County Lines Magazine
Thursday, 24 August 2017 23:46

What To Know: Hep C

What’s Behind those Hepatitis C Ads on TV?


Peggy McCall, Chester County Health DepartmentBaby Boomers and others at risk should get the simple test.

If you watch TV or surf the web you’ve probably seen ads about hepatitis C (Hep C) and new drugs used to treat it. The older adults in the ads represent a group of people in the U.S.—Baby Boomers—identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as at-risk for chronic Hep C.

But what exactly is Hep C? How do you get it? What tests and treatments are available?


Types of Hepatitis

The term hepatitis simply refers to liver inflammation. Viral hepatitis refers to a group of infectious diseases caused by distinct viruses and known as hepatitis A, B, C, D and E. While all types affect the liver, each type spreads in a different way, affects different groups of people, and results in different outcomes.

Hepatitis A is spread through contaminated food or water and causes only acute disease. Hepatitis B is spread through contact with blood and other body fluids and can be both acute and chronic. Hepatitis D is passed through contact with infected blood but only occurs in people already infected with hepatitis B virus. Hepatitis E is mainly spread through contaminated drinking water and causes acute disease. There are vaccines available in the U.S. but they prevent only hepatitis A and B.


About Hep C

Hep C is spread primarily through contact with the blood of an infected person. It can cause acute and chronic infection. Some people clear the virus from their system on their own, but most (about 80 percent) develop chronic infection.

In the U.S., three in four people with chronic Hep C are Baby Boomers and about half the people who have it don’t know it. That’s why the CDC recommends that everyone born from 1945 to 1965 gets tested for Hep C.

Why Baby Boomers? There are several reasons this group may have been exposed: infection caused by medical equipment or procedures in the 1960s though 1980s before standard infection control practices were in place; contaminated blood and blood products received before 1992 when screening eliminated the virus from the nation’s blood supply; and sharing needles or drug paraphernalia in the past—even just one time.

Tragically, our country’s current opioid epidemic is creating a whole new group of non-Boomers who are chronically infected with Hep C through injection drug use.



Regardless of age, testing for hepatitis C is crucial because many people live for years with few or no symptoms of the disease. Over time though, Hep C can cause serious liver disease including cirrhosis. It’s also the leading cause of liver cancer and the number-one cause of liver transplants in the U.S.

Testing for hepatitis C is a simple blood test, called a hepatitis C antibody test. This screening test looks for chemicals (antibodies) that the body’s immune system releases into the bloodstream in response to infection with hepatitis C virus. If this screening test is negative or non-reactive, the person does not have hepatitis C and no further testing is needed.

If the antibody test is positive or reactive, it may simply mean that at some point the person was exposed to the virus and developed antibodies. An additional viral load test, checking for viral RNA (HCV RNA test), is needed to diagnose chronic infection. If the preliminary test is positive, both tests are essential to determine Hep C status.


Now the Good News

Treatment is available that can cure over 90 percent of chronic hepatitis C infections. Today’s medications, called direct-acting antivirals (DAAs), target specific steps in the Hep C virus life cycle to ultimately clear the body of the virus. So if you’re a Baby Boomer or otherwise at risk of having Hep C, ask your doctor about testing the next time you see one of those ads about Hep C.

For more information about Hep C, testing and treatment, contact your primary care provider, or visit CDC’s website at


Peggy McCall, RN BSN, has been a public health nurse with the Chester County Health Department for four years, specializing in infectious diseases including hepatitis, tuberculosis, sexually transmitted infections and HIV. After completing her nursing education at Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia and West Chester University, she practiced for many years in critical care and emergency nursing. 


Published in Being Well
Friday, 30 December 2016 17:29

Senior Happenings

Retirement communities in the area host interesting events, open to the public as well as their communities. Health screenings, education classes, information sessions, entertainment and so much more. Check them out!

Kendal-Crosslands ArboretumOngoing
Kendal-Crosslands Communities
1109 E. Baltimore Pk., Kennett Square
The certified, accredited Arboretum here is open to the public 7 days a week. Visitors check in at the front desk, pick up a map and walk the Arboretum’s paved pathways. Visit and enjoy over 70 species of trees on the 500+-acre campus.

**January 11
Exton Senior Living
600 N. Pottstown Pk., Exton
Rover Community Transportation Service Information Session and sign-up. 11 a.m.

January 17
Wellington at Hershey’s Mill
1361 Boot Rd., West Chester
Wellness Fair. New Year, New You! Free health screenings, health-related information, raffles and giveaways. 1 to 4 p.m.

January 24
Spring Mill Senior Living
3000 Balfour Circle, Phoenixville
New Year’s Resolutions. Bayada Home Health explores different areas of health and well-being. Set goals and have fun. 2 to 3:30 p.m.

January 26, February 23
Kyffin Grove
1419 Horsham Rd., North Wales
Uncork & Unwine: A New Kind of Support Group. Take an evening for yourself. Support group on coping with aging and dementia. 6 p.m.

February 14
Wellington at Hershey’s Mill
1361 Boot Rd., West Chester
To Move or Not to Move? Luncheon and moving seminar by financial experts. Free. 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

February 14
Exton Senior Living
600 N. Pottstown Pk., Exton
Sweetheart Social. Live entertainment and chocolate treats. 2 p.m.

February 21
Spring Mill Senior Living
3000 Balfour Circle, Phoenixville
Be Smart and Have a Healthy Heart. Bayada Home Health leads a healthy heart discussion for Heart Health Month. 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.

February 24
Plush Mills
501 Plush Mills Rd., Wallingford
The Hills are Alive. A theatrical production by Philly Senior Stage. RSVP: 610-690-1630. 7 p.m.

February 28
Daylesford Crossing
1450 Lancaster Ave., Paoli
Mardi Gras Happy Hour. Jazz at 5 p.m.

