Consider a Retirement Community

There are a number of senior retirement facilities in my area. Why would I want to live in a retirement community?  K.A. of  Reedley

Lifting the home maintenance burden.
Retirement communities are set up to provide an option for seniors when the maintenance and care of owning a home becomes overwhelming.  As people age, the ability to physically keep up with a yard and house maintenance becomes more and more daunting.  Projects that were, at one time, fairly easy can become difficult and sometimes next to impossible to complete.  If one spouse has passed away or has the need to be in a long-term care facility, the task of keeping up the house falls to the one remaining at home.

Residence choice.
Retirement communities are also set up for residents who wish to enjoy the freedom of a private home, but still remain free of the many responsibilities of home ownership and maintenance. Most retirement communities try to have a variety in living arrangements to offer some choice to the resident.  There are communities with apartments varying in size and amenities, some have duplexes and some have single family houses.  Either covered carports or garages are usually available where a resident can park a vehicle.

Community meals.
Some retirement communities offer varying meal plans. Other senior communities include one or more meals in the rent. Usually there is a main dining room where the meal is served. This helps the residents of the community have a chance to get together and socialize with others during a meal.  Having at least one nutritious meal during the day can help the resident maintain his or her health and energy.

Convenient transportation.
As we age our ability to drive safely can diminish. Retirement communities typically have a van or a bus to provide transportation for grocery shopping, general shopping trips and outings. The activity director plans outings and activities of interest. These outings could include going to a see movie, visiting local attractions, attending a local play or musical concert.  For example, as I’m writing this article today, the bus at Sierra View Homes took 15 residents to the cheese factory in Traver. They enjoyed a tour of the factory, had lunch at the restaurant and finished with ice cream all in the company of good friends.

Retirement communities vary in the housekeeping services that they provide.  Some, like the Sierra View Terraces apartments, include housekeeping services in the rent. Others offer services for an additional cost, and some offer no housekeeping services at all for those in an independent living setting. Some facilities allow the resident to hire someone from outside the community, which may include off-duty staff members.

Health care options.
Health care services for residents in independent living facilities are quite minimal. The expectation is that the residents are able to care for themselves and maintain their own health needs. There are communities that offer weekly or monthly blood pressure checks and some facilities have a nurse designated to help residents with short-term dressing changes or other short-term needs. However, retirement communities with graduated levels of care like Sierra View, offer the opportunity to increase levels of assistance, or spend some time in rehabilitation or skilled nursing before returning to independent living.

Beauty and barber shop.
Many facilities offer beauty and barber shop services on the premises. The shops can be run independently or through the company. The opportunity to get one’s hair or nails done helps seniors maintain positive self-esteem and enjoy some pampering without ever leaving the campus.

Exercise and wellness programs.
More and more seniors are looking for retirement communities that offer opportunities to exercise, which will enable them to stay healthy and maintain independence. For instance, most mornings you will find a room full of residents peddling on stationary bikes, walking on treadmills, swimming or doing general exercise in the Wellness Center at Sierra View Homes. Most facilities are looking to provide opportunities to exercise that are geared toward seniors so the residents do not need to travel away from the community to work out.

In the future, retirement facilities will continue to evolve in order to meet the needs and interests of the next generation coming in.  Each generation brings new interests and desires and facilities are seeing more and more seniors who want computer and Internet access, cable T.V. as a standard, and various entertainment options.

The benefits of living in a congregate arrangement have been well documented in scientific studies done throughout the world.  So if you want to live a longer, happier and more fulfilled life, consider living in the company of friends in a retirement community.

Walk Safely: Canes and Walkers

Our ability to live independently becomes jeopardized when we have trouble walking. Sometimes using a cane or a walker can make a huge difference.  Walking aids allow many older adults to keep active and independent. They can reduce pain while walking or compensate for balance problems. The problem with using a cane or a walker is if they are used improperly they can cause a fall, and that’s the very thing we were trying to avoid in the first place!

