in the past.

In a full-spectrum retirement community, one will typically find residents in the independent living category and in the assisted living category. And some retirement centers offer all three types of care so that a resident need not be moved from place to place, or separated far from a spouse, as needs change.

So what is independent living really like?

Frankly, it’s like moving into an apartment or condo.

You can often choose what kind of residence you would like to rent within the community— a small house, a townhome, an apartment or a studio. The community center provides maintenance. You won’t be responsible for mowing your grass, landscaping, fixing broken fixtures, or even housekeeping if you don’t wish.

Many independent living centers do have community dining halls or café-style food outlets, but you don’t have to use them.

If you enjoy cooking for yourself, most offer units with full kitchen amenities. Or, you might do some cooking on your own and mix in some meals taken at the center’s eateries— just like you might, after a long or busy day in your own home, opt to go out to eat instead of cooking. Some communities even have cocktail lounges or pubs where you can kick back, relax and share some laughs!

In an independent living setting, you can typically have everything you would have at home: parties for friends or family members, overnight guests, a parking space for your vehicle if you are still driving and often, even pets! Cats, fish, birds, and even dogs (subject to size or breed restrictions) can be found in many retirement center residents’ homes.

And most, if not all, retirement communities offer a full range of social events, day excursions and exercise activities to keep your calendar as full as you wish it to be.

Seeing is believing.

When trying to decide whether or not to make the move to an independent living community, schedule visits! Communities welcome prospective resident visits and will be happy to accommodate you and answer questions you and your loved ones may have.

The interiors of most independent living communities are bright and cheery, with big, open common areas where residents can chat, make friends, watch TV and movies and play games.

On your visits, make sure you take some time to stop by the commons and dining facilities and talk to current residents. You’ll find that the best way to alleviate your fears about going to new surroundings is to hear about others’ experiences                                                             

Enjoy Life after Retirement.Download Our Senior Living Guide and Find Your Community

Episcopal Retirement Homes is a Cincinnati-based leader in quality retirement communities and innovative elder care services.

The Trick to Cooler Senior Living


senior sweatingDoes your summer fun melt away in the heat of the day? Do you toss and turn all night on sweat-soaked sheets for three months out of every year? If you are an older person and find it increasingly difficult to deal with heat, you are not alone– individuals over the age of 65 are more prone to heat stress than are younger people

Fortunately, there are a few simple, inexpensive tricks to making senior living much cooler.

Older adults can be at greater risk for heat-related problems because older bodies do not adjust to changes in temperatures as well as younger bodies. Plus, many seniors are also more likely to have chronic medical conditions or take medications that change the way their bodies respond to heat. These factors leave seniors at higher risk for developing heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Seniors can prepare to stay comfortable and safe, even in the hottest summer months, with a few cool senior living tips.

Cooler Senior Living Outdoors

Plan to do outdoor activities in the early hours of the morning, before the heat of the day sets in. Eat breakfast outdoors, for example, but go inside for lunch and dinner.

Play in the shade. Sun exposure raises your body temperature and increases your risk for developing heat exhaustion or, worse yet, heat stroke. Enjoy activities inside a covered porch or under a tree.

Slow down. Avoid strenuous activity, which increases your risk for developing heat exhaustion. The faster you move, the more your body heats up so take it easy during hot weather. Take frequent breaks– sit down and enjoy a glass of cool water or lemonade.

Summer is best enjoyed at a relaxed pace anyway.

Cooler Senior Living Indoors

Lower the shades to keep out sun and heat. Get a head start on the sun by closing the shades on the east side of your house in the morning and shutting the southern and western shades in the afternoon and evening. Invest in sun-blocking blinds that still allow air to flow through open windows.

Open the windows, especially at night. Use box fans to blow cool air into a room.

Turn on that air conditioner– it does you no good just sitting there, blocking your view through the window. If you avoid turning on the AC because you are concerned about your electric bill, replace old air conditioner units with newer, more efficient models. Those of you with central air can look into replacing your outdoor compressor with a high-efficiency unit.

