Benefits of Moving to a Retirement Community

1)            Social Interaction- Living at home can be isolating. Senior Care communities provide an environment to interact with people of similar age and interests.  There will be daily planned activities as well as off-site excursions to keep the residents entertained. Reduced isolation and increased social interaction will improve quality of life.

2)            Security- Many seniors living at home are at greater risk of being injured or harmed by safety and security hazards.  Retirement communities take comprehensive measures to reduce risk.  They are staffed day and night so response times to a fall or other emergency will be much quicker than the response time to a home.

3)            Ease of Living-Some seniors may not have issues getting around their home but may have difficulty keeping up with housework, cooking and yard work.  Retirement communities can reduce some of the hassles associated with daily living. Most retirement communities also offer transportation to medical appointments as well as nearby shopping centers and grocery stores.

4)            Assistance with Healthcare-Daily interaction with residents will enable staff to notice any changes in health and demeanor.  Almost all communities assist with the administration of medication to ensure residents are following prescribed dosage and frequency.

5)            Nutrition- Many seniors who live alone don’t eat nutritious meals on a regular basis.  Food preparation can be difficult for those with physical limitations or cognitive challenges.  Residents of senior living communities have the benefit of eating balanced meals in the company of their peers and newly discovered friends.

6)            Staying Active- Exercise has numerous benefits, especially for aging adults. Staying fit will improve overall physical health, improve sleep and even slow down age related memory loss.  Most senior care communities have outdoor space or nearby paths where seniors can stay active.  Exercise classes such as Tai Chi or yoga may also be offered.

7)            Amenities-Retirement communities offer many amenities to make the residents comfortable and feel more at home.  On site amenities may include a salon, coffee shop, library, convenience store and many more.  Retirement communities may also have visitor rooms available for rent for out of town family members.

8)            Financial Benefits- Moving to a retirement community from a home will eliminate making monthly payment for utilities, home and auto insurance, housekeeping, home maintenance and dining expenses.  Financially, this makes managing expenses much easier, as the monthly costs are simplified. Every month, you’ll see predictable payments that are easily paid in one check.  An accountant may also be able to identify potential tax deductions from entrance and monthly fee.

Senior Care: Tips for an Elder Orphan

Aging without Family or a Spouse

Most care giving research assumes that you’ll have a family to take care of you. Twenty-two percent of people 65 and over are either an Elder Orphan or at risk of becoming one. Twelve percent of women in the 80-84 age bracket in 2010 were childless.  This is projected to increase to 16% by 2030.


Establish a Support Network

·        Become involved in communities before you need help.

·        Identify opportunities to connect in your community:  weekly worship services, joining a senior center, participation in senior events.

·        Identify areas where you can share skills to help each other: driving, reading, managing finances, exercise, etc. Volunteer while you are still capable.

·        Relocate to a home environment that provides the support network you desire

·        Include both friends (people who share a common situation and can monitor each other’s well-being) and professionals in your safety net.


Create Financial Safeguards

·        Prepare a Financial Power of Attorney (POA) to handle money matters when you are no longer able to do so.

·        Create an Estate Plan, enabling trusted individuals to retain POA (defines disposition of property).

·        Establish a revocable trust.  If you become unable to manage affairs, the successor trustee can step in and take over.

·       Identify (for future) or secure a “Daily Money Manager” to pay bills, balance the checkbook, organizes tax papers and help with medical claims.


Establish Personal Safeguards

·        Prepare a Health Care Power of Attorney to make medical decisions for you.

·        Prepare a Living Will which defines medical desired intervention decisions.

·        Retain identification on your person reflecting prescriptions used, physician name and contact information.


Our culture values independence. It is wise to become more interdependent as you age.


Senior Circle can help identify solutions that will provide comfort and security during the aging processes.

Senior Care: Retirement Community Selection Tips

Making the move to any type of assisted living is tough. There are family members to consult, home selections to ponder, financial decisions to make, downsizing tasks to administer, logistics to navigate.

Senior Circle has identified below some of the questions you and your loved ones should consider before making the life-changing decision to move to a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC).



Identify and review spectrum of Senior Care options available and associated pricing. 

Does the CCRC provide the flexibility to transition as your health situation changes. What are the levels of support available: Independent Living? Assisted Living? Nursing Care? Memory Care?

Identify projected monthly expenditures of preferred CCRC, how does this compare to current home expenses.  

As in-home care expenses increase there may be value in moving to a CCRC?  See Senior Circle for an expense analysis worksheet.

Does the facility require an up-front deposit?

What percentage is refundable if the resident passes away or moves to another facility?

Are you able to review financial summary to assure the facility will be around for the long term to avoid disruptions in housing and care?

Important measurements to review include debt, assets, cash, profit/loss margins

What services are included in the monthly fee?  What services require extra expenditures?

Examples include nurse visits, meals, snacks, transportation to medical appointments, administering daily medicine

What is the history of price changes/ projected pricing?

Quality Control

Are you able to review operation audit information?

·         State audit results

·         Health inspection results

·         Staffing ratios

Are there well-defined tools and procedures for the ongoing evaluation of resident wellness and identification of senior care adjustments, if needed?

What is the staff turnover rate at all levels of operation (management, staff, nursing care)?

