3 Ways to Explore
Retirement and Active Adult Living
Active-Adult Living at its Best
Nevada consistently ranks high among the favored states in which to retire and, specifically, Southern Nevada continues to attract active seniors. Among the reasons high on their lists include the region’s ease of living, weather, access to health care, education facilities, low crime rate, plenty of park space and availability to enjoy arts and leisure. That’s not all. Economic reasons include job opportunities, housing prices and the absence of state taxes. All combined, it’s a compelling package for many adults 55 and older.

Thanks to a retiree population in Clark County of more than 220,500, the area is able to offer a wide array of activities, events, services and residential amenities that are specifically tailored to meet the needs of active adults as well as retirees. This is important as studies are finding that today’s over-55 population are healthy and active individuals who may be interested in working, going to school and volunteering as well as enjoying free time. All of this and more is available in the Las Vegas region.

With the advancing age of the Baby Boomer generation transitioning into their retirement years, medical costs and housing options are becoming of increasingly greater importance. The significance of the senior population can be found in the numbers. In 2010, it was estimated by the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics that 15 percent of the population were 65 and older. The forum projects that by 2030 those 65 and older will rise to 20 percent. Along with the climb of the amount of seniors is the rise of health-care costs. The good news is that most of this generation has enjoyed increased prosperity, more than any previous generation, and there are many resources and programs designed for the success of senior living. It is also important to keep in mind that when it is time for retirement, those happiest are those who planned for it the best. This chapter will help weigh housing options, assist you in selecting a community type and inform you about activities and resources.

WHY LAS VEGAS?
Las Vegas is a city that constantly reinvents itself, much like what retirement can do for retirees. Starting this new chapter of life gives you the freedom to decide how you will spend your time and who you will spend it with. Given the climate of the region, you will have many opportunities to enjoy your new-found freedom outside. Seniors with arthritis often find the dry and warm weather a relief for aching joints. When the temperature gets too hot for comfort, retreat can be found in the audience of a show on the Strip or enjoying a ballroom dancing lesson at the community center. A moderate sales tax and the void of a state income tax allows for opportunity to take pleasure in such activities. Financially, the health-care industry is leading the way to diversify the Las Vegas economy, which means newly constructed facilities, highly sought-after professionals and state-of-the-art equipment are at your disposal. This year the Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), the parent company of three local hospitals—Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center, MountainView Hospital and Southern Hills Hospital and Medical Center—was named by the Ethisphere Institute as one of the world’s 100 most ethical companies in 2011. In all, many reasons can be listed as to why Las Vegas is a great place to retire as an active senior so why not consider becoming a neighbor to those who already have discovered this.

RETIREMENT LIVING, SENIOR-LIVING COMMUNITIES AND INDEPENDENT-LIVING COMMUNITIES
These are all places for seniors to retire where they can continue to live independently without having to worry about a home or its upkeep. These places provide a safe and comfortable setting as well as an opportunity to make new friends in the same age range who share the same interests.

After making the decision to live in a retirement community, how do you select the right one that meets your needs? First ask your friends or your doctor for recommendations. In addition, consult this relocation guide, the local Yellow Pages or the Internet by searching under “retirement communities” or “active adult communities.”

Living options may be apartments, townhouses or rooms requiring little or no maintenance. Experts suggest that whichever type of housing is preferred, it’s important to see available apartments. If they have don’t have availability or do not have the type of unit requested, find out about getting on the waiting list and determine the length of the expected wait. When visiting and interviewing at retirement communities, shop around. Make several visits at different times.

Services offered can vary depending on the type and cost of the facility. At many, seniors are responsible for their own finances, transportation, meals and health care. Plus, recreational activities usually are offered, maid service may be provided, some meals may be provided in a common room and the facility may offer transportation to physicians or shopping. People interested in this type of facility should be healthy, able to communicate with independent health-care professionals without the help of on-site staff and must desire an active community environment.

It’s important that a community under consideration be close to your services, such as doctors’ offices, hospitals, grocery stores and favorite shopping places. Identify what amenities are important to you, such as an on-site beauty shop, golf-course membership, transportation for doctors appointments, shopping, cultural events, church and social outings. Review the community’s activity calendar to see what it offers and ask the marketing or activity director about programs. Don’t hesitate to ask the residents how long they have lived at the facility and whether they like it and find out from the managing directors how long they have been in operation and who owns them. Inquire about the quality of the food and the staff. These are all very good questions to ask.

Due to the wide array of choices available to Las Vegas seniors, retirement communities are very competitive, which is a plus for consumers because they can shop around to ensure that the right facility matches their lifestyle.