 A six-year government study shows that falls with walkers/canes are an under recognized health problem.  It was remarkable how many older adult falls were attributed to walking aids.  In 2006 more than 47,000 seniors went to an emergency room due to a fall that involved a walker or a cane. The government study showed people were seven times more likely to be injured by a fall if they were using a walker than those using a cane.   People who are using a walker could be more fragile thus needing a walker instead of a cane. Also, the fall risk increases with age. The highest rate of falls was in the 85 and older age group.

 When someone has a walking or balance problem the doctor will often recommend a walking aid. There should be a Physical Therapy order as well. The person needs the training of how to use the walking aid properly. The therapist’s job is to make sure the walking aid is the correct one for the problem and the right size. A number of people will borrow a cane or a walker from a relative or a friend and not have it fitted to them or be trained on how to use the aid properly. Many accidents happen when the cane or the walker is not the right height or type, or they have not been shown the proper way to use it.

 In the search for the walking aid it is important to have a conversation with your doctor or physical therapist as to what type of aid is best for you.  Canes are used to help with balance, or to help stabilize your walking gait if one side is weaker than the other. There are different types of canes. Canes can have a single tip on the bottom or they can have four prongs. The four prongs offer more stability if you need to put a lot of weight on the cane. Then the height of the cane is important. If the cane is too high or too low it will not allow you to balance properly thus putting you at risk for falls. Walkers provide more stability than canes. They let you shift more weight to your arms. There are pick up walkers, walkers with front wheels and walkers with four wheels. The type of walker to choose depends on how much need there is to put weight on your arms as you walk. The pick up walker is placed in front of you and you walk into it. Then you pick it up and place it further out in front and walk into it again. The two-wheel walker allows the walker to slide forward. The person using it does not need to pick it up. At Sierra View Homes Retirement Community we find the two-wheel walker the safest for our residents to use. The four-wheel walker is the least stable. The four-wheel walker rolls along, although most have brakes, the person using it needs to understand how to use the brakes and how to control the movement of the wheels. Using a four-wheel walker is like pushing a grocery cart: it gives you something to hold on to but does not offer much support.

 The selection of walking aids can be daunting. There are so many styles and models to choose from. It is important to choose a cane or walker that suits you in terms of support, design, fit and feel. If you go to a medical supply store ask the clerk to show you how the aid can be adjusted for height. Then have a physical therapist check it out for size and instruct you how to use it safely.  

 Aging brings along with it the fear of loosing one’s independence. Using a walking aid can help maintain that independence. It is important to choose the right aid and follow safety instructions from your doctor and/ or a physical therapist to keep that independence for as long as possible.

Better Care in Nursing Homes

One of the reasons I chose to live in a retirement community was because I checked out the nursing home on campus, just in case. You hear a lot about boredom and even overmedication. How do you safeguard from that?  E.E. of Reedley.

When nursing homes first came on line in the 1960’s it was all too common to find over-medicated residents. The funding was minimal and therefore staffing inadequate.

Often you would go into a nursing home and see the residents lined up in their wheel chairs, sleeping or just staring off into space.  They would not respond well to the activity program. They did not have a desire to participate in much of anything.

Better knowledge for treatment and care of our senior citizens and more government funding through Medicaid brought about changes in the nursing home care. Today, there is training so the staff, who take care of the nursing home residents, are competent and have all sorts of ideas on how to provide care both efficiently and allowing dignity. The classes provide the students with both hands on and classroom learning.  Emphasis is given to how to assess the resident and make them feel comfortable. Nursing assistants are required to take a state-directed class with 50 hours of class time and 100 hours of hands on. They are required to have 24 hours of in-service each year.

Nursing homes have come a long way in the last 15 years. More and more emphasis is being placed on creating as much of a home like environment as is possible. They are inviting and pleasant places to hang out, windows that look out over flower beds,  grass and trees, aromas coming from the activity room such as bread baking, and places to be outside to feel the breeze. There is a staff of activity people whose job is to find out what each person did for entertainment or enjoyment at home and try to help that person do some of those very things to keep the resident motivated and encouraged.

