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Aging Well

The reinvention of retirement is here. From cocktail hours and lavish group getaways to high-tech communities and continuing education courses, there is so much to look forward to.
By D Partner Studio |
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At the beginning of one’s career, retirement seems too far away to plan for it. And there is much to accomplish between now and then, anyway. Life becomes busy, and the to-do list seems endless. Those in good health who managed to plan and save for retirement in between life’s milestones, such as job changes, promotions, weddings, children, and moves, have a good shot at the opportunity design their retirement exactly as they wish. If saving for retirement didn’t make it to the top of the to-list, it’s time to reprioritize. There is a lot to love about today’s retirement living options, making it even more critical to work with a financial planner and stay committed to a plan so that retirement is something to look forward to, rather than a stage of life to fear.

For years, senior living communities have been planning for the arrival of Baby Boomers, as they are next in line to make the move. Whether these communities are rebranding, remodeling, or in development, they are positioning themselves to serve a new generation of residents who are tech-savvy, educated, well-traveled, and accustomed to service and choice. “Developers are recognizing there is a silver tsunami coming our way as Baby Boomers are looking at options that will enhance their retirement years,” says Mike Hughes, managing director of Watermark Retirement Communities. “Today’s communities aren’t the traditional retirement communities or nursing homes that many remember. Many communities are following what cruise lines have done for years by offering an abundance of variety.”  

Inflation and a looming recession have upended the economy, leaving those who are newly retired and soon-to-retire panicked about the losses in their portfolios—the savings that will fund this life of fun and freedom. Those who are 10 to 15 years from retirement are also impacted, as there is little time to make up for the losses. Wealth managers with RGT Wealth Advisors have been educating their clients about what is happening in this volatile economy and about the next steps to take as the market adjusts.

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Matt Krauss, managing director at RGT, says he has been fielding questions and concerns about the overall economy from his clients for more than a year. It is a time unlike few others in history, he says, and a resetting is taking place. “We are seeing one of the worst years for diversified portfolios in 70 or 80 years,” Krauss says. “The silver lining is, if the math works at the end of this year, for those planning to retire soon, the potential for success—however you define that—has gone up.”

The primary reason for this, Krauss says, is the price of assets—both stocks and bonds—have come down significantly since the fall and winter of last year. Knowing this, he often advises clients to generate income from what is usually considered safer assets—fixed income assets or bonds that now offer interesting yields that are well in excess of long-term inflation forecasts. “From a saver’s perspective, as long as you have been able to survive a lot of the carnage, so to speak, you are set up from a forward-looking basis to not take a lot of risk,” he says. “That’s the first time we can say something like this in over 15 years. Some of the best times to retire can be in the depths of a recession or in a market decline. If the math works, you have mitigated a lot of your timing risks. We recognize that getting from last fall to here has been painful. We are actually getting more excited about the ability to compound money into the foreseeable future. For those who are budget conscious and good savers, it’s a positive.”

“Whether you are early or late to the retirement savings party, you need to start with a balance sheet and a budget. Determine what your needs are and marry that with the investment side to see if your investments are in line with your needs.”


Steve Novak, RGT Wealth Advisors

Mark McClanahan, managing director at RGT, says he has worked with most of his clients for more than 30 years, meaning that many of them are now retired or are retiring soon. The current market is the fourth bear market he has worked through, and he has noticed that many of his clients have expressed concern when they check their accounts and see them down as much as 10% to even 30%. “This has been a very deep sell-off,” he says. “This is nearing 2008 levels. We have a lot of wealth loss because stocks were already inflated. Sadly, too many people sell and give up, hoping the market comes back. From our standpoint, that approach usually ends badly. You want to be a patient investor and focus on the long term. How do you do that? By looking at a financial plan of financial model and focusing on the next decade and beyond. I tell my clients that I know things are difficult right now but let’s look at a plan and see how we are still on track—and I haven’t seen any plans from my clients that are off track yet. We will likely see a bear market once every 10 years. Those who trade in and trade out are having a hard time staying in.” 

Deb Outlaw, a Certified Financial Planner with Perryman Financial Advisory, says funding retirement is only one aspect of long-term planning. She has her clients consider things that aren’t necessarily on the balance sheet or income statement, such as current liabilities, potential liabilities, relationships, interests, and hobbies. “Use your last few working years, if you can, for mental stimulation. Stay active and engaged and use this as time to pursue your interests, or try new hobbies, so the change in routine isn’t such a shock after you retire,” Outlaw says. 

Liabilities for new retirees may include funding older children more than they can realistically afford once they stop working. Outlaw’s advice to her clients in this situation is straightforward: “Look at weaning them off the payroll while you can,” she says. Family and friends can be a non-financial asset when it comes to emotional and social support in retirement, especially when researching long-term care or assisted living options and making big decisions. “When people have worked all their lives, often their only relationships are those they have with people at work,” Outlaw says. “When they retire, they find they don’t really know anyone. I encourage clients to start building and strengthening their relationships with family and friends now, rather than after retirement.” 

