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Questions to Ask When Touring a Senior Living Community

If you’re looking for a senior living community to call home, there’s no substitute for an in-person visit. Community tours are crucial to understanding not just the lifestyle options but also how the community feels, whether you jibe with the residents, and whether the staff are the kind of people you want to help you.

To gauge whether the community is right for you—and whether they can meet your current and future needs—it’s important to ask a certain set of detailed questions that will help you make an informed decision. Print and read through this guide to prepare for your next tour. Then take it onsite to check off each question as you ask it.

Touring a Senior Living Community












If you’re ready to take a tour of a be.group community, click here to contact a representative.


How I Financed My Move to Senior Living: Two Case Studies

Roy Kohara and Evelyn Brownstone
When it comes to financing a move to a be.group community, no two approaches are alike.

To partially finance his move in June to Regents Point in Irvine, California, Roy Kohara, 77, tapped into the equity of his three-bedroom ranch home in Irvine’s Turtle Rock neighborhood. His home’s value had doubled in value since he and his late wife Enid purchased it in 2000. He also refinanced his mortgage in 2012 to take advantage of low interest rates.

“It was a great deal with rates at 3 percent, and we also had so much equity in our house,” says Kohara. He is now preparing to lease his home to renters.

Kohara also cashed in an annuity purchased 13 years ago to cover his entrance fee. He considers himself a fairly conservative spender, saving for the future since he began his career as a graphic designer for Capital Records, where he eventually became art director.

Taking a different approach to her move to Regents Point in 2013, Evelyn Brownstone, 85, chose to hold on to her home until she’d settled into her new community. To pay for her move in the interim, she got a private loan to cover her entrance fee. She has since sold her home.

Brownstone says her move was a relief. Taking care of the house had become a burden, between ongoing yard work and maintenance.

“It’s going to be better for me,” Brownstone says. “When something breaks, you can get somebody to come fix it. I think as I get more time to participate and I get the house squared away, it’s going to be even better.”



Why I Moved to a Senior Living Community

Gail Hill at Royal Oaks
Gail Hill, 68, admits she’s stumbled a few times. But it was that last fall—the one that landed her in the hospital with four broken ribs and a bruised kidney—that made her seriously consider moving into a senior living community. Hill’s daughter, who lives closest to her in Corona, California, was on vacation during the accident. Her son lives in Nashville.

“I had to make some decisions,” says Hill. “My kids were worried about me being on my own.”

In October 2012, Hill moved from  her home in Alhambra, California, to Royal Oaks, a be.group senior living community in Bradbury, California. Since that move, the whole family has found peace of mind. Today, Hill is only 30 minutes away from her daughter, compared to 45 minutes in her previous home. The community not only offers Hill greater security, but she no longer has to worry about taking care of a house.

“I absolutely feel less stress being at Royal Oaks,” says Hill. “I have some friends who tell me I look 10 years younger than I did before I moved here.”

Hill knows how important that choice was. About 10 years ago, her mother faced a similar dilemma, telling Hill that it wouldn’t be fair to place that burden on her daughter’s shoulders.

“She said it was a decision for her to make,” says Hill. “And it was the right time for me to do the same thing for myself and my kids.”


CCRCs Allow Senior Couples to Stay Together

senior couple staying together

You’ve raised your children together. You’ve celebrated multiple career moves and a host of double-digit anniversaries. You know what the other will order for dinner and often clean each other’s plate. Then one day, or over many days, something shifts: He has a stroke that leaves him unable to get out of his favorite chair without assistance—but your health hasn’t changed. You can’t imagine ever leaving his side. And yet, living together is becoming increasingly challenging. Now what?

“You have to think about the illness first,” says Dr. Christine Fruhauf, associate professor and director of the Human Development and Family Studies Extension program at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. “Conditions such as stroke or dementia can lead to safety concerns, and it’s important to seek outside intervention.”

Of course, not all care needs arise suddenly. Sometimes health declines in subtle ways. When one spouse begins to neglect their own care to help the other, daily living can become a struggle for both partners. It’s important to discuss the changes openly and heed the advice of doctors and family when it comes to long-term care. You may find a solution that allows your spouse to get some extra help without straying too far from your side.

An Uneven Shift

Although men and women are equally likely to decline as they age, gender does affect how they deal with it.

“Caregiving has traditionally been the woman’s role, and because women typically outlive men, it’s common for women to handle that task,” Fruhauf says.

But more men are also caregiving today, Fruhauf says, and their approach is different. A 2007 study in The Gerontologist reported that husbands cared for their wives with Alzheimer’s disease in ways “rooted in their sense of selves as men.” Researchers identified several strategies common to male caregivers, including a primary focus on tasks, blocking emotions and minimizing disruption.

Men also often take longer than women to adjust to a spouse’s move, says Nancy Kress, a licensed clinical social worker and director of social services at be.group community Redwood Terrace in Escondido, Calif.

“It’s important that the independent spouse has a life,” Kress says.

Together in Senior Living

Of course, it doesn’t have to be as black and white as caregiving at home versus sending one spouse away to live in assisted living. Continuing care retirement communities allow both spouses to live on the same campus and receive different levels of care just steps away from each other. CCRCs offer multiple levels of care such as independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing and memory care. Spouses may move together into assisted living, or one may stay in independent living while the other receives a higher level of care.

