Who’s Who in a Senior Care Community?

Just inside the doors of each Midwest Health senior living community, there is a quiet buzz of activity. On any given day, residents and visitors enjoy exciting activities, home-cooked meals, and compassionate care, provided by a tight-knit team of professionals. Much of the work that keeps the community running smoothly occurs behind the scenes with little fan fair. This Labor Day, we want to recognize all the people that make our communities home for so many seniors.

Executive Director

As the captain of the team, the Executive Director is responsible for the community at large. From maintenance to community member satisfaction, the Executive Director has a handle on it all. In addition to overseeing the day-to-day operations, the Executive Director acts as an ambassador to the city.  They ensure that the senior living community is active and involved in local events and organizations. The term Executive Director is used in Independent Living and Assisted Living communities, while Skilled Nursing communities call this position the Administrator.

Administrative Assistant/Business Office Manager

The Administrative Assistant or Business Office Manager is often the first point of contact for potential residents and families. This person acts as the friendly face and voice of the community and as a result, they always have a smile to share. They field inquiries, manage documentation and accounting as well as provide administrative support to the Executive Director.

Activities Director

Filling the calendar with events to engage the mind, body, and spirit is the duty of the community’s Activity Director. From museum outings to group exercise, the Activity Director schedules all activities, fundraisers, events, and volunteers to keep you on your toes. Want to start a bridge club? The Activity Director can’t wait to help organize it!

The Therapy Team

The therapy team is often comprised of three unique therapy specialists. Working together, the therapy team will address challenges and create recovery plans for residents.

  • Physical Therapist make movement a priority for patients, seeking to restore function and reduce pain
  • Occupational Therapists address difficulties in completing the tasks of daily living and help to develop strategies and tools for patients to remain as independent as possible
  • Speech Pathologists focus on communication and speech concerns as well as any issues that may arise with swallowing

Resident Care Coordinator

Responsible for compliance at all levels, the Resident Care Coordinator (RCC) manages quality assurance for our care communities.  Staying up-to-date with established care standards, as well as managing the implementation of new processes, the RCC works closely with nursing staff and assures that residents receive proper care.

Nursing Team

  • Certified Medication Aides pass medication, document care given, and assist as needed in residents’ daily tasks
  • Certified Nurse Aides help residents with daily activities, record care, and work with other nursing staff to follow care plans
  • Licensed Practical Nurses communicate with physicians, family and patients, take vitals, and review records
  • Registered Nurses complete assessments, coordinate medication, and diet requirements, and ensures that all required medical supplies are available

Dietary Team

  • Our cooks are responsible for creating the delicious and healthy meals prepared each day
  • Dietary Aides are responsible for the cleanliness of the kitchen and dining areas, keeping each area spic and span

Maintenance and Housekeeping

The maintenance and housekeeping are the keys to making our communities look their best! From laundry to light bulbs, we don’t know what we’d do without their can-do attitudes.

Each member of our team is essential and so greatly appreciated. For more information about joining our team, visit www.midwest-health.com/careers.


It’s So Nice To Meet You! 20 Questions To Really Get To Know Your Parents

After years together, it’s easy to assume that you know your parent’s story from front to back. But not so fast! There may be a lot you don’t know. Do you know what your mom’s favorite class in college was? Who taught her to drive? Where did your dad reel in the biggest catch of his life? Who did he take to prom?

So many times our visits with loved ones get bogged down by catching up on current events that we miss out on knowing the full story of how we got here. We each hold experiences that even those closest to us might not know about because we’ve never thought to ask. Use these questions to dive beyond small talk and really get to know your parents. When you’re done, you’ll feel like you’ve met a whole new person!

Growing Up

  • Where did you grow up? What was it like growing up there? How has it changed?
  • Did you get into trouble growing up?
  • Did you have a favorite toy or prized possession? What happened to it and where do you think it is now?
  • When did you first feel like a “real” adult?
  • Were you raised in a church? What do you find most meaningful about your religion?
  • If you could go back in time and pursue a new career, what would it be?
  • What was your first job like? Are there any life-long lessons you learned from work?

What was the world like?

