Looking to Move into a Retirement Community Next Year? Four Things to Think About Today

Our retirement community has been growing for over 90 years, and we love to welcome new members. Here is what you and your family need to know to make your best move.

There are so many wonderful options for aging adults today. It can be hard to know what to look for in a retirement community and harder still to know how to choose an assisted living community.

  1. Will you have personal space?

    The social nature of a senior living community is one of its most attractive features. Imagine living your best life, safely and securely, surrounded by your best friends! Warm and welcoming common areas, gracious dining options, and beautiful grounds are all designed to encourage get-togethers and good times.

    You still want to feel at home, however. Personal space is important to maintain privacy, dignity, and choice in our lives, and the amount of personal space we need varies from person to person. Now is the time to think about what personal space means to you.

    Do you want a roommate or your own private room? Are you comfortable sharing a bathroom with others or would you prefer your own private bath? Will a private bedroom be enough for you or would you prefer your own private apartment? Studio, one-bedroom, or two bedrooms? If you want the option of cooking for yourself on occasion, will that apartment include a kitchen?

    When choosing a retirement home, prioritize the features of your own personal living area. If you love tending houseplants, look for big windows, southern exposure, or your own private balcony. If you are a social butterfly, try to secure a private living space closer to the community common areas.

    Make a list of your must-have features for your private residence and bring it with you to every senior care community you visit.

  2. Will you have high-quality medical care?

    Depending on your reasons for moving into a senior care community, medical care may be at the top or near the bottom of your list. For active older adults exploring independent living, future access to medical care might seem more important, while seniors transitioning from rehabilitation centers or with chronic or medically complex conditions will have accessing the highest quality medical care right now as their top priority.

    Our advice on what to look for in a retirement community? Priority access to award-winning person-centered healthcare. Even independent living options should provide 24/7 access to high-quality healthcare.

    At The Cedars, all care plans in our Households and Rehabilitation Center are based on the lifestyles and preferences of our residents and designed by residents, their families, and their healthcare providers. Our highly trained staff respond to needs in the moment and have the capacity to treat even medically complex conditions, like chronic heart failure or kidney failure, onsite. Our specialized rehabilitation program draws patients from around the state to start the road to recovery with our physical, occupational, and speech therapists. No matter what our residents need—now, or in the future—we will be able to care for them, right at home.

    Before you begin touring senior care communities, speak to your physician about the healthcare options they feel you should prioritize.

  3. What activities will be available?

    The best senior living communities offer a diverse array of engaging, meaningful activities and events. You have worked hard to get to this point, putting others before yourself. Aging is a time to pursue personal passions, to continue to learn and grow. You want to make the most of this fresh chapter in your life and your senior living community should offer many opportunities to do so.

    Make a list of things you love to do or want to try. Swimming or water aerobics? Look for a senior living community with an indoor pool or Jacuzzi. Golf? Your senior living community should be on or near the green. Live performances, art galleries, or concerts? You will want to be living close by a thriving urban center. And don’t forget fun activities like playing bridge, learning local history, discussing books with likeminded friends, or chatting about current events. Vibrant senior living communities will have many active clubs or groups where you can connect with others who share your interests.

    Now think about activities that promote personal health or mental wellbeing. Your senior living community should offer an assortment of fitness classes for all levels of strength and mobility. Are there fitness facilities with exercise equipment designed for older adults? Chances to get outdoors? Sun porches, sensory gardens, and walking paths? Reliable transportation services?

    Take note of how many activities take place outside and in your community—particularly intergenerational activities. As an experienced older adult, you have so much to offer your larger community. Teaching, mentoring, or volunteering provides a strong sense of purpose and the glow of giving back and doing good.

    You will finally have the time and energy to be your best self in your senior living community. As you tour senior living communities, ask how they will support your treasured pastimes and pursuits.

