Maintaining Identity in the Face of Old Age

We spend a lifetime building our identity: Discovering our hidden talents, realizing what we’re passionate about, deciding who we want to become and coming to terms with what we have accomplished. It’s a highly personal experience and it can take years. Then, almost suddenly, the time comes when we’ve lived through what is considered our “prime,” and the identities we’ve built are challenged by the changes that come with growing older. 

It can feel unfamiliar at times, especially as appearances change or new physical limitations make it harder to participate in hobbies. For older adults, it’s particularly important to understand how these changes start to affect self-perception and self-esteem—and find the balance between holding on to what makes us who we are and accepting how our identities may change.

Here are a few things worth thinking about if growing older begins to interfere with your sense of self:

Adjusting to Life After a Career

Many of us spend the majority of our life working full-time, whether we’re working in an office, caring for our children or something else entirely. And while many people look forward to having more free time in retirement, the adjustment can be jarring as we come to grips with just how much free time we really have. It’s normal to base your identity on what you do for a living—you probably spend dozens of hours a week at work, after all. So, while adjusting to life in retirement, it’s important to find new ways of feeling accomplished. That is, in many ways, what we cling to in our careers and families. Some ways to achieve this might be through volunteering in your community, finding new projects to work on (and see to the end!) and mentoring or tutoring younger people.  

Contending with Grief or Loss:

Is your attitude on life a core piece of how you see yourself? Or, in even other words, do you feel your personality defines you? Most of us probably answered yes—though, it’s okay if you didn’t. Either way, when we experience grief or deep feelings of loss, we may notice our outlook starts to change—but, when it doesn’t simply “snap back” like we thought it would, we may start to feel out of touch with who we are. When this happens, it’s important to understand how to ask for help. Depending on what you feel, you may benefit from a spiritual advisor, life coach or therapist. In many cases, contending with grief is more about feeling at peace and finding ways to enjoy the things we used to.

Adapting to Physical Changes

You wake up to get ready for the day and it hits you like a ton of bricks: those crow’s feet weren’t there yesterday… were they? Is that hip pain new, or are you just now noticing it? The cold weather sure isn’t helping—but, wait, when did that start being an issue? Changes in appearance may start out gradually or come on suddenly, but when it becomes a burden, it can leave us feeling less confident or less secure. This can be complicated to grapple with, but it’s important to find ways to keep up your self-esteem. Much of this shift is internal and may rely on placing value on what’s on the inside. Some ideas for keeping your sense of self in the face of physical changes might include holding onto your favorite style (even if you’re confronted with criticism about what’s “age-appropriate”) or pampering yourself with a spa day. There are many ways to preserve identity despite physical changes, but the goal is to seek things that make you feel your best.

In the end, one thing to keep in mind about our identities is that they have always changed as we reach new milestones in life.

As teenagers, we learn how to outgrow childhood and welcome responsibility. As young adults, we spend years trying to discover our “purpose,” like starting a family or finding success in our careers. In middle age, some of us face the fact that we must let our children find their independence as adults—and forfeit the piece of our identity we dedicated to them. Our identities have never been set in stone, yet we all adapt. The changes we face in our golden years are no different.

This article was written by Greta Iverson and submitted by Pivot Communication on behalf of Wingate Healthcare to be published in the Weston Town Crier

The Cork’s Classic Crème Brûlée Recipe

If you’re looking for an easy and impressive dessert, look no further. Crème brûlée is a classic dessert everyone can enjoy and, even better, it brings a little theater into your dining experience with a torched sugar top. What’s nice about this dish is that you can prepare it days in advance, so you’re not left scrambling last minute to get a dessert together.

The earliest known recipe for crème brûlée dates back hundreds of years, although its exact origins are hotly debated. Regardless, this sweet custard dessert is enjoyed by people around the world, including patrons at The Cork. We’ve offered crème brûlée on our menu for decades—both classic vanilla and other seasonal flavors, like pumpkin!

