Your retirement years can be exciting and new when you pare down your expenses and begin a new chapter more simply.
For many older adults, moving to a smaller home makes financial and lifestyle sense. Once your children have grown, the expense and maintenance of multiple rooms that remain empty become unnecessary. Although there may be sentimental reasons to hold on to a family home, life is full of changes, and your retirement years can be exciting and new when you pare down your expenses and begin a new chapter more simply.
Determining if your house is too big for your needs
Do you have rooms that you never or rarely enter such as a formal living room or dining room? Do you have a finished basement that hasn’t seen a party in a decade? Are you an empty nester, with just two of you living in a four-bedroom, two-story colonial?
A ‘yes’ answer to any of these means that you probably can benefit through downsizing.
Think of what your actual needs are in housing. You likely want a comfortable bedroom, a family room for entertaining, and a large eat-in kitchen. Beyond these basics, maybe you’d like a study to use as a home office or for hobbies, and you might want a spare bedroom for guests or grandchildren. A home featuring all of these amenities can likely be found under 1,500 square feet or less.
A smaller home means much lower living expenses
A home that is 1,500 square feet or less has considerably lower overall carrying costs. Mortgage payments, insurance, taxes, maintenance, and repair costs are all keyed, in one way or another, to the size of the home. Even a poorly insulated smaller home will save owners a big chunk of money each year over a larger, more energy-efficient home. And if you are not using rooms, why pay each month to heat or cool the space? If you can successfully shave $1,000 a month off your living expenses through downsizing, you can direct the savings toward your retirement accounts for when you may need the extra funds.
A move can be a refreshing new start
Beyond the financial benefits of downsizing, the process of simplifying one’s life can provide clarity and peace. We all accumulate stuff throughout our lives and often feel guilt in tossing things away. Even if you are not hoarding, you likely still have a lot that you simply do not need. Imagine having a closet that only contains the clothing you currently wear or a garage that keeps your car out of the rain and snow and isn’t filled with years of unused miscellaneous things. Decluttering as part of downsizing is a major benefit for older adults.
Planning your move
Decluttering is a component of packing as part of your move. Before planning your move, think about what tasks you might be able to handle yourself. If you need assistance packing, moving companies are glad to help, but it will add to your expense. Make sure to research moving companies before making a hiring decision. Check out online reviews and speak to at least three companies. In addition to cost, see what services they provide. If they do not disassemble furniture, you may need to make additional arrangements.
While packing yourself can help you save on moving expenses, being organized in the process can also help speed up your unpacking. Follow some simple professional tips such as packing heavier items in smaller boxes and lighter items in larger boxes.
Downsizing makes sense for many older adults. With a solid plan, well-researched housing needs, and moving strategy, you can lower your costs and embark on a simpler lifestyle.
Jonie has always had a little extra pluck in his string. Truly a man of many talents and passions, his enthusiasm for music, painting, storytelling, and the wilderness holds a special place in his heart.
Known for bursting into song when he hears Hank Williams Jr. on the radio, Jonie is more than happy to join right in. His infectious love of country music invites other Hank Williams enthusiasts to sing along, truly capturing the spirit of the west he so loves.
Our Miracle Moment team at Elan Southpark decided it was time to celebrate Jonie, so under the direction of our amazing Activity Director, Laurie Green, we rounded-up a musician whose strong suit is Hank Williams music. Dressed and ready for this special occasion, our Elan Southpark residents joined in the festivities! Jonie’s family attended this Miracle Moment, enjoying the full set played to the delight of all. As children, his son recollects that music was always a part of the family fabric, with Jonie singing to him and his sister growing up. Music truly was woven into everyday life with Jonie around!
Given Jonie’s love of art, we thought it only fitting to add some of his beautiful pieces to his Miracle Moment day. His artwork lines our gallery walls, each telling its own story of special times enjoyed in the country. Jonie’s love of all things “wilderness” comes to life through his drawings and paintings, and we wanted others to know the amazing artist behind these treasures.
Now, no good cowboy is without his dog, and Jonie along with his longtime companion, Precious, are no exception. Recognizing this special relationship and bond, our Miracle Moment team presented Precious with her own gift basket, complete with all things DOG!
