New horizons for seniors in Dane County

The population is aging—demographics are changing quickly for the Dane County region and the nation. Take a look at some interesting statistics that will change the way work, health and retirement will be viewed in the near future:

  • Adults age fifty and older currently make up more than thirty percent of the U.S. population; by 2015, forty-five percent of all Americans will be age fifty or older.
  • Every day, ten thousand Americans celebrate a fiftieth birthday.
  • Increasingly, age fifty is considered “middle age,” and age seventy-five is considered “older.” Today, more people than ever expect to live to at least age eighty-five.
  • Seniors have control over seventy percent of the nation’s wealth.
  • Most seniors believe their best years are still ahead of them.

Fortunately there are many local organizations well-positioned to meet the changing needs of seniors committed to living longer, healthier and fuller lives.

Programs for health and well-being

The YMCA of Dane County encourages all adults age fifty and older to develop behaviors that are crucial to optimal aging: healthful eating, more physical activity, increased social interaction.

“As a leading voice on improving the nation’s health and well-being, it’s the Y’s responsibility to find ways to serve our aging population, not only for the health of the individual but for the overall health our community,” says Sharon Baldwin, senior director of healthy living for the YMCA of Dane County. “Adults fifty and older are the fastest-growing segment of the Y, and the YMCA of Dane County offers a number of options to help them live healthy, connected and fulfilling lives.”

The Y offers many ways for older adults to pursue active, healthy lifestyles. Exercise classes include Aqua Stretch, Aqua Zumba, Gentle Water Exercise, Water in Motion, Cardio and Strength Training Classes, Wally Ball, Zumba Gold, Yoga, and more. In addition, the Y offers tips for older adults who want to jump-start their healthy-living routines:

  • Have fun with your food. Eating for your health does not have to be boring! Have fun with your fruits and vegetables by trying them fresh, frozen or canned. Find a new recipe that uses a different source of protein, or find a way to incorporate fish or beans into an old favorite. Remember that as you age it’s important to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or fat-free dairy and lean meats to help your body get the necessary nutrients.
  • Fill up on fiber and potassium, hold the salt. As you age, your body needs more fiber-rich foods to help with proper digestion. Aim for a variety of colorful foods on your plate, especially fruits and veggies, to keep fiber-rich foods a priority in your diet. In addition, increasing potassium while reducing sodium or salt may lower your risk of high blood pressure. Fruits, vegetables and low-fat or fat-free milk and yogurt are good sources of potassium.
  • Tweak your routine. To get the recommended thirty minutes of daily physical activity, change your routine to ten-minute sessions throughout the day. For example, stand on one foot while brushing your teeth to increase balance. Do squats while washing dishes to increase strength. To increase your cardio, take the stairs instead of the elevator or park farther from the entrance to work. When watching television, stand up and march during commercials or do some light stretching to break up sitting for long periods.
  • Get social. As we get older, it’s important to be active socially to stay healthy. Take a walk with a friend or a neighbor, join a book club, or volunteer at your local pet shelter. Being connected to the community keeps you healthy.
  • Take a snooze. It’s important to get seven to nine hours of sleep per night to prevent elevated cholesterol and high blood pressure. To help get those necessary hours of sleep, be sure to leave mobile devices in another room.

Living to the fullest—retirement communities

All Saints Assisted Living and Memory Care provides specialized health care services for the All Saints Neighborhood, a Catholic Charities company on Madison’s west side. They offer a community where seniors can maintain their independence, build new friendships and receive support when needed, with nurses available in the residences to provide a continuum of care.

“Our nurses, care staff, activity staff and clergy all work together to address the physical, social, emotional, and spiritual needs of seniors, both in the assisted living and memory care residences, says Heidi Stringham, LPN administrator of All Saints Assisted Living and Memory Care. “Our experienced registered nurses are available twenty-four hours a day. They play a vital role in maintaining long-term health through the aging process by addressing any conditions a resident may have and working closely with their physician and family.”