March 14
Wellington at Hershey’s Mill
1361 Boot Rd., West Chester
How Do I Get My House Ready to Sell?
Luncheon and moving seminar by downsizing experts. Free. 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

March 21
Spring Mill Senior Living
3000 Balfour Circle, Phoenixville
Get Your Zzzzzs. Understanding Sleep Disorders. Join Bayada Home Health Care for a discussion that will keep you awake and give you strategies for a better night’s sleep. 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.

March 24
Plush Mills
501 Plush Mills Rd., Wallingford
“Making of America.” A 5-week program presented by Widener Univ. Osher Lifelong Learning initiative. $30.

April 11
Wellington at Hershey’s Mill
1361 Boot Rd., West Chester
How Does the Home Selling Process Work in Today’s Market? Luncheon and moving seminar by financial experts. Free. 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

May 6
Pleasant View Retirement Community
544 N. Penryn Rd., Manheim
Saturday on the Square. Enjoy great food, entertainment, friends and neighbors in the Town Square. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

May 11
Daylesford Crossing
1450 Lancaster Ave., Paoli
Mother & Daughter Fashion Show and Tea.

June 17
Daylesford Crossing
1450 Lancaster Ave., Paoli
Father’s Day Mummer’s Cookout.

Surrey Services for Seniors
Devon, Broomall, Havertown, Media
The Main Line Antiques Show features fine art and antiques offered by many dealers. Benefits Surrey Services for Seniors. Cabrini College, Dixon Center, 610 King of Prussia Rd., Radnor.


Published in Featured
Tuesday, 25 October 2016 18:52

A Walk in My Shoes

Senior communities offer help and care for dementia.


The ceaseless, senseless noise. Clattering, like a beat-up car maybe dragging a string of cans behind it. The ceiling and walls are dark and growing closer. It’s hard to walk: pins and needles driving into my feet. My sense of touch is obtuse, muffled, as if my fingers are sloshing about in thick rubber mittens.

Someone in front of me is giving orders, but her voice is unintelligible. She seems to be speaking a foreign language. My own words won’t come. I’ve forgotten where I was heading, what I was looking for, what I was doing.

That someone in front of me is a doctor. She is telling—I think it is my children—I have late-stage Alzheimer’s Disease. I have dementia, she says.


Alzheimer’s and Dementia

The narrative unfolds over and over again. First told in concerned whispers, as worries about behavior circulate; later, in growing anger and frustration; then, occasionally, perhaps not often enough, to health professionals, who struggle to find a solution.

Alzheimer’s is one cause of dementia. First described in 1906 by Dr. Alois Alzheimer, 40 years ago it was identified as the most common form of dementia. It generally affects people 70 and older; its full onset can be delayed with early detection. In recent years, there have been advances in understanding and even treating Alzheimer’s, but, as of today, there’s no cure.

Other diseases are associated with dementia. There’s vascular dementia, fronto-temporal dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies, Parkinson’s disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, and others. But Alzheimer’s is far and away the most common, responsible for 60 to 80 percent of the cases, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

We’re all getting older and most of us do not sink into dementia. Some forgetfulness is normal as we age, and we may need some help with what were once manageable chores. The good news is that we can take action to prevent or forestall dementia. (See sidebar.)

But some of us sink deeper. Sometimes, we sink too deep.


Senior Communities Offer Safety and Comfort

In the absence of having a cure to offer, I asked several professional caregivers in County Lines Country about their strategies and facilities for managing their memory care residents. Most focused on safety, comfort, activity and independence for their residents.

Lodge Lane Assisted Living & Memory Care, for example, maintains studio apartments for those with Alzheimer’s and other related dementias, and provides memory stimulation in a safe, homelike environment with comfortable recreational spaces. It encourages residents and their families to decorate the apartments with favorite treasures from home. Lodge Lane’s residents are welcome to explore within its secure courtyard, and it provides stimulating programs to keep them engaged. A nurse is on-site 24 hours a day 7 days a week.


Senior Communities Offer More Extensive Strategies

 On the other hand, several communities have more extensive strategies. One approach is to provide two separate units: one unit for less advanced, and the other unit for more advanced stages of illness.

For example, Pleasant View Retirement Community has two options for people living with mild to more severe cognitive challenges. One option offers private rooms, and staff encourages as much independence as possible. For more severe cases, Pleasant View has private and semi-private suites. Its specialists in memory support provide skilled care for residents experiencing more difficulties with tasks of daily living.

In both units, residents participate in a wide variety of activities, including the “IN2L” (It’s Never 2 Late) system which uses interactive games, music, puzzles, and internet access as tools for reaching treatment goals. Specialized programs stimulate mental and physical activity and increase social interaction. Pleasant View provides a safe outdoor space with gardens and screened-in porches.

Similarly Quarryville Presbyterian Retirement Community has two units and two different levels of care. It provides Personal Care in its Memory Support unit and Skilled Nursing care in its Dementia unit, which is more secure. In a calm, cozy, homelike environment, with sunny family rooms and garden terraces, it provides an atmosphere of warmth, caring and dignity. Individualized and group support is encouraged. Residents can engage in stimulating, enriching activities and spiritual nurturing.

Willow Valley Communities also has two levels of care—Personal Care and Skilled Nursing Care—as does Dunwoody Vilage Retirement Community. At Dunwoody, the Memory Care unit, a secured area in the facility, goes from the Personal Care level to the Skilled Nursing level. Its staff is specially trained to handle the memory residents, for whom the staff conducts special activities and maintains special outside areas.


Innovative Programs

Several communities have created special programs for handling Alzheimer’s and dementia. Exton Senior Living, for example, offers a Montessori-based method. Their resident expert, Kara Abdala, notes that people with dementia “are often confronted with what they no longer can do.” Exton Senior Living focuses “on what each individual person can still do,” and on keeping its residents “as independent as possible for as long as possible.” The central theme is to “feel valued, secure and involved in the world around them.”

Daylesford Crossing has a dedicated memory care wing called Connections, built around a philosophy of care developed by Teepa Snow, a well-known dementia care expert. DC calls its program the “Positive Approach to Care.” “Rather than getting hung up on daily tasks, the focus is on building relationships and maximizing quality of life,” says Donna Ferruzzi. The goal is to carry out the Positive Approach in every aspect of life in Connection “from the staff’s relationships with residents to the activity programming to the design of the furnishings.”