All staff is responsible for stimulating the mind of the residents, helping them achieve a sense of well-being. The staff gives a listening ear or a helping hand to allow the resident to feel heard and successful.  There is assistance by the staff so the resident can use the common areas. When you come into nursing care centers you will see more chairs and couches for residents to sit on. There are large screen TVs in common areas so residents can watch their favorite programs. These areas also allow for visiting, people watching, or meditating.

The job of the activity director has become an important part of the resident’s care. The director assesses the resident’s interests and then plans activities to meet those interests. There is group time, game time, activities that allow residents to work with their five senses; the activity staff visit residents one-on-one, take the time to go for walks indoors and outdoors with the resident, celebrate birthdays and holidays, and more.

The well-being and stimulation of each resident is the responsibility of more than just the activity staff. The licensed nurses are constantly assessing resident’s mood and behavior. They watch for changes in mood. This often can signal a health change. Residents and resident family members are encouraged to share what the resident has done in the past to give staff some clues as to what activities to try and encourage the resident to attend.  We all have times of anxiety and feeling agitated. It is the job of the nursing home staff to help the resident get through those feelings.

The residents have a couple of advocates these days who come from outside the facility staff. One is the Department of Health. The State Department of Health sends out trained staff to survey every nursing home in the state at least every 9-15 months. These individuals are trained to look for any one who is over medicated or placed in a situation that is not in their best interest.  The other advocate for the resident is the Ombudsman. These are volunteers who are trained to spot potential problems or abuse. The Ombudsman often comes to the nursing home just to walk through, talk to residents and ask questions of staff. They work with residents, resident’s families and staff to find a solution to any problem reported to them. Anyone can report concerns to the Ombudsman.

The residents that experience a feeling of being cared for have a sense of well-being which lessens the anxiety and anxiousness that can be part of a resident’s life.  The nursing home staff have classes every week centering on how to make the resident’s stay as positive as it can possibly be. The Certified Nursing Assistants give the resident the ability to look good and feel good by being clean and tidy. All staff members are encouraged to interact with the resident in a meaningful way, keeping the resident motivated and engaged, and still continue to monitor for changes in behavior to see if there is a health change. The extra edge, for nursing home residents living in a retirement community like Sierra View Homes, is the frequent visits from residents from the independent apartments. The goal is for the resident to have as pleasant a stay as possible, not be over medicated and to have the highest quality of life they can have.

Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Alzheimers and Dementia Care

First of all, the distinction between dementia and Alzheimer’s is a very important one. “Dementia” is a term used to describe several different diseases and disorders of the brain. It is characterized by the progressive deterioration of mental abilities such as thinking and memory, changes in behavior, and a decline in skill levels and functioning. There are a number of different types of dementia, of which Alzheimer’s is the most common. Dementia is a set of symptoms, while Alzheimer’s is a specific disease of the brain.

Dementia of the Alzheimer’s type is caused by a neurological degeneration. Chemical and structural changes in the brain slowly destroy the ability to learn, remember, and relate to others. It is appropriately known as a late-life disease. About 5-8% of people over the age of 65 have some form of dementia and this number doubles every five years above that age. A dementia diagnosis in a person below the age of 65 is known as an “early onset” case. Age is a prevalent risk factor, but it is not the cause of the disease. Other risk factors include family history, genetics, and overall health.

What is important to remember about Alzheimer’s is that it is not simply a natural part of aging, nor is it the only cause of forgetfulness and memory loss. Having a few “senior-moments” is not necessarily cause for alarm. Other possible causes of dementia-like symptoms include normal age-related cognitive decline, side-effects of medication, depression, chronic stress, metabolic ailments, infections, and hearing loss.

Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease with different stages progressing from mild forgetfulness to widespread brain impairment. Breaking this process down into three stages can help provide general guidelines for understanding the progression of the disease and planning appropriate care. The three stages are early, middle and late.