Try making it at home with this simple yet decadent recipe:

The Cork’s Classic Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée (serves 8)

Prep time: 15 – 25 minutes
Cook time: 45 – 60 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cups half and half
  • 12 egg yolks
  • 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract

Instructions

1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
2. Combine the half and half with the heavy cream in a large saucepot until hot, but not boiling.
3. Separate the eggs and combine the yolks with the sugar and vanilla.
4. Slowly mix your egg, sugar and vanilla mixture with the hot cream mixture.

TIP: Be sure to do this slowly and carefully to avoid cooking the eggs. The goal is to bring everything up to temperature without scrambling your eggs!

5. Place 8 ramekins in a baking dish, then add room temperature or warm water to the baking dish until its ramekins are about halfway submerged.
6. Pour the custard mixture into the ramekins, leaving about ¼ inch at the top.

TIP: For the best presentation, wipe up any spills or drops on the side of the ramekins.

7. Cover each ramekin with foil and bake at 375 for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Cooking varies, you’ll need to keep an eye on them.

TIP: Custard is done when there is a slight area in the middle size of a quarter that isn’t quite done. The custard will still be a little jiggly and the color will be pale with no browning.

8. Remove and let chill in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours until set.

When ready to serve:

1. Remove from the fridge just before serving and spread a tablespoon of sugar on each while still cold.

TIP: any granulated sugar will work, although we recommend turbinado or raw sugar for taste.

2. Caramelize the sugar top with a blow torch. Hold the torch a few inches above the crème brûlée and only torch until it’s lightly brown.

TIP: If you’re less familiar with using a blow torch, try practicing beforehand—or, make it an interactive dining experience by letting your guests torch their own!

This post was written by Greta Iverson and published by Pivot Communication on behalf of the Boulder Cork

Behind the Scenes: Infamous Cork Pranks

There are a lot of moving parts to making an unforgettable meal, and what happens behind the scenes often goes unnoticed. Yes, there’s a lot of hard work — hours spent perfecting every detail, polishing every glass, preparing every dish. But, like any job, there are a few fun and games.

After 50 years in business, Cork staff have enjoyed their fair share of pranks. If you’ve ever worked in a restaurant, you’ve probably had your share of fun, too. Maybe your bartender poured a martini into a wine glass or your line cook “garnished” your mashed potatoes with a berry. But if you’re the one dining out, you probably never see these silly stunts—your knowledgeable server knows better than to bring something to your table that isn’t right.

However, some of the shenanigans that go on behind the scenes are just too good to not share. Here are a couple of the most infamous pranks ever pulled at the Cork:

Here’s what happened…

“The waiter would come up to the table, introducing himself—‘My name is so-and-so, I’ll be your server tonight.’ (The usual). Then, he’d grab a water glass and start filling it, and boom! The bottom of the glass falls out and the whole glass of water spills on the table.”

And here’s how they did it…

When the Cork first opened, all the glasses were actually wine bottles cut in half. Fun fact: we did that all in-house, out behind the restaurant! But what you need to know about wine bottles is that they aren’t made out of tempered glass, so they aren’t designed to handle sudden temperature changes.

To make a splash, back waiters would reset tables with nice, clean glasses, fresh out of the dishwasher and piping hot. When the server went up to greet their guests with ice-cold water, the temperature would put too much stress on the glass and cause it to crack or break. Since wine bottles are thicker than an average drinking glass, they can hold heat a little longer, so even if it’s been five minutes since the glass came out of the dishwasher, it could still be warm enough to make this prank possible.

Needless to say, we’ve since switched to traditional glassware, so no one will be getting a lap of ice water any time soon.

So, the story goes like this…

“The server would serve the beef kabob by taking the meat and vegetables off the skewer, then he realized they were hotdogs. The customers are looking like ‘what is this?’”

This is how it was even possible…

Service was different when the Cork still had a salad bar. Back then, guests would head to the salad bar, grab a large plate and assemble their salad. When entrées came out, steaks were served directly onto the salad plate. The waiter would bring out a large serving plate with all orders and distribute each steak to the appropriate guest.

Wondering how a server could miss a pile of hotdogs on a tray of high-quality steaks? Well, some cooks were clever enough to build the plate so it disguised the hotdog kabobs—until it was too late. With a heavy tray of steaks and a hungry group of guests waiting, it’s not hard to believe those kabobs made it to the table now and then.