Caring for Dementia at Home

For another approach, some families decide that their loved one’s home may provide the best, most comfortable environment for caring.

Ed Rofi of Angel Companions says the home is “full of memories of a lifetime that can fuel familiarity, contentment and relaxation.” Family and friends can visit regularly. Caregivers can provide one-on-one, continuous personal attention and companionship, which allows them to observe their loved one’s actions and behavior. This information can be reported to the Care Manager who can then modify the care plan accordingly.

Whether at home or in a community, Alzheimer’s should be treated as a disease. We should be alert to its symptoms in others and ourselves, and take appropriate preventive action if detected. Your loved one deserves it.

Alzheimer Statistics

  • Most common form of dementia
  • 5.4 million have Alzheimer’s in the U.S.

By 2050 the number with Alzheimer’s may triple

  • 6th leading cause of death
  • 3rd leading cause of death for seniors
  • Life expectancy after diagnosis: 4–8 yrs. 
  • Cost $236 billion for care each year

Deaths from Alzheimer’s keep increasing, while deaths from the other top 10 killers are decreasing

Staying Sharp

  • Most advice about avoiding mental decline falls into two broad categories: watching your health and eating and staying socially and mentally active. Research has found that those who stay mentally active are 2.6 times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s and dementia. 
  • Here’s what we’ve learned.
  • Stay Healthy – the big issues
  • Control weight, cholesterol, blood pressure
  • Stop smoking and limit alcohol
  • Manage stress – relax, meditate, pray, maintain a sense of humor
  • Get enough sleep – about 7–8 hours
  • Exercise (elevate heart rate) for 20–30 minutes, for 150 minutes/week
  • Eat a Healthy Diet – A Mediterranean diet is recommended. 
  • Eat plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains
  • Limit added sugars
  • Avoid trans fats, partially hydrogenated oils and fatty acids
  • Add omega-3 fats (certain fish, seeds and nuts)
  • Cook at home
  • Consider supplements: folic acid, vitamin B12 and D, magnesium, fish oil

Be Social

  • Get out
  • Volunteer
  • Join a club, community or senior center
  • Take a class, join a book group, attend plays or lectures
  • Connect with family, friends and neighbors

Stay Mentally Active

  • Learn something new, e.g., a language, an instrument 
  • Play strategy games, cards, chess, crosswords and other puzzles
  • Have a hobby—gardening, woodworking, painting, singing
  • Practice the 5 W’s—ask who, what, when, where, why 
  • Vary your habits and routines
  • Do memory exercises and games

Memory Tips From

As you go through life, your body isn’t the only thing that needs exercise – your brain needs it, too! According to research, seniors who stay mentally active are 2.6 times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia than those who do not. And the benefits are long-lasting. A recent study published in the Journal of American Geriatrics revealed that cognitive exercises help older adults hold on to improvements in their reasoning skills and processing speed for up to 10 years.

The good news is that you don’t have to go back to school to boost your brain power—online brain games make staying mentally fit as easy as pressing a few keys. Here are seven brain games to keep your mind sharp:

  • AARP BrainHQ: Developed by a team of top neuroscientists, BrainHQ has games ranging from memory exercise to navigation exercise. Not only are these games fun, they are also extremely effective. Over the past few years, there have been dozens of published studies that show the real and lasting improvements in brain function as a result of doing BrainHQ exercise. Try one of the exercises for free.
  • Braingle: This free site has more than 20,000 brain teasers, riddles, logic problems, puzzles and more to choose from. All the games are ranked by users so you can easily find the best and most effective exercises for your brain.
  • SharpBrains: SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking health and wellness applications of brain science, so they know what works. Their site not only includes more than 50 brain teasers to select from, they also have a variety of articles around the brain for those interested in learning more.
  • Writing in the Stars: If you like crossword puzzles, this is the game for you. Users are given a list of nine words and must find the six that connect in order to form a six-point star and move on to the next round.
  • Private Eye: What doesn’t belong? In this game, users are asked to use their “private eye” to peruse a grid full of intricate symbols and letters in order to identify the one item that doesn’t fit.
  • WordCrunch: WordCrunch is a fun new spin on online word search puzzles that can keep you entertained for hours. It’s the ultimate test on your mental speed and visual acuity – plus the site changes themes daily to keep you on your toes.
  • Wordle: This game may be basic, but it’s definitely not simple. The object is to build words with the six letters you are given. Once you fill all of the slots, you are scored based on the difficultly of the words you built.

Read the original article here.

Published in Featured
Monday, 01 August 2016 00:03

Round, Round, Get Around

There are plenty of ways to get around—with a little help.


Thinking about dear old Dad cooped up in his room, staring at the TV, waiting for lunch or 3 o’clock bingo? The good news is, he’s safely ensconced. The bad news is, he’s effectively grounded. His driver’s license, sadly, has been revoked—voluntarily or involuntarily. He and the roads are safer, at least. But his home isn’t so much a happy place as a place where he’s stuck.

Frankly, it doesn’t have to be that way, at least in County Lines Country. Days of driving may be behind. But Dad’s wanderlust can still be satisfied.


Transportation bus for senior communityTransportation Options

For instance, there’s Surrey Services. They’ve been providing transportation services for 35 years. Christi Seidel, the Marketing Director, describes three alternatives.

A “shared ride” is offered to members for free, five days per week. Mostly, it transports people to the Surrey Center in Devon—where there’s a fitness center, classes, activities and games—or to shopping areas or to attend religious services.

Surrey also offers a private car—“like a chauffer service”—for a fee. And then there’s the “volunteer driver” service, again free, that calls on members of Surrey’s community to pick up and deliver their charges. Options to satisfy most folks.

Bayada Home Health Care and Angel Companions also provide some transportation services as an adjunct to their at-home health care services.


Services at Private Communities

Another option, the senior communities often provide their own services. For example, White Horse Village in Newtown Square operates a fleet of vehicles, ranging from a 31-passenger bus to a pair of Mercury Marquis, says Rick Tavani, Director of Property & Facilities.