  • Which world events do you remember most vividly? How did they impact your day-to-day life?
  • When did you vote for the first time? Who did you vote for and why?
  • How did you get around? What transportation was available to you? When did you get your first car?
  • What public figures did you most admire and why?
  • How did you and your peers spend your free time when you were a young adult?
  • What has changed most in your lifetime?


  • How did you meet your partner?
  • What was your favorite thing about your partner? What attracted you to them?
  • Tell me about your favorite date or memory together. How did you feel?
  • Who was your best friend? Tell me some of your favorite memories with them.
  • What were your parents and grandparents like?
  • What traits did they pass down to you? Which are you thankful for and which do you wish they’d kept to themselves?
  • Tell me about the day I was born. What was going on in the world?

At first, asking these questions may feel strange, but stick with it and the conversation will begin to get easier. Don’t be afraid to ask for more information and follow up with questions like, “How did that make you feel?” or “What was that like?” The more you discover, the better you’ll understand this person that you’ve known all your life. You’ll find answers to questions you never knew to ask and enjoy a deeper connection to your parents and your own history.

9 Little Ways to Say, “You Matter To Me.”

“You matter to me.”

It’s a simple sentiment with the power to encourage, uplift, and vanquish loneliness.  So why don’t we remember to say it more?

Whether your parent lives independently or in a senior community, it’s important to reach out and remind them that they are often thought of and always loved.

Finding the Time

In an ideal world, we could be in touch with our loved ones every day. But in reality, finding spare time can be a challenge. Luckily, showing our parents they matter doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. With 5-15 minutes, you can remind your loved one just how much they mean to you.

Start Small

How can you begin to express all the affection and gratitude you feel? How do you thank your parents for their impact on your life? It can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Just start small. Remember that grand gestures are not required.

Life is made of little things.

With a thoughtful note, a quick call, or simple email you can tell someone near or far that they matter. As the saying goes, it’s the little things that mean the most.

9 Little Ways to Say, “You matter to me.”

  1. Send a postcard from home. On your next trip to the corner gas station, pick up a postcard. Fill the back with a favorite memory and drop it in the mail. Not only will the recipient love to read the message from you, they’ll probably get a kick out of your hometown picture on the front.
  2. Stick ’em up – Grab a sticky note and throw it in your purse or car. Each time something reminds you of your loved one write it down. Save your stack of notes and the next time you visit, hide your notes in the medicine cabinet, in a favorite book, and in the pocket of a coat. You brighten their day each time they find a new note.
  3. Joke around – Find a snappy one-liner or a silly kid’s joke and send it to your parent in a text, email message, or voicemail. If you want to let your loved one know you’re thinking of them, but don’t have much time to chat, you can use this service to be connected directly to their voicemail without their phone ringing.
  4. Celebrate their support – Send a card to your parent on your birthday or anniversary. I know it sounds backward, but hear me out! These dates are easy to remember and it’s almost certain your mom or dad played a big part in these milestones. Use the card to thank them for supporting you, teaching you, or making you feel special.
  5. Picture it – Snap a quick pic the next time something reminds you of them. Send it to them with a short note describing why it made you smile.
  6. Status: Feeling sentimental – If your family is active on social media, post a status with a quick thank you for a specific sacrifice your parent made for you. Tag siblings and relatives and challenge them to share their memories and gratitude as well.
  7. Random act of AmazonIf you don’t live near your parent, next time you’re shopping online, keep an eye out for a little something to send to them. Amazon Prime members can split their prime order and ship to multiple addresses for no additional charge. For ideas, check out Amazon’s gift finder that allows you to define who you’re shopping for and set a budget. No hassle at the post office, just a thoughtful surprise for your parent.
  8. Ask for advice – When you ask for advice it shows your parents that you value their opinion, trust their guidance, and want to learn about their experiences. Next time you have a quick question about something they may know, skip Google and give them a call. It will boost their self-esteem and help to keep you up-to-date about what’s going on in each other’s lives.
  9. Follow up with flowers – After your next visit, send your mom or dad flowers or a potted plant with a message to let them know how much you loved spending time with them. Each time they see the gift they’ll feel appreciated all over again.

We all want to be remembered, cherished, and loved.

The next time that your loved one comes to mind, share how much you care and don’t let the moment pass without finding a way to say, “You matter.”