  4. Where do you feel at home?

    Of all the things to think about, the feeling of “home” is the hardest to qualify and yet the easiest to quantify. You may not know exactly how to describe what feels like home to you but you will know, from the moment you walk in, if you are at home in a senior living community.

    True homes have front doors with doorbells, not sliding glass doors. Foyers instead of lobbies. Warm and inviting common areas filled with cozy, comfortable furnishings and stocked with computers, games, books, and puzzles. Kitchens filled with the tempting smells of delicious food and refrigerators and cupboards stocked with favorite snacks and treats. Bright, airy sunrooms. Gracious dining rooms. Charming gardens and grounds. And a relaxed, peaceful ambiance enlivened with laughter and conversation uninterrupted by alarms or call bells.

    It is very difficult to find a senior living community that has truly adopted and implemented the new and transformative Household Model of care—The Cedars has the only real Households in Maine, for instance—but only a Household can truly create that feeling of being right at home. If you have never seen a Household in action, make sure you visit one before choosing your senior living community.

    To compare and contrast other senior living communities against a true Household, download our My Household Checklist.

If you are thinking about moving to a retirement community in the coming year, talk to our senior living specialists at 207.221.7000 today.

Your Dad Was Just Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. What Happens Now?

Learning Your Father Has Alzheimer's

Over 25% of older adults will experience some form of memory loss by the time they are age 65 or older. While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, there is great cause for hope. Today’s memory care options help older adults continue to live meaningful, comfortable, and productive lives. Start moving forward with these three quick Alzheimer’s caregiver tips from The Cedars.

A diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease can feel devastating at first. Learning that someone you love is losing their cognitive functioning—their personalized ways of navigating the world—can be both frightening and sad. But you should know that incredible advances have been made in the way we see, care for, and connect with people with dementia, and you and your loved ones have more choices for high-quality memory care than ever before.

The Cedars provides multiple levels of memory care for older adults, from outpatient group therapy to memory care assisted living and long term care. Our highly trained staff believes in a positive approach to person-centered care that encourages frustration-free memory care activities, innovative therapies and programs, award-winning medical care, and personalized choices based on the life story of every resident.

“Our residents may have cognitive challenges or Alzheimer’s disease. They also have rich, productive lives filled with meaningful memory care activities and social connection,” says Angie Hunt, Administrator at The Cedars. “In fact, our residents regularly show their artwork in a local gallery during the city’s Art Walk and recently collaborated with area high school students and local artists to recreate their memories in music and puppetry. They are out in their community making connections and making a difference.”

Here are three tips our memory care team shares with older adults and their families who suddenly find themselves facing life with Alzheimer’s disease:

Start Communicating—And Don’t Stop

It can be difficult to know how to talk to a parent with dementia about the decisions that lie ahead. “At The Cedars, we encourage families to listen closely to the needs and wants of their loved ones with memory loss as they develop their Alzheimer’s care plan,” says June O’Neill, Marketing Representative. “The sooner you start these conversations, the better. People with dementia can express their wishes more clearly in the early stages of the disease, but they never stop having emotions and opinions and personal wants and needs—and we must never stop trying to listen to, understand, and act on them.”

When an aging parent’s plans for retirement are suddenly thrown into question by an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, it can take some time for everyone to work through complex emotions and recalibrate their expectations into an Alzheimer’s care plan. Open, honest communication is the key.

“Centering the person with memory loss in all of your family discussions can really help,” advises June O’Neill. “Let them lead the way whenever possible and always be honest with them and each other about what is possible. The needs of caregivers, family finances, and health may constrain their memory care choices but we all need to feel that we can choose how we live our lives.”

Find The Right Level Of Memory Care For Right Now

In the early stages of Alzheimer’s, life can continue normally with a few modifications to daily routines and living arrangements. Our memory care team routinely performs home assessments for people newly diagnosed with memory loss and with proper supports, many older adults can continue to live safely in their own homes for some time.