During the week, a shuttle bus circulates the property, taking residents to and from dinner at the Clubhouse. At other times, there’s transportation to events planned off-property—mystery lunches, theaters, food shopping, malls.

At The Devon Senior Living, the commitment to transportation is driven (so to speak) by its “Lifestyle 360” approach, emphasizes “resident comfort” and providing an opportunity to “engage with the greatest generation,” according to Executive Director Kenneth Williams.

Residents use the services to go to doctor’s appointments, individual trips and group trips, visiting mainly “sell-it-all” stores such as Target or Walmart. But unusual requests are met as well, if possible. For instance, the object of one trip was to settle a decade-old casserole dish dispute!

Exton Senior Living also uses its mini-van for shopping, social outings and medical appointments. Residents attend the Yellow Springs Art Show and Immaculata University’s Carol Night each year, and regularly take scenic drives in summer and Christmas lights tours in winter.

There’s a 12-person van at Barclay Friends, where they plan trips about twice a month. Recently, residents have been taking scenic horticultural tours of the countryside. And they’ve gone to Linvilla Orchard, Winterthur, Valley Forge and the Black Creek Greenhouse in East Earl.

The staff decides the destination, based on resident suggestions. Elsabet Haile, the Recreation Director, says that “pulling off a trip” can be very challenging. Everyone must be cleared medically—by nursing staff, therapy staff and others—to make sure residents are “medically stable and ready to enjoy” the experience. Luckily, probably because of their planning, they’ve never had any on-the-road emergencies.


Senior citizens traveling together on a busGetting Around in the Country

For our rural communities, transportation is especially important. Pleasant View Retirement’s shuttle bus offers transportation to scheduled activities in Lancaster County. Also, there’s a private service at an hourly rate.

But, according to Amanda Hall, Sales & Marketing Director, residents can take advantage of more ambitious travel plans. Its bus will often head to Lancaster County’s many museums, concerts, theaters and other destinations. Sometimes, the bus heads on a day trip, visiting Gettysburg, Baltimore’s Inner Harbor or the capitol at Harrisburg.

Sherri Stolzfus, at the Harrison House of Christiana, works with their two wheelchair vans, offering residents visits to their families, homes and doctors. As a group, though, she and the resident council get more creative: a Lancaster Barnstormer’s baseball game, for instance, or one of Lancaster’s many restaurants or shops.

Even the smaller communities with limited resources will find ways to help their residents travel. The Zerbe Sisters Retirement Community, in Narvon, has only 49 homes yet their trips are planned at a monthly Coffee Klatch. Their bus heads to the Shady Maple every Tuesday, and, at other times to restaurants, shows, malls, tours and mystery trips.

A “neighbor-to-neighbor” program through Zerbe gets residents to doctor’s appointments, sometimes with a volunteer driver. And, for a charge, the community’s bus makes the trip itself.


Or Walking

Finally, there’s walking to get around. On your feet! Great exercise and no more traffic jams or road rage. Chester County is a great place to walk. After years behind the wheel, maybe the greatest freedom grows out of the escape from the car. 


If You're Still Driving

Did you know fatal crashes increase substantially for drivers over 70? Yet Pennsylvania and Delaware impose no age restriction on drivers.

Even so, there are plenty of reasons why a mature driver might stop driving. According to, a 60-year-old needs 10 times as much light as a 19-year-old, 8 times longer to recover from glare, and 2 times as long to distinguish a flashing brake light. Hearing, reflexes, coordination and general strength also decline with age—all with an impact on driving. Your 80th birthday may be a good time to put away the car keys.

If you’re 60 to 80, consider a driving skill evaluation, with an in-car evaluation of driving skills, conducted by AAA. Also helpful, both AAA and AARP offer on-line courses to improve driving skills. These courses may also lower your insurance premiums.

Depending on the outcome of the evaluation, a clinical driving assessment may also be necessary for some drivers. This assessment is conducted by an occupational therapist or a certified driver rehabilitation specialist, costs $200-400, and typically identifies the medical reasons underlying your diminished skill. It can be arranged through the American Occupational Therapy Association.

If You Continue to Drive...

  • Get your medical check-ups regularly—eyes, ears, other ailments.
  • Keep your car in good working order.
  • Drive defensively. You were always supposed to; now it’s more important.
  • Avoid driving in difficult conditions, e.g., storms, darkness, heavy traffic.
  • Listen to the other’s concerns.
Published in Featured
Saturday, 27 February 2016 00:00

Retirement Community Happenings

So many retirement communities in our area host events that are open to the public. Take a walk through an arboretum, watch a fantastic show, take part in health screenings, regattas, antiques shows ... the list goes on.

Athlete kayakingOngoing
Kendal-Crosslands Communities
1109 E. Baltimore Pk., Kennett Square
The certified, accredited Arboretum here is open to the public 7 days a week. Visitors check in at the front desk, pick up a map and walk the Arboretum’s paved pathways and enjoy over 70 species of trees on the 500+-acre campus.

March 8
Wellington at Hershey’s Mill
1361 Boot Rd., West Chester
Nutrition Awareness Presentation, 2 to 4 p.m.

May 27
Quarryville Presbyterian
Retirement Community
625 Robert Fulton Hwy., Quarryville
Servant Stage Company performs with hand-clapping, foot-stomping harmonies, Old-Time Gospel Radio Hour. 7 p.m.

Antiques ShowAugust
Bayada Home Health Care
King of Prussia, 610-992-9200
Main Line, 610-658-7150
Media, 610-891-9400
Newtown Square, 610-353-5000
An adaptive rowing event for athletes with physical disabilities, sponsored by Bayada. Exciting races, medal ceremonies, music, entertainment plus kids activities. St. Joseph’s University Boathouse, 2200 Kelly Dr., Phila. 8 to 4. 888-995-0788;

Surrey Services for Seniors
Devon, Broomall, Havertown, Media
Coming up to its 20th year, the Main Line Antiques Show features fine art and antiques offered by many dealers. Benefits Surrey Services for Seniors. Cabrini College, Dixon Center, 610 King of Prussia Rd., Radnor.