Stringham notes that a current trend in her industry is a retirement community’s ability to provide different living options on one campus in order to meet a variety of care needs, so seniors only have to downsize and move once. In partnership with local hospice providers, All Saints Assisted Living and Memory Care can even allow residents to continue living there through the end of life, when appropriate.

Looking toward the future, Catholic Charities is planning to provide new living options to seniors—independent apartments with senior-friendly services, more variety in assisted living and memory care services, and a Main Street to link the community together. Discussions also continue regarding incorporating a skilled nursing and rehabilitation center into the campus.

“This most recent generation of seniors has more education and more income than any generation before them, and they can also look forward to more decades of life,” Stringham explains. “They don’t want their parents’ idea of retirement. Their goal is to continue living life on their terms—maintaining their independence, staying engaged with friends and the community, and accessing the highest quality of care if and when they need it.”

Capitol Lakes, conveniently located in the heart of downtown Madison, provides a variety of housing and health care options for seniors. As a continuing care retirement community, the company offers independent living, assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing, all on site.

“What this means for seniors,” says Executive Director Tim Conroy, “is that someone can move to Capitol Lakes in their seventies to experience the downtown lifestyle and wealth of activities that take place right here on campus. They enjoy great social interaction, which research indicates is one of the most important factors in aging well. They do all of this with the knowledge that skilled nursing care is available should they need it.”

In the future, Conroy would like to expand the facility’s apartments. He would also like to welcome more retired Badgers to campus. “We are the preferred partner of the Wisconsin Alumni Association,” says Conroy. “We have former professors living here on campus. We host a number of lectures here. UW athletic teams have spent time with residents. The lifestyle is sometimes compared to a college campus, so alumni find themselves right at home here.”

Finally, Conroy would like the public to reconsider their perceptions of aging. “People think that a retirement community is full of old people,” he says. “I would challenge anyone to visit Capitol Lakes for a couple days to see what retirement living is all about. The people who live here are incredibly active. And, though aging brings health challenges with it, for many people it can be the best chapter of life. Old age is a chance to pursue passions, learn new things, live with grace and share accumulated knowledge.”

“The number of retirement housing options in the Madison area are plentiful—and growing,” says Keith VanLanduyt, vice president of marketing and community relations at Oakwood Lutheran Senior Ministries. “Oakwood is unique because it provides older adults with an appealing combination of characteristics. It is non-profit, faith-based, locally owned and operated, and offers a true continuum of care, including inpatient rehabilitation services and long-term skilled nursing care.”

Oakwood Lutheran Senior Ministries is the parent organization of two continuing care retirement communities: Oakwood Village University Woods on the west side of Madison and Oakwood Village Prairie Ridge on the east side of Madison. The two communities offer large, beautiful apartment homes, compassionate assisted living and memory care, as well as short-term rehab services including physical, occupational and speech therapy. Oakwood Village University Woods also offers service-rich rental apartments.

According to VanLanduyt, Oakwood’s strength is its life enrichment programming that addresses multiple dimensions of wellness. These programs feature speakers, instructors, chaplains, horticulturalists, artists, musicians, pharmacists, therapists, and other experts on staff, who are regularly available to residents. “We pride ourselves on our varied, high-quality programming and feel this offers tremendous value and richness to those living at Oakwood.”

The grounds on the two campuses are also unique. Oakwood Village University Woods has a nine-acre nature preserve on the property with walking trails throughout, as well as three roof gardens. Both campuses also have personal garden beds that are easily accessible to residents, in addition to raised garden beds or container gardens. “If you have a green thumb or an affinity for nature and the outdoors,” said VanLanduyt, “Oakwood is the place for you.”

Coventry Village Retirement Community is a dynamic retirement living campus set on twenty-two acres and located on the highest point in Madison, on the city’s west side. It offers a continuum of retirement options for seniors age fifty-five and older: independent living condominium homes, independent living apartments, assisted care, and memory care suites. 

“A model of holistic well-being is embraced in everything we do as we strive to meet the physical, mental, social, spiritual, emotional and purposeful activity needs of the residents we serve,” says Bruce A. Beckman, executive director of Coventry Village Retirement Community. The organization provides beautiful living environments, services and amenities for a range of seniors: individuals who are very active and independent; those with functional impairments that commonly accompany advanced age; individuals with varying forms of irreversible dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease; and those who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness, requiring end-of-life care.