An important part of the positive approach to care is focusing on what can be done, not what can’t be done. If your dad had big travel plans, can the timeline for much-anticipated trips be moved up? Can new, less taxing destinations or helpful travel companions be found? If treasured hobbies are harder to enjoy, like woodworking, can he spend time observing in someone else’s workshop or visit a museum?

Even if your loved one can stay in their own home instead of in a memory care nursing home, access to outpatient memory care programming can be a great help. A helpful Alzheimer’s caregiver tip is to explore area programming for people with memory loss. These daily or weekly gatherings give caregivers some personal downtime while providing their loved ones with the chance to connect with other people facing similar challenges.

“I know there are fears and frustrations my husband hesitates to share with me,” admits the spouse of a participant. “When he goes to Mindful Connections, he is able to talk openly about his feelings in a different way. He comes home lighter, brighter, happier. Connecting with other people with memory loss reminds him that he is not alone.”

Make Plans for the Memory Care You Will Need in the Future

When should someone with Alzheimer’s go into care? The answer to this question will vary from person to person and from family to family. In general, when your loved one is no longer safe at home—or when keeping them safe at home becomes too difficult for their caregivers—it’s time to move into assisted living or memory care assisted living.

“Have a plan before you have a crisis,” advises Angie Hunt. “The best memory care and assisted living memory care nursing homes often have waitlists. If your mother is caring for your father with Alzheimer’s, what will you do if she has a bad fall or similar health emergency? Or if your father’s Alzheimer’s symptoms progress and his frustration turns into angry, disruptive behavior?”

For adult children who live far away from their parents, it is even more important to plan ahead. “You will want to carefully research and personally visit any memory care residence you are considering. The transition into assisted living for dementia can be challenging and may involve complicated tasks like downsizing possessions and selling the family home. Make sure your parents know that you need to begin making these critical decisions early, well before they are truly needed.”

Choosing Between Assisted Living or Memory Care?

Assisted living residences offer older adults help with the activities of daily living—like bathing, dressing, or driving. But while many older adults with memory loss also require this type of assistance, assisted living residences are not the same as memory care nursing homes.

Memory care nursing homes provide 24-hour care in environments carefully designed around the unique challenges of dementia and Alzheimer’s. From behind-the-scenes security and fluid layouts that minimize wandering and frustration to innovative programs and therapies, memory care nursing homes are specially designed to preserve and support cognitive functioning, personal choice, and overall wellbeing.

“If your loved one is in the early stages of memory loss, assisted living may be all they need,” says June O’Neill. “Knowing that most memory loss is progressive, however, you may want to look for an assisted living memory care residence with specialized memory care units or a community that offers both assisted living and memory care assisted living. Smooth transitions between levels of care in familiar surroundings can make a huge difference for people with memory loss.”

Meaningful Memory Care Activities For Older Adults With Alzheimer’s

Activities for dementia patients in assisted living vary widely from residence to residence. As you visit memory care nursing homes and speak with staff, ask about programs and cognitive therapies that are available onsite. Look for fitness facilities, puzzles, books, and games, safe areas for outdoor recreation like sensory gardens, and day spas. Ask to see weekly or monthly activity calendars and examples of community connection. And find out if staff personalize memory care activities to the interests and preferences of residents.

“Memory loss does not erase you,” says Angie Hunt. “Our memory care residents keep their personal passions—the ways in which they explore and express the change. We make sure activities for dementia patients in assisted living reflect their life stories and personal interests and make the most of their current abilities. Everyone needs to feel like their life has meaning and purpose.”

“One of the women in our Mindful Connections program used to run her own successful business before her dementia diagnosis,” adds Angie. “And while her illness accelerated her decision to retire, her leadership and organizational skills still shine. She still wakes up each morning excited to go to work. Her work? Helping our team! She encourages and motivates other program participants, she suggests fun and engaging activities, and she helps us set out and put away materials. She hasn’t missed a beat. She still has a job she loves and she looks forward to each new day.”