Published in Featured
Wednesday, 28 October 2015 03:20

Continuum of Care

As we age, things change. We’d like to prepare for those changes and feel cared for, active and not a burden to family and friends. Moving into a Continuing Care Retirement Community, or CCRC, is one way to secure our future and address some of aging’s difficult issues.

We talked with local senior communities to find out how CCRCs can help us and our loved ones with some of these challenges.

What Is a CCRC?

Reading Room - Senior CommunityEvery CCRC is different, especially in different states. Yet all share a common feature: they provide a multi-tiered approach to aging with a series of care levels—typically Independent Living, Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing Care, but may include services like Rehabilitation and Respite Care.

One thing that makes CCRCs special is all levels of care are provided on the same campus—not always so for other senior communities.

Most CCRCs offer one or more of three types of contracts: 1) “Lifetime” models, where an entrance fee and fixed monthly charges guarantee long-term care and lifetime occupancy; 2) fee-for-service or rental models, or 3) a combination of both. The best choice depends on income and current health of a prospective resident.


Like Home But Better

Moving into a CCRC to age in place may seem counterintuitive, especially if a person is still in good health. But in the long run, it’s often the least stressful option.

“It’s hard enough for seniors to move from a home they’ve lived in for so long,” says Matthew Pavlick at Forwood Manor. “Knowing they can get the help they need now, as well as what they may need down the road gives them comfort knowing they won’t have to make another move.”

And some residents find community life is even better than living at home! “Married couples especially can benefit from a CCRC, as everyone ages at different rates,” notes Pavlick. If one spouse needs more assistance, separation isn’t necessary with all services on one campus. The couple can still easily visit each other and can rest assured their loved one is being cared for.

Plus the wide range of amenities at many CCRCs keep residents occupied and active, often more so than at home. Tel Hai Retirement’s Jolene Weaver says, “Here residents enjoy a worry-free lifestyle in a vibrant community.” With many options for residences, activities, clubs, travel and wellness opportunities, seniors make the most of their retirement—and are excited about their move.

That variety of choice is key in helping seniors feel independent. Tel Hai residents can customize their living space, adding privacy and accessibility features to suit their needs. “By choosing a home environment that’s conducive to ‘aging in place,’ residents are free from the burdens of a care-based move,” says Weaver.

One common stress about leaving home is parting with an animal companion. Luckily, communities like Dunwoody Village have pet-friendly policies allowing furry friends of any size anywhere on campus—even in personal care rooms. Owners and pets love Dunwoody’s outdoor walkways, and the policy helps pet owners feel more at home with a familiar face keeping them company.


When Needs Change

Most seniors arrive at a CCRC able to live independently in apartment or cottage homes. But as needs change, they may have to move to a higher level of care. How do they know which level?

“Well, no one ever knows what level of care they need. Most residents and their families aren't realistic about their level of functioning,” says Anda Durso, at Wellington at Hershey’s Mill. “That’s why we have an interdisciplinary team working closely with residents to watch for signs of when it’s time for them to receive more care.”

And that transition doesn’t have to be sudden. Wellington residents might first receive in-apartment outsourced help with things like taking medications and making grocery lists before moving to personal care or skilled nursing homes on site. “It’s great because they’re already familiar with the residents and staff,” notes Durso. “And we try to make the transition as smooth as possible, meeting with families for support and keeping them involved in the process.”

Some residents may need more specialized care, like memory care or rehabilitation. That’s why CCRCs like White Horse Village have these services on campus. Their newly renovated Four Seasons wing is designed specifically for advanced memory care. Dottie Mallon notes, “Our staff provides not only excellent medical care but also the personal warmth, emotional support and respect necessary to maintain the dignity and individuality of each resident.”

White Horse Village residents needn’t go far for rehabilitation services either. However long their stay, “They’re still very much a part of the whole community,” Mallon says. “They continue to enjoy all the enrichment programs and events offered.” CCRCs make this type of integration possible, resulting in less disruption in residents’ lives.


Sense of Community

Pool table and game in session - two men.Although many seniors think they’d feel more comfortable aging at home, they may not realize the friendship and support available in CCRCs from people their own age, in the same stage of life. “Moving is such an emotional decision, and it’s not for everyone,” agrees Mitchell Hanna, at Quarryville Presbyterian Retirement Community. “But many residents, after moving in, are amazed at how much more social and involved their lives become.”

Residents interact every day at meals and in common areas, and everything is just a short walk away. Also, Quarryville’s faith-based outlook brings together many likeminded people, making residents feel welcomed and understood. “As some communities grow more secular, we’ve kept our roots in the church,” says Hanna. “Our residents really appreciate it.”

And there are different types of communities for different types of folks. While many focus on amenities, others like Friends Home in Kennett pride themselves on Quaker simplicity and a down-to-earth atmosphere. “We attract all kinds of seniors,” says Dot Folz. “Both older seniors who are not enticed by upscale features and are more interested in homey, comfortable living, as well as more active seniors who want easy access to a vibrant, inviting town literally steps away.” And that’s exactly what Kennett Square offers.


Quality and Quantity

As the concept of senior living changes, the population of seniors is changing too. Bob Bertolette, of Riddle Village is excited about the change. “Aging used to be about the quality of life,” he says. “Now it’s also about the quantity of years lived.” He notices many reasons seniors are living longer in CCRCs.

One reason may be that residents are more active than ever—90-year-olds on treadmills is a common sight! Also there’s greater medical intervention, with skilled help on site when something goes wrong.

But the biggest reason CCRC residents thrive into their 90s and even 100s is the psychosocial benefits. There’s less depression, more social and mental stimulation, and a whole community of staff and residents providing emotional support. “It’s difficult when a resident’s health starts to decline or someone loses a spouse,” says Bertolette, “but no one here has to go through those challenging times alone.”

“There’s one thing we hear all the time,” he says, “and that’s, ‘I wish I moved sooner.’”