Jonie’s special day will surely be the subject of stories to come, and we can’t wait to hear his tales! Special thanks to Julie Latson, Laurie Green, and James Henderson for your contributions in making this Miracle Moment happen. And thank you, Jonie, for allowing us to add some good ol’ giddy-up to your special day!
March is the month for sports. The end of winter is in sight, plants begin to sprout, and the days become sunnier and warmer.
In February, the two biggest sporting events drew millions of people to their television sets: the Super Bowl and the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. Athletes prepare for these competitions their entire lives and the world watches as they compete for the top prize.
In March, the sporting mania continues with college basketball’s March Madness, professional baseball’s spring training, and car racing fans attending events every weekend. With all these exciting sporting events to look forward to, it’s often fun to recount stories of our own glory days.
Were you a high school track star or a collegiate soccer phenomenon? Did you break records on a military athletic team or own the field at your neighborhood baseball field? Did you cheerlead or twirl batons to give rise to school spirit? If so, we’d love to hear your stories this month as we celebrate all things sports! Leave your story in the comments below
The legend of St. Patrick is celebrated every year on March 17. Images of four-leafed clovers, leprechauns, and pots of gold decorate festive gathering places as revelers wish the “luck of the Irish” to one another. But do you really have to be Irish to be lucky?
According to a video hosted on the YouTube channel It’s Okay to Be Smart, psychologist Richard Wiseman has researched hundreds of people who call themselves lucky and found that there are four principles of luck:
- Lucky people maximize chance opportunities by generally being relaxed and open to opportunities.
- Lucky people make decisions based on their intuition, or gut feelings.
- Lucky people’s attitudes transform bad luck into good luck because of the way they perceive events.
- Lucky people expect good things to happen.
Sounds pretty good, don’t you think? By relaxing more, listening to our inner wisdom, and having a positive attitude, we might find ourselves to be even luckier lads and lasses.
And, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, here’s an Irish blessing just for you:
May your pockets be heavy
And your heart be light,
May good luck pursue you
Each morning and night.
February is often artistically expressed with cherubs and lace and little pink or red hearts. February is also American Heart Month, which is a perfect time to focus on the muscle central to a happy and full life, our hearts.
Heart disease is a leading cause of death for men and women, according to the Center for Disease Control. Everyone has the potential to develop heart disease. Risk factors for heart disease can include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, obesity, unhealthy diet, and for some, even social isolation.
But don’t worry! There are lots of small changes you can make to keep your ticker ticking!
- Begin with a visit to your doctor to discuss heart health. You can see where you are today through simple tests and work with your doctor to establish healthy heart goals.
- Add exercise to your daily routine. Simple activities like walking, swimming, or dancing can help keep your heart in tip-top shape. It is important to be active every day.
- If you smoke, try to quit. Smoking is very harmful to your health and the health of those around you. The Center for Disease Control offers support to help you quit.
Senior living communities support a heart healthy lifestyle through physical activity programs, social engagements, and the opportunity for residents to take advantage of a 24/7 care staff, should they need assistance. If you are 55 years of age or older and would like to learn more about the benefits of a senior living community like Élan Southpark Meadows, call 512-222-3224 to set up an appointment.
There are literally hundreds of ways to connect with people nowadays, thanks to technology. You can tweet, snap, like, post, share, and pin your way to connecting with possibly millions of people around the world in an instant.
Those interactions can keep us occupied for a while, but they are different than the kinds of interactions we create in a deep, personal relationships. According to Jim Taylor, Ph. D.’s article in Psychology Today, “Social media platforms are obviously social in nature, but I see it as being ‘social lite,’ because it limits the richness of human interactions, or ‘social safe’ because it keeps relationships at a comfortable distance.”
As humans, we derive many benefits from personal relationships, including living longer, being better suited to deal with stress, having greater health, and feeling richer, according to Mary Jo Kreitzer, RN, Ph. D., in her article for the University of Minnesota.
In fact, the lack of close, personal relationships directly correlates with declines in our health, especially as we age. The National Institute on Aging quotes several research studies that indicate social isolation constitutes a major risk factor for morbidity and mortality, especially in older adults. Loneliness, the article says, may have a physical, as well as emotional, impact. For example, people who are lonely frequently have elevated systolic blood pressure.
