Planning for your retirement years

By Nancy Martin, RN

One of my most vivid memories of my grandmother is of her sitting near her den window, sewing basket beside her, darning socks for her large family. She seemed to live by the adage, “a stitch in time saves nine”, at least when it came to running a household. But in her day this adage did not carry over to health and wellness. She rarely saw a doctor, all twelve of her children were born at home and she “doctored” the whole family with home remedies. The delectable baked goods she showered her family with were often baked with lard rendered by her own hand on butchering day.

Today our health and wellness is one of the most important and frequent topics of discussion in every medium of communication. So much so that there can be conflicting information, especially because things change so quickly. As life seems to move faster and is often more confusing because there are so many choices, seniors may try to simplify their lives as they reach retirement age and beyond. Here is where the “stitch in time saves nine” comes into play in the modern-day healthcare arena. More time, money and effort are going into preparing seniors to become “advance planners” through regular medical check-ups, routine tests and increased education, helping them take charge of their health and wellness. By being pro-active with their healthcare decisions (a stitch in time) they can possibly avoid greater health problems in the future which might require additional medications as well as more treatment such as rehab therapy or hospitalization.

Another choice facing seniors is where to spend their retirement years. Many variables factor into this decision; where is family located, what is the cost, where can they get the services they now need or may need in the future. For some, a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) is a good choice because such a community allows for the natural occurrence of aging-in-place. There is no need to move from one environment to another to obtain the level of care their health requires at the moment.

Continuing care retirement communities offer several levels of care; independent living, assisted living, rehabilitation, skilled nursing care, long-term care; some offer specialized, assisted memory care as well. Familiarity with location and personnel can be a definite plus. Many retirement communities include wellness programs as part of their services for independent and assisted living residents as a means to include that “stitch in time to save nine” component, encouraging residents to participate in their health care decisions in an informed way. Education, guidance and encouragement of good health practices are a large part of the wellness services provided. Assessment of physical complaints or injuries, minor first-aid, answering medical questions, making appropriate referrals and providing necessary resources as requested by residents are all a part of a wellness nurse’s day, aiding each resident to “stitch up” good health and wellness.

Author Nancy Martin is a Wellness Nurse with The Vintage Retirement Community and Healthcare Center which is a CCRC that offers independent living, assisted living, comprehensive rehabilitation services, 24 hour skilled nursing care, long-term residential care and a secured memory care area. Consider coming by for a tour. Contact Cindy Rodgers, Community Relations Director at 940-384-1500.