WCCF Announces Mahuron Education Fund and Elliott Family Fund Grant Recipients

The Mahuron Education Fund was established at the Washington County Community Foundation to encourage educators and staff to teach in innovative ways. This year, the fund has awarded several teachers in the county school corporations over $4400.00.

Bobbie Rutherford’s 3rd grade class at West Washington Elementary School will be receiving new, flexible seating. The wobble cushions to be purchased with the grant will help students stay focused and simulate student learning.

Three Bradie Shrum Elementary School 2nd grade teachers, Angela Snelling, Beverly Lanham, and Ava Kinney, will be utilizing new portable speaker and microphone systems in their classrooms. The speakers and microphone implore students to read out loud through Reader Theatre. They will also be used to teach about authors and sharing corners among other things.

Pam Barry’s Bradie Shrum Elementary School Kindergarten class will see some new additions to their Kinder “Garden”. The grant will be used to purchase giant board games and games to teach social skills, verbal communication, sharing, taking turns, and fostering the ability to focus while using sight words, letter, and numbers.

Students in Jennifer Stahl’s 12th grade West Washington Jr/Sr High School class will be creating kites as a follow-up activity to “The Kite Runner”.

Brooke Ingram’s Bradie Shrum Elementary School Kindergarten class will be discovering STEM activities with STEM bins and challenges as well as Bringing Sight Words to Life through snapwords and cards that assist student capture the whole word as a picture.

Yoga and tumbling will be one focus of Leah Starrett’s East Washington Elementary School Physical Education class. Students will work on tumbling skills, yoga, balance, and more.

Tammy Clemons’ East Washington Elementary School music classes will me utilizing a musical activity rug to help students understand the workings of the music staff through movement utilizing age-appropriate music, games, and activities.

Students in Tara Kennedy’s 5th grade East Washington Elementary School classroom will be learning about owls and what foods they like to eat as they dissect real owl pellets.

Kindergarteners in Jenisa Collier’s Bradie Shrum Elementary School class will be able to match capital and lower case letters, identify consonants and vowels, build words, and develop hand-eye coordination through a Toss and Learn program.

JD Wade-Swift’s new Interactive Media class at Salem High School will be able to conduct more professional interviews and videoing with new lapel mics, better tripod, and heads and professional grade headphones.

Students at Bradie Shrum Elementary School will now have Calm Down Boxes in their classrooms thanks to a grant awarded to Rachel Robinson and Kevin Albertson. The boxes contain items that students can utilize as they need them in order be more academically and emotionally successful.

The Elliott Family Fund, a donor advised fund within the Foundation, has also issued grants for innovative classroom ideas.

Sherri Hoar’s first grade students at West Washington Elementary School will be using hands on STEM learning to enhance student STEM skills with creativity and imagination.

Savannah Hartsfield, Salem Middle School counselor, has been awarded a grant to help purchase school logo shirts to be placed in the Clothing Closet.

Students at Eastern High School will notice a change in their hallways thanks to a grant awarded to art teacher, Laura Temple. Temple and her advanced art students and art club members will create murals to beautify and brighten the hallways of EHS using a variety of art genres and movements.

Bill Spencer-Pierce and Brent Minton have collaborated for a literature and theatre experience for 5th grade and SHS students through the book and play, “Sarah, Plain and Tall”. Every 5th grade student will read the book and participate in class discussion and then experience the play performed by the Salem High School Theatre class.

Washington County Community Foundation is a nonprofit public charity established in 1993 to serve donors, award grants, and provide leadership to improve Washington County forever

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Donors Help Washington County Community Foundation Award Over $26K in Grants

Thanks to our generous donors and the Foundation’s Touch Tomorrow Funds, Washington County nonprofits will be receiving over $26,000 in grants.

Outside the Walls received a grant in the amount of $1575.00 to assist with building three wheelchair ramps to provide a safe way for individuals to enter their homes.

A grant in the amount of $6600.00 was awarded to Dare to Care for the Backpack Buddy Program. The program provides low-income children proper nutrition to get through the weekend.

Focus on financial education and literacy is the focus of Junior Achievement. They received a grant in the amount of $2500.00

The Washington County Food Bank is the recipient of a $3500.00 grant. The grant will be used to purchase supplemental food for the Food Bank in order to serve the many clients the receive on a monthly basis.

