BY LORRAINE AIKEN
Retirement is defined as the act of retiring or leaving one’s job, career, or occupation permanently. The grandeur of retirement is what working professionals strive to achieve following a long tenure, culminating with a well-awaited celebration surrounded by family, friends, and colleagues. Throughout your career, you’ll work, save, and invest those earnings as a nest egg to prepare. But when that moment comes… what’s next? Nobody has told you what to expect in retirement.
Anne Letsky, Cindy McAuliffe, and Carol Rohde are Lifestyle Advisors at Homestead Hills, a 5-time Argentum national award-winning senior living community in Winston-Salem. Being a trusted advisor to retirees who are considering “What’s next?” is a unique position. Their role is to support and counsel seniors and their families about the benefits of a senior living community, whether it’s at Homestead Hills or elsewhere. Anne and Cindy focus on Independent Living, while Carol focuses on Care Services (Assisted Living, Memory Care, Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation). The principal difference between Homestead Hills and other retirement options is that all of the services you’ll need are under one roof, there’s no need to relocate if your needs change. As a Lifestyle Advisor, their goal is to get to the heart of why someone is looking to make the transition to a retirement community and how they can be supported by Homestead Hills to ensure they have an excellent retirement with access to care services.
Independent Living offers a high level of autonomy and freedom with access to care services, if needed. Those who live in the community enjoy spending time in the local area while having activities, dining, and amenities available inside of the community. “We have Members who volunteer throughout the week and some who play an active role in the business they’ve built during their career. Independent Living means that you have access to all of the community amenities, dining, wellness classes, maintenance free living, and social events, while having the flexibility to travel and enjoy retirement on your own schedule”, said McAuliffe.
Spending time with future community members and helping to determine their next steps is one of the best parts of a Lifestyle Advisor’s position. “The people who walk through our doors become family,” said Letsky. “We can’t help but empathize with them. We’re working closely to help them and it’s a bittersweet time, because most people who are making the transition into Independent Living have resided in their current home for a long time and have fond memories there.”
The process can be lengthy, depending on what the potential resident is looking for in a community. Between finding their perfect new home, selling/moving from their current home and getting any additional affairs in order, the process can take anywhere between 18 months to 2 years. “They’re practically running through our door at the end of the process,” Letsky said smiling. “It may seem overwhelming but you’re not doing any of it by yourself, we’re here to help and advise you 100% of the way.”
The home that they may want to move into may not be available, and there can be a waiting period, which is why it’s wise to inquire long before you’re ready to make the transition. Establishing a timeline with the Lifestyle Advisor team is a helpful first step so that the checklist is broken into small, manageable projects. During the ‘information-gathering’ phase, seniors and their families are researching, touring, conversing with staff and current residents, while attending events and working to find the perfect fit for their needs. Once a community choice has been determined, the future resident will work with a financial advisor to determine their assets, a moving consultant to sell and pare down their current home/belongings, and the team of Lifestyle Advisors to establish their new home and meet their future-neighbors.
Making the transition when you’re able to enjoy Independent Living gives you the opportunity to customize your home on your terms, in your own time frame. The benefit of moving into a community with a full range of services gives Members a chance to stay in their home without the need to relocate, should they require a higher level of care. “Everything that you’ll need is under one roof,” said Carol Rohde, Care Service Lifestyle Advisor. “Families choose our community because it gives them peace of mind that mom or dad is well-provided for. They’re not worrying about checking-in on them or wondering whether they were able to get to the grocery store.” The leadership at Homestead Hills encourages Members to enjoy wellness classes, join social activities (with neighbors, friends, and family), partake in excellent dining options, all while having access to the care that they will require.
Care Services is comprised of four different levels of care, Assisted Living, Memory Care, Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation. Assisted Living is for those who cannot live alone and require assistance to complete daily activities. “Many people wonder what the benefit of living in Assisted Living is, versus having someone come into their home.” said Rohde. “The benefit is being able to retain independence and privacy. Living next door to your peers and having activities throughout the day keeps Members from being isolated in their homes. While having staff members close by gives them the assistance that they require while maintaining their privacy without someone being present all day in their home. It’s also a peace of mind for Members and their families that someone will be there, no matter what time.”
Memory Care offers personalized and specialized services in a safe living space for those who have Alzheimer’s and dementia. Living in Memory Care ensures peace of mind for family in knowing that the program is structured and tailored to best fit the Member. “We build trust between Members and staff which helps to tailor activities, meals, care, and their routines so we can anticipate their needs,” said Rohde. At Homestead Hills, the community works to ensure that all of their team members in Memory Care are Certified Dementia PractitionersTM. This program takes a person-centered approach to caring for Members and works to enhance the use of new methods, theories, and tools related to Alzheimer’s and dementia care for best practical use. For a long time, the trend in dementia care has been centered around the caregiver instead of the care receiver. “Today, we’re seeing a unique shift in the caregiving culture which involves engaging elders to prevent agitation and confusion. The key to this switch is that caregivers are encouraged to ‘join’ the resident’s current reality, taking a person-centered approach to their care instead of trying to orient them to the reality of the caregiver,” explained Rohde. Utilizing this certification allows caregivers to meet each individual’s cognitive needs on their level which enhances self-esteem, promotes participation, and allows for more effective caregiving.
Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation are available when you no longer need the amount of medical care that can be provided at a hospital, but you need more care or therapy than you or your loved ones can manage at home. Homestead Hills offers short-term rehab and long-term care from licensed professionals.
Each individual and family has a unique vision for their ideal retirement. In the process of figuring out ‘What’s next?’ the Lifestyle Advisors at Homestead Hills are available to make your transition easier. Having seasoned professionals who have been through the process and can empathize with your individual needs means that you’ll have a caring professional walking with you into your next chapter, your perfect retirement.