Services and Amenities

·         Floor plans/options

·         Meal plans/dining venues/nutrition focus

·         Transportation accommodations

·         Health wellness focus and supporting programs

·         Social environment and programs to support. How are special occasions celebrated?

·         Religious/spiritual options available?

·         Salon, library, grounds, walking trails, indoor/outdoor sitting areas, coffee shop, lounge-What are included?

Additional Points for Review

·         Medicare certification

·         Clean and well-groomed residents

·         Proximity to the family or friend support network

·         Living space assessment (cleanliness, temperature control, adequate lighting, proper noise levels, comfortable common areas)

·         Apartments or rooms- How are personal belongings managed? 

·         Hallways, Stairs, Lounges.  Are areas clearly marked and safe? How many community areas are available?

·         What are practices in periodic facility updates (overall facilities or individual apartments, rooms).

·         The focus on safety and care of employees and residence? 

·         Positive relationship of staff with residents?  Staff able to participate in continuing education (CE)/ Professional Development? 

·         Pet policies


Senior Circle has analyzed and compiled a portfolio of the various Des Moines area retirement communities.  We can help you make the decision process easier-from choosing your new home, conducting financial assessments, downsizing and facilitating relocation. 

Please contact us if you have questions or if we can be of assistance.



Senior Care: Fall Prevention Guide

Fall prevention facts

1)            Falls are the number  one cause of injuries to seniors and older adults

2)            One out of four older people falls each year

3)            One out of five falls results in a serious injury such as broken bones or head trauma

4)            Falling once doubles your chances of falling again.           

5)            Over 800,000 patients a year are hospitalized because of a fall injury, most often because of a head injury or hip fracture

Most falls are caused by a combination of risk factors. The more risk factors a person has, the greater their chances of falling.


Fall Prevention Tips

1)      Stay Active-Physical Activity such as walking, water workouts or tai chi can help to improve strength, coordination and balance reducing the chances of falling.

2)      Footwear-Slippers, socks or shoes with poor grip can increase occurrences of fall.  Wear properly fitted shoes to increase balance.

3)      Remove home hazards-Make sure rugs are secure and remove clutter from walkways and high traffic areas.  Use nonslip mats in shower or bathtub and consider installing grab bars in the bathroom.

4)      Keep living area well lit-Make sure your home is well lit to avoid tripping on objects that are hard to see.  Add night lights to walkways.

5)      Medication side effects-Some drugs may make you feel dizzy or tired increasing chances for a fall.  If medications cause unsteadiness let your doctor know.


 3 Questions to Ask Your Older Adult Parents

Have you fallen in the past year?

Do you feel unsteady when standing or walking?

Do you worry about falling?

If the answer to any of these questions is “yes”, they are considered at increased risk of falling. Further assessment is recommended.

Senior Circle offers comprehensive services related to senior transitions and senior downsizing.  The service area covers the Des Moines metropolitan area and central Iowa.


Fall prevention facts:

Fall prevention tips:

Used with permission of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, all rights reserved.

A Site for Senior Downsize

Senior Circle Downsizing Tips

1) Get Rid of Duplicates ~ What actually is in all of the cabinets in your kitchen?  You probably have several spatulas, multiple baking pans, eight pairs of scissors and other unnecessary items.  If you haven’t used an object for over a year, you probably don’t need it.  Consider donating or discarding some of these items.

2) Go through your possessions ~ Reminiscing may bring back memories of a place and time.  Take some time for yourself during the sorting process.  Keep an object “if it connects to a really important moment in your life”.

3) Break down the sorting process by room or area ~ Downsizing doesn’t happen in a day or even a week.  Create a plan and set a timeline. Start on areas that are less cluttered to help jumpstart the process. Use colored coded tags or stickers to help determine which items may have more meaning than others.

4) Identify and label important documents ~ You probably don’t need bank statements and check registers from 1987.  It is important to organize financial information that relates to current income, assets, or liabilities.

5) Sort family heirlooms ~ Give away items that you intend to leave for loved ones.  Get family members involved and see what items they may like to have for themselves.  Knowing that your treasured possessions will be taken care of will give you peace of mind.  

6) Identify valuables ~ Make sure to catalog any specialty items in your household which may be of value.  The collection of hand-painted French figurines you got from your mother may have more sentimental than monetary value; however, there may be other items in your possession, which may be worth more than you think.  Consider using an appraiser to help make the determination on value.

7) Designate items for donations/trash ~ If an item is damaged or has no use to you or anyone else, it is not worth keeping.  The bedroom suite in the basement that nobody uses may be of value to someone in need.  Consider donating it.


Organization is the key to making the downsizing process less stressful. Senior Circle has developed “Steps to Downsizing” to make the process as efficient as possible while taking into consideration the emotional aspect of the situation.

Please contact us if you would like some advice as you consider the downsizing process.

Benefits of Downsizing - Relocating

1) You may be able to move closer to family or friends.

2) You will enjoy less home and yard maintenance.

3) You may find a new residence that better fits your needs.

4) You may be able to eliminate or reduce mortgage payment/property taxes.


Benefits of Downsizing – Stay in Home

1) Create a home layout that is easier to get around.

2) Provides the opportunity to review and update with important safety aids (hand rails, hold bars, access ramps, etc.)