Get ready for “Cinderella” to hit the stage in Washington County soon. A $7870.00 grant has been awarded to Pied Piper Productions for four performances of the play.

The Humane Society of Washington County will be showcasing cats in style with a new bank of cat cages. They were awarded a grant for $2229.54.

The Salem-Washington Township Senior Citizens Center has been awarded a grant for $706.00 to purchase a new computer for the center.

The Women’s Fund of the Washington County Community Foundation has awarded a grant of $1500.00 to Salem Community Schools for the Salem Middle School Sister Circle. The program provides a safe space for open discussion, guest speakers, and service projects to assist middle school girls to become strong, empowered women of society.

Washington County Community Foundation is a nonprofit public charity established in 1993 to serve donors, award grants, and provide leadership to improve Washington County forever

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How to Manage Restless Leg Syndrome

What can you tell me about restless leg syndrome? I'm 58 years old and frequently have jerky, uncontrollable urges to move my legs, accompanied by a tingling sensation. This keeps me awake at night. 


If an irresistible urge to move your legs has you kicking in your sleep, then chances are pretty good you have restless leg syndrome (RLS), a condition that affects 7% to 10% of Americans. Here is what you should know.

RLS, also known as Willis-Ekbom Disease, is a nervous system problem that causes uncomfortable sensations (often described as a creepy-crawly feeling, tingling, itching, throbbing, pulling or aching) and an irresistible urge to move one or both legs while you are sitting or lying down. The symptoms usually get worse with age. It typically occurs in the evenings or at night while resting. Moving around often eases the unpleasant feeling temporarily.

While RLS is not a life-threatening condition, the main problem, other than it being uncomfortable and annoying, is that it disrupts sleep. This can lead to daytime drowsiness, difficulty concentrating and even depression.

The exact cause of RLS is not known, but researchers suspect it could be linked to several things, including iron deficiency, an imbalance of the brain chemical dopamine and genetics — about 60% of people with RLS have a family member with the condition.

Treatment Options


While there is no cure for RLS, there are things you can do to alleviate the symptoms. Depending on the severity of your case, some people turn to RLS medications like gabapentin enacarbil (Horizant), anticonvulsants or dopamine agonists, like ropinirole (Requip), rotigotine (Neupro) or pramipexole (Mirapex). Be aware, however, that these drugs can have side effects, including nausea, lightheadedness, fatigue and insomnia. Also be aware that, while these medications can provide short-term relief, they can also make symptoms worse for many people who use them long term.

So before turning to medication, you may want to consider some of the following natural RLS treatments first, which can be very effective for many people.

Check your iron levels. Iron deficiency is believed to be one of the major contributors to RLS, so make an appointment with your doctor and get a blood test to check for this. If you test positive for iron deficiency, your doctor may recommend iron supplements.

Exercise: Getting moderate, regular exercise — like walking, cycling, water aerobics and yoga — can relieve symptoms. Be aware, however, that overdoing it or exercising late in the day may intensify symptoms. Daily leg stretches — including calf, hamstring, quadriceps and hip flexor stretches — are also helpful.

Check your medications: Certain drugs, including antinausea drugs, antipsychotic drugs, some antidepressants and cold and allergy medications containing sedating antihistamines, can make RLS worse. If you take any of these, talk to your doctor to see if something else should be prescribed.

Avoid triggers: Alcohol, caffeine, nicotine and refined sugar can all make RLS symptoms worse.

Try these tips: Soaking in a hot bathtub and massaging your legs can relieve symptoms, as can applying a hot pad and/or ice pack to your legs. Pressure can also help, so consider wearing compression socks or stockings. There's also a new non-drug FDA approved vibrating pad on the market called Relaxis that interrupts RLS episodes and may provide relief.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living” book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization’s official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Published October 5, 2018

The Tax Credit That Lets You Double-Dip on Retirement Savings

What can you tell me about the retirement saver's tax credit? At age 60, I am looking for ways to boost my retirement savings beyond my 401(k) plan and have heard this may be a smart way to do it. How can I find out if I am eligible for this credit?

If your income is low to moderate and you participate in your employer-sponsored retirement plan or an IRA, the "Saver's Credit" (also known as the Retirement Savings Contribution Credit) is a frequently overlooked tool that can help boost your retirement savings even more. Here is how it works.