Characteristics of the early stage include memory loss of recent conversations or events, repeated questions, mild coordination problems, and mild word-finding difficulties, and difficulty performing familiar tasks. They also may show change in their social interactions such as isolating and taking less initiative. Their overall judgment and decision-making is compromised and reminders to do activities of daily living (ADLs) are needed. The duration of this stage usually lasts two to four years.

The middle stage shows increased progression of these symptoms. Then, the late stage usually brings the inability to perform daily care independently. They may need assistance with feeding and may become mute or exhibit limited ability to communicate. They will often become immobile and may experience weight loss due to swallowing and eating difficulties.

An Alzheimer’s diagnosis can be a confusing, frustrating, and scary experience. While there is currently no cure, there are treatments available for the symptoms. An early diagnosis can prolong independence, so be sure to talk to your doctor if you see warning signs. Just like any other major change, you need time to adapt. Also, reach out for support. Continuing to live a socially connected and leading an active life will be beneficial. Communicate with your family and loved ones about your wishes and desires as you start down this journey.

If you have a loved one that has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s you may be dealing with a host of emotions yourself. You may feel like the person you knew is now a stranger and this can be overwhelming. I would encourage you to learn as much as you can about this disease so that you will understand what to expect and will be more able to plan for effective care. This knowledge will help you to focus on and honor the strengths and abilities that your loved one still has throughout the stages. Also, do not take on the caregiving journey alone. Don’t forget to take care of your own health. Caregivers often experience a decline in health as a result of self-neglect.

What you can do to practically help someone living with Alzheimer’s is provide an environment that is as stress-free and calm as possible. Daily routines should be maintained and emphasis should be on maintaining abilities, not on teaching new skills. Some adjustments to consider within the living environment to reduce confusion are having solid, one color flooring, pictures and signs to help a person find their way around the house, and the covering or removing of mirrors, approach from the front and establish eye-contact, but do not stare, speak clearly, slowly, and simply. It is important to give them plenty of time to respond. Be aware of gestures that could be received as threatening, and never shout or rush the person.

A very valuable way to spend time with a person with dementia is reminiscing. Long-term memories are retained further into the disease than short-term recall. Involve people who knew the person before the disease and be encouraged: that person remains, though it becomes harder to reach them.

For reliable information and support, you can call the Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 Hotline: 1-800-272-3900 or visit

Living Well As We Age

As we age I often hear talk about our aches and pains, how much medication we are taking and how tired we feel.  We all understand the need for exercise and eating well to maintain a healthy life style.  But are there things we should be considering to help us live our senior years as well as we can?

Medications and treatment have come a long way in your life time. It is easy to get into the mentality of “I don’t feel well so I will go to the doctor and hopefully he/she will have a pill for what is wrong.”  Life styles have become more sedentary. Modern conveniences have made it easy to do less physical exertion. Technology has given us entertainment that we can do from our easy or computer chair. In order to age in a healthy way it is important we look at different dimensions in our lives to see how we can take charge of our health and well-being.

First look at the emotional stress in your life. Managing stress can be a difficult thing. All our lives we have dealt with stress or our emotions in certain ways. Some people see “the glass as half empty and others see it as half full.” Stress can break down our immune system, causing weight gain and giving you an overall ill feeling. When you retire your routine changes and how you deal with the change can have long-term effects. If there is a particular issue causing stress you might try journaling. Writing down ideas, possible solutions to try, or pros and cons of a decision can help bring the problem into perspective. Stress reduction is important in healthy aging.

Staying physically active is a large component of aging in a healthy way.  Exercising regularly helps keep blood pressure down, helps with weight management, helps to keep your bones strong by warding off osteoporosis and gives you a sense of well-being.  Exercising provides release for stress by increasing endorphins which increase your feelings of overall wellbeing.  Walking is a good form of exercise. There are a number of places in Reedley to walk or ride your bike. Joining one of the various gyms or participate in water aerobics at the Wellness Center at Sierra View Homes gives you a place to exercise.