Cooler Senior Living Anywhere

Drink plenty of water, juice and sports drinks to keep your body hydrated. Avoid caffeine– it can act as a diuretic that makes you urinate more often, increasing your risk for dehydration.

Eat small meals several times a day, especially if you tend to lose your appetite in hot weather. Nibble on cold foods like sandwiches and salads— fruits and vegetables are rich in nutrients and contain lots of water to keep you hydrated.

Indulge in cool treats such as popsicles, ice cream and yogurt. Sugar-free versions are available if you worry about your blood sugar levels.

Update your style– wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing. Light colors are best, as are clothes made from cotton. Protect your skin with UV sun block and a wide brimmed hat for daylight excursions outdoors. Don’t look good in a hat? Use an umbrella instead.

Learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke; take immediate action if you or someone else experiences signs of these serious conditions. Give a person something to drink and ask him to sit down if he shows signs of heat exhaustion:

  • cool, moist, pale, flushed or red skin
  • headache
  • nausea or vomiting
  • heavy sweating
  • dizziness and extreme fatigue

Cool the individual with a hose or wet towels and call 911 if his skin is hot, red and/or dry, he loses consciousness, has a rapid and weak pulse, and rapid, shallow breathing. Do not give him water if he refuses or vomits.

Don’t melt away in the summer sun this year. Reduce your risk for heat-related problems by incorporating these senior living tricks into your summer routine. Keep your cool this summer!

Want to learn how Cincinnati Seniors are  Living Well Into The Future?Click here to download our free tipsheet!


Episcopal Retirement Homes is a Cincinnati-based leader in quality retirement communities and innovative elder care services.

Powerful Tools for Long-Distance Caregivers


support system senior livingThe chances are good that, at some point, you will be in the position of having to provide some sort of care for a loved one—a child, spouse or parent. It’s even more likely that you’re going to find yourself trying to oversee the care of an aging parent who lives out-of-state.

Current statistics show that approximately 15% of the nation's 34 million people who provide care for older family members live an hour or more away. The numbers are expected to increase dramatically as the US population ages.

Long distance care can be a burden, but there are some powerful tools for caregivers that can help overcome the distance.

Support Systems

In an ideal world, your parents will have made plans in advance outlining steps to be taken in case of an unexpected health event. However, that rarely happens. While not all caregiving begins after a medical emergency, but a great many do, and medical decisions can be of prime importance.

Following the initial decision-making at the hospital, there are logical steps to follow in making decisions for extended care, and often the best resource is the hospital or medical community

Other family members, friends and neighbors (both yours and your parent's), employers and community and governmental agencies, membership organizations, and faith-based resources can all be called upon for information and services. When you are in the situation of having to make life-changing decisions for your parents, it is imperative that you gather as much information as quickly as possible.

Logistical Considerations

The internet is your best friend. In many areas of the country, you can simply search for "tools for long distance caregivers" and you will find a wealth of information at your fingertips.

  1. The HHS Administration on Aging maintains an online directorythat is state and even area-specific. It is easy to access and represents one of the most powerful tools for caregivers that is readily accessible no matter where you live.
  2. The American Society on Aging is a valuable resource that you might want to familiarize yourself with before a need arises. In addition to listing valuable resources, the online site has an excellent blog that will keep you up to date on eldercare issues of interest. The organization also offers a series of web seminars to its members, with many of them also available free of charge to non-members.
  3. National Institute on Aging is another great online resource that offers plenty of free materials to caregivers; again, you might want to spend some time here in advance of the need.
  4. National Caregivers Library, a third site in the lineup of exemplary resources, has a series of assessments, checklists, questionnaires and worksheets that you can download free of charge as you make determinations about the need for care and the steps you will take once you become a long-distance caregiver.

Emotional and Financial Burden

The toll on an individual of providing interim or long-term care for a loved one can become a very real burden that is heightened by distance.

