Anne Bellegia, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

Congratulations on the extraordinarily well-organized and enjoyable 2019 release party. Amy Schmidt is due even greater appreciation for her tireless efforts to connect those in the aging services realm in Southern Oregon via S.O.N.A.R and for publishing such a helpful directory for older adults and their family members who are trying to navigate the complex world of supports for elders. Her values around community connections and improving the lives of seniors are admirable. It is refreshing to encounter a business founded on “doing good” and operating its multi-faceted services so well that it not only generates revenue for the business but also income for a growing number of staff who get to work in a mission-drive enterprise. You have used the Retirement Connection print guide or website to help refer people to services or communities listed in the guide

Georgia Millington, DHS Grants Pass

I find the Retirement Connection Guide to be very organized without a lot of fluff in between and easy to follow. I have heard nothing but great things from some of the consumers who came in and asked for them. It’s a great reference tool of things in our community that otherwise may not have been known about . Thanks for working so hard on putting together such a great resource guide.

Lynn Tylczak, Home Instead

Even before I started working for a senior care agency I knew Retirement Connection was something special, because my mother passed last year and we found Retirement Connection to be an invaluable “go to” resource for locating critical information/contacts/services/programs. But now I realize that Retirement Connection is as valuable to its sponsors as it is to its readers.  For example: Retirement Connection is one of our biggest and most successful referral sources, in terms of prospect numbers, prospect to conversion rates, and average revenue per client.  Retirement Connection’s service “spreadsheets” are particularly helpful, as they allow prospects to self-screen, meaning that the calls we receive from RC readers are likely a good fit. Retirement Connection is a wonderful “icebreaker.”  Instead of approaching prospects with tons of sales literature and paperwork, I offer them a free (but invaluable!) tool that helps educate them about the continuum of care and provides tools for handling their life transition. RC makes cool calls feel a whole lot warmer! Retirement Connection helps us turn online leads into confirmed clients.  How?  When we get a lead from a search engine, we know that many other firms get the same contact information at the same time.  By reaching out by phone (AND sending an Email about free local resources like Retirement Connection, Northwest Senior and Disability Services, etc.) I demonstrate that customer service is important to us.  So guess who impresses the prospect?  When we started using Retirement Connection to support our online leads our conversion rate QUADRUPLED.  Wow. Finally, Retirement Connection is also an excellent educational tool for me, a new employee, to learn about the other services/programs on the Willamette Valley continuum of care. We are lucky to have a resource like Retirement Connection that we can share (free!!!) with our prospects and clients.  It makes our job, and their transition, easier.  The ultimate win/win!

Knowing When to Make the BIG Move

So, you just got the news from the doctor, and you walk away feeling like Wiley Coyote post-falling-grand-piano-accident.  You’re shocked and crushed, but also somewhat validated.  You knew something was wrong, but you’d hoped…not this. 

Your loved one has dementia.

You instantly picture the first conversations about this after diagnosis. The arguments. The heartache. You imagine telling your family and friends. Who will make the decisions? Will your newly diagnosed loved one LET YOU delegate, or even HELP?

Maybe you have quite the support system.  Maybe you’re utterly alone.  Either way, inevitably, dementia will progress, and your loved one will change. 

Dementia is virtually impossible to predict, and it affects everyone very differently.  There are many different kinds of dementia.  And dementia is full of unpleasant surprises, sometimes on a daily basis.

No matter how much patience, understanding, compassion, and–for goodness sake—LOVE you have in your heart for this person, your loved one is going to need a kind of help that you simply are not able to provide.  You cannot provide this for them because you are not a trained professional.  You have a job, a life, other responsibilities you need to attend to.  You have your own health to contend with.  And you cannot provide the care they really need, because—let’s face it—it’s too personal.

So, stop beating yourself up.  It’s time to think about THE BIG MOVE.  It’s time to look into memory care communities.

But sometimes your loved one seems to be ok.

The problem is dementia is unpredictable.  Today they may have forgotten that they asked the same question over and over.  But tomorrow they may take a double dose of their pills because they forgot they took the first one.  Or wander along a busy street looking for who knows what. 

So, what can you do?

First, educate yourself.  I highly recommend The 36 Hour Day by Nancy L. Mace and Peter V. Rabins. 

Two, look at multiple memory care communities.  They are not all the same, and one may stand apart in a way that will fit your loved one perfectly. 

