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    Posted December 19, 2013 by

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    A Community within a Community - Being Closer to Those You Love and Knowing When to Help a Loved One Make a Move

    The holiday season is a time known for bringing families together. It is also a time when families notice their loved ones may be having more difficulty meeting their needs. Families may notice various changes such as spoiled food in the refrigerator, bills not being paid, disorganized medications, isolation, forgetfulness or agitation. The challenge for many families is trying to determine what to say or do when they see such concerning changes. The Legacy Willow Bend executive director, Marilyn Israel, has tremendous experience and insight when it comes to counseling families.

    “The family dynamics are key when it comes to having a conversation with a parent or family member about their health or age. Recognizing changes in your parent(s) is the first step and different family members may have differing perceptions and denial about what is happening. Discussing transitions or the idea of moving into a retirement community can be difficult,” said Israel, a recognized leader in health care and senior housing with more than 25 years experience. “Holidays often bring that idea to mind because it is a time when family members are together – maybe for the first time in an extended period of time. That is when signs are noticed and concerns are expressed.”

    Israel admits it is a very tricky process to broach the subject with parents, but it is important to consider what will keep them healthier and safer and make them happier overall. Being together during the holidays is the perfect opportunity to take note of their living conditions and explore options. Adult children are often key in the decision-making. Highlighting the many benefits of living in a retirement community can sometimes ease their minds. Often times, that decision allows families to move closer to one another, reengage in social activities and become a part of a larger maintenance free community with many resources available. Take Herb and Ruth Halpern for example.

    Herb, 83, and Ruth, 81, moved into The Legacy Willow Bend, a continuum care retirement community in Plano, from their St. Louis home of 55 years to be close to their children and grandchildren. The Legacy Willow Bend takes great pride in the fact that it helps reunite families in this special way. One third of the residents in independent living came from outside the area (some from outside the state) to be closer to their family just like the Halperns.

    “The thing Herb and I have loved about living here is the instant community that comes with it,” said Ruth. “That’s what makes it wonderful. Living in a community where everyone truly cares and provides a strong support system is such a blessing.”

    Herb and Ruth began thinking about where to move because they wanted to be closer to their children and chose the Dallas area since two of their four children live here. While the Halperns were looking, they were convinced they would not make the transition into a retirement community any time soon. At that point, Ruth recalls her husband saying they were too mobile and active on their own to be thinking about that. Not long after that discussion and their visit to The Legacy Willow Bend, that mindset changed. Ruth had a fall that seriously injured her wrist, so both decided it was indeed time to make the move.

    “As much as we, and everyone we’ve seen here, love The Legacy Willow Bend, making the initial decision to move into a retirement community typically is not something anyone likes to think about,” said Ruth. “Our four years here have been wonderful, but having the realization that it’s time to start considering such a big move and decision is full of mixed feelings for anyone.”

    Herb and Ruth’s son helped find and introduce The Legacy Willow Bend to them, and they have loved the fact that they do not have to worry about ever making a big move again. Ruth described the relief she felt knowing they can age in place and have access to all levels of care on the same campus at The Legacy Willow Bend. The relationships and connections they have established with others living there have been great as well. In fact, the parents of their son’s wife, the Rosens, also moved into The Legacy Willow Bend (from Lubbock) two years after the Halperns moved there. During their time at The Legacy Willow Bend, Ruth has grown very close to Annette Rosen, especially after Annette’s husband passed away. It has been a friendship that Ruth cherishes and would not have had the opportunity to develop had they not moved into the community together.

    “Not only have we been able to make new and very dear friends here quickly, but we are constantly discovering new connections and realizing how many people we know from our past that live here now,” said Ruth. “There are always activities in the works on our monthly calendars. We probably are kept busier now that we’ve moved here than before.”

    Marilyn Israel believes that having a strong sense of community and “a support system,” as Ruth puts it, is crucial. When seniors become increasingly isolated and less engaged, it could lead to other health problems including depression or dementia. Often times, parents tell their children that they are doing well, but according to Israel, it requires being very observant and verifying the situation in person.

    “Use time spent with parents over the holidays to really check on things for them and ensure they are going in a healthy direction,” said Israel. “When approaching such a delicate and sensitive subject as suggesting a move into a retirement community, it must be done in a tender discussion with expressions of sincere concern for their safety and well-being.”

    The Halperns agree with Israel that choosing a retirement community is about ensuring a more enjoyable life longer, and it should not take a crisis or drastic situation to make people start thinking about it.

    The Legacy Willow Bend, Plano’s first and only life care retirement community, is situated on a 28-acre site at Spring Creek Parkway between Preston Road and Ohio Drive. The Legacy Willow Bend offers resort-style services and amenities for active, independent seniors, as well as all levels of health care services on-site. The community features 103 independent living apartment homes, 12 custom independent living villas, 40 assisted living apartment homes, 18 memory support suites, and 60 private skilled healthcare suites.

    The Legacy Willow Bend is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit retirement community owned by parent company, The Legacy Senior Communities, Inc. The Legacy Willow Bend, the only Jewish-sponsored life care retirement community in Texas, is open to people of all faiths. For information, call (972) 468-6208, or visit

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