On top of the typical expenses, the cost of travel can be high, and time away from your own home, family, activities and work is a physical and emotional drain. In 1996, nearly one-third of employers offered some sort of referral, resource or assistance programs for their salaried workforce. Be sure to ask your company about its policies. There are also federal and state laws which sometimes govern medical caregiving leave, flexible scheduling and financial assistance.

The best course of action is to have an honest conversation with your parents about planning for future care. Ensure that medical directives and required legal documents are in place and in effect. And remember that a great many powerful tools for caregivers exist. When the need arises, do not hesitate to use them.

Enjoy Life after Retirement.Download Our Senior Living Guide and Find Your Community

Episcopal Retirement Homes is a Cincinnati-based leader in quality retirement communities and innovative elder care services.

Senior Life is What You Make of It


senior livingYou could look at aging as getting older or see it as freedom to do the things you didn’t have time for when you were working a 9-to-5 and raising your family. As George Burns said, “You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old.” Senior life is what you make of it, despite creaky joints or the occasional flare up of arthritis.


It is the day-to-day activities that are the most challenging for the man or woman who has worked their entire life. But you miss out on more than fun with friends when you aren’t getting out and about on a regular basis. Lack of social support has a negative effect on both psychological and physical wellbeing—especially for older adults. Depression in seniors is a growing concern in this country.

The way to combat the senior blues is to find daily activities that provide entertainment, mental stimulation and socialization.

  • Afternoon cards games
  • Yoga class for seniors
  • Wii games
  • Quilting club

These are all examples of group activities that work well for the older set. Throw in one or two weekly and monthly events like golfing, book club or bingo, and you have well-rounded and fun ways to experience senior life.

Day Trips

Being older doesn’t that the thought of a good road trip loses its shine. The occasional day trip to a place of interest like a museum or antique store will help break up the monotony of life after retirement. Gallery openings, county fairs or a night at the symphony all mean a few hours doing something different. If you don’t have your own vehicle, there are plenty of public and private transportation services that can get you where you need to go.

Go Back to School

There is evidence that learning something new helps ward off dementia and improves executive functioning as you grow older. Look into lifelong learning opportunities at a nearby university or take advantage of free online classes from major national institutions like UC Berkley. If you’re a more creative spirit, try the painting or pottery classes offered at a local community college..

Even physical classes like line dancing or archery will improve cognitive function and give seniors a way to stay active.

Volunteer to Serve

Volunteering allows seniors to give back to their communities while improving their quality of life. Nothing makes you feel better about yourself like helping others.

Senior Corps connects retired individuals with organizations that can utilize their abilities. They become mentors, coaches and help work on community projects. There are plenty of volunteer opportunities for those seniors who are less mobile, too. Check out the local animal shelter or veterinary hospital and spend time petting a dog or cat that needs love.

If you’re getting nostalgic for the pitter-patter of tiny feet, there are plenty of kids out there who need attention from a loving adult. Baby cuddling, for example, is a real volunteer service that is becoming more popular among the elderly.

Neonatal hospital, orphanages, and group homes bring in volunteers to hold babies who otherwise wouldn’t get enough physical contact. Research shows that this bonding helps them develop social interaction skills that will increase their ability to learn later in life.

Adult Day Programs

If you need a little more day-to-day assistance, but still want to stay active, an adult day program may be for you! These programs are typically run my senior communities, so you know that you have professional help if you need it, but they’re structured like a social club for the elderly. The organization does all the work, so all you have to do is show up.

There’s plenty of variety in the activities too:

  • Day trips
  • Regular exercise
  • Card games
  • Competitions
  • Crafts

It’s ideal for the person who wants to spend time with other people, but needs help making that happen.

Age— It’s Nothing But a Number.

Is staying active the key to remaining young? It certainly is part of feeling young, regardless of your age. From regular exercise to stretching the brain cells, you will find that staying busying is part of living senior life to its fullest and remaining independent.


Want to learn how Cincinnati Seniors are  Living Well Into The Future?Click here to download our free tipsheet!