If you contribute to a retirement-savings account like a traditional or Roth IRA, 401(k), 403(b), 457, federal employees' Thrift Savings Plan, Simplified Employee Pension or SIMPLE plan, the Retirement Savings Contribution Credit will allow you to claim 10%, 20% or 50% of your contribution up to $2,000 per year (or $4,000 for married couples). This valuable tax credit can be claimed in addition to the tax deduction you receive for contributing to your traditional retirement accounts.

To qualify, you must be at least 18 years old and cannot be a full-time student or claimed as a dependent on someone else's tax return. In addition, your adjusted gross income (AGI) in 2018 must have been $63,000 or less if you are a married couple filing jointly, $47,250 or less if filing as a head of household or $31,500 or less if you are a single filer. These income limits are adjusted annually to keep pace with inflation.

To be eligible for the 50% credit, your income must be below $19,000 if filing as a single taxpayer, $28,500 if filing as head of household or $38,000 if filing as a couple in 2018.

The 20% credit applies to single taxpayers with adjusted gross income between $19,001 and $20,500, head of household filers with income between $28,501 and $30,750 and for couples with earnings of $38,001 to $41,000.

The 10% credit applies to single taxpayers with adjusted gross income between $20,501 and $31,500, for head of household filers with income of $30,751 to $47,250 and for couples with earnings between $41,001 and $63,000.

Here is an example of how this works. Assume that you file your taxes as head of household and your AGI for 2018 is $30,000. Over the course of the year, you contribute $2,000 to your employer's 401(k) plan. Since your AGI puts you in the 20% credit bracket, and you have contributed the $2,000 maximum that can be considered for the credit, you are entitled to a $400 Saver's Credit on your 2018 tax return.

It is also worth mentioning that the Saver's Credit is in addition to any other tax benefits you receive for your retirement contributions. So, in the previous example, not only would you be entitled to a $400 credit, but you would also be able to exclude the $2,000 401(k) contribution from your taxable income. So, if you are in the 15% tax bracket, this translates to an additional $300 in savings, for a total tax savings of $700.

How to Claim


To claim the Saver's Credit, you will need to fill out Form 8880 (see IRS.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f8880.pdf) and attach it to your 1040, 1040A or 1040NR when you file your tax return. Do not use the 1040EZ Form.

If you think that you would have qualified for the credit in previous years but did not claim it, you can file an amended return as far back as 2015 and still receive the credits. A 2015 amended return is due by April 15, 2019. See IRS Form 1040X (IRS.gov/pub/irs-pdf/i1040x.pdf) for instructions on how to file an amended return.

For more information on the Saver's Credit, see IRS Publication 590-A "Contributions to Individual Retirement Arrangements" ( IRS.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p590a.pdf). You can also have these forms and publication mailed to you by calling 800-829-3676.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

WCCF Offers Non-Profit Board Training

Washington County Community Foundation realizes that board training for small non-profit organizations can be difficult to schedule or plan for on a tight budget.   We also recognize that a great Board of Directors is critical to a nonprofit organization’s success.  We want the nonprofit organizations in Washington County to be successful.  Therefore, we are offering a great opportunity for Nonprofit Board of Directors to receive high quality board training right here in Washington County through the Community Foundation Research and Training Institute.  

Members of Boards of Directors are invited to attend our first training event, October 31, 2018, at the Community Learning Center at 1707 N. Shelby Street in Salem.  Our guest presenter is David Bennett.  David served as the Executive Director of the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne for 22 years.  During his tenure, the assets of the Community Foundation grew from $28 million to over $150 million, and he helped position the Foundation as a trusted community leader.

David formed the Community Foundation Research and Training Institute (CFRTI) in 2017.  CFRTI provides a variety of training opportunities for community foundations and nonprofit organizations, along with strategic planning facilitation and the preparation of organizational risk assessments.

Aside from overseeing the strategic planning process several times in Fort Wayne, he has served as the facilitator of the strategic planning process at the Parke County Community Foundation and the Johnson County Community Foundation. David also serves as a trainer for the Community Foundation Boot Camp course through the Indiana Philanthropy Alliance, and as an instructor for the Finance Course offered through the Council on Foundations.

David is a life-long Hoosier.  He earned his bachelor’s degree in Economics from Williams College, and a Master’s in Public Affairs from Princeton University.   He currently resides in Grabill, Indiana.  David is President-Elect of the Rotary Club of Fort Wayne and has been recognized as a Paul Harris Fellow.