Today the Cork provides fine dining service, which means you get a clean plate every time. Unless you smuggle one in, you won’t be seeing a “hotdog kabob” for dinner.

All jokes aside…

We love our staff and we love seeing them have fun, even when they’re silly. It’s what makes our jobs so fun! But, in the end, our favorite pranks are the ones that never leave the service area. Our guests come first, and their experience is everything to us. That’s what makes these pranks so “infamous” around here—they made it to the table. Considering we’ve been the go-to steakhouse in Boulder for 50 years, we’re proud to say we don’t often have service blunders to highlight, funny or otherwise.

If you want to hear about more of our staff hijinks, we’d love to sit down and reminisce with you! The Cork is open Monday through Sunday; contact us or make a reservation today.

This post was originally written by Greta Iverson and published by Pivot Communication LLC. on behalf of the Boulder Cork.

Breaking Down Ageism: What Older Adults Should Know

Everyone gets older, but no one wants to be “old.” Despite extensive research showing most older adults grow happier as they age, with a steady increase starting at age 50 and continuing past age 90, many people still view aging as a bad thing. The reason for this? Ageism—the discrimination against people based on their age, and one of the most normalized forms of prejudice today.

Ageism Isn’t Always Easy to Identify

Ageism can take many forms and isn’t always as obvious as one might assume. And older adults aren’t the only ones who deal with it; whether it’s “entitled millennials,” or “selfish baby boomers,” almost every age group has their share of negative stereotypes.

What’s unique about ageism against older adults is that different age groups have different ideas of what’s “old.”  If you ask a 15-year-old and a 60-year-old what age they’d consider “old,” you’ll probably have two different answers to think about. But deciding who qualifies as old isn’t the issue here—the real problem is when a younger person, whatever their age, mistreats an older person simply because they’re older.

This Mistreatment Has Major Consequences

If you’ve ever been treated poorly for what seems like no reason, then you’re probably familiar with the negative side effects it can have. At the very least, it’s uncomfortable. But ageism is more than just being the butt of a bad joke from time to time. One common form of ageism is “elderspeak,” or talking to older adults as if they’re children.


Adults report feeling happier each decade after age 50, yet many people still have negative perceptions of aging. Thankfully, there are many ways older adults can challenge these stereotypes.

Many people don’t even realize the stereotypes they believe about older adults cause them to act demeaning, but by treating older people as frail, incompetent, confused or sick, seniors can lose motivation and self-respect.

Research has shown that being ignored and underestimated as a result of ageist attitudes can lead to higher rates of depression, mistreatment from healthcare professionals and shortened lifespans.

Older Adults Can Redefine Older Adulthood

Even if it feels like ageism is inescapable, seniors have a lot of power to change assumptions about what it means to grow old. While it isn’t the responsibility of older adults to tackle ageism, there are still many things you can do to challenge perceptions and reframe conversations about aging.

Here are three simple ways you can disrupt negative stereotypes about life as an older adult

  1. Socialize with people of all ages

    Most folks tend to surround themselves with others in their own age group, but expanding your network to include people much younger—or significantly older—than you is a good first step to breaking down barriers between generations.

    Attending community events, volunteering for local causes and visiting with grandchildren are just a few ways to strengthen intergenerational connections.

  2. Resist the urge to make age an embarrassing topic

    Referring to every lost train-of-thought as a “senior moment” isn’t doing anyone any favors. Today’s seniors can send the message that there’s nothing wrong with growing old by simply embracing elderhood.

    By planning for future care needs and actively communicating end-of-life wishes, seniors can unearth the idea that growing old means losing independence.

  3. Know when to draw the line

    There’s no reason to accept abuse as normal. Of course, taking the high road is the first choice, but that doesn’t mean you can’t speak up when peers, loved ones or total strangers are making assumptions about you or anyone else based on their age—young or old. It’s often easier said than done, but standing up to discrimination is dually effective by preventing future abuse and empowering those around you.

    By speaking out against someone who may be acting ageist, you can force them to rethink their actions and possibly even stop themselves from doing it again. Meanwhile, standing up for yourself or another person can be inspiring to those around you who don’t feel as confident to speak up when they’re being put down.