Memory loss means living in the moment. Make the most of it. To talk to a memory care specialist at The Cedars about memory care or memory care assisted living, call 207.221.7000 today. 

Healthy Tips for Older Adults in Assisted Living Facilities

For over 90 years, The Cedars has helped to transform aging. We have found a wonderful mix of activities, hobbies, and events that will keep you healthy during your stay at an assisted living facility.

When you move from aging in place to life in senior living communities, there is no need to slow down or stop enjoying treasured hobbies or activities. In fact, one of the biggest assisted living benefits is the way it frees older adults to pursue their passions in a safe, stress-free environment.

Ready to make the most of assisted living? Read on!

Healthy Aging Tips for Seniors

Staying Active in a Community for Older AdultsElderly Woman Partaking in Fitness at Assisted Living

Many older adults choose to move into senior living communities when they realize keeping up with housekeeping and the activities of daily living has become more difficult and less rewarding. Now that mowing the lawn, shoveling snow, and cleaning, dusting, laundry, and cooking are done by caring and committed staff, it can be tempting to become more sedentary.

“In an assisted living environment, focusing on fitness is a lot more fun!” says Sarah Martin, Lifestyles Manager at The Cedars. “One of the best healthy living tips for seniors is to keep moving. As we age, regular physical activity becomes even more important to our cardiovascular health—and our cardiovascular health directly impacts our cognitive functioning. To keep your body and mind at their best, you need to add regular physical activity to your schedule.”

“Older adults who use walkers or wheelchairs for mobility might think they can’t exercise,” Sarah adds. “Lifting arm weights or trying chair aerobics will raise your heart rate and increase your muscle mass. Talk to your personal physician and the staff at your senior living community about exercises that are safe for you.”

Regular exercise strengthens muscles, builds bone mass, improves cognition and immunity, and releases endorphins that boost your mood. Many activities for seniors in assisted living feature some form of physical exercise for all levels of physical fitness and mobility, from water aerobics to chair yoga. Try them all, find one that works for you, and keep doing it.

Creating a Healthy Routine

When you are aging in place, your daily routine is filled with errands, chores, and responsibilities. Once you move into senior living communities filled with services and amenities, your days can suddenly feel a lot longer. Without structure to your days, it can be easy to fall into unhealthy habits … or even into a mild depression.

Healthy aging tips for seniors emphasize that being mentally and physically engaged in our lives creates a sense of purpose and wellbeing. You have more free time now. Our advice to seniors? Use it to your fullest advantage.

“In our Households, residents choose when to wake, when to eat, and how to spend their days,” explains Angie Hunt, Administrator at The Cedars. “Our job is to offer them a wonderful range of choices and to support them in whatever they choose to do.”

Activities for seniors in an assisted living range from arts and crafts to cultural events to community service, religious observances, outdoor adventures, health and fitness classes, book and game clubs, cooking classes, and online college courses. Sign up for an old favorite or try something new! And if there is an activity you love that doesn’t appear on the schedule of your assisted living residence, ask to include it or start a group for it yourself.

Activities at senior living facilities can sometimes feel overwhelming. That’s okay! Quiet and reflective time for yourself is also important. “Set aside some time each day to connect with an old friend or a beloved family member,” suggests Melissa Weber, Life Enrichment Manager at The Cedars. “Write an email, schedule a Zoom call, or write a good, old-fashioned letter.”

Be social. The time we spend with friends raises our spirits and strengthens our sense of community. Arrange to meet friends in your assisted living facility for lunch, a cup of tea in the afternoon, or a glass of wine before dinner. And get a healthy amount of sleep. This can become more challenging as we age but good sleeping habits are critical to our mental and physical health.

And if you find yourself struggling to get into the groove at your senior living community, ask for help. Anxiety and depression are common ailments as we age and there are so many ways staff can help. Whether they offer advice, connect you with services, or simply lend a listening ear, they care about your overall health and wellbeing. 