Sleep is important for health and wellbeing?  Sleeping well at night gives us the ability to deal with the issues of the day. If you find you are not sleeping well at night look at your bedtime routine. Do things right before bed that relax you like take a warm bath, read, and listen to relaxing music.

What we eat also makes a difference in how we age. The food that gives the body the fuel to deal with the day is important. Unfortunately most processed easy to fix food is loaded with calories and salt. Food rich in nutrients often take a while to prepare. Thought and preparation are a must in eating a nutricous diet.

Staying alert by keeping your mind sharp is important. Seek out ways to be involved. Being connected to people and tasks you enjoy helps to keep a positive trend of thought. Keep learning and trying new things. It is exciting to be able to accomplish something new.  You might find a talent that has been hidden all these years. Read for knowledge or just for fun. It is important to challenge your mind. Some people enjoy jigsaw puzzles, crossword puzzles or other types of puzzles. Maybe there is a class at the college that intrigues you. There are many options of things to keep intellectual stimulation going. The challenge in needing to think and to figure things out helps the brain to stay focused and sharp.

Just because you are retired does not mean you don’t have a lot to offer in society. Some retired people look for jobs that will give them a sense of purpose.  Becoming a volunteer with various organizations gives you an opportunity to be productive and make a difference. Volunteer jobs can be found in helping organizations, schools, retirement communities and churches to name a few. Look for jobs doing things you are interested in. Part-time jobs give a sense of structure and yet some flexibility of time you may have been looking for as you retired.  When you feel like you can contribute and make a difference you feel able to deal with the stresses of the day.

Maintaining friendships gives a sense of belonging.  Getting out of the house, being socially connected with others keeps us feeling part of the greater community. Staying home and watching television can cause feelings of isolation. There are a number of different groups throughout Reedley who get together for coffee at various places.  Some friends go for walks together, or just get together to sit and visit. Maintaining friendships helps when life gets tough. Giving and receiving friendship helps give quality in our lives.

Believing in something greater than ourselves gives you another avenue for learning and being involved.  Meditation and worship help to bring peace and purpose in a time of many distractions.   Allowing time to enjoy nature, to take the time to watch the changing seasons and to be aware of the birds or animals around us gives a sense there is something greater than we are.

Working at these dimensions gives all of us ways to enjoy the “golden years.”  When you retire and move into a new schedule of life. Being involved with social groups, be a part of a spiritual group, participate in something you are interested in, keep learning, take care of yourself, and most importantly keep moving. Follow these simple directions and you will lead a healthier life.



11 Benefits of Living in a Retirement Community

Wondering if retirement community living is really better than living in a house? It is!

Below is a list of reasons that retirement community living beats living alone in a home every time.

Benefits of Living in a Retirement Community:

  • FriendshipsFriends

    As we age, we often lose roles, spouses, and friends. As a result, living at home can become lonely. Living with peers offers friendship, companionship and a sense of community. Neighbors become traveling companions, friends who share a cup of coffee, and often a fellowship and support group in times of need.

    On the day I arrived and moved into my apartment, I was welcomed by many of my neighbors,” said Mary Lou Martens. “One of my neighbors even brought over some cupcakes to enjoy with my coffee! My doorbell rang quite often during that first week. Though I didn’t know them at the time, they’ve since become good friends. It’s so nice to know that I’ll always have someone to talk to, someone who notices when I’m away, and always someone who will help when it is needed. We look out for each other! One of the best decisions in my life was coming to live at Sierra View Homes Retirement Community.”

  • Safety and Peace of Mind.

    Living in a retirement community can combine the best of both worlds, offering both freedom and safety. Sierra View’s gated community, security cameras, key-card locked building, indoor mail slots, and vigilant neighbors mean that you have more security than you would in a house. Friends check in on each other, noticing when someone is missing from the dinner table. Additionally, in case of some sort of medical event, nursing staff are right across the parking lot. All of this combines to increase the feeling of safety and provide peace of mind.

  • Less Home Maintenance.