Those who haven’t saved for retirement and are hoping their children can kick in financially may find themselves navigating a slippery slope. “If you are a child who is paying for the long-term care costs of a parent, you are likely not going to be happy because it also affects your life and your own retirement,” McClanahan says. “It takes a lot of your time and money. When you are writing checks every month for $6,000 or more, it is the same amount as a private education for your own child and then some.” Everything comes back to having a financial plan, he says. “We have no idea what the market is going to do, but we can help people project their expenses, and the one thing we can control is what we pay monthly, and that includes having long-term care savings,” he says.

“Plan for your retirement years while you have the capacity—not when there is a crisis, and you can no longer make your wishes known.” 

Olivia Rogers, VNA of Texas

Steve Novak, managing director at RGT Wealth Advisors, says older adults with the financial means to financially support their parents in retirement should also consider the gift and estate tax consequences. Working with an experienced manager will help keep the estate protected. “Wealthy older children need to be careful about sending assets upstream from a gift and estate tax perspective,” Novak says. “It is fine to give to your parents exactly how much they need to spend. If you give more in a lump sum, you are risking your gift tax exemption. The assets could come back to you through your parents, and you could create a double taxation situation.”

Long-term care insurance is a topic that is met with a variety of opinions from financial planners. People who purchased a long-term care plan decades ago are most likely in a good position to use it when the time comes, but these policies have become so limited and expensive that it’s not often a feasible option for people with a tight budget. “It’s good if you have it, and it all depends on your level of affluence,” McClanahan says. “Those with large portfolios and a high net worth will likely fund their long-term care without insurance. People don’t realize how expensive these policies are. If they wait until they retire or wait to buy it closer to when they need it, they’re shocked at the price. A common school of thought is to purchase a policy in your 50s or 60s when it’s the cheapest you can get it.”

Says Outlaw, “I am a big believer in long-term care under the right circumstances. Some people want to buy insurance as a way of protecting their assets to pass along to the next generation. Again, look at your balance sheet. When you are trying to protect your wealth, the bottom line is you’ll either be able to pass it on or you will need it for your own long-term care. I also encourage clients to talk to their families about estate planning. Let your family know exactly what you want to do with your assets. It makes it easier for others to distribute assets or manage your affairs in a way that is less contentious.”

While preparing for retirement can be exciting, it can also become overwhelming, and mistakes can cost you. Novak says this is why estate planning, particularly for high-net-worth individuals, is a lifelong process. Changes in net worth and assets and estate and gift taxes—this is a lot for one person to manage alone. “It’s important to have a professional on your side who can look out for those issues for you,” Novak says. “The most efficient time to do estate planning is when assets are low in value. The current market provides opportunities for that. Financial planning and taking a holistic look at one’s budget need to be tightly coordinated. The portfolio needs to speak to the estate plan. As you think about retirement in a time of uncertainty, the value of comprehensive wealth planning is extremely underrated. Having a central quarterback to help navigate the plan and tie it together is essential.”


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Lifestyle Upgrade

Retirement living today is all about service and choices.

There is a good, and simple, reason senior living communities throughout the Dallas area are undergoing change—consumer demand. Today’s seniors who are transitioning from their longtime homes to retirement communities want their move to feel like a lifestyle upgrade—something that mimics the resorts where they vacation. They want to continue with their lives as usual—but without the hassles of home ownership. When weekly happy hours, on-site spa services, and front-door meal delivery are part of the deal, they know they are home. 

Approximately 52 million people in the United States are age 65 or older, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. By 2060, this demographic is projected to double in size. This means one in five people will be senior citizens who have retirement living on their minds. Thanks to improved medical care and healthier lifestyles, people are living longer. However, there’s a challenge that accompanies this good news—finding the perfect time to make a move. While many seniors are open to the idea of moving to a retirement community, they’ll do so with one caveat—the senior living community they choose can’t resemble where their grandparents and parents spent their senior years.

“People tend to look at estate planning as transactional, but it’s more of a lifelong process.” 

Steve Novak, RGT Wealth Advisors

Those who have lived in the Dallas-Fort Worth area for most or all their lives, or retirees moving to Dallas to be near their children and grandchildren have plenty of options for posh retirement living. 

ContInuIng Care RetIrement CommunIty (CCRC). This is a community that provides all levels of care, including independent living, assisted living, memory care, and healthcare or nursing care (sometimes called skilled nursing) in one community.

Independent LIvIng. This is often a choice for those who are active, independent, and don’t need any type of health or daily living assistance. Residents typically live in apartments and create their own schedules.