Planning Fun Family Events

Many activities for seniors in assisted living are designed to encourage family involvement. Birthday and holiday celebrations, concerts and art shows, and more are usually open to family members and friends.

“When we are aging in place, family know when they are welcome in our homes,” Angie Hunt. “The move to a senior living community should not stop friendly drop-ins or standing Sunday dinners. A great healthy living tip for seniors is to make sure the people you love know that you would love to see them whenever possible.”

Many senior living communities have private dining rooms or lounges that can be reserved for family events and celebrations. Most meal plans will include a limited number of guest passes, and many holiday meals or events offer free or paid access to family members as well.

If there are times of day when you feel less social, let the people close to you know. And if there are items they can bring, activities they can do, or errands they can run to make your life easier, say so! You will be surprised at how many people in your life want to help you but are not sure how.

Whenever possible, attend events with family and friends outside of your senior living community. Many assisted living facilities offer transportation to and from essential errands and activities. Birthdays and anniversaries, weddings, graduations—go to as many celebrations as you can. A feeling of connection to the wider world can do wonders.

To see exceptional assisted living in action, visit The Osher Inn at The Cedars or learn more about our brand-new assisted living memory care household at The Sam L. Cohen Households at The Cedars.

Construction Update: July 2020

Construction for the Sam L. Cohen Households is progressing on schedule. The three stories are up and today the crew started installing the windows. It’s wonderful to see the Households coming to life, every day. The Households are expected to be completed by late November and we anticipate welcoming new residents in January 2021, after the licensing, inspections and certifications are in place. We will have three Households of 20 private residences each: Memory Care Assisted Living and two Skilled Nursing Care. For more information, call Kelli Cummings at 207-221-7192.

Making the Best of Social Distancing at The Atrium

Hello Friends of The Atrium,

Over the past few weeks, I’ve had some wonderful conversations with many of you about how you’re staying busy, active and connected as you stay safe at home.  In these conversations, many of you have asked how members at The Atrium are keeping healthy and engaged. Here are some examples of how we’re focusing on the positive and making this period of social distancing more enjoyable for everyone: 

  • Door-to-door visits to our members with afternoon treats, such as our chef-prepared margaritas and tostadas, or a glass of wine and a selection of hot hors d’ouevres
  • Our in-house exercise physiologist, Sarah, creates exercise videos of her Strength and Flexibility classes to share with the community, so members can stay fit at home. Check out one of Sarah’s classes HERE.
  • Links to video concerts such as one from a favorite concert pianist, Clare Longendyke. Click HERE to enjoy.
  • Weekly yoga classes continue with our long-time instructor, Jessica, who is doing live Zoom classes with our members  
  • Nick from Maine Audubon provides interactive Zoom presentations, just for our community. Most recently, the members enjoyed an active discussion with Nick on tropical birds

Although our members look forward to, once again, choosing from the many programs, concerts, classes, lectures and community excursions The Atrium calendar offers  – we’ve managed to keep life interesting and, more importantly, our members feel safe and well. Over the past few weeks, we’ve heard our members say, “I cannot think of a better place to be during this time.” And a recent email from a member reads, “Between the weekly cart, delicious meals (not flattening my curve), grocery assistance, online ideas from Sarah etc., etc. I thank you – and know for sure that I made the right choice moving to The Atrium.”

As the new Independent Living Advisor at The Atrium at The Cedars, I’m thrilled to bring my fifteen years of senior living experience in helping people select a new home. The Portland area has many different options, and the decision process can be complicated and confusing. One of the most important parts of my role is to help you with questions you may have about senior living and making a choice that is right for you. 