    As we age, home maintenance becomes increasingly difficult. Gutters, lawns, and leaky hot water heaters are no respecters of age! This is one of the biggest benefits to life in a retirement coCCRC_Buffetmmunity – the chores of keeping up a house are gone. You do not have to worry about who will water the lawn while you travel, or deal with the financial burdens of home ownership. 

  • Less Cooking.

    Many retirement communities (like Sierra View Homes Retirement Community in Reedley, CA) offer meal plans, where a certain number of meals are provided each day. These meals are tasty, and provide the opportunity to socialize with neighbors.

    We never miss the evening meal,” said one resident. “Not only is it nice not to worry about cooking, it’s also an important time for us to connect with our friends. My husband and I are always busy and out and about, but we plan around meal time with our neighbors and try to make it a priority.”

  • Interesting Activities.

    Retirement communities make social activity a priority, making it easier to keep active as you age. There’s something for everyone! Bingo, movies, exercise classes, swimming, cooking, musical events, shuffle board, pool-playing competitions, bus trips and featured programs  – the busy activities calendar increases the level of social activity and provides entertaining ways to socialize. Living in a retirement community makes it easier to find peers who have similar interests and enjoy similar activities.
    Sierra View Guitar

  • Transportation.

    Most retirement communities offer transportation to surrounding shops and resources, which can be a vital service once driving is no longer an option. Sierra View’s shuttle goes to supermarkets every week, and other locations in the nearby city for special events. Even those who can drive often choose to tag along with their friends on the facility shuttle – why not turn the weekly shopping trip into a chance to chat?

  • Freedom.

    After devoting years to work and family, many seniors have a desire to experience traveling, deepening relationships or simply enjoy doing the things that interest them. There is a sense of freedom when you leave on a trip and know the staff and friends of the retirement community are watching your place. For many people, becoming a resident of a retirement community is a wonderful thing because many of the worries and burdens of life are gone, and in their place come new friendships, traveling companions, and rich experiences.

  • Access to Additional Services/Care Without Relocating.

    Recovering from a fall and need rehabilitation? Need some extra in-home services? Recovering from an illness that needs temporary skilled nursing care? These are situations that would require a complete relocation while still living in a house alone. In a retirement community, stepping up to a higher level of care does not necessitate losing your home, or even leaving it. Retirement communities offer the ability to smoothly move from one level of service to another, and back again, and typically preferred access to higher levels of care is given to those already living in the community.

  • Lower Financial Burden.

    There are often choices for housing in retirement communities, meaning that residents can choose their housing based on their budget. Knowing what your rent will be, and what your extra payments are, can help with budgeting for the future. A move to a retirement community can often lock in rates, or lock them to planned-for increases, which works better for a senior’s fixed income.

  • Respectful Neighbors.

    Retirement communities have an age requirement of 55 and older, and as a result they enjoy a level of peace and quiet that cannot be found out in the general community. No loud rap music and frat parties here! 

  • Volunteer Opportunities.

    Retirement communities offer a wealth of opportunities for residents to make a difference, through service projects like gardening to make the community more beautiful, reading to those whose eyesight no longer allows them to, leading support groups, and going out together to make a difference in the Reedley community.

    I thought, what do I have to give? I realized that I can share my music. I have been playing the piano in the lobby for awhile now and I can’t begin to tell you how blessed I feel. There are so many opportunities here for those of us who enjoy volunteering. Sierra View Homes Retirement Community in Reedley, CA is the best place to live as a retiree.”

Make the transition to a retirement community today! The sooner you do, the sooner you’ll be enjoying the benefits that only retirement community living can provide.


     What happens when the kids are grown, you have reached the age of retirement and the house becomes too big? Through the years you have accumulated lots of “stuff” thinking someday your kids or grandkids will need it. Maybe it is time to downsize and possibly move to a smaller place. The thought of no yard work, no upkeep on the house, and being able to travel and not worry about what is happening at home are all factors in the decision to downsize.  