AssIsted LIvIng. This type of community provides housing options for seniors who may need assistance with daily living tasks, such as dressing, bathing, medications, meals, and activities. Fees vary depending on the level of assistance required. Care can be increased or decreased as needed. 

Memory Care/AlzheImer’s Care. These are secure communities that offer 24-hour support with a specifically trained staff that specializes in caring for patients with dementia or other types of loss of memory or Alzheimer’s disease. Structured activities and assistance with meals and healthcare and daily tasks are provided. Most communities have private pay and costs vary per month depending on the level of assistance required. Medication management and 24-hour monitoring by licensed nurses and caregivers are typically included in the price.

ResIdentIal Care Home/Group Home. These are private homes that serve residents who live together and receive care from live-in caretakers. Assistance with daily activities is typically provided, and care is customized to each resident’s needs. Because the resident-to-staff ratio is low, residents get more one-on-one, personalized care.

NursIng Care/SkIlled Care/Long-Term Care. Nursing care is typically designed for someone who requires a high level of care for a short period of time, such as recovering from a hospital stay or therapy services. Long-term care is for residents who need a high level of care with complex medical conditions who require a licensed nurse for a long period of time. Both levels offer around-the-clock care, meals, activities, and rehabilitative service under one roof.

55+ CommunItIes. Older adults who want to remain in their own homes but live in a neighborhood with their peers are gravitating toward 55+ communities, such as Gatherings at Mercer Crossing by Beazer Homes in Farmers Branch and Gatherings at Twin Creeks in Allen. Gatherings is designed for those looking to downsize without sacrificing the must-haves in their homes. The hallmark of Gatherings is the low-maintenance way of living, which includes everyday conveniences like trash valet service, professionally maintained grounds, secure building entrances, and a garage for every home. A series of built-in energy efficiencies help homeowners save on utilities. The condominium buildings are ENERGY STAR® certified, with energy-efficient details in place to increase comfort and lower monthly utility costs. 

“There are a lot of differences between the type of senior living communities, and most people don’t understand what those differences mean,” says Russell Crews, president and CEO of CC Young Senior Living in Dallas. “Some communities are for-profit, and some are not-for-profit communities.” CC Young is a not-for-profit community offering a full continuum of care, which is an advantage because residents can stay in one community throughout their journey as opposed to having to bounce around. “Our residents pay specifically for what they need and want at each stage of their time here—we aren’t building in fees they may not need in advance,” Crews says. 

When touring communities, Crews advises asking if they are a for-profit or not-for-profit community and learn what that means so you can make the best decision for yourself or for a loved one. “We want our residents to thrive in the next stage of their journey,” he says. “People’s homes are usually our biggest competitor. It’s often difficult to transfer from a longtime home to a community. But within three months of calling CC Young home, their whole perspective is changed, and they feel at home.”

“Be careful about following your children when you retire. They will likely change jobs and move from place to place. There are some risks with that plan.” 

Mark McClanahan, RGT Wealth Advisors

Ventana by Buckner, a high-rise senior living community in Dallas, is another example of a community that offers a full continuum of care under one roof—a roof over 12 stories to be exact. “It’s a different way of living,” says Danica McGuire, executive director. “With an average age of 76 in our community, with a beginning age of 62, our whole purpose is for members to enjoy the rewards of retirement sooner rather than later. They can opt in to purchase a lifecare benefit they can access if they need a higher level of care down the road. It’s never too soon to think about retirement living. Having a plan is helpful, so you aren’t scrambling when an event takes place.”

Ventana offers a Ventana Experience program, where potential members who are shopping for a community can stay for two nights, check out the community, share meals with current members, meet staff members, and take advantage of all the luxury amenities. “We invite prospective members to come with their adult children to get their stamp of approval and ask questions,” McGuire says. “We partner with Cooper Aerobics center so members and prospective members can work out with Cooper staff members who oversee our gyms. At Ventura, some members play Bridge, there are various educational opportunities, and opportunities for group travel. Dallas chef Stephen Pyles creates our menu items and is on site once a week, which our members love. There is elevated lifestyle experience throughout the community.”

“You want to retire when the market is down—not when it is at an all-time high.” 

Mark McClanahan, RGT Wealth Advisors

Watermark Retirement Communities includes The Preston of the Park Cities in Dallas, The Watermark at Broadway Cityview in Fort Worth, and Parkview in Frisco. The Preston of the Park Cities Dallas is part of Watermarks’s Elite Collection, and The Hacienda in Georgetown, Texas is part of its Elan Collection. These elevated retirement communities are being developed throughout the country to meet the demands of today’s discerning retirees. Multiple dining venues, the latest technology, Extraordinary Outings, and Watermark University classes are among the offerings at each community. Within most Watermark communities, residents use a key fob for entrance into and throughout the community, and the fob is what they use to charge meals or order a cocktail in the lounge. Watermark University, or WU, includes program offerings  that address the 360Well circles of wellness—Mind: Growth, Creativity, Curiosity; Body: Motion, Health, Nutrition; Spirit: Peace, Insight, Wisdom; and Community, Connection, Purpose, Legacy, and it strives to involve everyone in the community, including residents, staff, family members, and community volunteers, both as faculty and students. Students can take classes ranging from guitar lessons and music theory to gardening and tai chi.