What can an OT do for you?

April is Occupational Therapy Month! Occupational Therapists (OTs) work to ensure that you and your loved ones can accomplish the tasks of every day. OTs are an essential part of our Midwest Health rehabilitation teams. Working closely with physical therapy and speech therapy, OTs are key to success in rehabilitation.

Individual Evaluation 

What matters most to you? To create a customized plan for you, your Occupational Therapist will talk with you about your concerns and abilities. Within your evaluation, your OT will help to identify challenges and establish goals. One person may work toward stability while rising and mobility control. While another may focus on dexterity to button a  shirt and dress independently. Whether the goals are big or small, the aim of occupational therapy is unique to each person.

Environment Evaluation

An OT’s job doesn’t stop when you leave rehab. Your OT can assist your transition by providing an evaluation of your home or workplace. An OT can quickly identify potential hazards and make adjustments to the environment to avoid future injury. Optimize your living space with the help of an OT to help maintain independence, avoid a fall, and prevent setbacks.

Caregiver Guidance

The support of a caregiver can be key to recovery. Progress is a team effort and OTs may partner with caregivers to aid in implementing individual recovery plans. The OT will educate and guide caregivers to ensure that home treatment is consistent and focused.

Adaptive Equipment

Some daily activities are made easier by tools and specialized equipment designed to help you maintain your independence. Occupational therapists can identify the best tools to help with low vision, fall prevention, mobility, and other daily concerns. Tools may include grab bars and railings, custom designed clothing, exercise equipment, and much more.

Chronic Disease Management

Chronic conditions can be difficult to treat independently. Occupational therapists evaluate self-care routines to manage the treatment and prevention of conditions including diabetes, arthritis, and stroke. A therapy program may include developing beneficial habits, routines, and coping strategies to support long-term health.

Strategies for Dementia Safety

Through evaluation of patients and home environments, OT’s can help families and caregivers identify solutions for those affected by dementia. Providing structure, identifying concerns, and assisting in orienting patients in times of confusion can help patients maintain their independence safely.

Midwest Health would like to celebrate our team of occupational therapists and recognize them for their exceptional efforts and dedication to our residents.

For more information about occupational therapy visit the American Occupational Therapy Association. To find a rehabilitation center near you visit Midwest Health.


Eat Well to Age Well

March is National Nutrition Month. Good nutrition is just one of many tools that seniors can use to live their best. Studies suggest that eating well-balanced meals may help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, bone loss, certain cancers, and anemia, according to the National Institute of Health. With so much at stake, it’s important for seniors to make every meal count.

Unique Nutrition By the Numbers

Every individual has unique nutritional needs determined by age, activity, and physical measurements. The National Academy of Science’s Institute of Medicine created an online tool to establish custom nutrition goals for individuals. Just enter your basic information into the Interactive DRI (Dietary Reference Intakes) and use the information to create a diet that is unique to you.

Senior Nutrition

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Vitamins and Minerals Important to Seniors

Now that you know what to aim for, it’s time to eat up! Remember to read the nutrition facts as you shop for foods that will best provide the nutrients you require.

Seniors should pay special attention to their goals for protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. In addition, try to limit saturated fat and sodium intake. As you read labels, keep in mind that the daily values listed on nutrition labels are based on a 2000 calorie diet, which may be more than your individual needs.

It can be difficult to meet your goals for vitamin and mineral intake through food alone. Consider talking to your doctor about a multi-vitamin to enhance your health. For additional information about vitamins important to seniors, check out the AARP’s Vitamins from A to Z guide.

Resources for Eating Well

Well-rounded meals can be a challenge for seniors, but there are resources to help. Both online education and local assistance programs help seniors get the most out of their meals.

Online Education

The United States Department of Agriculture, the Administration on Aging, and the National Council on Aging provide a wealth of information on nutrition for seniors online. Their websites are updated often and easy to browse.

Senior Living Communities

Convenience, variety, and nutrition make meals at senior living communities a great option for older adults. By partnering with a registered dietician, communities ensure that all residents’ nutritional needs are met. Communities may also provide meals customized for specific dietary and medical needs.

Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program

Eating fresh, local produce can be difficult for seniors with a limited income. To help seniors eat healthier, the USDA established the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program. The program provides a small allowance to qualified participants for the purchase of produce at local farmers’ markets. Visit the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service program website for more information on how to apply in your state.

Home Meal Delivery Programs

For seniors living alone, a lack of transportation may pose a challenge to planning fresh, nutritious meals. A home meal delivery service can increase meal variety, nutrition consistency, and cut down on food waste. The well-known Meals on Wheels program provides meal delivery for qualified seniors. However, additional meal delivery services may be available in your area. Check with your local senior living community for more information about resources available to you.

There’s no better time than now to start making your meals work for you. Embrace a healthier, nutrient-rich diet to help you live well.

Master Your Move

Moving to a senior living community means embarking on a new adventure, but simply preparing for a move can be a journey as well. Making the most of a smaller space means taking the time to evaluate years of accumulated belongings to decide what is truly meaningful and what is clutter.

Understandably, you may find the prospect of sorting through all of your things a bit daunting. After all, your house contains a lifetime of cherished possessions that bring back fond memories.

Take a big step in your new journey and start the process of unburdening and decluttering with this advice.

visualize your space

Visit and visualize.

It’s important to envision how your belongings will fit in your new space. Measure your various pieces of furniture and record the exact dimensions. Schedule a visit to your new home and use masking tape to mark the dimensions of your belongings. Play with the floor plan and try different combinations of furniture to make if feel like home. It can be helpful to mimic the layout of your current living area and bedroom in your new apartment. If your dresser has always been to the left of the bed, plan to duplicate that arrangement to help you adjust to your new home.

If you’re still struggling to visualize, visit with current residents to see which layout might work best for you. It might even spark a great idea to help make the apartment your own.

Give yourself enough time.

The hardest part is the start. There will always be something you’d rather be doing instead of organizing and sorting possessions. But the earlier you begin, the less hectic and stressful it will be as your move-in date draws nearer. So, schedule some time and get down to it!

Start by blocking out six hours, once a week. As you begin, focus on one room or even one drawer at a time. After a few weeks, you can determine if you need to increase your time commitment to meet the deadline.

Be prepared for the physical and emotional stress of downsizing. It is normal to feel overwhelmed and exhausted. Plan to take a day or two off and get out of the house. Treat yourself to time away to get your mind off of the move.


Conquer with categories.

To make your mission more manageable, use categories. Evaluate each item and determine if you should keep it, pass it down, sell or donate it, or get rid of it. Invest in a few large totes, label them with the assigned categories and start sorting.

  • Keep: Make sure that each item you decide keep is either a day-to-day necessity or something that truly brings you joy. This category should be your smallest collection of items. Don’t let guilt play a factor if you don’t use that set of fine china your great aunt gave you, don’t keep it! If you don’t remember the last time you used it, it’s time to lose it.
  • Pass Down: Only pass down items that have special meaning, hold a shared memory, or fill a need for the recipient. The last thing you want to do burden a loved one with additional clutter. Be ready to hear and graciously accept a “no, thank you” when you offer belongings to others. When passing down family heirlooms, make a note of the item’s origin, history, and add your unique memories to make it more special for the new owner.
  • Sell or Donate: Items that didn’t find a new home with family or friends may be sold or donated to charity. Tastes and style change and previously trendy items may no longer be in demand. To help clear this category, consider an estate sale, yard sale, or consignment store. You can also make a tax-deductible donation of goods to a local non-profit. Many charity thrift stores will come pick-up donations leaving you with a tidy home and a sense of accomplishment.
  • Get Rid Of: Any items that haven’t been sorted into the first three categories should be thrown away. Remember to shred documents with personal information on them, recycle whenever possible, and avoid sending any hazardous materials to the landfill.

Go Digital

Go digital.

Services that digitalize and enhance photos, slides and negatives can be found online. Pick a few photos you would like to display and send the rest to be digitalized. A digital photo frame will feature all of your favorite snapshots and save you a ton of space. When you receive your originals back, you can distribute them to friends and loved ones as keepsakes.

When you move, you will no longer need to deal with paper bills from a dozen different service providers, so you won’t have a filing cabinet full of old bills. Take the leap to paperless with your bank and credit cards to further reduce your paper waste.