Three, DO NOT—I repeat—DO NOT WAIT TOO LONG.  As their dementia progresses, their care needs will increase.  You do not want to have to make this decision because it’s suddenly an emergency.

Finally, be confident that you will make the best decision for your loved one.

Article Provided by:
Waterhouse Ridge
©Kyah Feldes 2018

SAGE Metro Portland LGBT Resources

The Current Problem: A 2014 study by the Equal Rights Center found that 48% of LGBT-identified seniors “experienced unfavorable differential treatment in terms of availability of housing, pricing, financial incentives, amenities or application requirements.” Many LGBT older adults are forced to hide their sexual orientation and/or gender identity to avoid mistreatment, harassment and discrimination in senior living environments.

The Solution:  SAGE Metro Portland developed the Housing Equality Survey Tool, used to vet and identify LGBT-friendly housing providers in our area. In 2015, SAGE Metro Portland published the nation’s first local consumer guide to finding safe and welcoming housing for LGBT people as they age. The survey is now being replicated in other parts of the country.

In an effort to broaden our reach to consumers and to include more housing providers, we are launching a new partnership with our friends at Retirement Connection who have agreed to add a highlight “LGBT Designated” housing communities. This will provide more choices for LGBT older adult consumers when shopping for housing. To become “LGBT Designated” communities have shown a commitment to going above to become more educated and inclusive. This process includes minor adjustments to some and policies, as well as, ongoing staff trainings. The communities that chose to become “LGBT Designated” prior to printing the current edition, are listed on the page to the right. More will be added as we grow the program and increase awareness.

SAGE Metro Portland, a program of Friendly House, seeks to enrich the lives of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) people aged 60+ throughout the Metro region. For over 15 years, SAGE Metro Portland has been the preeminent social service organization focused on developing strengths and overcoming challenges for this vulnerable population.

We Offer:

  • Case Management/Options Counseling
  • Caregiver Support
  • Information and Referral Services
  • Trainings
  • Community Outreach
  • Activities and Special Events
  • Friendly Visitor Volunteer Program
  • Advocacy

Do you live or work in an LGBT-friendly senior living Community? If so, we want to hear from you!

To become an LGBT Designated Senior Living Community, or for more information, email:

Article Provided by:
SAGE Metro Portland
(Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders)

Senior Referral Agencies

It is nearly impossible to be objective when helping a family member make the transition from their own home to a senior care situation.  What makes this so difficult? 

We have hope for improvement. When we love someone, we never want to “give up” on them.  We hold a deep-seated belief that if we keep looking for solutions, treatments or therapies, our loved one will get better.  Unfortunately, the aging process of both the body and the mind is a downhill path.  What makes things confusing is that in our world of information and options, we are compelled to continue seeking solutions.  Further clouding the situation is that the downhill decline is not always noticeable. Older adults have good days and bad days. 
When a loved one has good days, we don’t want to disrupt the quality of life we see them experiencing.

We remember them as they were.  It’s easy for us to take notice when a friend is struggling with caring for an aging parent; when it’s our own parent, we frequently can’t see the obvious changes that are occurring. We remember the strong and capable adult of the past.
We don’t want to acknowledge the changes because then there will have to be difficult and disruptive decisions that needs to be made.

Family dynamics can cloud the real issues. Family members may disagree on what care is needed, and it is often the case that one or more people may purposefully attempt to convince the family to allow the older adult to remain in their own home.  Sometimes in-home care is a good solution, and other times it is not a workable or feasible long-term solution.
Allowing our own personal preferences to cloud our thinking is not helpful to a frail senior. Enlisting knowledgeable outside help who look at your situation and help introduce you to specific senior care communities will reduce the amount of family conflict. 

How you benefit from having a neutral third party. Referral agents begin by asking questions to become clear on how they can best help you. Generally, our services are paid for by the provider.  Whether you choose to look at options on your own or whether you enlist the help of a referral agency, the rent and care fees you pay are the same. 

The senior referral industry is regulated by The Oregon Department of Human Services.  All senior referral agencies are required to register with the OREGON Department of Human Services.  All agents must meet DHS guidelines to register and must follow the rules set forth by DHS to ensure families are receiving quality information by qualified individuals. Referral agents do not make decisions for you, but they help frame situations to allow you to understand what options you have and they support you in your decision-making process.