In-Home Care: Another Option

According to AARP, about 90% of seniors want to age in place in their homes. For them, in-home care is an ideal option and a stepping stone for those who aren’t ready to move to a CCRC or Assisted Living Community but still need help with daily tasks.

Angel Companions’ Ed Rofi says, “We’re certainly not in competition with assisted living communities; we simply provide another option.” After all, the wishes of the person being cared for should be the priority.

Many seniors aren’t ready to leave the communities they’re still active in and prefer to stay close to family and friends. “When a person begins to need assistance with dressing, cleaning, meals and other daily tasks, we step in to provide that,” says Rofi. As the name suggests, Angel Companions also provide essential company for those who’ve grown isolated.

For many seniors, maintaining independence and dignity is as important as maintaining their home, regardless of how much care they may need. Christi Seidel at Surrey Services notes, “Some people just need a bit of assistance with meal prep, errands and light housekeeping, while others may need more assistance or medical care.” Either way, in home care allows them to retain some self-sufficiency.

“It’s also beneficial for people coming out of a hospital or rehab stay, or for family caregivers who need respite care,” says Seidel. Clients are able to recover in their own homes without needing their family to help.

Luckily, in-home care is gaining popularity according to Mitzie Greene at Bayada Home Health Care. “Quite simply, it promotes healing,” she says. Clients not only stay in a familiar environment but also become active participants in directing their care. “They continue to engage in the activities they love,” says Greene, “and family members are saved from the stress of caring for them. That stress is replaced with a better quality of life for all involved.”

If they choose, with the help of qualified caregivers and the comprehensive services available, many seniors can safely and comfortably age in place.


Published in Featured
Friday, 31 July 2015 18:06

Senior Community Guide - 2015

Surrey Services Employee with Woman Resident


Guide to Senior Communities


Our region has many communities for active seniors and those requiring some assistance. Here is a guide to a few high-quality options.


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To read more about senior living, check out these articles!

Seniors, Back in School

Senior Communities: Getting Better All the Time

The Boomers are Coming!

Published in Featured
Thursday, 30 July 2015 03:40

The Boomers are Coming!

And They’re About to Change Senior Living


Senior Living BuildingBaby Boomers are on the cusp of retirement. Many are still working at their second or third career and caring for elderly parents. Most are not quite ready for the life of leisure that generations before them embraced in their 60s. That’s because Boomers are different. They don’t want a “retirement home;” they want “active adult communities.” They want not only to live, but to thrive. Local senior communities are listening and are already making changes. We asked what it is this self-reliant and active generation wants.


Independence & Flexibility

Boomers have spent their lives living on their own terms, in their own space, by their own rules, so it’s not surprising they’re unwilling to give up that freedom in retirement. Executive Director of Wellington at Hershey’s Mill, Anda Durso, says Boomers crave independence and a low-maintenance lifestyle. “They want to be able to have a social life and travel,” she says, “but not worry about maintaining their homes while they’re away.”

With more free time and fewer responsibilities, Boomers want communities that provide flexible meal times and services. Whether they’re short-term rehabilitation guests at Wellington’s skilled nursing center or full-time residents at its neighboring 55+ gated community, Hershey’s Mill, “they don’t want to feel institutionalized with set schedules and little choice,” Durso stresses. “They want hospitality, restaurant-quality dining, and alcohol with their meals.” This trend towards customer-focused, resort-style living is catching on quickly.


Location & Customization

Another big selling point is convenient location. In fact, choosing a retirement community can be as much a real estate decision as a lifestyle choice. With a location on bustling Lancaster Ave. in Paoli, Daylesford Crossing, opening this month, is desirable for its proximity to the many Main Line amenities. Residents can continue to live their active lives, just with less effort and stress.

Many communities see this generation preferring larger cottage homes rather than smaller apartments. Freedom Village at Brandywine’s terrace homes are “ideal for Boomers,” according to Marti DiTaranto, Senior Regional Director of Sales & Marketing with Brookdale Senior Living. “Separate from the main clubhouse and apartment building, these spacious condos allow residents to trade maintenance and housekeeping for resort-style living without being forced to downsize.”

Boomers also want the ability to customize their homes. They’re more interested in freedom of expression than cookie-cutter housing. Tel Hai Retirement Community in picturesque Lancaster County has answered this demand with a range of cottage and apartment floor plans, all customizable—from the flooring to the paint!

This diverse group isn’t satisfied with standardized fun either. Straying from the one-size-fits-all model, Tel Hai’s dynamic selection of activities, educational programs, clubs, travel opportunities, performances and classes focuses on the individual. Director of Communications Jolene Weaver remarks, “Each resident decides exactly how to spend each day … they’re as busy or relaxed as they choose.”

Similarly, The Lifestyle 360 program at The Devon Senior Living is right up a Boomer’s alley with its personalized and holistic approach to wellness. It’s designed to meet the five dimensions of total personal wellness: social, intellectual, spiritual, physical and emotional, which Director of Community Relations Jules Dewey notes is “different for everyone.”

Whether residents want to learn a new language or try a new hobby like digital photography or dance, the opportunities are there. It definitely isn’t your standard activity program, and Boomers love it!


Campus Living

A couple riding bicycles.Since Boomers were the first generation to go to college in droves, they tend to reminisce about the easy life when everything they needed was right on campus. And so, many new 55+ communities modeled after university campuses are popping up, while more established communities add amenities that Boomers demand.

For example, Quarryville Presbyterian Retirement Community is undergoing a renovation that President and CEO Robert D. Hayward, Jr. says is already piquing the interest of a younger senior crowd. With plans for a 25,000 square-foot gathering space called the Commons, this addition will include an indoor pool, expanded fitness area and exercise rooms plus a café and outdoor patios as nice as the best student center on any college campus. A putting green, bocce and shuffleboard courts are in the works as well.

Likewise, Freedom Village is also expanding and building a new fitness center perfect for active Boomers. With planned activities right on site—like billiards tournaments, yoga, Tai Chi classes, and educational events and seminars—there’s always something engaging to do on this campus.