This post was originally written by Greta Iverson and published by Pivot Communication LLC on behalf of Golden West Senior Living

Evidence-Based Practices Combined With Program Fidelity Produce Reliable Reentry Transition Programs

While evidence-based practices (EBP) are held as the “gold standard” in criminal justice reentry practices, the long-term success of a program using EBP depends on whether those practices are continuously measured and assessed long after implementation. Criminal justice researchers have found that community transition programs designed with integrity can only be effective if they maintain program fidelity, meaning they adhere to their original framework. In this way, EBP and program fidelity work together, and one without the other is challenged to produce effective program results.

How Evidence-based Practices Need Program Fidelity

The Needs Principle requires that transition programs designed with EBP respond to criminogenic needs. Programs may last several months based on an individual’s number and level of criminogenic needs. Individual and group cognitive behavioral therapy, substance abuse treatment, parenting, anger management, employment readiness, life skills training and housing needs are directly considered. However, even a program implemented with EBP can, over time, become less effective if program fidelity standards are not consistently met.

Maintaining program fidelity requires constant analysis and oversight, a challenging task to which many organizations struggle to allocate necessary resources. Eventually, if program fidelity is not maintained, programs designed with EBP diminish and fail to make an impact on the individuals they serve.

How GEO Reentry Maintains Program Fidelity

GEO Reentry has been implementing evidence-based programs to help individuals change their criminal thinking for almost three decades, and maintains program fidelity through significant investment in program development with the support of industry experts, as well as in-house training and research teams. What sets GEO Reentry apart from other providers is its fully implemented, well-

“We measure program impact in three different ways,” GEO Reentry Non-Residential Reentry Center Vice President John Thurston said. “First, we look at the quality of the programming, measured through adherence to the principles of effective intervention. Second, we regularly review intermediate outcome measures that give us real-time feedback on program impact at each reentry center.  Third is the longitudinal impact, which is recidivism—are they returning to the criminal justice system?”regulated system of collecting and measuring information about all program participants as they move through each phase of the program.

Using a Consistent Internal Quality Assurance Process

GEO Reentry’s program managers, who oversee operations at each center, and area managers, who support these individuals, meet regularly to review participant files and provide feedback to counselors and facilitators. By using consistent forms and reporting methods, each center is evaluated by uniform data standards. Internally, GEO Reentry’s operations team has a separate department to review program fidelity. Qualified practitioners with decades of experience in the field evaluate programs and facilities, and report back in real-time.

For external reviews, GEO Reentry will, from time to time, contract with a University of Cincinnati Corrections Institute (UCCI) trained consultant to conduct a Correctional Program Checklist (CPC), one of the most rigorous and reliable evaluations for program effectiveness in the criminal justice field.

“In my discussions with thought leaders in the industry, I’ve been told, If I want to know if a program is effective, I want to see what their CPC score is. If their CPC score is ‘high adherence’ to evidence-based practices, then I will know, by definition, they’re having an impact on behavior and reducing recidivism,” Thurston said.

Reviewing Intermediate Outcomes

Measuring criminal thinking scores and LSI-R scores before and after a participant is enrolled in a GEO Reentry program indicates whether the program is effective and by how much.

“Conducting a pre-treatment LSI-R assessment and post-treatment LSI-R gives us the ability to see if we reduced risk of recidivism,” Thurston explained. “The same holds for TCU’s Criminal Thinking Scales self-assessment tool.”

There are multiple ways to measure intermediate outcomes, including participant sobriety tests, employment gains, and why a participant was discharged from a program. Managers look for negative drug screens, current employment status and successful program completions to indicate the program’s impact overall.

Monitoring Final Results for Program Success

Using intermediate outcomes reports and continuing to measure programmatic impact, GEO Reentry staff can accurately determine an individual’s risk for recidivating. This continued dedication to monitoring outcomes and measuring data is a major differentiator for their evidence-based programming, Thurston explained.

“It’s important to me to show results,” Thurston said. “I want to be able to demonstrate to community stakeholders, through fidelity audits, intermediate outcomes and recidivism comparisons, that our programming does make a difference and contributes to improved public safety.”

