Senior Living Truth Series Empowers Oklahoma seniors
This story was originally published in the Oklahoman.
No matter how well you plan, there is much uncertainty about retirement. After all, it’s not something you can gather experience in unless you do it.
Wouldn’t it be great to know the “truth” about issues such as care insurance, financial planning, senior living options, selling a house, or preparing well to “stay put” in your own home as you age-in-place?
The Senior Living Truth Series – 90-minute monthly educational seminars – explores these topics each month. Adults 55 and older and their caregivers are invited to attend the free seminars to learn facts about post-retirement issues.
Gloria Bates, a retired lawyer, began attending the seminars a year ago.
“My husband and I are in our 80s, have a nice large home, but neither of us is in the best of health,” she said. “My husband had pneumonia last year and was in the hospital. I had three bad falls.”
“You just come to realize you can’t do some things anymore.”
It made them think about the next chapter in their lives. How do they want to live? What kind of help do they need? And how is it paid for?
Bates had experience navigating the challenges of helping aging parents transition into senior living and she decided when it was time for her husband and her, she wanted to be in charge of the decisions.
“Because I am a lawyer, I liked the more logical, rational approach: Plan what you want to do while you can,” Bates said.
Bates began attending the seminars, initially to learn about downsizing.
“I spent a lifetime filling up a home, collecting things,” she said. “It’s hard to know where to start.”
Over time, she learned some important “truths” and connected with other seniors as well as professionals specializing in late-life issues – from financial and insurance experts to senior care.
“It helped me identify what’s available and how to do it,” Bates said.
The Senior Living Truth Series is the brainchild of Nikki Buckelew, owner of Buckelew Realty Group’s Mature Moves Division with Keller Williams Realty Platinum, formerly OKC Mature Moves. Along with her husband Chris and a core group of like-minded professionals, she has made it her mission to educate and guide both consumers and professionals on best practices related to post-retirement living.
“At the first seminar in January of 2016 we had 45 people and it has grown to 70 or more every month. Many people attend regularly and bring friends. We love seeing familiar faces in the audience,” Buckelew said.
Buckelew began the series because she wanted senior homeowners to feel empowered and connect them with allies and experts who can help navigate decision-making.
The series of candid conversations and panel discussions always focuses on the unique and often complex issues facing long-time homeowners.
“People are tired of being ‘sold’ something only to find out later that there were either strings attached or they didn’t get all the facts,” Buckelew said. “There are myths and rumor mills running amok and people deserve to know the real truth before they make a significant life-changing decision.”
Buckelew said seminar attendees don’t want a sales pitch.
“They want truthful information from people they can trust so they can consider their options. And that’s exactly what we’re sharing in this series of educational expert seminars,” she said.
The right mix of expertise and “truth” are what the attendees appreciate. Frank Andrews and his wife Carol attended after seeing an article about the event in the newspaper.
“The seminars are just well-organized and well presented,” Frank said.
As a retired corporate trainer in good health, he feels well-equipped for his retirement years, but he feels there are still many unknowns. The couple also cares for aging parents.
“It’s answering a lot of questions that I didn’t even know I had,” he said.
Besides practical tips on things such as long-term care insurance and how to maximize other benefits, the Andrews have also learned about the many different types senior living options, ranging from in-home assistance to full-time care at a retirement community.
“It’s about learning that you have to plan early, and about understanding what you need and what you don’t,” added Carol. “It makes us want to go home and look up our long-term care plan.”
Julie Davis of Concordia Life Plan Community, a regular sponsor of the event, said besides providing important information to seniors, the series has also fostered community.
“When Nikki, Chris and their team rolled out the Senior Living Truth Series, we knew it would be a great service and provide relevant information and empower adults as they faced important decisions,” Davis said.
As the program has evolved, Davis said she has come to recognize an even greater outcome.
“The Senior Living Truth Series provides participants with more than reliable information; it has also created a sense of community and camaraderie.”
Those attending regularly have come to know each other well.
“The sponsors and the guests greet each other with smiles and have come to know each other well. There is no doubt this is more than an information resource – it is a community builder,” she said. “We are proud to be a part of such a wonderful program and hope the new location at the Wellness Center will bring new faces and eager participants.”
The next event will focus on “The Truth About the Downsizing Process” and will be held at 11 a.m., April 13 at the MAPS3 Health & Wellness Center at 11501 N Rockwell Ave. in Oklahoma City.
“So many retirees tell us they feel overwhelmed by the idea of moving to a smaller place and want to know the best strategy for getting started,” Buckelew said. “Since we have helped hundreds with this type of move, we simply plan to share what has worked well for others in similar situations.”
The downsizing seminar will discuss the five phases of a downsizing move, simple strategies for getting started, who to hire for doing the heavy lifting, and what to do with all that “stuff.”
May’s event will focus on avoiding homeowner scams.
There is no cost to attend for those 55 or older or their guests. Registration for professionals is $25. Reservations can be made online at www.seniorlivingtruthseries.com or call 405-563-7501. Space is limited and pre-registration is requested.
2017 sponsors for the series include: Concordia Life Care Community, Spanish Cove Retirement Community, Grand Tapestry 55+ Luxury Apartments, Brookdale Senior Living, Home Care Assistance of Edmond, Steve Cortes Law Firm, Romano Wealth Management, Oklahoma Hospice Care, Senior Care Referral Services of Oklahoma, and Buckelew Realty Group: Mature Moves Division.