At many communities, Boomers who don’t want to give up hobbies that require tools and space now don’t have to! Quarryville residents with green thumbs can garden to their hearts’ content in the greenhouse—without storing dirty tools at home.

Community clubs for residents with specialized interests are also becoming popular. Pleasant View Retirement Community in Lancaster County has jumped on board with their Fine Dining Club for retired foodies. Instead of going to Shady Maple yet again (not that there’s anything wrong with that!), members take trips into lively Lancaster City to discover new foods and culinary styles.


Tech Centered

Since they worked in a world of computers, smartphones and social media, Boomers are much more tech savvy than previous generations. To catch their attention, senior communities are increasing their tech.

Sales and Marketing Director of Pleasant View Retirement Community Amanda Hall notes having a well designed and information-packed website is key to catching Boomers’ interest. “Boomers are more educated and typically have a parent who’s gone through the same process. Now they’re going online to research, checking out options, and only contacting the communities that suit their specific needs,” she says.

When it comes to choosing a home, Boomers want to keep their gadgets. High speed internet is a must and Wi-Fi connectivity in communal centers is becoming the norm. Many want it not only for their own personal devices, but for their children’s or grandkids’ when they come to visit.


With all these changes, Boomers will be able to live the lives they’ve imagined—and maybe even better. When the time is right, of course.


Boomer Predictions

We asked local senior communities for predictions about how they see the concept of “senior living” changing. Here’s what they said.


“I see there being many more communities popping up that are less geographically isolated, more intergenerational and affordable, and more focused on making residents feel like they’re contributing to their community.”

~ Renna Van Oot,
Executive Director, Friends Home in Kennett

“We’ll continue to see change with flexibility of services, more housing options, a bigger emphasis on health—including different ways of eating and staying active—a shift towards becoming more tech-friendly, and residents wanting to assist in creating their community rather than conforming to it.”

~ Michele Berardi,
Director of Marketing & Community Relations, Kendal Crosslands Communities

“Residents will want more choices and upgrades—like flexible meal plans, more cultural and educational opportunities and expanded fitness programs. They’re going to want to live well, stay active and be involved participants in their communities.”

~ Elaine Kaiser,
Director of Marketing, Dunwoody Village

“Baby Boomers will look for more options in amenities, social venues, value and, most importantly, organizational transparency as they want a comfort level that their investment is protected.  They’ll want more input on decisions being made by management and the Board on policy changes and repositioning of the organization.”

~ Bob Bertolette,
CEO, Riddle Village

“The future of senior living will continue to evolve with an increased focus on hospitality. Consumers will have so many more choices. Each provider will need to offer the best in food, fun and comfort. At the end of the day, however, quality care should be the primary focus because without it, the amenities mean nothing.”

~ Leslie Wild,
Community Relations Director,
Exton Senior Living


Published in Featured
Sunday, 01 March 2015 05:30

The Retirement Healthcare Challenge

Start the conversation now to plan for this important part of your retirement.

Owen Mulhern, IVShould it really come as a surprise that most of the traditional financial services and the brokerage industry either ignores or gives short shrift to healthcare in retirement? Three or four cable news networks are currently dedicated to stocks, bonds and global capital markets, yet there’s no mainstream focus on healthcare and healthcare costs, despite their importance to a family’s retirement and lifestyle.

Healthcare costs, and most significantly Long Term Care costs, have historically risen at a faster rate than inflation. According to Fidelity Benefits Consulting (2013), “the average 65-year-old couple retiring in 2014 will need an estimated $220,000 to cover healthcare costs during their retirement.”

What’s even more significant is this statistic assumes “average life expectancy” and does not include Long Term Care expenses. The advisors who are focused on it, and certainly the families that have experienced its potentially devastating impacts, are keenly aware of the healthcare challenge.

The Challenge. The retirement healthcare challenge can be presented as the Three “C’s”:

•  The first hurdle to overcome is the Complexity of the overall healthcare marketplace, the resulting confusion created by new regulation, and an ever-shifting landscape for providers and consumers alike.

•  The second obstacle is Cost and the ever-present debate: Can I afford it? Can I afford not to get it? Other costs to consider include the cost of not acting, cost of waiting too long to act, and cost of acting, including your research time and cost to implement the plan.

•  The third consequence is emotional and financial strain on you, as well your loved ones and Caretakers.

In dealing with the Three C’s, many pre-retirees’ and retirees’ first healthcare decision will be to bridge the gap between employer-sponsored healthcare coverage and Medicare eligibility at 65. During this period, a person who’s not covered under a spouse’s employer plan would need to find coverage in the private market—either directly with an insurance provider or through the “Marketplace” created by the Affordable Care Act. In either case, it’s solely up to consumers to determine their best course of action, and many are surprised by the high, unsubsidized costs of private insurance.

Medicare Options. The second set of major healthcare decisions that most retirees face concern Medicare, Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplemental Plans. The timing and importance of these decisions—made primarily during the three months before and after turning 65—can seem daunting. A bit of homework and planning can help retirees make choices with confidence.

Long Term Care Insurance. The 900-pound healthcare gorilla in the room is Long Term Care Insurance (LTC) and the debate that rages about the need for it. Remember, LTC steps in to cover custodial and unskilled healthcare costs that are not covered under Medicare or major medical insurance.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about 70% of those 65 or older will require some type of LTC services, either in their homes or an assisted living facility. Many retirees will have no trouble covering those costs from savings and retirement accounts.

There are, however, a significant and growing number of Americans who, despite good savings and retirement planning, are forced to liquidate assets and estates because of illnesses that require around-the-clock care. This can be extraordinarily expensive. According to MetLife, the average cost of a private nursing home is $90,000 a year, and in many states exceeds $100,000.

Plan Now. Contrary to popular belief, continued advancement in medical technology, life-saving procedures and increased life expectancy contribute to medical conditions that require significant long-term family and medical supervision; and it’s not cheap. The chances that it will affect you or someone close to you will go up in the next 25 years.

