Written by Maria Sonnenberg | For FLORIDA TODAY, March 12, 2013

One Senior Place hosts annual event March 22

Harry and Jeanne Gianneschi, Melbourne, meet with Kathi Ridner, director of One Senior Place. / Photo illustration by RIK JESSE/FLORIDA TODAY

Former Air Force pilot Robert Hill needed a little assistance flying through life as he aged. Open heart surgery in 2008, Parkinson’s disease and fractures to the jaw, shoulder, elbow, hip and femur, left this member of the Greatest Generation in need of help.Hill’s daughter, Cathy McArthur, placed him in a nursing home near her house, but things did not go smoothly and her dad was not receiving the one-on-one care McArthur believed he needed. She contacted One Senior Place to find a facility where his dad could thrive in his later years. Armed with information, the family decided on Salus Assisted Living in West Melbourne.

“I cannot say enough good things about Salus,” said McArthur, who appreciated the fact that the staff at the retirement facility cared enough about her dad even to connect him with an airplane of sorts.

“At a yard sale a few doors down from Salus, they bought a huge airplane kite,” she said. “When I arrived that evening for a visit, my dad said ‘we bought an airplane today!’ How fun, and it’s just an example of how dedicated these folks are to making their residents feel at home and allowing them to ‘have a life.’ I credit the staff at One Senior Place for the connection.”

Hill was fortunate to find an environment that could help him overcome the physical challenges of aging, and also inspire him to continue enjoying life. Not everyone is so lucky. As Hill’s family will attest, the realities of retirement can be difficult hurdles for seniors and their loved ones to surmount.

“Most people don’t really know what the retirement options can be,” said Kathi Ridner, director of One Senior Place in Viera. “Most of them stay in their homes far beyond the time when they should consider moving.”

Because housing is the No. 1 concern of visitors to One Senior Place, the Suntree one-stop senior shop is hosting Senior Living Options Day, an annual event that combines fun activities with detailed information on living opportunities that will keep the golden years untarnished.

Scheduled from noon to 5 p.m. on March 22, Senior Living Options Day offers a microscopic examination of available living resources for the elderly.

“We help people select the right living option for them,” Ridner said. “We demystify the issue and get to the core. Finding the right place to live seems to be the biggest issue for seniors. People tend to downplay that aspect of retirement but it is truly the most important part of aging, and not all facilities are created equal.”

As part of its free services, One Senior Place also offers a one-on-one consultation with the seniors and their families to help them determine the best living arrangements for their health and mental welfare.

“I would certainly recommend anyone in need of information regarding the future of their elderly loved ones to visit One Senior Place,” said retired U.S. Army Colonel Jerry Stansfield, who sought out the service to help her 85-year-old aunt make the right decision when choosing a place to call home.

Although the goal of Senior Living Options Day is a very serious one, the day is nevertheless wrapped in entertainment that includes giveaways and door prizes, including the chance to win a 47-inch flat screen television. The first 100 attendees will receive special door prize tickets.

A celebrity chef competition will let the public decide — through generous samplings — which chef from local senior communities should walk off with bragging rights for tasty recipes.

Three workshops will explore subjects of interest to seniors. At 1 p.m., the discussion will center on helping seniors understand their best options and to be aware of the range of senior housing facilities available in Brevard. At 2:30 p.m., board certified elder law attorney William Johnson will discuss Veterans Administration benefits to help veterans and their surviving spouses pay for in-home care or assisted living. The last program of the day, at 3:15 p.m., will be an expert panel discussion that includes professionals in the fields of real estate, long-term care insurance and veterans’ benefits.

“Most people want to stay in their own homes as they age, but suddenly they realize that it’s really not working out for them,” Ridner said. “They realize they can’t keep up with maintenance and that buying groceries and cooking has become very difficult for them. They might not be able to drive anymore and they may no longer have too many connections with others. Finding the right senior living option for them can keep them healthier, happier and independent longer. I’ve met people who’ve moved to a senior community and they tell me they don’t know why they didn’t do it sooner.”

Link to original article source: http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20130313/BEST01/303130001/Center-helps-seniors-weigh-housing-options?nclick_check=1 

For more information about Senior Living Options Day at One Senior Place, click here.

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