Be extremely cautious about searching the Internet for options. Placing your name into various websites can launch a barrage of phone calls of solicitations from businesses and agencies that aren’t even of interest to you. 

Article Provided by:
1st Choice Senior Care

Is a Reverse Mortgage Right for You?

For many Americans, their house is their greatest asset. They’ve spent years working to build the equity in their home and, at a certain point, it may become time to put that equity to work. Often, savings, Social Security and pensions can’t keep up with the increasing cost of living and living longer. NRMLA President and CEO Peter Bell states, “If you consider that the typical retiree household might have one or two incomes from Social Security, a modest pension and/or limited income from low-yielding fixed-income instruments, and, perhaps, a diminished 401(k) account, then home equity becomes their greatest asset and an important resource for funding their future.”

According to the Bipartisan Policy Center2, more than 70% of Americans 65 and over will require help with bathing, food preparation, dressing and medication management; whether it’s a home health aide, community-based day care or nursing facility, long-term service costs can drain retirement savings.  A recent AARP3 survey found that 3 in 4 adults age 50 and older want to stay in their homes as they age, but only 46% anticipate being able to do so. That’s where home equity solutions can help.

The Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) loan is a viable tool in retirement planning. HECM loans are government-insured and have several important requirements borrowers must meet to qualify:

  • They must be at least 62 years old
  • They must own your home
  • The home must be their primary residence

Retirees often need access to additional funds to supplement health insurance in order to cover expenses like in-home care. Many incorrectly believe that medical insurance will cover in-home or long-term care. A HECM can be the solution for retirees hoping to age in place, in the comfort of their home. Because no two situations are alike, there are several different types of HECM loans available to meet individual needs. Proceeds can be taken in a lump sum, established as a growing line of credit, received as fixed monthly payments, or a combination of these.

There are many features of HECM loans that can help those who are looking for an income supplement for a better retirement. Here are just a few!

  • No monthly mortgage payments so long as the borrower continues to pay property taxes homeowner’s insurance, and home maintenance costs
  • Tax-free loan proceeds can be used to cover expenses like health care or home modifications
  • Staying in the home they love

You cannot lose your home under normal circumstances and so long as you pay your property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, maintenance costs and otherwise comply with the loan terms.

For full disclosure visit

Article Provided By:
American Advisors Group (AAG)

Respite Care: Self-Health isn’t Selfish

Providing care for a loved one can become quite grueling for both the family caregiver and the patient. Caregivers may find themselves feeling burned out from the stress of consistent assistance, often falling into troubling sleeping patterns and neglecting their own self-care. Respite Care provides a mutually beneficial third party resource for caregiver and patient, in which additional short-term assistance is made available in forms such as adult day centers, in-home care and counseling services, or as recovery from a hospital stay.  It’s clear that a family caregiver is only as effective as his or her own self-health, and as the emotional weight of an aging loved one persists, taking a break to relax and recalibrate becomes invaluable.

Where to Find Respite Care?

Short term stays at assisted living or nursing facilities, along with additional information including webinars and Medicaid/Medicare assistance can be found at the ARCH National Respite Network’s Respite Locator: By simply entering the age of the patient, along with the State, Zip Code, and preferred mile radius, you will find plenty of Respite options at your fingertips.

What does Respite Care Provide?

Respite care amenities may vary by community but will typically provide 24-hour supervision, bathing assistance, meals, and medication management. This resource can be for an afternoon or up to a couple weeks.

What are the benefits of Respite Care?

Respite care provides the necessary perspective into the reality of a caregiving situation. The emotional and physical toll of caring for a loved one can never be overlooked. Maintaining a special connection against the persistence of relentless dementia is profoundly draining. As a caregiver finds their own lives changing and slipping away from them, the quality of care often dwindles, as exhaustion and frustration can start to damage this relationship in the last couple years they have together.

Access to Respite as a temporary resource allows the caregiver to simply get back to their own lives for some time. From simple sleep and relaxation to going out with friends or running errands, this bit of freedom is a way to recharge the batteries and reassess the balance necessary to maintain their own self-health.

It’s hard to acknowledge that family caregiving is often a necessary undertaking in which all parties involved wished it wasn’t necessary. Respite provides a valuable outlet for the guilt a caregiver is prone to feel when they stop and think about themselves in these troubling times. The assistance of Respite care can assure that the threshold of caregiving remains an active task to help a loved one in their final years, as opposed to a burden.

Article Provided By:
Retirement Connection