Don’t go it alone – ask for help.

Family and Friends: Ask nearby family and friends to help. Working with loved ones can be therapeutic as you talk, reminisce, and discuss the future. Scheduling one visitor per week can help to keep you on track and remove any temptation to skip your scheduled organization time.

Professional: If you find that you’re not making enough progress alone or with family you might consider hiring a professional. The senior living community you’re moving to can refer you to a moving specialist and put you in touch with trusted real estate specialists, donation collection services, estate planners, and consignment services. A move specialist can act as an unbiased third party, to help you view the move as objectively as possible. They will work with you to separate emotions and memories from needs and wants and will help keep you focused on your deadline.

Don’t let the stress of moving diminish your excitement to join an active community of like-minded seniors. When you’ve mastered your move you will feel unburdened, accomplished, empowered, and ready for anything.


For a Healthier Heart, Start Here

Show your heart a little love!

February is American Heart Month and no matter your age, you can take small steps to work toward a healthier heart. It can be easy to forget how many small, routine decisions have an impact on heart health.

Start with the basics and build toward bigger, overall goals. You will find that making a few minor changes in your everyday habits will make a big difference. Heart health is at the core of overall health – don’t delay!

The Impact of Heart Disease

The term ‘heart disease’ or ‘cardiovascular disease’ refers to many conditions impacting the heart. While coronary artery disease (CAD) is most common, problems with blood vessels, muscle weakness, blood flow, and heart rhythm can also cause heart attack, stroke, and arrhythmia. Unfortunately, the risk of these issues is much higher for seniors 65 and older.

According to the Center for Disease Control, heart disease has been the leading cause of death in the United States for many decades. For seniors, it’s particularly important to be familiar with the signs of cardiac distress and react quickly in the event of an emergency. During a cardiac event, the victim may experience recurring chest pain, loss of consciousness, and shortness of breath. Warning signs may occur several days in advance of a heart attack and include chest pain, shortness of breath, and fatigue. Be sure to address these concerns with a doctor as soon as possible.

For a healthier heart, start here.

As they say, prevention is the best medicine and heart disease is no different. While there always seems to be a new study about heart health, there are some things that continue to hold true. Start with these heart health basics to build a foundation to your good health.

  • Stop smoking – Easier said than done, especially for seniors who may find comfort in this familiar routine, but the impact of smoking on the heart is undeniable. The toxins in smoke damage to blood cells and add to plaque buildup in arteries. Blocked arteries limit blood flow and delivery of oxygen to all parts of your body. Giving up smoking will be a battle but can add quality and years to your life.
  • Lower bad cholesterol Cholesterol is created naturally in the liver and in the body’s cells.  Combined with white blood cells, bad cholesterol creates plaque that blocks arteries. Due to genetic disposition, some may experience naturally high cholesterol levels. When taken as prescribed, medication may assist in managing cholesterol levels. In addition, good and bad cholesterol can also be found in foods. Avoiding oils and saturated fats can help to reduce bad cholesterol.
  • Manage blood pressure –  High blood pressure can cause stress on the heart, arteries, and kidneys and contribute to heart disease. Talk with your doctor for advice on managing your blood pressure, but start with the basics; manage stress, reduce alcohol and sodium intake, and increase exercise.

Keep your heart in mind!

So you’ve already tackled bad habits, cholesterol, and blood pressure? Great! You’re well on your way to a healthier heart, but don’t stop there! Focus on making better choices each day to prevent heart disease and embrace all that life has to offer.

  • Read labels when shopping, avoid excess sugar, sodium, saturated fats, trans fats, and oils.
  • Focus on increasing your fiber intake by adding more fruits and veggies to your diet.
  • Reduce your red meat consumption, but when you do indulge, pick a lean cut and a smaller portion.
  • Take an emotional inventory. Emotional stress can contribute to high blood pressure too. Try to breathe deeply and relax when feeling overwhelmed.
  • Add a little exercise here and there. Pick a parking spot further from the store. Get up and take a walking lap around the house once an hour. Do some gardening. Whatever gets your blood pumping! Aim for two days a week and increase to three or four days when you’re comfortable.
  • Get support. If you’ve suffered a heart attack or stroke, you don’t have to feel alone. Check the American Heart Association’s support network for a group near you or an online community.