This article was assigned to Greta Iverson and published by Pivot Communication LLC on behalf of GEO Reentry Services

5 Retirement Expenses Americans Forget to Budget For

Most working Americans spend their lives planning for retirement, but even smart, diligent folks can forget to account for certain expenses or underestimate how much they’ll need. As a result, some people have to change their retirement plans just to make ends meet.

See how your financial plan stacks up: Based on insights from financial planning experts combined with firsthand accounts from our residents, we’ve compiled a list of the top five hidden expenses people wish they hadn’t forgotten during retirement planning.

Does your retirement budget account for these common costs?

1. Healthcare: Out-of-pocket costs

Many people assume Medicare will pay for all the care they need in retirement, but with several gaps in drug coverage and routine care, Medicare recipients find themselves covering more expenses out of pocket than they initially anticipated. Part B covers about 80 percent of routine and preventative care but doesn’t contribute to check-ups or treatments for common care needs like dental, vision and hearing.

To continue getting dental check-ups and eye exams when you’re over 65, you’ll need to add Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C), a supplemental plan offered through private insurers. Even though Part C is optional, and comes with added premiums, few older adults can afford to exclude the important coverage it provides. More than 90 percent of folks in their 50s require corrective lenses and about a quarter of people aged 65 to 74 have dental disease classified as severe. And if you’re one of the 48 million Americans with hearing loss, you’ll need to budget accordingly for hearing aids and associated costs; Medicare Advantage will only cover part of the cost of a hearing aid, which can cost anywhere from $2,300 to well over $20,000.

Apart from out-of-network expenses, it’s important to set aside flexible savings to cover premiums and coinsurance and accommodate for inflation. In 2018, Fidelity estimated couples retiring at age 65 would need $280,000 in savings just for medical and healthcare costs—a number that has steadily increased since their first report in 2002.

2. Homeownership: Unpredictable upkeep

Housing costs are often the single largest monthly expense for people of any age. Even if you own your home, increasing property taxes and home maintenance costs can make it difficult to predict financial needs in the long-term. While most people hope to see their property values go up, this can be a big problem for retired folks on a fixed income. As the profile of your neighborhood grows, so do property taxes. Although property taxes rarely take a sharp, unforeseeable turn, they can mount up to a significant expense and deferral is not guaranteed for all retirees.

The cost of home maintenance is another unanticipated financial burden some homeowners fail to plan for. It’s recommended that you set aside 1 to 4 percent of your home’s value each year to cover the cost of replacing a roof, heating system or other possible expenses. This still may not be enough to pay for possible remodeling projects to make your home safer, like updating flooring choices to have more traction or adding to your electrical system for more indoor and outdoor lighting.

For those already considering downsizing to a condo or apartment, mandatory Homeowner’s Association (HOA) rules—and their associated fees—can be difficult to live with. While The Avenues at Crofton Park doesn’t charge its residents HOA fees, some developments do impose an additional fee to cover community upkeep. These expenses aren’t always regulated, either, since some HOAs lack the appropriate reserve funding to pay for large projects like installing a new HVAC system or elevator. If you’re considering moving to a development that charges HOA fees, make sure to review the fine print prior to making a commitment.

3. Grandchildren: Expensive expectations

We love our families more than anything, so it’s no wonder we want to be there for them always. Whether it’s spoiling them rotten with gifts or footing the bill on life’s big expenses, forgetting to include non-necessities in financial planning may catch up with you later. As problems with the economy have made it harder for younger generations to afford everyday living, it’s become more common for young people to turn to their parents for help. This can put a strain on grandparents, too, who are increasingly being asked to dip into their rainy-day funds to help their family avoid dire situations.

Apart from these more significant investments, general gift-giving can get expensive. No one wants to miss seeing their loved one walk down the aisle but traveling to a destination wedding or sending the bride and groom something off their registry might not have been a line item in your retirement fund. There’s no need to skip the celebration or live on a shoestring budget for months leading up to the reception. Instead, try to set aside some modest savings to spend on your loved ones later.

4. Leisure: Bucket list blues

The average retiree spends about $197 on monthly leisure costs, which is a manageable price tag for keeping busy. But, if you were planning on doing more in retirement, like traveling the world, getting your pilot’s license or restoring a vintage car, you’ll need significantly more than a couple hundred bucks to make your dream come true.