Episcopal Retirement Homes is a Cincinnati-based leader in quality retirement communities and innovative elder care services.

What to Do with Assets before Moving into Assisted Living


retiring seniorsOne asset planning question that many seniors have when considering a move into a retirement home or assisted living is whether or not they must sell any properties they own, including their primary residences, vacation homes, or investment properties.

The Simplest Answer

The simple answer is that there is no simple answer. It depends on how you are funding your retirement care, whether or not it is a primary residence, and whether or not anyone is still living in the home.

If your assisted care is being funded through your 401(k), IRA, or another private retirement asset, then you don't have to sell any of your property, unless you need to liquidate for unforeseen expenses.

If changes in Medicare or Medicaid have allowed you to subsidize any part of your care, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will attempt to recoup expenses paid for care on your behalf from your estate. Before Medicare or Medicaid payments may be made, the recipient must liquidate and spend down disposable assets.

What are "disposable" assets?

CMS in most states considers anything other than the recipient's primary residence and certain cash limits to be subject to spend down, This includes IRAs, 401(k)s, pension funds, bonds, vehicles, investment properties and second homes.

In the state of Ohio, a recipient's primary home is not typically counted among disposable assets. If a recipient is placed into nursing care or is away from the residence for two or more years without the expectation of returning, however, the state may file a lien and begin liquidation procedures for the home.

Can I transfer my assets to my spouse or to relatives?

Not generally. It can be tricky, if not outright illegal.

You cannot usually gift or transfer title to adult and able-bodied children, other relatives, friends, or to most trust funds, without incurring an ineligibility penalty (meaning you are not eligible to receive Medicare or Medicaid benefits for a certain amount of time— this is also known as being placed on "sanction").

In the case of a married couple in which one partner is entering an assisted living arrangement and the other is still living independently, the house is protected if it is the independent spouse's primary residence. Any jointly-held assets, however, are subject to spend-down to the limit the state defines on the Medicaid recipient's portion of ownership.

Say, for example, a couple owns two homes: one is the couple's primary residence in Cincinnati and the other is a vacation condo on the Gulf worth $300,000. The home in Cincinnati would be protected as long as the independent spouse is living there.

The couple would, however, have to sell the condo as, generally speaking, $150,000 of the proceeds would be recoverable by the state— the half the state would hold the recipient responsible for ownership of. The laws might vary slightly from state to state, so it is best to seek council from a lawyer who specializes in your state's Medicaid eligibility regulations.

What if a dependent other than a spouse is still living in my home when I enter assisted care?

A Medicare or Medicaid recipient may, in most states, freely transfer title for a primary residence (not for disposable assets), without incurring an ineligibility penalty, to any of the following:

  • A blind or permanently disabled (meaning the individual is receiving SSDI payments) child who is under 21 years old
  • A child of the recipient, who has lived in the house for at least two years prior the recipient's entry into a retirement home and who, during that 2-year period, provided care that allowed the recipient to avoid a nursing home stay
  • A brother or sister who has (a) lived in the home for the entire year immediately preceding the Medicaid recipient's entry into assisted living and (b) who holds an equity stake in the property
  • Into a trust that has been established for the sole benefit of a disabled individual under the age of 65 (even if the trust is for the benefit of the Medicaid applicant, under certain circumstances)

How do I figure out the best retirement plan to fit my needs?

The best course of action is to start planning early with help from a legal expert and/or certified financial planner who specializes in eldercare law and knows the ins and outs of your state's Medicare and Medicaid regulations. Then be flexible enough in your planning to be able to adjust as circumstances require.

If you are already thinking about your retirement care options for the near (or distant) future, now is the time to start making decisions and making your loved ones aware of your wishes.

Speak with a lawyer and draw up a living will, designate your medical powers of attorney and set an advance directive. With the proper planning, you can make your transition to assisted care as seamless as possible

Not Sure How to Pay for Retirement?Download Our Financial Answers eBook
Episcopal Retirement Homes is a Cincinnati-based leader in quality retirement communities and innovative elder care services.