Don’t wait to start taking care of your heart, there’s no better time than now. To evaluate your current heart health, individual needs, establish steps toward better health and track your progress, use the My Life Check tool from the American Heart Association.

The Evolution of Senior Care

In the last 150 years, senior care has undergone a remarkable transformation. Old ideas of clinical, minimal senior care have been left behind in favor of full-service catered care. The way that we think about aging is changing and the future is full of promise.

Senior Care Evolution

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The Origin of Senior Communities

Historically, care for the elderly was managed primarily by families. In the United States, the industrial revolution and the Civil War created circumstances that caused a shift in the traditional care model. With increasing physical demands on workers and family structures disrupted by these events, seniors unable to care for themselves found shelter at almshouses. Often grim, packed, and poorly maintained, almshouses were plagued with disease and crime. At this time, life expectancy in the United States was around 37 years.

In the years that followed, private organizations opened their doors and built housing specifically for seniors. However, many of these homes required significant financial contributions from the residents, so seniors without the means to join were left to live the poor conditions of almshouses.

Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid

Established in 1935, the Social Security program sought to eliminate almshouses and give seniors the financial means to live independently. Residents of almshouses seeking Social Security benefits were required to live independently or become a resident of a private house. The program succeeded in its goal and by the 1950s almshouses were all but extinct.

The next major development in senior care came in 1965 with the passage of Medicare and Medicaid. As funding designated specifically for healthcare became more readily available, the services offered to seniors grew. Throughout the 70s and 80s, regulations passed to create care standards for nursing homes. It seems no coincidence that the growth of the senior care programs runs parallel to an increase in life expectancy.

The Specialization of Senior Living

In the late 1980’s, nursing communities started to become more specialized, offering new services designed to improve all aspects of life for seniors. This new focus on all-around health resulted in the addition of physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech and hearing therapy, and nutrition services. Senior care communities also developed rehabilitation programs to accommodate patients needing services to transition from a hospital stay to home.

The increase in funding sources and quality of care for seniors made the need for more specialized communities apparent. Seniors who needed minimal assistance, but desired the social benefits of a community, found a solution in assisted living environments. Later, those who required no daily assistance, but craved the peace of mind and comfort of a close-knit community, found a perfect fit in independent living communities.

Today’s Senior Community

As the baby boomer generation ages and embraces retirement, senior living communities are becoming more dynamic to better cater to the needs of each individual. By 2050, thanks to the baby boomer generation, seniors will account for more than 21% of the total population. In anticipation of this boom of boomers, the culture in senior communities is changing. The days of institutional buildings and regimented care are quickly fading into the past in favor of more service-centric, personalized models.

Senior communities must provide more than healthcare to convince seniors to make the move. Amenities like on-site entertainment, dining options, social enrichment, and physical fitness are becoming more common. Individuals now have greater control of their care and the ability to dictate their own lifestyle. The comforts of home are warmly welcomed as pets, plants, and personal touches become more widely accepted and encouraged.

The Future

By 2050, thanks to the baby boomer generation, seniors will account for more than 21% of the total population. In anticipation of this boom of boomers, the culture in senior communities is changing.

Technology will take a more prominent role in connecting, entertaining, and caring for seniors. Digital resources for seniors will continue to grow as more and more seniors connect online. Smartphones and mobile technology will continue to develop to specifically cater to seniors. Innovations in assistive technology will help to track medication management, vital signs, and other health factors.

Senior living communities will become more involved in the cities around them. By creating a more transparent, welcoming environment; families, visitors, and volunteers will help to promote a stronger feeling of connection to society as a whole. In addition, senior housing within existing urban environments will become more common.

Focus on individual needs and desires will continue. Care will become even more customizable, allowing seniors to maintain control over their day-to-day routines. Opportunities for personal growth and engagement will allow each individual to seize the day, their own way.

A great senior community can make all the difference between simply aging and aging well.

Senior care has come a long way since the almshouses of the late 1800s. The future of senior care is exciting and full of possibility. But one thing that won’t change: the call for compassion, respect, and dignity at every level of care. A great senior living community can make all the difference between simply living and living well.