In an effort to help nonprofits plan ahead, in addition to the session on 10/31/18, we will also offer two sessions in 2019…. Dates TBD. 

Beginning in 2020, Washington County Community Foundation will require all nonprofits that receive funding from the Washington County Community Foundation to have at least one current, active board member that has completed this valuable training. 

The cost to attend a session is $100.00 per person.  However, this fee will be refunded if the Board Member attends the entire session.  If a Board Member leaves early or does not show up, the registration fee will be retained by the Washington County Community Foundation. 

Registration deadline is October 17, 2018.  Register by calling 812-883-7334.

Washington County Community Foundation is a nonprofit public charity established in 1993 to serve donors, award grants, and provide leadership to improve Washington County forever

Top Dental Care Products for Seniors

Today's News - Savvy Living - Washington County Community Foundation 

I have arthritis in my hands that affects my grip strength and dexterity and makes brushing my teeth difficult. I have read that electric powered toothbrushes help make the job easier. Can you provide any tips or recommendations on what to get?

For individuals who suffer from arthritis or have other hand weaknesses, an electric toothbrush is a great solution to keep your teeth clean. At the push of a button, an electric toothbrush will do the cleaning for you. Most come with a wide handle and rubberized grip to make it easier and more comfortable to grip.

How to Choose


With dozens of different electric toothbrushes on the market today, here are several key points you will need to consider to help you choose:
  • Cost: The cost of electric toothbrushes will range from $15 up to around $300. As such, you will need to determine how much you are willing to spend.
  • Brushing action: Brush heads tend to be either "spinning," meaning that they rotate quickly in one direction then in the other direction with bristles that may pulsate in and out, or "sonic," meaning they vibrate side to side. Both methods are effective and a matter of personal preference.
  • Electric versus battery: Choose a brush with a built-in rechargeable battery and an electric charging station. They are much more convenient and cost effective than toothbrushes that use replaceable batteries.
  • Brushing timer: Since most dentists recommend brushing for two minutes (and most adults brush less than 60 seconds), get a power toothbrush with a built-in timer. Some brushes will even split the two minutes onto four 30-second intervals and will notify you when it is time to switch to a different quadrant of your mouth.
  • Extra features: Many higher-priced electric brushes come with various settings such as sensitive (gentler cleaning) or massage (gum stimulation), a charge-level display and other features. There are even "smart" toothbrushes on the market that connect to a smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth to track brushing habits.

Top Electric Toothbrushes


While there are many makes and models of electric toothbrushes to choose from, two of the best-selling, top-rated products to consider are the Oral B Pro 1000 (spinning brush head) and the Philips Sonicare Series (vibrating brush head). Both are simple, very effective at removing plaque and reasonably priced at around $50. They also both offer two-minute timers, rechargeable batteries and a range of brush heads to meet your needs.

Easier Flossing Products


If flossing is difficult too, a good alternative to traditional string floss is a floss pick. Floss picks are disposable plastic-handle tools that have floss threaded onto them, making them easier to hold and use. DenTek, Oral-B and others sell packages for a few dollars. Also, check out the Reach Access Flosser, which comes with a toothbrush-like handle for a better reach.

There are other flossing devices to consider that are easy on the hands. Power flossers gently vibrate to dislodge embedded food particles between your teeth. Water flossers use high-pressured pulsating water to remove food particles and plaque and stimulate your gums in the process. All of these dental care products can be found at your local pharmacy or retailer that sells personal care items or online.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living” book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization’s official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Published September 21, 2018

Health Insurance Tips for Traveling Abroad

How does health insurance and Medicare cover health care outside the U.S.? My husband and I have a trip abroad planned this fall and would like to find out if we should buy extra insurance. What can you tell us?


Great question! No one likes to think about health problems while on vacation, but medical emergencies happen, and your regular insurance may not cover your care when you are traveling abroad. To avoid any expensive surprises, here are some tips to help make sure you are covered.

Know What is Covered


Your first step is to contact your health insurer to find out exactly what your plan covers when you are traveling abroad. If you have health coverage through an employer, the Health Insurance Marketplace or a private insurance company, the level of coverage can vary widely depending on your policy.

If your plan does provide coverage abroad ask about the specifics, such as whether the plan includes coverage for emergency evacuations to the U.S. and pre-existing medical conditions. You should also find out what your out-of-pocket costs will be if you need medical care while you are away.