“Ninety-nine percent of the time, both partners are aware that their needs have changed, and one spouse will bring those needs to us,” Kress says. She has conducted many such conversations with residents over the past 18 years. “Being on the same campus is a huge help.”

Kress tells about one couple in which the husband moved into assisted living at Redwood Terrace and adjusted quickly. His wife felt worried and guilty about the new arrangement—but his declining health required physical support that she knew she couldn’t provide. Community staff listened to her concerns and care preferences, and eventually everyone achieved greater peace of mind by working as a team.

“Caregivers need to realize that they may be grieving the loss of a future,” Fruhauf says. “Professional help can show them how to deal with the grief and loss that comes from being more of a caregiver than a partner.” Counseling resources could include support groups at long-term care facilities or adult day care programs, local Alzheimer’s disease chapters or individual counseling.

The important thing is to reach out for that help when you need it. Waiting until the situation worsens can make a move more difficult.

“The earlier you can have this conversation, the better,” says Fruhauf. “Ideally, you should really have this talk when you first marry.”


A Better Life at Casa de la Paloma

Casa de la Paloma residents Alice and Edick  Zaribkhanian

Casa de la Paloma residents Alice and Edick Zaribkhanian

Edick and Alice Zaribkhanian let out a sigh of relief when they received the call six years ago that an apartment was available for them at Casa de la Paloma.

The Glendale-based couple, who had waited four years for that call, was struggling to make ends meet between paying $1,200 a month for their one-bedroom apartment and covering basic necessities like groceries and utilities. The couple even considered leaving the United States, having made a number of sacrifices that left them feeling isolated and uncertain about future care. “We were not able to enjoy any social activities,” says Edick.

Since moving into the Glendale affordable housing community in 2008, they’ve been able to take short trips together and with new neighbors to local stores and the beach, as well enjoy special potlucks and daily exercise classes.

“We’re now able to live comfortably,” says Edick. “I honestly do not know how my wife and I would have survived if we had not been given the great fortune of being selected to move into this building.”

The Zaribkhanians are among a growing number of seniors teetering on the line between finding decent affordable housing and potential homelessness. For many decades, Casa de la Paloma, along with our 24 other affordable housing communities throughout California, has offered a lifeline to low-income seniors who otherwise had few options.

“We’re offering our 2,000 residents [in be.group affordable housing communities] more than a roof over their heads; our mission is to provide an enriching quality of life,” says Jacqueline Seegobin, director of affordable housing. “There’s a comfort among our residents knowing that not only is the staff there for them but also their good neighbors next door looking out for them.”

Residents are now enjoying a newly renovated Casa de la Paloma as part of our commitment to upgrade our affordable housing communities and continue the commitment to low-income seniors for decades to come. Improvements included new elevators, heating and air-conditioning systems, and energy-efficient upgrades throughout the 35-year-old community. Seegobin adds that the organization wouldn’t have been able to achieve its goal without its partnership with key private and public entities.

Working with Citi Community Capital and Raymond James & Associates, the renovation work at Casa was funded through refinancing with tax-exempt bonds and 4-percent low-income housing tax credits. be.group was able to preserve the community’s affordability status as originally established when built; the renovation project extends Casa’s affordable housing status another 55 years.

The partnerships “are the backbone of the affordable housing industry,” says Sonia Rahm, vice president of the municipal securities division at Citi Community Capital, a unit of Citigroup Global Markets Inc. “If you take away any piece of the puzzle, you could not make this deal happen.”

Such partnerships help to bridge a major funding gap for affordable housing. Federal and state monies have dwindled in recent years at a time when demand for such housing has become critical. It also offers a chance to renovate our communities. Construction now under way at Convent Manor in Long Beach is slated for completion by the end of 2014. Communities scheduled for future work include Royal Vista Terrace in Duarte, Sycamore Terrace in Upland, Westminster Court in Bell Gardens, Park Paseo in Glendale and Castle Argyle in Los Angeles.

Many Casa residents are ecstatic about the renovations and feel like they’re living in a brand-new building, says Vardui Dzhuguryan, Casa’s regional housing administrator. “They’ve forgotten that Casa is in fact a low-income housing community.”

Resident Arshalous Abdoian, who has lived at Casa de la Paloma since 2011, beamed when chatting about the renovations. “All of this work was done for our good, so that we can live in a beautiful building,” she says. “It is my home and I love it, though this was not what I thought a couple of years ago when I got the call from Casa telling me an apartment was available.”

Abdoian says she was ready to reject the application because she thought “life would be boring and depressing to live in an elderly people’s building, but since I moved in to now, my life has changed dramatically.”

Not only does she feel safe, but everything she enjoys most in Glendale—including shopping at Macy’s—is just a few blocks away. “These are the things that make our lives interesting, easygoing and worth living.”


be.group Nabs Four EXCEL Awards


be.group has won four awards in Association Media & Publishing’s 2014 EXCEL Awards competition. For more than 30 years, AM&P has recognized excellence in association and nonprofit media, publishing and communications. It’s the largest competition of its kind and this year’s competition attracted more than 900 entries.

be.group won the gold for editoral excellence and the silver for general excellence in Web Publishing for MySilverAge.com. be.magazine won two golds in Magazines—one for general excellence (circulation of 10,000 or fewer) and another for cover photography.

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