        The hard part of downsizing is where to begin.  So many of our belongings have not only monetary value but more likely have sentimental value. The reality of throwing something away that has sentimental value can be extremely stressful. But hanging onto a place that is too big to care for or items that no longer are useful can be harmful too. During my years doing admissions at Sierra View Homes Retirement Community I have visited people at their home where more than 50% of their stuff was being held for others. It can become a health hazard when too much “stuff” is kept. Downsizing although difficult can be a healthy way to deal with the retirement years.

      If you have decided the time has come to downsize it is important to look at your options. Whether you are looking to move or stay where you are, ridding yourself of unneeded or unnecessary things can be a healthy and a way to simplify your life. If you plan to move to a smaller place you need to ask some important questions.  Do you want to rent or own the next place you live in? Do you want a house or an apartment?  Looking at the retirement communities is a good place to start planning to downsize. Retirement communities offer apartments or houses with many opportunities for entertainment, food, friendship and security.

      I asked a few residents of Sierra View Homes Retirement Community how difficult it was for them to downsize and how did they do it? Caroll and Jerry Strader said they downsized several times before they came to Sierra View. They had a few things they decided they must keep and then they called their children and grandchildren to come and take what they wanted. They had a yard sale and the rest they gave to the Salavation Army. Their hope was to help someone else with their donation. Caroll and Jerry moved and downsized three times before they came to Sierra View.

      Agnes Jantz arrived at Sierra View with many of her house hold belongings. She worked with her family to see what pieces worked in her apartment and what did not. She suggests making a list of what you want to accomplish and check off as you accomplish the items on the list. Agnes decided to rent a storage space and has decided to slowly let go of items that she does not need or do not fit.  “Giving items away can be a very freeing experience when you let go of the attachment you have to it” she states.

     The experts suggest you assess your actual needs as you plan to downsize. What furniture do you actually use all the time? Look at your daily life and prioritize the activities and items that are part of your lifestyle. Walk through your house and evaluate everything you see. Go through each room and identify the things you must take with you. Ask the question about each item on your list “have I used the item in the past year or how important is this item to me?” Think about, where your items came from and who gave you that something special? Consider all the things you have hung on to for reading or doing at a later date. You might want to put some things in storage and then check back in 6 months to re-evaluate the items. If you do not need or use them within 6 months it might be time to give, sell or throw them away.

      If you are moving to a smaller place, measure your furniture to see how or if it will fit. Also, get the room measurements and floor plans to know the shape and size of the rooms establish where the windows and doors are. Plan out where you will put the furniture you plan to take. The furniture that does not fit in the new smaller place will need to be given way or sold. You have the opportunity to give items to family and friends. Or you may want to sell items to raise extra money.

      Research suggests that you move your largest pieces of furniture into your new place first. Then work on the smaller items. Assess walking spaces and the availability of doorways. It is important there are no tripping hazards.

      Parting with long kept belongings presents a significant change that can be both physically and emotionally draining. It can be especially difficult if you are older.  Downsizing may mean you are moving from the beloved family home or from a home that has many memories from years of living there.  Look for support from family and friends. Allow yourself to grieve over the changes that are being made but also look to the future. Downsizing can give you freedom to do more activities you find interesting. It can give you opportunity to share important memories with your family.  Downsizing to a retirement community can offer friendships, possibilities for nutritious meals, exercise opportunities and the freedom to live your retirement years with fewer worries.


Sierra View Terraces Grand Opening

Sierra View Homes Retirement Community in Reedley held the grand opening for its new 52 unit apartment building, the Sierra View Terraces, on February 23, 2012. The new one and two bedroom senior apartments in the Sierra View Terraces feature energy efficient construction, emergency alert systems, handicap accessible bathrooms, private balconies, and kitchens with modern appliances and granite countertops. This project was the completion of a 13.2 million bond issue that was issued at the end of 2009 through the State of California Mortgage Program.