— SENIOR CITIZENS PROPERTY TAX/RENT REBATE PROGRAM
Nevada offers a Senior Citizen Tax Assistance/Rental Rebate program to persons 62 years of age or older whose annual household income was $28,677 (plus or minus an adjustment based on the Consumer Price Index) or less during the preceding calendar year. The total income amount will be adjusted each year by the state of Nevada’s Department of Taxation.

This program applies to any person meeting the age, residency and income requirements regardless of whether they own their home, rent an apartment or house or live in a manufactured home. The filing period for the Tax Assistance/ Rental Rebate program is from February 1 to April 30 each year. The amount of benefit depends on household income and taxes or rent paid.

The Assessor’s Office administers the program and mails out the forms to everyone who applied the previous year and anyone who requests an application. The applications are also available at Senior Citizen Centers in Clark County or by calling (702) 455-3882.

The state of Nevada Division of Aging Services requires first-time applicants provide proof of age (birth certificate, Nevada ID, Nevada driver’s license or some other legal document showing date of birth). Applicants also must provide proof of rent (if renting) and proof of income. All types of income, including Social Security benefits, must be included.

LEISURE ACTIVITIES AND TRAVEL
With such a sunny climate, a strategic airport, excellent entertainment venues and fabulous dining choices in all price ranges, seniors can be as active as they’d like to be. Seniors can join tours to travel to exotic places or volunteer at a local museum. They can enjoy ballroom dancing, hiking in nearby mountains or taking scenic drives in the area and beyond. The Las Vegas region truly has something for every senior.

The region also has numerous neighborhood recreation centers, including the YMCA and others offering engaging activities and, in many cases, senior fitness programs.

A useful resource from the city of Las Vegas, Department of Leisure Services, Senior Citizen Programs Division, is called “The Las Vegas Active Adult: Your Guide to Living Beyond the Neon at 50 +.” It is available online at www.lasvegasnevada.gov/files/LV_Active_Adult.pdf. The Senior Citizen Programs Division encourages and promotes healthy living with programs that offer physical activity, mental stimulation and social interaction for active adults age 50 and better. The city’s facilities are run by top-notch staff and can be found throughout Las Vegas to serve all leisure-time needs. A quick scan of offerings included in the publication include belly dancing, Tai-Chi Gong, jewelry design, watercolor painting, hula class, candle making, self-defense workshops, photo scavenger hunts, go-kart racing as well as day trips to Hoover Dam, Boulder City and Lake Mead.

AARP NEVADA OPENS DOORS FOR 50+ WORKFORCE
If you’re like many recently transplanted Nevadans, you may ha
ve moved to the sunny climate of Las Vegas to retire and relax. Although you’re of retirement age, once you’ve settled into your new life, you may find you’re not really ready to retire.

Recent AARP surveys indicate that it is highly likely that as many as one-third of members in Nevada will continue working beyond retirement. As the U.S. economy struggles to adjust to market volatility, it can be financially beneficial to continue to work after retirement, although many seniors stay in the workforce for the enjoyment of having a job. As such, AARP Nevada is working to create a business climate where employment opportunities are readily available for those 50 and older.

In an effort to connect business with this sector of the workforce, AARP Nevada sponsors a job fair series, Opportunity Boulevard. At the first event, open to people of all ages, more than 3,000 over-50 jobseekers attended.

AARP also has engaged more than 40 national companies and organizations through the AARP National Employer Team in a collaboration to match 50+ workers for current job openings. Many of these national businesses have a presence in Las Vegas. A complete listing of this employment group can be found at www.aarp.org/employerteam.

The AARP Foundation has two programs geared to help workers ages 40 and older. AARP’s WorkSearch program is a Web-based system that offers mature workers the tools they need to assess their job interests and skills, address training gaps and connect them to available jobs with local employers that value their experience.

The AARP Foundation also offers the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), providing job retraining and help re-entering the workforce to 55+ adults with limited income. SCSEP helps program enrollees sharpen their job-hunting skills, obtain on-the-job training and find a permanent position. SCSEP has an office in Las Vegas and can be reached by calling (702) 648-3356.

For current information about AARP’s over-50 workforce activities in Las Vegas, visit AARP Nevada’s website at www.aarp.org/nv. For general jobseeking and tips on how to have a successful job-hunting experience, visit AARP’s national website at www.aarp.org.