Cincinnati Seniors Find Thrills at This Historic Amusement Park


coney island seniorsWhen looking for things to do with the grandkids or a group of friends, seniors often shy away from amusement parks. The thought of rough roller coasters, dizzying spin rides and high admission prices doesn't appeal to many. But not all amusement parks are built alike. And in Cincinnati, there may be one that’s just your speed — Coney Island.

Wait, I thought Coney Island was in New York?

Well, yes. The original is. And the amusement park along the banks of the Ohio River, just east of downtown, is named for it.

When it opened in 1886, the park was originally called Ohio Grove and was billed as "The Coney Island of the West." The nickname stuck and was shortened to “Coney Island” over the years.

Initially, the park featured shaded tree groves, bowling, a dining hall, concert spaces and dance floors with carnival games, rides, a gigantic swimming pool, water slides and roller coasters added later. By the early 20th Century, Coney Island was the focus of Cincinnati's summertime fun.

In the early years, the Island Queen riverboat, the Island Queen served as the main mode of transportation from downtown's Public Landing out to the park. But after 36 years of service, from 1896 to 1922, a fire damaged it beyond repair.

A second Island Queen, featuring a wide promenade, was built in 1927. Many young lovers took their first strolls along its decks before landing at Coney Island and twirling the night away in its Moonlight Gardens dance hall. The second riverboat also met an unfortunate end.

In September 1947, while cruising to Pittsburgh for off-season maintenance, a carelessly lit cigarette ignited an oil tank onboard. The Island Queen exploded and burned to the waterline.

After that incident, and due to its flood-prone location along the river, the park entered a period of decline. In 1968, the Taft Broadcasting Corporation purchased it and announced plans to build a new amusement park, Kings Island, on higher ground north of the city. Most of the rides, including the log flume and the Shooting Star roller coaster (which, now called The Racer, still operates today in its new home), were moved to the new park, and Coney Island closed in 1971.

But you can't keep a good thing down.

When Taft was unable to sell Coney Island's land for what they felt would be a fair price, they reopened its Sunlite Pool. And since that reopening in 1972, Coney has become known as a laid back sister park to Kings Island.

What's there now?

For starters, the aforementioned Sunlite Pool — built in 1925 — is to this day the largest, flat surface recirculating pool in the world. With over an acre of shallow water, it’s a perfect cool-off spot on a day out with the family. Then there are the four waterslides of various levels of thrills and a deep end with lap lanes for active seniors who want to get some exercise.


The extensive picnic grove hosts many a lunchtime or weekend gathering. There is an 18-hole miniature golf course, an arcade with classic skill games, video games and skee-ball, and even a pint-sized Old West play town.

Many of the rides have also been reopened! The Dodgem bumper cars will have you giggling along with the kids. There are paddle boats and canoes to take a leisurely float on the park's Lake Como, a Ferris wheel, a giant slide and even a small roller coaster called The Python.

Children of all ages will love Coney Island. The kiddie ride area includes circle-track airplane, boat and train rides, the Frog Hopper, helicopters and a small swing. And don't forget to take a spin on the Grand Carousel to relive the magic of youthful summers.

Moonlight Gardens remains open with live shows that are sure to please the whole family. And if those aren't enough, Riverbend Music Center is just next door on a parcel that was formerly occupied by the Shooting Star— so you can time your day trip to precede a Cincinnati Pops concert!

Coney Island is open from 11 am until 8 pm Sundays and weekdays (9 pm on Fridays and Saturdays) through the middle of August. Sunlite Pool opens at 10 am.

If you're looking for a little fun with the family, or with a group of friends, Coney Island is just the right speed to fit your senior lifestyle. Get out to the park, take a dip in Sunlite Pool and put some splash into your retirement.


Click here to download our free tipsheet and learn more about the6 dimensions of wellness.
Episcopal Retirement Homes is a Cincinnati-based leader in quality retirement communities and innovative elder care services.
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