If you or your husband have original Medicare, it does not provide coverage outside the U.S., except in certain circumstances - for instance, on a cruise ship within six hours of the U.S. Some coverage is built in if you have one of the Medigap supplemental plans (C, D, F, G, M, N) that pay 80% of bills for emergency care as long as it is during the first 60 days of the trip abroad. There is also a $250 annual deductible plus a lifetime limit of $50,000 for foreign travel emergency care.

If you happen to have a Medicare Advantage plan, your coverage outside the U.S. will depend on the plan. Some plans offer emergency care coverage while others do not. You will need to check your plan for details.

Buy Extra Protection


If your policy does not provide health coverage outside the U.S. or if the coverage is limited with high out-of-pocket costs, you can purchase a travel medical insurance policy to cover you or supplement what your insurer will not cover.

To shop and compare plans, visit sites like InsureMyTrip.com or SquareMouth.com to give you a general idea of what travel medical insurance cost. A couple in their sixties planning a two-week trip to Europe, for example, could get a $50,000 medical coverage limit and $100,000 for a medical evacuation for around $100 or higher.

You also need to know that most travel medical plans do not cover costs related to pre-existing health conditions. If you or your husband has a pre-existing condition that might require medical care, choose a comprehensive travel policy, which typically covers medical care, medical evacuation, trip cancellation, trip interruption and baggage loss, and then add a pre-existing-condition waiver.

Finding Care


If you get sick or injured during your trip, call your travel insurer who can recommend local care options. For extra help, consider joining the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers, which provides its members access to a worldwide network of physicians who speak English and have agreed to affordable prearranged fees. Membership is free. Also visit Step.State.gov to enroll your trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. They can also offer health care referrals.

Reimbursement


If you do have travel medical insurance and you receive medical care while traveling abroad, you will probably be required to file a claim and show medical records outlining the care you received and receipts. Make sure you get copies of the receipts so you can get reimbursed when you get home.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Youth Foundation offers grant cycle

The Washington County Youth Foundation has been steadily working to be ready for the start of this year’s fall grant cycle.  The Youth Foundation offers grants for youth directed community service projects. 

Judy Johnson, Executive Director of the Foundation, commented, “The Youth Foundation has been offering a grant cycle since 2002.  They have funded many youth-directed community service projects.  It is so exciting to see youth and adults working together for the betterment of Washington County.”

Applications are available on-line at www.wccf.biz and are due by October 8, 2018, 3:00pm in the Foundation Office.  The grant awards will be announced in November.  For more information, you can call the Washington County Community Foundation office at 883-7334.

The mission of the Washington County Community Foundation is to engage people, build resources and strengthen our community.  For more information, visit www.wccf.biz

Which Flu Shot is Right for You?

I've been reading that there are a bunch of different flu vaccines this flu season. Which flu shot is right for me?

It wasn't that long ago that if you wanted to protect yourself from the flu, you would simply get a flu shot. These days, however, there are numerous flu vaccine options to choose from and picking the right one may feel a bit overwhelming. To help you decide which flu vaccine is right for you, you need to consider your health, age and personal preferences.

Flu Shot Options


Every year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone six months of age and older get a seasonal flu shot. This recommendation is especially important for seniors who are at higher risk of developing serious flu-related complications. Each year, the flu puts more than 200,000 people in the hospital and kills an average of 24,000 people. Eighty to ninety percent of those who die from flu-complications are seniors. Here is a summary of the different vaccine options available:

Standard flu vaccines: If you want to keep things basic, consider getting vaccinated with the standard (trivalent) flu shot, which has been around for more than 40 years and protects against three different strains of flu viruses. This year's version protects against two A strains (H1N1 and H3N2) and one influenza B virus.

Alternatively, for additional protection, you should consider the quadrivalent flu vaccine, which protects against four types of influenza — the same three strains as the standard trivalent flu shot, plus an additional B-strain virus.

Senior specific vaccines: If you are age 65 or older and want extra protection, you should consider the Fluzone High-Dose or FLUAD. The Fluzone High-Dose has four times the amount of antigen as a regular flu shot, while the FLUAD contains an added adjuvant ingredient called MF59. Both vaccines provide a stronger immune response for better protection.