Source: AARP Nevada

ELDER-CARE HOUSING OPTIONS
Many Americans are moving into their retirement years while also tending to the care of a parent or elderly relative. As a caregiver, it is importance to understand what options are available for your loved ones, especially if you are the primary decision maker for them. There are number of lifestyle choices depending on the person’s physical condition and the level of care required to live comfortably. In Las Vegas, the housing options run the gamut from assisted-living facilities to Alzheimer-care facilities to resort-style neighborhoods. These facilities offer accommodations that provide a dignified standard of living while professionals oversee the residents’ well-being.

CONTINUING CARE RETIREMENT COMMUNITY (CCRC)
Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) allow seniors to “age in place,” with flexible accommodations that are designed to meet their health and housing needs as these needs change over time. Residents entering CCRCs sign a long-term contract that provides for housing, services and nursing care, usually all in one location, to enable seniors to remain in a familiar setting as they grow older.

Many seniors enter into a CCRC’s contract while they are healthy and active, knowing they will be able to stay in the same community and receive nursing care should this become necessary. When a senior who is in good health signs a CCRC contract, he or she may expect to pay lower fees.

CCRCs provide services and facilities that allow access to independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing facilities. Seniors who are independent may live in a single-family home, apartment or condominium within the CCRC complex. If they begin to need help with activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing and eating, they may be transferred to an assisted-living or skilled nursing facility on the same site. Seniors who live in this setting can be assured that their long-term care needs will be met and they will not have to relocate.

Any senior (single or partnered) can be good candidate for a CCRC. These include people who are independent, healthy and able to care for themselves; those who need some assistance with daily living; those who require skilled nursing care; those who want the security of living in a seniors-only community; those who no longer want (or are unable) to maintain a house; those who prefer to live among their peers; and those who have enough money to pay the CCRC fees.

Seniors who live in CCRCs can select a service plan to suit their needs, abilities and preferences. Typical assisted-living services include recreational, social and educational activities; transportation; emergency help; housekeeping; meals; assistance with daily living; and personal assistance.

ASSISTED-LIVING FACILITIES
These housing options combine a level of independent living with some assistance for personal care. They provide care to residents who cannot live alone but do not need 24-hour nursing care. Assisted-living communities offer residents the privacy of their own bedroom, often with a small kitchen. Most offer meals in a community dining room, snacks, laundry services, housekeeping and assistance with personal needs, such as bathing, dressing or medication supervision. These facilities are not designed for people who need serious medical care, but there are some facilities for people with Alzheimer’s, dementia and memory loss.

The fact that assisted-living facilities are state regulated can offer family members peace of mind, but that does not mean less effort should be given for selecting the right one. When looking for an assisted-living facility, experts say it’s important to find one that offers a wide range of services while also having an ambiance that appeals to the resident. Collaboration between the potential assisted-living resident, family members, physicians and the facility manager will ensure that the balance between care and comfort is met. Next, determine all the available options, utilizing the same resources as for retirement communities.

Make an appointment to visit the managing director or director of the assisted-living facility. At that time, make sure the registered nurse is present at the meeting and make sure you obtain a disclosure statement that will tell you all the things the community can and will do for your loved one. Ask the cost of the facility and whether that is the total or if the facility offers levels of care, meaning the facility can add costs to everything it does for your loved one. Ask what the cost covers and how medications are given. Talk to residents and eat a meal there; food plays a big part in the residents’ lives.

Assisted-living residents can be young or old, affluent or low income, frail or disabled. A typical resident in an assisted-living facility is a widowed or single woman in her 80s. Residents may suffer from memory disorders or simply need help with mobility, incontinence or other challenges. Assisted living is appropriate for anyone who can no longer manage to live on their own but doesn’t require medical care.

Once a decision about a community has been made, review everything and ask questions if you do not understand. Ensure that everything is spelled out and clear. If you don’t feel good about the place, it’s probably not the best option. Pay close attention to what is going on and how you feel.

RESIDENTIAL-CARE HOMES (PERSONAL-CARE HOMES)
These group-living facilities, usually single-family homes, are designed to meet the needs of people who cannot live independently but do not need nursing homes. These homes provide some type of assistance with daily living activities, including eating, walking and bathing. Some homes provide skilled nursing, rehabilitative services or specialized care for illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s.

SKILLED NURSING FACILITIES
A skilled nursing facility is staffed by registered nurses (RNs) who help provide 24-hour care to people who can no longer care for themselves due to physical, emotional or mental conditions. A licensed physician supervises each patient’s care, and a nurse or other medical professional is almost always on the premises. Most nursing homes have two basic types of services: skilled medical care and custodial care.