Not everyone has such grand plans, but for those who do, you’ll need to talk with a financial planner to ensure your retirement funds and any other income sources are enough to tackle things on your bucket list without coming up short on cash later in retirement.

5. Care: Long-term or in-home services

Because it’s difficult to imagine needing assistance with things we’ve been doing our entire adult lives, it’s common to under-plan for the cost of long-term care needs. Breakthroughs in modern medicine and preventative care are leading to longer, happier lives. We have more centenarians than ever before, and more people are enjoying fulfilling lifestyles well into their 70s, 80s and 90s. However, there’s one caveat to consider: necessary funds to accommodate your longer lifespan. The savings plan you had for a 20- or 25- year retirement may end up getting stretched over more than 30 years or get reallocated to accommodate sudden changes in medical costs.

Although Medicare Part A and B will help with any acute care, like short hospital stays or even skilled nursing needs, it may not contribute to private in-home care after the fact. Should your care needs change, either suddenly or slowly over time, it will be necessary to understand what you can afford in the long term. This is a highly unpredictable expense, with no way to know if it will ever apply to you or your spouse, but just because it seems unlikely doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared. Additionally, if at some point you have to adapt your home to meet accessibility needs (e.g. adding a ramp, lift or fixtures, widening doors, etc.), that can be a significant expense as well. One thing you can do in early retirement to defray future costs is invest in long-term care insurance. The younger you are when you invest, the more likely you’ll be to get approved and secure a discount on premiums.

Retirement is full of surprises, but with a little forethought and planning, retirement expenses don’t have to catch you off guard. We wish you health, happiness and independence during your golden years.

This post was written by Greta Iverson and published by Pivot Communication LLC. on behalf of The Avenues Crofton Park

Simplify your move to 55+ living with Bridge-to-Sell

Timing is a common concern for older adults who are planning to move to a 55+ community. Many folks feel uneasy about moving when they haven’t yet sold their home. At the same time, they worry that if they delay signing a lease until their home is sold, space may no longer be available at their chosen community.

The Avenues Crofton Park developed its unique Bridge-to-Sell program to give seniors the option to reserve an apartment or cottage without having to pay rent immediately. Our program helps those who have decided to retire at The Avenues Crofton Park, but need some additional time to sell their house or downsize their belongings before moving in.

Bridge-to-Sell helps people transition from their home to our 55+ community

“It was a wonderful comfort for me to not be scrambling for a place at the same time I was leaving San Diego”

Since The Avenues Crofton Park started offering the Bridge-to-Sell program, we’ve been able to help more people achieve peace of mind while planning their retirement at our community. About one-third of our current residents used the Bridge-to-Sell program to manage their move-in date. One of the program’s early beneficiaries is Marti, who moved in to The Avenues in August 2018 after opting in to the Bridge-to-Sell program in May 2018.

“I wanted an independent living situation, so I came over and checked out The Avenues and was really pleased,” Marti said. “It seemed to fit exactly what I was looking for. But I had yet to unload 30 years of stuff from my house, and I hadn’t put my house on the market.”

When she learned about the option to secure the exact apartment she wanted and choose a flexible move-in date, Marti felt relieved.

“The Bridge-to-Sell program was very helpful. It was a wonderful comfort for me to not be scrambling for a place at the same time I was leaving San Diego,” she said. “To have things in order and not have to make additional decisions while you’re in transit is a huge help.”

The benefits of choosing Bridge-to-Sell when planning your move

It can feel overwhelming to sign a lease if you don’t know exactly when your home might sell. Conversely, if you wait until your home is sold to sign a lease, you may feel pressure to act as quickly as possible without adequately weighing your options. For seniors who have decided to live at The Avenues, the Bridge-to-Sell program helps alleviate some of the planning and stress associated with timing their moves.

While it depends on the market, a home typically sells around two months after it’s listed. With our Bridge-to-Sell program, you can pick exactly which apartment or cottage you want to live in and choose your move-in date, even if it’s weeks out. The unit is guaranteed to be there for you when you’re ready.

This post was written by Greta Iverson and published by Pivot Communication LLC on behalf of The Avenues Crofton Park