Egg allergy vaccines: If you are allergic to eggs, your flu shot options are Flucelvax or FluBlok. Neither of these vaccines uses chicken eggs in their manufacturing process.

Fear of needle vaccines: If you are afraid of needles and between the ages of 18 and 64, your options are the Fluzone Intradermal or AFLURIA vaccine.

The Fluzone intradermal flu shot uses a tiny 1/16-inch long micro-needle to inject the vaccine just under the skin, rather than deeper in the muscle like a standard flu shot. The AFLURIA vaccine is administered by a jet injector, which is a medical device that uses a high-pressure, narrow stream of fluid to penetrate the skin instead of a needle.

You should also know that if you are a Medicare beneficiary, Part B covers all flu vaccinations. If you have private health insurance, you will need to check with your plan to see which vaccines are covered.

Pneumonia Vaccines


Other important vaccinations the CDC recommends to seniors, especially this time of year, are the pneumococcal vaccines for pneumonia. Around 1 million Americans are hospitalized with pneumonia each year and about 50,000 people die from it.

The CDC recommends that all seniors, age 65 or older, receive two vaccinations —Prevnar 13 and Pneumovax 23. Both vaccines, which are administered just once at different times, work in different ways to provide maximum protection.

If you have not received any pneumococcal vaccine, you should get the Prevnar 13 first, followed by Pneumovax 23 six to 12 months later. Medicare Part B covers both vaccines, if they are taken at least one year apart.

To locate a vaccination site that offers both flu and pneumonia shots, visit Vaccines.gov and type in your zip code.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living” book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization’s official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Choosing a Continuing-Care Retirement Community

an you give me some tips on picking an all-inclusive residential retirement community that offers independent housing, along with assisted living and nursing care? My husband and I are looking to downsize and simplify, but we want our next move to be our last.


If you want your next move to be your final one, an all-inclusive retirement community — also known as a continuing-care retirement community (CCRC) — is a great option to consider.

CCRCs are different from other types of senior housing because they provide all levels of housing, services and care in one convenient location. While they vary greatly in appearance and services, most CCRCs offer apartments or single-family homes for active independent seniors. They also offer onsite assisted living for seniors who require help with basic living tasks like bathing, dressing or going to the bathroom and nursing home care for residents who are in declining health.

CCRCs also provide a bevy of resort-style amenities and services that include community dining halls, exercise facilities, housekeeping and transportation, as well as many social and recreational activities. Be aware that these services often come at a hefty price. Most communities have entry fees that range from the low to mid-six figures plus ongoing monthly fees that can range from around $2,000 to over $4,000 depending on the facility, services and the contract option you choose.

With more than 2,000 CCRCs in operation throughout the U.S., finding a facility that fits your lifestyle, needs and budget will require some legwork. Here are some steps to help you proceed.

Make a list: Start by calling the Area Agency on Aging (call 800-677-1116 for contact information) in the area you want to live for a list of CCRCs.

Call the facilities: Once you have located a few local facilities, call them to find out if they have any vacancies, what they charge and if they provide the types of services you want or need.

Take a tour: Many CCRCs encourage potential residents to stay overnight and have a few meals in their dining hall. During your visit, notice the upkeep of the facility and talk to the current residents to see how they like living there. Also, check out the assisted living and nursing facilities and find out how decisions are made to move residents from one level of care to another.

To learn more about a particular facility, call the state long-term care ombudsman (see LTCombudsman.org) who can tell you whether the assisted living and nursing care services within the CCRC have had any complaints or other problems. You can also use Medicare's nursing home compare tool at Medicare.gov/nursinghomecompare.

Review contracts and fees: Most CCRCs offer three types of contracts: Type A, or life-care contracts, which have the highest entry fee but cover all levels of long-term care as needed; Type B, or modified contracts, which have lower entry fees but limit long-term care services in the initial fee; and Type C, or fee-for-service contracts, which offer the lowest entrance fees but require you to pay extra for long-term care if you need it.

You also need to find out what yearly price increases you can expect. You should also inquire as to how much of your entry fee is refundable if you move or die and what happens if you outlive your financial resources.

Research the CCRC: Find out who owns the facility, get a copy of their most recently audited financial statement and a copy of their contract and review these with your lawyer or financial advisor. You should also request information regarding their occupancy rate. Unless it is a newer community filling up, occupancy below 85% could be a red flag that the facility is having financial or management problems.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living” book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization’s official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

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