Skilled medical care includes services of trained professionals that are needed for a limited period of time following an injury or illness. Skilled care also may be needed on a long-term basis if a resident requires injections, ventilation or other treatment.

Custodial or personal care includes assistance with the activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, eating, grooming, getting in and out of bed or walking around.

People who are able to recover from a disabling injury or illness may temporarily need the custodial care as they are getting back the strength and balance to be independent again. For people who are losing their ability to function independently due to chronic disease and increasing frailty, custodial care may be a long-term need.

In the most severe cases where a person is bed-bound, ongoing supervision by an RN is necessary along with the custodial care to ensure proper hydration and nutrition and to prevent skin breakdown. If a custodial-care resident becomes ill or injured, they may spend a period of time in skilled care and then return to custodial care. Whether a resident is under skilled or custodial care is important in terms of who provides the care and who pays for the services provided.

MEMORY-CARE COMMUNITIES
Alzheimer’s care communities are special units or freestanding communities designed to care for individuals living with Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s is a degenerative disease that attacks the brain, impairing one’s memory, mental processing ability and behavior.

Special on-site care is provided to residents 24 hours a day. While these communities are for early stage Alzheimer’s patients, alternative senior assisted-care centers may be appropriate for residents. Long-term insurance or personal money usually funds the care in these communities.

SELECTING A COMMUNITY
To best match a senior’s needs with his or her preferences, there are numerous factors to weigh in making a decision about care:
  • Temporary versus long-term care: An older person may go to a nursing home for rehabilitation following a surgery or stroke, then return home. In other circumstances, a senior’s needs are better served by planning a move into a situation that is likely to remain the same for the many years to come.
  • Independence: Can the senior live alone, and more importantly, does he or she want to? Or would living in a more service-oriented environment be more nurturing?
  • Privacy: If the senior’s desire for privacy is important, independent living, assisted living or a CCRC would be preferable to a nursing home.
  • Needs for personal care: How much and what kinds of personal or “custodial care” are needed or desired? There are online needs-assessment questionnaires to help determine this and then match the care needs with the right type of housing.
  • Needs for medical care: If the senior has a chronic illness that necessitates special medical care or ongoing services of medical professionals, independent living and even assisted living may not be suitable.
  • Costs: Learn about the financial aspects of senior housing to determine what options are affordable for you. Certain options may be unaffordable, such as CCRCs.

In making any housing selection for yourself or a loved one, ask your doctor or your attorney to review the contract, especially if you feel uneasy signing it. However, there are many residents who make the decision on their own and don’t feel the need to ask anyone else.

ELDER-CARE COST CONSIDERATIONS
The national median rate for a private one-bedroom apartment in an assisted-living residence is $3,300 per month. Although it is difficult to get a good reading on the average cost of nursing homes or assisted living because care is varied with each person’s need, and pricing is often tiered to reflect this need. However, assisted living is often less expensive than home health services or nursing-home care in the same geographic area. The cost of a senior-living residence is usually paid for through private financial resources since most insurance policies do not cover these expenses. At best, one’s insurance program or policy will reimburse some cost. Seniors have several ways of funding retirement living if existing finances are not adequate.

For most seniors, owning a home is the biggest asset available. Of course selling the home would fund your new living arrangements, but renting or obtaining a reverse mortgage also would allow for money to come in without getting rid of the property. Housing and Veterans Affairs subsidies exist for some seniors with annual incomes under $12,000 and provide funds that can help pay for the room-and-board portion of both independent-living and assisted-living environments. Veterans can benefit from the Department of Veterans Affairs skilled- and intermediate-level care depending on availability. To truly ensure your capacity to pay for senior living, long-term care insurance is your best bet. The Assisted Living Federation of America suggests researching long-term care insurance at age 40 and owning it by age 50. This type of insurance gives you the flexibility to choose the type of housing right for you with the restrictions of federal health-care assistance.

SENIOR PROGRAMS

— GETTING INVOLVED IN YOUR NEW COMMUNITY

AARP Nevada: (866) 389-5652, www.aarp.org/nv
AARP Nevada offers a variety of volunteer opportunities for 50+ adults, including issue/advocacy volunteers, community-service volunteers, 50+ workforce volunteers, Driver Safety program instructors and coordinators; Tax-Aide tax preparers, coordinators greeters and many more.

Dial 211: 2-1-1, www.nevada211.org
This easy-to-remember telephone number provides Nevadans with a single point of entry for all social and government services as well as many nonprofit groups.

