Helen Werner, a resident of Cedar Village exclaims "you would never guess that I'm 88 years old!"

Werner is busy coaxing smiles from children at Ronald McDonald House during a recent volunteer trip with Cedar Village retirement community of Mason. She is as enthusiastic as the children, exhibiting a passion unscathed and undefined by age or health.

Volunteer trips, like this visit to the Ronald McDonald House, are one of the many opportunities offered by Cedar Village to meet the needs of their very active, very involved residents.

Like many retirement communities in Greater Cincinnati, Cedar Village offers a range of lifestyles and levels of care. Choosing a retirement community before a health crisis allows the senior and the family a chance to explore options, understand what is available, and make a choice that fits the individual.

"Life begins at Cedar Village," proclaims the website of the continuing care community, which offers independent and assisted living apartments as well as short-term rehabilitation and long-term care. Cedar Village residents attend concerts and plays, compete in Wii bowling tournaments, and take trips to Israel. This is not your grandmother's retirement home. Cedar Village and similarly enthusiastic retirement communities are expanding care and how the staff provides that care.

Make it Happen

"Our residents have a wide set of skills, interests and enthusiasms. If they want to do something, we find a way to make it happen," says Carol Silver Elliott, president and CEO of Cedar Village. "Life continues."

The happiness Werner finds in her community is what family members hope to see when they choose a retirement community for a loved one. Comfort and care are critical but there is so much more.

"The best time to start looking for the next option is before a crisis," says Silver Elliott. "It's not always easy to get people to do that."

In any decision-making process, time is needed to effectively weigh all options.

So Many Options

Maple Knoll Village in Springdale offers housing that ranges from retirement living in villas and apartments to assisted living to skilled nursing. A Montessori education program at the Child Center offers residents the chance to participate in intergenerational activities and Maple Knoll's WMKV (39.3) radio station broadcasts classic oldies.

"There is no magic age at which to join a retirement community," says Becky Schulte, director of communications for Maple Knoll. "Some people wait to come when they're having all of these health problems. They have the need to be here, but can't enjoy all of what the community has to offer."

Activities include overnight trips, concerts, education programs, fitness programs and entertainment. Amenities include a swimming pool, walking paths, fitness centers, dining and a pub.

Options, Choices & A Visit

Before choosing when and where to retire, experts recommend a thorough search of options, careful consideration of personal choices and visiting facilities. There is a great deal of information available on the Internet including the website for the Council on Aging for Southwestern Ohio.

Schulte suggests seniors consider options close to home. "We often say that people want to change their address, not their lifestyle," says Schulte. Keeping access to hairdressers, doctors, and favorite restaurants can help the transition.

Minimize the changes, says Silver Elliott. "It makes people's lives more comfortable."

Look for facilities with a continuum of care in the even a different level of medical care is needed in the future. A variety of care options in one place can help seniors stay connected to staff and co-residents. "A retirement community is a place where people make friends, they have relationships with other residents and with other staff," she says. "If you move between levels of care, it allows you to maintain relationships in a much more comfortable and easier fashion."

Needs and interests

"Get an understanding of what your loved one's needs are," says Silver Elliott. Consult a physician in order to determine the level of care and look for the communities that can accommodate these needs. Check the quality ratings using sites like www.medicare.gov.

Beyond the medical needs, consider hobbies and interests. Does the facility provide amenities and activities? Discuss your loved one's current interests as well as hobbies they wish to explore. "Our residents are active folks who lived really productive lives in the community and were leaders," says Silver Elliott, "And, there's no reason for them not to continue those roles just because they live in retirement."

Visits are highly recommended.

"Getting that first-hand experience is much better than someone telling you how much you'll like it here," says Schulte. To get a true sense of the community, she suggests, families speak to the residents, meet staff, or participate in an activity.

"What's really most important it that this is a good fit for your loved one," says Silver Elliott. Observing the atmosphere and your loved one's response is valuable. Is this a place that where they feel comfortable, a place they can feel at home?