For more information about a senior living community near you, visit midwest-health.com.

Tips for Flourishing on a Fixed Income

Adjusting to a fixed income after retirement can be difficult. Living well without overspending requires planning, preparation, and balance. Whether you’re new to retirement, or a decade into enjoying your golden years, you may find a few tips below to help make retirement work for you.

Embrace a Budget

It may sound like a lesson from “retirement 101,” but proper budgeting will help you live your best life. Spend some time diving into your expenses with a critical eye and evaluate your necessities. Your budget should balance the need for financial security with the desire to enjoy your retirement years and really make them “golden”.

  • Stick to It – Once you’ve established your budget, follow it as closely as possible. The fewer exceptions you make, the better off you’ll be in the long run.
  • Plan to Play – Plan to set aside a small amount of money each month for entertainment. The key is to pick memorable and meaningful options that are also affordable. Plan to attend a community theater performance, your grandchild’s soccer game, or a weekday movie matinee. Each month you can have a new adventure to look forward to without breaking the bank.
  • Consider a Community – An “all inclusive” senior living community can dramatically simplify a budget. Most communities include housing, meals, transportation, housekeeping, and activities. In addition, you’ll live alongside like-minded seniors and eliminate maintenance, utilities, upkeep costs, landscaping, and security.

Free is Your Friend

Committing to a budget doesn’t mean you have to embrace a boring lifestyle. Free and frugal can be fun and exciting if you know where to look.

  • Free Days and Festivals– Many museums offer a handful of “free days” each month for frugal patrons to come enjoy the displays. It is also likely that your city hosts a variety of cultural, craft, music, and art festivals each year with free admission. The best place to find all the fun is at your city’s Convention and Visitors Bureau.
  • Volunteer Museums, community theaters, animal shelters, sporting venues, schools, churches, and parks all depend on volunteers to run smoothly. Volunteering with an organization that needs and appreciates your service is an incredibly rewarding way to spend time.
  • Check Out Your Library – Not just for books anymore, most public libraries now grant access to computers with internet access, audiobooks, DVDs, CDs, eBooks, and magazines. Some even have beginners craft kits available for check out. There’s a world of entertainment and enrichment right through their doors.

Every Penny Counts

Saving a penny here and a penny there can really add up over time. There are lots of ways to save on daily expenses and sock away money for your rainy day fund.

  • Senior Discounts – From groceries to travel, senior discounts are everywhere. The Senior List website has compiled the best senior discounts available including restaurants, prescriptions, retail, and travel. Some senior discounts are offered on certain days while others apply all the time. Don’t be afraid to ask for a senior discount, after all, you earned it!
  • Additional Discounts – Along with asking about a senior discount, be sure to ask about AARP, AAA, and Veterans discounts that may be potentially stackable with your senior discount.
  • Clip Coupons – Traditional paper coupons can still be clipped from Wednesday and Sunday newspapers, so get your scissors and get saving! You can also find printable coupons on brand’s websites, store websites, and coupons.com.
  • Meal Planning – Meal planning can help you cut down on food waste and trips to the store. Start by planning a week in advance and focusing on sale items and fresh seasonal produce. Pick meals that use the same perishable ingredients multiple times to ensure that you don’t spend money on food that will spoil. Also, don’t be afraid to save leftovers or prepare extra to store in the freezer for a quick, delicious meal.
  • Plan Big Purchases – When you need to make a large purchase, start researching about 30 days in advance to avoid impulse purchases. Shopping around and exploring “price match” options from different retailers can save you a bundle. Check with your local library to research the best buying options, most libraries provide free access to the Consumer Reports database for their card holders. You can use this schedule, also published by Consumer Reports, to determine when you can expect the best prices.
  • Don’t Replace, Repair – When you can, try to mend or fix clothes, appliances, and tools instead of replacing them. If you’re not sure how to, check your local library a guide and learn a new skill. If the task is still too advanced, chances are good that a local tailor, cobbler, or craftsman can do the job for less than it would cost to replace the item.

When you’re living on a fixed income, finding a balance between saving and treating yourself can difficult. After a little practice and with an eye toward the future, you can enjoy a full and financially secure life.