Take care and be well,

Kelli Cummings       
Senior Living Advisor, The Atrium at The Cedars

Construction Update: April 2020

Our journey towards the Sam L. Cohen Households is moving along. The foundation is in place along with the elevator supports and steel frame. PM Construction has been pleased with the warm winter weather and are on schedule for a completion at the end of 2020. The SLC Households will offer a new level of care for The Cedars, Memory Care Assisted Living with two additional skilled nursing care households. Each household will accommodate 20 residents in a home environment, with spacious common areas in the center including an open kitchen – open 24 hours per day –  dining area, living room, den, and a private dining room.  The residents will be the center of the home, making choices for how they live their lives. For more information on the Households, please call Katharine O’Neill at 207-221-7100, email ,  or visit Sam L. Cohen Households at The Cedars.

Making the Best of Social Distancing at The Cedars

In these days of social distancing and ‘stay safe at home’ orders, it’s critical to keep our residents connected to their loved ones and community, for happiness and overall well being.  As we have adapted and navigated our current situation under COVID-19, we want to take a moment to share some of the platforms, personal connections and virtual technology in place, as well as our approach to offering special events and activities. The satisfaction, fulfillment, health, and safety of our community members is our main objective and we look forward to a continued offering of enriching and enhancing programs and experiences.

Our traditional in-house activity programs have been transformed to virtual visits and programs on each neighborhood, in a more intimate setting and definitely at a distance. The residents are enjoying balloon tosses, current events, word games, room deliver treats, Ask Google! and Money-Monday-Bingo, just as they always have – just in smaller groups.  Many of our residents have been enjoying video chats with the neighborhood iPads with their loved ones, as well as ‘window visits’ where they spend safe, face-to-face time with their family members while maintaining the social distance that is so important. If you would like to schedule a ‘visit’ with your loved one – please call 221-7000 between 8:30AM and 3:30PM, Monday through Friday. 

At The Cedars, we’re making the best of this ‘new normal’. Many thanks to our amazing staff and the wonderful family members who have supported our community – we are stronger together.   

Closer to Home: Construction Update

Our construction Team, PM Construction, continues to make steady progress on The Sam L. Cohen Households.The second elevator shaft is being completed and they have started the installation of the under slab utilities and perimeter drainage as well.  We marvel in each piece of the project, as it takes us closer to home for our residents. And we look forward to offering the new level of care, Memory Care Assisted Living in addition to Skilled Nursing Care in our three Households, with only 20 residents each in a private, home environment. For more information, call 221-7100 today.


Intergenerational Connections: Creative Storytelling at The Cedars

On December 7, 2020, Falmouth High School (FHS) students, residents of The Cedars, and local artists gathered for An Intergenerational Celebration of Puppetry, Storytelling, and Musicthe culmination of a four-month long project in collaboration between FHS, The Cedars, and Figures of Speech Theatre.
Ian Bannon, Director of Education at Figures of Speech Theatre, designed and directed the project and performance around a series of creative storytelling sessions with residents living with dementia at The Cedars. Using TimeSlips, a collaborative ritual storytelling format designed for adults with cognitive challenges, residents draw on subconscious or implicit memories to tell stories. When it becomes challenging to recollect, residents are encouraged to move seamlessly from their memory to their imagination.
FHS students in teacher, Dede Waite’s, theater classes traveled to The Cedars to guide this storytelling and rehearsal process—and to get to know these warm, wonderful, creative older adults.
Bannon and Devon Kelley-Yurdin, a visual artist and community organizer, helped students and residents as they transformed their TimeSlips stories into shadow puppet plays. FHS students in music teacher Jake Sturtevant’s composition class created original scores for each performance. In hands-on shadow puppetry workshops, students and residents worked side-by-side to polish each short vignette and prepare for the student performances of the finished pieces.
The authentic personal connections and new skills formed over the previous four months were evident during the vibrant student performances, applauded by an engaged, appreciative audience of residents, their families, and members of the community.

This program was funded in part by a grant from the Maine Arts Commission, an independent state agency supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.