According to Beckman, amenities offered at today’s retirement communities are much different than those of the past. For instance, Coventry now employs professional chefs for its dining program, who work in concert with a registered dietitian. The organization has enhanced its wellness, exercise and fitness programs, even arranging alternative services such as massage therapy and acupuncture. More adult education opportunities are offered, and you’ll find digital cable television and WIFI in every apartment. Licensed nurses are available for the assisted care program around the clock, and spiritual care is administered through a new chaplaincy program. 

Because there are significant differences in retirement living communities, Beckman advises seniors to consider carefully and even to plan years in advance. Due to high demand, some retirement communities offer waiting lists in order to assure availability of accommodations and services when individuals are ready. 

Financial health for the long term

As a financial advisor with the Madison office of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, Susan Lubar provides brokerage and investment advisory services, financial and wealth planning, banking services, annuities and insurance and retirement and trust services to individuals, businesses and institutions. One of her main areas of focus is advising seniors on important financial issues.

“We believe everyone needs a plan,” says Lubar. “If you do not have a plan, the state and federal government will make a plan for you.” Lubar and her associates at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management help individuals develop their plans to maximize retirement assets, re-title accounts and assets, establish tax strategies, and guard against the unknown.

In addition, Lubar encourages her clients to have these basic tools in place: a will, a power of attorney, a trust agreement, an executor or personal representative, a conservator or guardian, and a health-care proxy. Explaining her role as facilitator, she says, “I help clients connect with the right specialists to address specific circumstances and priorities, and keep them updated on tax law changes.”

She also sees more people who want to protect family assets and are seeking assistance in passing on their wealth in a meaningful way. Lubar explains, “Gifting is one of the most basic and inexpensive ways to save on estate taxes. We can facilitate gifting to family, to charities, or to a trust. We can also help in succession planning. If you own a business, passing it to younger generations or a non-family partner—tax efficiently and with minimal disruption—becomes a major priority.”

“Investors who choose Morgan Stanley tell us that they want someone with flexibility and insight, someone seasoned with experience who has the resources to help navigate volatile markets and life-changing circumstances. And then they are free to enjoy their retirement years,” says Lubar.

The wealth management team at the State Bank of Cross Plains is led by Senior Trust Officer and Senior Vice President Dan Savage. Like other financial institutions, the State Bank of Cross Plains offers to seniors a set of comprehensive financial planning services that include money management, trust management, and estate settlement. They also have experience in developing strategies to ensure sufficient retirement income, and in mitigating the financial risks related to long-term care cost pressures.

Unlike many other banks, though, the State Bank of Cross Plains also offers a club designed for those over age fifty called the Prime Time Plus Club. Led by Lois Boehnen, club director, the Prime Time Club organizes trips to destinations all over the world. Past trips have included traveling to New York, Australia, Alaska, Ireland, Germany, Hawaii and Africa, as well as a variety of day trips. Special consideration is given to comfort on these trips, including meals, frequent rest stops, and full-size luxury coaches for every out-of-town event. In addition to travel, the State Bank of Cross Plains connects with senior customers by hosting summer picnics, golf outings and book clubs, along with educational seminars ranging from estate planning and housing options to training on social media.

The club was created to develop relationships with customers in order to support and prepare them for whatever life may bring, personally and financially. “We have created a club that offers unique experiences for our members,” Boehnen says. “Besides travel and entertainment, we also work with our wealth management team to develop insightful and relevant seminars to help our customers stay informed.”

Savage says the club is a great fit for customers and the bank. “We have seven highly educated and skilled wealth managers, all of whom are located in greater Madison,” he explains. “Moreover, all critical functions, including investment management, are performed in-house. We are able to deliver truly first-rate, personalized service. And by working together with our Prime Time Plus Club, we can offer invaluable information so that our customers can be better informed and make important decisions with peace of mind.”

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