To avoid irreparable damage to a family’s financial plan, it’s imperative to make healthcare planning a front-burner family conversation. Even small measures and a continued open dialogue between advisors and the family can create a heightened sense of confidence and a definitive step toward being better prepared.

Owen Mulhern, IV, CFP®, is the President of Financial Coach, a comprehensive retirement planning and wealth management firm in West Chester. Through its Retirement Gameplan Process, the Financial Coach Team builds the plans and executes the tactics that seek to provide real-life retirement results.

Disclosure: Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment Advice offered though FC Advisory LLC, a registered investment advisor. Financial Coach and FC Advisory LLC are separate entities from LPL Financial.

Published in Worth Knowing
Friday, 01 August 2014 00:00

Seniors, Back in School

Staying mentally active has never been easier.

I recall cruising Miami Beach in the ‘60s. On the porches of the yet-to-be-trendy Art Deco hotels along Collins Avenue, the retirees would rock slowly, watching the traffic, dozing, whiling away the afternoon. Their minds, I guessed, at rest. Hours would melt. Until their 5 p.m. dinners were called.

Today, some are still drawn to a retirement of leisure. Perhaps a bit of golf, if they’re active. But few carry books or are bound by class schedules. Among the reasons to enter a senior community, one rarely given is to get an education. Or so I thought.


Big Decisions

Yet, many are taking a different approach to their golden years. They are getting an education. To talk with Nate Turner, a resident at White Horse Village in Newtown Square, one might think education is virtually the only reason to retire. He lists the many university speakers who’ve come to White Horse. The speakers often fill the 200-seat auditorium there!

Then Nate moves on to the “Great Decisions” programs, discussing such topics as Middle East policy and China. He also notes that White Horse plans to formalize its courses on “mindfulness,” taught by a professor from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. He estimates there are more than 40 courses offered, drawing speakers from the University of Pennsylvania, Penn State, Bryn Mawr and Swarthmore Colleges, and others. The goal, he says, is for the residents to stay “mentally alive.”

Similarly, there’s a Great Decisions Group at Tel Hai in Elverson. But education doesn’t end there. Tel Hai’s “Life Enrichment Committee,” made up of nine residents, creates a calendar of topics: World War II, basic economics, the history of medicine and others. Tel Hai staff also offer informational sessions on diet, exercise, fitness and many aspects of wellness and healthy lifestyles. Local speakers bureaus are also tapped to provide programs on local and national historical topics.

Made up of six residents, Tel Hai’s “Concert Committee” similarly provides on-site musical performances. Typical offerings have included classical, bluegrass, choral groups, classic Broadway, jazz bands and local favorites such as the Lukens Band. Professional musicians often reach out themselves based on word-of-mouth or news coverage of the programs. Here, too, attendance is strong and fills the auditorium.



There’s an especially well-educated group of residents at Kendal-Crosslands in Kennett Square. Sean Kelly, the Director of New Business Development, calls them “intellectually curious,” “engaged” and “self-organized.” In the new generation now entering the senior communities, he sees such Baby Boomers as demanding a “better way.”

Ernie Kimmel is one of these Kendal-Crosslands residents. He heads up “Monday Topics,” which meets biweekly from fall through spring to listen to lecturers and discuss current issues: Latin America, Africa, the Mideast, local history and more. He’s been “surprised at how good the questions are,” and guesses that their discussions are “not unlike a graduate seminar.”

Pat Hunt, who preceded Kimmell as chair of their committee, agrees. She says Kendal-Crosslands is “not a place to sit in a rocking chair.” She lists the other self-organized classes: music, art, pottery, drama, film and memoir writing, among others.

Maria Smith at Riddle Village in Media supervises a broad range of educational offerings and activities. Drawing resources from Neumann and Widener Universities, where several of its residents taught, it has recently offered lectures on the First Ladies, the Battle of Gettysburg, Books that Made History and other topics. This is in addition to the art, book and computer clubs, and outings to the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Neumann Symphony and the Lansdowne Symphony during the season.



Willow Valley Communities is so proud of its offerings that it publishes a catalog—“Renaissance”—and divides its offerings into three groups: Spirit, Body and Mind. The “Spirit” section of the catalog refers to webcast concerts and art exhibits. “Body” includes an unusually comprehensive aquatics program, as well as other fitness offerings. Within the “Mind” offerings, the emphasis seems to be on active undertakings: art classes, computers, camera, bridge tournaments and so forth. On closer inspection, though, they too have a Great Decisions group.

Willow Valley’s walking tours seem especially intriguing: historic plants, wetland wildflowers, autumn. But even more tempting is the Socrates Café, designed to encourage “spirited discussion about issues and topics that challenge our beliefs on contemporary society and who we are as human beings.” An ambitious goal, to say the least.

The focus is primarily on health, wellness and nutrition at Barclay Friends in West Chester. Called “Nutrition Vitality,” it’s an opportunity to learn about healthy recipes and their preparation. Recent programs have featured Raw Cacao Bliss Balls, Making Granola and Hibiscus Tea Sampling. The gardening program is also taken very seriously here, as is their creative arts program, and often involves an educational component.

There’s also a Garden Club at Foulk Manor South in Wilmington. It’s offered a class on flower arrangement. Arts and crafts also attract the residents’ interests.

This article would be incomplete without mentioning the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. There’s one location at the Widener campus at Exton; others at Temple and the University of Delaware. OLLI, as it’s called, is a series of campus-based programs—about 118 campuses nationwide participate—supported by the Bernard Osher Foundation. In general, the students are over 50. Their coursework is ungraded and courses cover everything from architecture to languages to law. The students attend for the “joy of learning.”

Clearly, there’s a movement afoot. Classes, discussion groups, art … Retirement, far from a process of shutting down, is opening up opportunities. Perhaps it’s a second chance, to pursue interests put on hold while the demands of family and career were given priority.

Life built around the Blue Plate Special is disappearing. This new stage in life used to explore new subjects, new issues, new decisions is winning out.

You could say our seniors seem to be getting younger. 

Published in Featured
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