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Mind and Body–Exercise Both (Together) for Maximum Brain Power

By Jackie Halbin
Lakeview Village Living Well manager   jackiehalbin

It seems brain fitness is the buzz these days. There’s a lot of information out there. Some studies tell us that exercise boosts brain power. Others say brain games do. At Lakeview Village, we do both–at the same time.

Our brain fitness cocktail incorporates these four study-based tips:

  • Keep busy: A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that people who keep busy are at lower risk of dementia. The study followed a group of older adults for 21 years and found that the busiest participants were 63 percent less likely to develop the disease.
  • Strength train: Another National Institutes of Health study found that twice-a-week resistance or strength training in 70- to 80-year-old women with mild cognitive impairment led to significant improvement in attention and memory ability.
  • Exercise: The Journal of the American Medical Association published a study in 2009 that found older adults (mean age 77 years) who were in the top third in terms of getting physical exercise were 61 percent less likely to develop dementia.
  • Sweat it out: The American Physiological Society published a study that showed aerobic exercise, in particular, helped improve executive functioning (e.g. attention and concentration) more than straight memory function.

Why does the combination of keeping busy, exercising regularly and strength training work for your brain? There are many reasons, but here are a few:

  • Fewer stress hormones, which negatively impact brain health
  • Better blood flow
  • More neurogenesis (new neurons being created) – builds up brain reserves
  • Better connections among brain cells
  • Better or more restful sleep
  • Combats depression

Using all of these great studies, Lakeview Village combined physical activity with cognitive activities and have seen the results. We play word games, number games, trivia, and even speak other languages while we exercise. Through these activities, we train participants’ reaction time, multi-tasking ability, memory recall, hand-eye coordination and agility. The result? We have a lot of fun! These classes are very popular and everyone enjoys them. We also mix it up a lot–variety is one of the keys to improving brain fitness; you need to change activities often. Here is a simple fact for you to remember: your brain is like a muscle–you have to work it to keep it strong!

For more information about Lakeview Village’s fitness and wellness initiatives, please contact Jackie Halbin at 913-744-2422 or jhalbin@lakeviewvillage.org.

For more information about Lakeview Village, check out our website, and follow us on Facebook.

Is it Time to Sell the House?

By Emerson Hartzler BoardMember3

I’m not sure exactly when the ownership of single-family dwellings became part of the “American Dream,” but no doubt it was a key part of the dream by the time I was born in 1941. And I’m pretty sure there is a cause-and-effect relationship between that part of the dream and the development of the Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) industry in this country.

Back in the middle of the 20th century, some very enterprising people got the bright idea that the average homeowner might be willing to trade the asset value “trapped” in his or her home for the promise of a lifetime of community living, especially if the community provided a continuum of care, from independent living through skilled, long-term care. After all, a paid-for house is a good thing, but, unlike other “investments,” it doesn’t pay interest or dividends, so the appreciated value can only be cashed in when you sell the house. But then where would you live? You could buy another house, which would likely cost even more (funny how that always seems to be the case), but then the appreciated value is still “locked up” in the property.

So it is no accident that CCRCs typically structure the pricing of their entry fees around the average value of single-family homes sold in their market area. And because, in this country, at least, home ownership is commonplace (Had the Hartzler family stayed in Europe seven generations ago we would probably be renting a “flat” today!), the potential market for CCRCs is enormous. And while I had no problem trading my home equity for a CCRC contract, if I were a renter and had to sell $200,000 or more of appreciating, dividend-paying securities to finance that transaction, I would have had second (and maybe third) thoughts!

While there is often an initial “sticker shock” when seniors see the entry fee pricing for a CCRC, upon further reflection (assuming the home equity is more or less equal to the entry fee), that “trade” of equity for entrance fee may not have any measurable financial impact, either now or anytime in your lifetime. Your need for housing isn’t going away this side of the Pearly Gates, so from a financial perspective, it matters little whether you have equity in your home or a lifetime membership in a CCRC community.

Of course, to be fair, your family home may be a treasured possession for both you and your children. In my case, when Marge and I offered to sell our perfectly good house to our children, all we got was that “Are you stark-raving mad?” look. I suspect that attitude is more the norm in these times of dream homes in the suburbs and luxury urban loft living. So unless your heirs are very much looking forward to moving in when you check out, trading your home equity for a CCRC contract can be done guilt-free!

Now, you may be thinking that even if your heirs don’t want your house, the value of the house would be nice to pass on to them, and you would forfeit that ability if you moved to a CCRC. But here is where the CCRC has a trump card: providing unlimited long-term care. Even if you have a good long-term care insurance policy, it probably won’t cover all of the potential expense of an extended stay in a care facility, which could very easily wipe out your home equity and other assets you intend to pass on to your heirs. At my community, long term care costs are covered by my monthly fee, so I do not need to worry about being hit with those higher rates. A CCRC contract protects a big risk you cannot afford to take, thus preserving the balance of your assets for future generations or causes you might wish to support with your legacy.

The “bottom line” is that the “trade” of your home equity for a CCRC lifetime contract doesn’t really harm your financial position. You are merely trading one non-earning asset for another. And at the same time you are protecting the balance of your estate from the devastating cost of long-term care, a very real risk all seniors face.

So go ahead and call your real estate agent. Home prices are again on the rise!

Emerson Hartzler, MBA, is a Lakeview Village resident, and, though he lives in a retirement community, he continues working as a financial advisor for Triune Financial Partners, LLCat Lighton Plaza, 7300 College Blvd., in Overland Park, Kan. Reach Triune at 913-825-6100.

Learn more about Lakeview Village–the senior neighborhood of choice, and the largest retirement community in Kansas–by visiting our website at lakeviewvillage.org, or checking us out on Facebook.

Lakeview Village Redefines Retirement, Encourages Making New Memories

portrait-ceoIf retirement means catching up on daytime soap operas, playing BINGO and occasionally going out with friends, I have no counter to a recent study that suggests delayed retirement might delay dementia. Stimulation is what delays dementia, and at Lakeview Village, we define retirement by mastering Tai Chi, skydiving out of airplanes, conversing with peers at mealtime, and attending a myriad of social and educational activities.

Countless studies prove that living in an environment like Lakeview Village—that has a daily list of activities as long as my arm—not only delays dementia, but prolongs lives—because we know how to keep seniors active (retirement community residents can live years longer than their aging-in-place peers). This is of particular importance knowing that half of those over age 85 get dementia. My parents entered a retirement community in their mid 60s, and they are still enjoying retirement 20 years later.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for dementia, but prevention comes in many forms: Brain exercise games like those incorporated into our many wellness activities and physical exercise—from word games to outdoor scavenger hunts–work against its onset. As a continuing care retirement community, Lakeview Village provides residents with direct access to healthcare with our on-site geriatric clinic, and in-patient and out-patient rehab services, as well as numerous wellness programs. These provide opportunities for early detection, and early prevention. And if dementia presents itself, we have the programming in place to help residents retain their memories as long as possible.

When I walk through our dining rooms, and hear residents debating politics, or sharing stories from their adventures across the globe, I know that they are defining retirement in the best possible way. When I walk into our state-of-the-art Fitness Center, and witness men and women in their 80s doing cardiovascular and weight training, I know that they are taking care of themselves, and taking charge of their retirement. Are we always on the go? No–everyone needs rest, and we provide all the creature comforts to create a peaceful environment, too. But our golden years aren’t meant to be spent solely sitting in an armchair; we need to do more than that. At Lakeview Village, we play hard, rest easy, and think well for our age.