“Whatever their passion may be, they can learn more about it outside of the typical activities calendar,” Hughes says. “WU recently put together a cryptocurrency course for residents so they can learn more about what it is and to make them aware of potential scams. With our Extraordinary Outings program, at communities throughout the U.S., we have taken groups to Napa for wine tasting and hot air balloon rides, on train trips, and even to the Tony Awards in New York City.”

When looking for a community to call home, Hughes says it comes down to pinpointing the type of lifestyle you want for yourself. “Hospitality is key,” he says. “How do you feel when you walk in the front door? How are you greeted? Does everyone in the community seem engaged? You can feel the vibe when you enter. In some industries, customer service is something we have lost sight of, but in senior housing, it is very important. People like to be served.”

CC Young is continually expanding its offerings to make life even more convenient and enjoyable for its residents. Every technology need is handled, from move-in and set up through maintenance and troubleshooting. College-level/continuing education classes from UNT professors, enrichment programming, the arts—it is all available for residents to try if they choose. The Point & Pavilion, CC Young’s 20,000-square-foot enrichment center, serves thousands of visitors each month—residents and non-residents—who enroll in all the programs. The Point includes an art gallery, classrooms, movie theater, exercise rooms, a meditation area, café, and more. Nine dining venues, a dedicated move-in coordinator who handles every detail of the moving process, a fitness center, and massage therapy are only a few of the offerings at CC Young. 

“A lot of people have a high income, but not a high net worth. While you have a high income, put aside money for the future. Work with a Certified Financial Planner™, rather than buying into the next big thing—that’s usually a scam.”


Deb Outlaw, Perryman Financial Advisory

And when it’s time to make the move from home to a senior living community, there are local moving and storage services available that make this overwhelming process easier. “Moving is typically not the most glamorous process, but we bring a full-service experience to our customers,” says Lesley Baker, director of customer service for Callbox Storage. “All crews are background checked and in uniform. They show up to your home, wrap and protect furniture and belongings, and scan and barcode your items. The items go into an online inventory so the owner can always see what they have in storage. The items are loaded onto a truck and taken to a secure, private, temperature-controlled storage facility. At any point in time, if you need some of the items or all of them, we deliver them right back to you.” Callbox Storage has been a popular option for seniors who are downsizing or moving into a senior living community. Some aren’t sure of the space they’ll have once they are there and take only a few items at first, some want to save heirloom pieces even though they can’t use them in their new space, and others may be reluctant to permanently let go of their possessions just yet. 

“Whatever the need is, we take care of it for them so they can focus on other aspects of their move,” Baker says. “It helps seniors to know they aren’t getting rid of these items—just putting them away in a safe place.”

Of course, there is also always the option of staying at home for as long as possible or living with family members. This choice doesn’t come without risks because aging—and the health issues that accompany it—are inevitable. The Visiting Nurse Association of Texas (VNA) exists to help fill in the gaps during one’s retirement years when needed. VNA is a nonprofit that has played a critical role in community-based health care since 1934.
VNA provides hospice and palliative care, nutritious meals and social connection for homebound seniors and serves as the premier aging resource for North Texas. Families often don’t realize that Medicare doesn’t cover room and board at senior living communities. “We often see that our clients have the healthcare piece covered—a visiting nurse comes to their home or wherever they are living for hospice, palliative, or rehabilitave care through a home health program,” says Olivia Rogers, vice president and chief nursing officer at VNA Texas. “What they don’t have, because often they are alone or their spouse is also aging, is someone to help them prepare meals or supervise medication management. Insurance doesn’t pay for placement in an assisted living community or nursing home. We hate giving that news to our clients.”

VNA’s Meals on Wheels program and hospice care programs fill in the gaps for clients in need. A VNA medical social worker can assess a client’s finances, benefits, and health coverage to help them with the possibility of placement. “Sometimes their needs are so complex they can’t stay in their home anymore,” Rogers says. “They often have no way of navigating this without help. We encourage people to take their doctors up on their offers for home care or palliative care, as health insurance often pays for these services. There is a rise in palliative care needs. As our populating ages and as medical care improves, people are living longer, but many still have serious health conditions. People can live a long time with congestive heart failure, lung disease and even cancer. This is great news, but they still need help managing these illnesses at home. People need a safe discharge plan from the hospital, and that’s where VNA comes in with palliative care. Always check with your doctor about what services you or a loved one may be eligible for. Many people don’t realize help is available.”

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