The grand opening ceremony celebrated the ways in which the addition of the Sierra View Terraces will serve Reedley and the broader Central Valley community. Judith Case from the County Board of Supervisors presented Sierra View with a certificate of achievement. Shannon Major from the office of Senator Tom Berryhill presented Sierra View with a certificate of recognition to commemorate and celebrate the occasion. Speakers at the ceremony included Reedley Mayor Mary Fast, City Manager Nicole Zieba, and Sierra View Homes Board Chair Irvin Isaak. Speakers highlighted the fact that numerous Central Valley businesses benefitted from the construction of the building. Pickett and Sons of Fresno was the construction contractor, Kimberly’s of Kingsburg did the flooring, and all of the furniture was purchased in local stores.

Thirteen residents or couples have already made the Sierra View Terraces their home. Residents are arriving from Selma and Fresno and as far away as Chula Vista. Once the 52 Sierra View Terrace apartments are rented, Sierra View will swell to a community providing care and housing for 280 people.

The new three story apartment building fulfills a major part of Sierra View Homes’ strategic plan to add to the senior living options available on its 13 acre campus. Founded in 1960 by the First Mennonite Church of Reedley, Sierra View Homes has grown from a 26 bed skilled nursing facility to a retirement community with four levels of care. The Sierra View Terrace apartments join a campus composed of 65 other independent living apartments, an assisted living facility, a 59 bed skilled nursing facility, and a new memory care center that opened in August. While the campus of Sierra View Homes has changed over the past 50 years, staff members were quick to note that Sierra View’s core values of friendliness, hospitality, and hope remained central to the vision of the community. Vito Genna, Executive Director of Sierra View Homes remarked, “The founding fathers’ spirit of humility, compassion and hopefulness that has defined Sierra View Homes for over 50 years remains essential and it always will.”


Retirement Communities and Eating Habits

Could moving to a retirement community improve my eating habits and help me eat a healthier diet?   
– D. Mc. of Reedley, California

Yes! Living in a retirement community does encourage better eating habits. Very often, socialization during meals results in an increase in appetite.

Having a healthy diet with proper nutrition has benefits, such as increased mental ability, better mood stability, a strong immune system, more energy and faster recuperation times.

As we age there are factors that cause our eating habits to change, such as the loss of a spouse, a limited budget, metabolism starts to slow down around age 40. Activity levels change due to medical or physical problems. Our sense of taste and smell diminish and various factors can cause appetite changes, such as medication, depression, or an acute or chronic medical condition.

In the aging process we need to continue to exercise.  Statistics show weight more than age determines how much energy we have.  Eating food with fiber keeps the digestive system working well. Taking calcium walking and getting 15 minutes of sunlight daily, helps keep bones strong. Drinking plenty of water promotes regularity, helps our joints, keeps us feeling energetic and much more.  Avoiding foods with high sugar content is important; sugar can suppress the immune system, weaken eye sight, and contribute to obesity, diabetes and other chronic health issues.

Retirement living facilities offer help with maintaining good eating habits. Some independent living facilities have meal plans that can be purchased by the people who live there. There are facilities that offer one meal a day; others offer 2 or more. Some have the meal plan built right into the rental price. There are also assisted living and skilled facilities that serve 3 meals a day.

It should be noted that retirement communities create menu cycles based on the direction of a registered dietitian. For example, SVH has John Varin, RD who verifies diets for proper nutrient content and gives direction to the kitchen supervisor in coordinating food preparation and modified diets. . Retirement communities offer nourishing meals and the socialization encourages better nutrition by continuing to wet the resident’s appetite.

If living in a retirement facility is not an option then try having a potluck frequently with friends. Go to the community center either in Dinuba or Reedley for a noon meal M-F.

Both programs are serving meals very reasonably priced and offer other activities with possibilities to meet new friends and have things to do.

The life span for the average American is increasing. A healthy diet and regular exercise can help us live those extra years with energy, and enjoyment.

This article was co-written with John Varin, R.D. He is the consultant dietician for Sierra Kings Hospital and a number of long term care facilities in the Reedley area.