United Way of Southern Nevada: (702) 892-2321, www.volunteercentersn.org
This organization provides resources to groups and individuals to help them deliver creative solutions to community problems through volunteerism. It serves as a key resource for community involvement for Southern Nevadans, matching volunteer interests with many organizations.

— KEY RESOURCES
Nevada Aging and Disability Services Division: (702) 486-3545, www.nvaging.net
This division provides services to older adults, including but not limited to home- and community-based services, transportation, financial and legal assistance and help understanding Medicare.

Nevada Care Connection: (866) 687-6822, www.nevadacareconnection.org
This comprehensive, up-to-date network of agencies and providers throughout Nevada offers easy access to care-giving resources, support and information.

BenefitsCheckUp: (800) 373-4906, www.benefitscheckup.org
A service through the National Council on Aging, BenefitsCheckUp helps older adults find programs to help pay for the cost of prescription drugs, health care, utilities and other essential items and services.

Senior Citizens Law Project: (702) 229-6596, www.lasvegasnevada.gov/Find/21380.htm
This provides quality, free legal counsel and assistance to Clark County residents age 60 and older. Services include but are not limited to simple wills, advance directives, small-claims help, consumer disputes and legal advice.

Source: AARP Nevada

OTHER RESOURCES
At the state level, the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services develops, coordinates and delivers a comprehensive support service system for Nevada’s senior citizens to lead independent, meaningful and dignified lives. Programs administered by the state include the following:
  • Advocate for Elders: Advocacy, assistance, information and referral to frail seniors who are 60 years of age or older, primarily homebound and living in the community and their caregivers
  • Elder Protective Services (EPS) Program: For persons 60 years and older who may experience abuse, neglect, exploitation or isolation
  • Homemaker Program: General housekeeping, limited meal preparation, shopping, laundering and errands, standby assistance with bathing and home-management services
  • Independent-Living Grants: Information for current and/or prospective grantees
  • Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program: Addresses issues and problems faced by residents in long-term care facilities, which includes residential facilities for groups
  • Senior Ride Program: Discounted taxicab fares to seniors and persons with disabilities residing in Clark County
  • State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP): Information, counseling and assistance to Medicare beneficiaries in Nevada involving a statewide network of volunteers
  • Waiver—Home and Community Based (formerly CHIP): Nonmedical services to older persons to help them maintain independence in their own homes as an alternative to nursing-home placement
  • Waiver for the Elderly in Adult Residential Care (WEARC): CHIP services in a group-care setting to offer individuals a less expensive alternative of supervised care in a residential setting

For more information, contact the Las Vegas office at (702) 486-3545 or visit the website at www.dhhs.nv.gov.

SERVING SENIORS: CERTIFIED SENIOR ADVISORS
When a senior is in need of assistance regarding a key health, financial or social issue, he or she can reach out to professionals who specialize in working with seniors and have additional knowledge about issues concerning them. One such professional is a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA).

CSAs have supplemented their individual professional licenses, credentials and education with knowledge about aging and working with seniors. The CSA designation alone does not imply expertise in financial, health or social matters; however, if you are a senior and work with a professional who has added the CSA designation to his or her achievements, you know you’re working with someone who has invested the time and effort in learning about the things that are important to you.

A CSA professional educates other professionals about working more effectively with their senior clients. A CSA can provide the right kind of planning, recommendations and referrals that can make aging a state to be savored instead of a fate to be feared. In working with the senior or professional community, CSAs are able to understand the key health, social and financial factors that are important to seniors and how these factors work together.

CSAs are able to integrate this into their professional practices, no matter what field they’re in. They’ve learned how incredibly gratifying it is to help seniors achieve their goals, and the seniors they’ve worked with have learned how important it is to work with someone who truly understands their age-related circumstances.

According to the Society of Certified Senior Advisors, a CSA is a professional who has received a comprehensive education in the health, financial and social issues facing seniors. CSA candidates must pass a challenging national exam to prove their knowledge of the issues affecting seniors. While most CSAs already have expertise in a professional discipline, it is only after they pass the exam and agree to live up to high ethical and professional standards that they may use the CSA designation.

The Society of Certified Senior Advisors is the world’s largest membership organization that educates and certifies professionals who serve seniors. Founded in 1997, doctors, attorneys, gerontologists, accountants, financial planners and other experts came together because they believed there was a need for standardized education for professionals who work with seniors.

Individuals or families in need of a CSA may find them throughout the nation by calling (800) 653-1785 or on the Internet at www.society-csa.com.

Las Vegas is an excellent location for retirement. With its countless activities and amenities for active adults and resources and facilities for the elderly population, the region is equipped superbly to make your golden years gleam.
 
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