After all, "this isn't about choosing a retirement community, she says, "this is about choosing a new home. You have to really think about it from that perspective." - 

Make Friends, Take a Swim
Active Communities Attract Seniors

There's a lot to be said for moving into a retirement community while you are still healthy and can really enjoy it.

The days of the "Old Folks Home" are long past. Think of a retirement community like Deupree House or Marjorie P. Lee as a combination of a luxury hotel, summer camp, and college, recommends Ken Paley of Episcopal Retirement Homes.

Specifically, Paley challenges seniors to ask themselves:

>When was the last time you made new friends that you now see on a regular basis?

>When was the last time you joined a new club or learned a new skill?

>Have you ever had a fitness assessment by a certified personal trainer?

>When was the last time you had the grandkids over to your house to swim in the pool, no matter what the weather was outside?

Cedar Village residents enjoy a summer concert..

Terms to Know

Continuing Care: Range of accommodations and services from independent living and assisted living through skilled nursing care.

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living: Day-to-day tasks such as cooking, shopping, managing money, taking medication, and housekeeping.

Respite Care: Short-term, temporary reprieve ranging from hours to days for caregivers.

Senior Apartment: Individual living units for older adults who care for themselves. No additional services.

"” Source: www.mapleknoll.org

For More Information

(Search Nursing Homes for locations, ratings, and a checklist. Search CCRC for a summary of choices for long-term care and resources.)
Council on Aging of Southwestern Ohio
175 TriCounty Parkway, Cincinnati
(513) 721-1025 or www.help4seniors.org.



Cedar Village Retirement Community
5467 Cedar Village Drive, Mason, OH 45040
www.cedarvillage.org "¢ (513) 754-3100

Cedar Village Retirement Community provides residents of the Greater Cincinnati community the highest quality health care, senior residential and community services, in keeping with Jewish values.

Our vision is that aging will be a fulfilling and enriching experience for older adults and their families.

Our work reflects that objective.

Colonial Heights and Gardens
6900 Hopeful Road., Florence, KY 41042
(859) 525-6900

Best value in Northern Kentucky! Nonprofit senior community with three lifestyle choices: Independent residential living with condo-sized apartments, assisted personal care and memory care in a secured wing.

All-inclusive monthly rent, except phone. Covered parking, extra storage, balconies/porches. Park-like setting with over 17 acres. Close to medical care and shopping.

The Deupree House
(Episcopal Retirement Homes)
3939 Erie Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45208
www.episcopalretirement.com "¢ (513) 561-6363

With more than 50 years of experience, Episcopal Retirement Homes provides a range of services. The Deupree House and Marjorie P. Lee offer independent and continuing care living with fine dining and a variety of activities. Living Well Senior Solutions Geriatric Care helps seniors live in their homes for as long as possible using a team of nutritionists, therapists and skilled nurses. With its central location, St. Paul Village offers a secure and active environment with affordable apartments for seniors.

Evergreen Retirement Community

230 W. Galbraith Rd. Cincinnati, OH 45215
www.seniorlifestyle.com "¢ (513) 948-2308

Designed for the 62+ active adults, Evergreen offers a lifestyle in sync with yours. Whether your lifestyle is a country cottage, a spacious apartment, a day resort for a loved one, or returning home after a successful rehabilitation stay, your new life can begin here.

Maple Knoll Village
11100 Springfield Pike, Cincinnati, OH 4524
www.mapleknoll.org "¢ (513) 782-2717

Maple Knoll Village is a nonprofit retirement community with a history of more than 160 years. Located on a 54-acre campus, Maple Knoll's community offers more than 260 residential living accommodations, including the new Kensington Place, 60 assisted living apartments and a 186-bed nursing facility. Maple Knoll is a pet-friendly community offering exceptional amenities like a club room, café, bank, Wellness Center and convenient access to restaurants, shopping, physicians' offices, major thoroughfares, places of worship, parks and local attractions.