One way to develop more personal relationships is to engage with people like you. Whether being a part of a local civic club, like Kiwanis or the Lion’s Club, taking group classes that interest you, or considering moving out of a house where you are alone to a community full of your peers, you can find ways to meet people with whom you can share stories and become friends. Your quality of life depends on it!
If you would like more information about the social programs and events at Élan Southpark Meadows, please call (512) 222-3224 and find out how to get connected in a meaningful way.
According to Carrie Robertson, Research & Community Education, Chicago Methodist Senior Services, as stated in her blog post Goal Setting – Important at Any Age, “Adults that are in or approaching retirement might think they’ve already reached their destination, and therefore won’t really benefit from goals anymore. While you may have reached your retirement destination, a whole new journey is just beginning. Without a road map for this new journey, the days, weeks, and years might pass you by – leaving you wondering where your time has gone and what happened to all those things you wanted to do after retiring.”
The nature of the goals you set as a senior adult may change when you compare them to goals of year’s past, but they are no less important in helping you live life to the fullest! Is there something you have always wanted to experience or a skill you’ve always wanted to learn? There’s no better time that retirement to explore new knowledge, new opportunities, and new perspectives.
Setting SMART Goals
Statistics say that only 8% of people stick with their new goals each year. Much of that has to do with the type of goals people set. Without structure, goals are more like wishes floating on a breeze. Here are a few S.M.A.R.T. tips to provide the structure most of us need to ensure we will be successful in achieving our goals.
S: Goals should be specific – Add specificity to goals so that you will know for certain when you have achieved them. For example, I resolve to take piano lessons, and practice 15 minutes a day so I can wow my family at Christmas next year; or I resolve to write in a journal every day because I enjoy writing and want to get better at it.
M: Goals should be measurable – Tracking progress toward your goal by measuring small improvements will help keep you motivated.
A: Goals should be achievable – Your body may not be able to do what it used to, but that simply means you can get more creative about your goals. Set goals that you can achieve. Once you achieve them, you might even be able to aim higher.
R: Goals should be relevant – Set goals that make you feel good, and not goals that meet other people’s expectations. Your goals are to help you live your best life possible.
T: Goals should be time bound – Without a deadline, it’s easy to put off until tomorrow what could be done today. It can sometimes be helpful to set mini-deadlines on the way to your major goal. For instance, if your goal is to to improve your flexibility and range of motion this year, a mini-deadline is to work towards touching your toes every day for the first 100 days.
Working toward goals together
As we age, our social networks can become smaller and smaller. Our friends and families may move away and pursue their own lives. It can get lonely and be difficult to find the motivation to work toward new goals when we don’t have a big circle of friends to celebrate the achievement of these goals with. That’s the beauty of Elan Southpark Meadows.
Residents who live at Elan Southpark Meadows are surrounded by wonderful friends and caring staff who can support them in achieving their goals and inspiring them to consider new goals. To learn more about Elan Southpark Meadows, visit https://elansouthparkmeadows.com/.
Experts say that work/life balance is important and that professionals should try to leave work at work. But some things, like the Civitas Senior Living’s signature Passion Program, are too good to leave with the old 9 to 5.
Kasey Burnham, Memory Care Coordinator at Elan Southpark Meadows, tells the story of when passion became personal for her family.
“Over the past year, I have shared what the Civitas Passion Program is with my family,” Kasey said. “They have been particularly inspired by our Miracle Moment concept.” A Miracle Moment enhances a resident’s life by celebrating special times, from small moments to large events, and everything in between. A Miracle Moment is a planned event focused on the individual resident’s favorite activities and people.
“This year, my father decided to do something extra special,” Kasey said. “He has been renovating my great grandmother’s home for the past few years, gradually bringing it back to life. This is the childhood home of my grandfather and his siblings. My grandfather and his brothers have not all been together at this house for about 40 years. They are all in their 90s now and we all know how travel becomes more and more difficult as we age.”
“So we, as a family, loaded them all up – wheelchairs, walkers and all – and drove them out to this country home. It was magical to see the joy in their eyes and hear them reminisce about being young boys. I am so very proud of my family for making this moment happen.”
“And I am proud that I work for a company that truly inspires. Passion is contagious.”
Kasey found a wonderful way to have passion in her work and in her life.
Now we want to hear from you. How do you bring your passion home?