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4 Times to Ask for Help with Health Insurance Hurdles

Millions of people each year find themselves in transition with their health care coverage.

"The world of choosing health care coverage is becoming very complicated, especially for people making life transitions," says Tricia Blazier, personal health and financial planning director for Allsup. "Many people may not realize the true alternatives and options they have available, mainly because it's unfamiliar territory."

Cost is a top concern, according to a Healthline survey of 490 U.S. consumers, more than half of survey respondents, or 50.8 percent, said they would rather avoid seeking medical treatment than face the high costs or coverage limits with their health plans.

People often are unfamiliar with their plan's terms, costs and provisions. It's especially complicated when trying to make decisions about transitions between coverage, such as leaving employer coverage for COBRA or an exchange plan, or choosing Medicare alternatives.

Following are four reasons to consider seeking help with the health benefits coordination process:

Protect your spouse and dependents. Benefits coordination refers to matching your families' needs with the health plans available to them. One example is a retiree who is leaving work-provided health coverage for Medicare coverage. "If your husband or wife was using your retiree health plan, then they may be able to purchase a Marketplace exchange plan for less cost while you join Medicare."

Avoid gaps in health insurance coverage. Transitions between health coverage, such as leaving an employer for disability or retiring, can be complicated to navigate. As individuals move to federal insurance programs, such as Medicare, there are program rules and processes that can add to the confusion. "You want to make sure you understand how timing works as you transition from group health to another form of healthcare coverage," Blazier says.

Avoid penalties or unanticipated extra costs. Penalties are particularly important with certain types of health insurance coverage. For example, Medicare has penalties that apply to Part B and Part D coverage when individuals miss those enrollment windows. Another example is the coordination when moving to Medicare from a high-risk deductible health plan (HDHP) and a health savings account (HSA). "These are more complicated pieces of the puzzle when you are transitioning between types of health coverage, so it's important to talk to a health benefits specialist," Blazier says.

 Discover more options and better alternatives. While working, many people defaulted to a choice of health insurance plan from their employer. Transitioning to other coverage can open up new opportunities. "It's possible that you, your spouse and your children will each have a different type of health care coverage because it's available and it makes financial sense," Blazier says. Specialists in health benefits coordination also can supplement the assistance individuals get through their employer's human resources team.

For all of these reasons, it can be vital to work with a health benefits coordination specialist. Choosing health care benefits is an extremely personal decision, affected by variables such as the person's health and medical needs, financial situation, family situation and place of residence, to name a few. (BPT)

5 Ways Grandparents Can Stay in Touch with Family Anywhere

These days, it’s not uncommon for family members to live in different cities, states or even across the country. If your family lives far away, the distance can make it difficult to connect, especially with grandkids. Thankfully there are a number of effective ways to keep in touch with the ones you love.

Here are five things you can do to stay connected with your children and grandchildren, no matter where you are:

           Face to face from place to place. If you have a computer and a webcam, you can either video chat and/or video message. There are a number of free services that allow you to virtually connect with your friends and family face to face, from anywhere. Check to make sure your computer and your family’s computers have this capability, and then put it to use. It’s an amazing feeling to be able to say hello and see everyone’s smiling faces digitally, if you can’t do it in person!

       Stay in touch on the go. When it comes to connecting with loved ones near or far, you need reliable, affordable cell service. Relish in those special family moments with TracFone. With plans on America’s two largest and most dependable networks, TracFone gives grandparents, families and friends an affordable way to stay in touch through photos, videos, texts, email, social media and of course, a phone call. Stay connected with great, easy-to-use phones.

        Get social with your media. Social media isn’t just for the younger generation. Grandparents across the country are using sites like Facebook and Instagram to connect with friends and family that live far away. The best part is your grandkids are more than likely already using these platforms, so it’s easy for them to connect with you. Aside from communication, these channels are also a great way to stay up to speed on everything your loved ones are up to, so log on and start sharing.

        Write a letter. Although it’s great to hear your grandkids’ voices on a phone call or see them on video chat, there’s still something special and heartfelt about snail mail. Unlike emails that can get deleted, many people keep letters for years on end. Write your grandchildren a heartfelt letter and send it their way – show them that it can be fun to have a pen pal! Chances are they’ll cherish it, and may even send one back.

        Celebrate those special days. You already see or speak with your family during birthdays or holidays, so find other moments in time to keep communication going. Try calling your kids and grandkids on the anniversary of a special trip, or setting up a weekly phone call to hear more about a big event in their life and provide updates of your own. Also find unique holidays to get in touch. What better way to celebrate your day than spending it talking with the ones you love most. 

         Keep the lines of communication open with the suggestions above; even the simplest hello can be just the ticket to brighten someone’s day. To learn more about ways to stay in touch with affordable communication options from TracFone, visit www.TracFoneWireless.com. (BPT)

 

Sacred Heart Villa Provides Backdrop to Short Film

Sacred Heart Villa was chosen as the setting for a short film by Wyomissing’s own Justen Patrick Lander of Terrestrial Films, award winning director, writer, cinematographer, and editor.  The film, American Standard, features Bruce McClean as Edward Bracket, a nursing home resident nearing the end of his life. All he has left are his memories and a photo album. Edward passes the time each day waiting for his daughter to come and take him to the watch tower on the mountain that he can see outside his window. Then one day, Edward makes a decision to leave on his own.

American Standard, released in 2014, was selected for the 2015 Chicago International Arthouse New Hope festivals, the inaugural 2015 Reading Filmfest, and the 2016 Tiburon International Film Festival.

For more information, or to order a DVD, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

10 Ways to Save Water (and Money)

Water efficiency is the smart use of our water resources through water-saving technologies and simple steps we can all take around the house. Using water efficiently will help ensure reliable water supplies today and for future generations.

 

The average family spends $1,100 per year in water costs, but can save $350 from retrofitting withWaterSenselabeled fixturesandENERGY STAR®qualified appliances. Also, when we use water more efficiently, we reduce the need for costly investments in water treatment and delivery systems.

It takes a considerable amount of energy to deliver and treat the water you use every day. In addition, heating water for bathing, shaving, cooking, and cleaning also requires a lot of energy. Homes with electric water heaters, for example, spend one-quarter of their electric bill just to heat water.

 

With climate change concerns, pervasive droughts, and high energy prices across the country, nearly everyone is looking for ways to conserve resources and cut costs. The good news is that by using a little "water sense" we can all save water, energy, and money.

 

Here are some tips for conserving water:

 

Inside:

  1. Shorten your showers. Close the drain to see how much water you use and adjust accordingly.
  2.  Match dishwasher and laundry machine settings to the size of the load being washed. Eliminate pre-wash or extra rinsing, if possible.
  3. Check all facets, pipes for leaks or unnecessary running.
  4.  Recycle excess indoor water for outside plants, flowers and gardens.
  5. Dispose of tissues, insects and other waste in the trash rather than the toilet to avoid unnecessary toilet flushing. 

Outside:

  1.  Sweep off sidewalks, patios and decks with a broom or scrub with just a bucket of water instead off washing it off.
  2. Strategically plan landscaping and plants to maximizeabsorptionand drainage. Be sure that plants are native to the area and flourish without the need of additional water.
  3.  Water lawns, plants and gardens in the early morning to reduce the loss of water from evaporation.
  4.  Mulch flower beds to help retain moisture in the soil.
  5.  Raise the lawn mower to keep the grass three inches high. This encourages grass roots to grow deeper and holdsoil moisture better. 

About Sacred Heart Villa

The Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ created Sacred Heart Villa (formerly St. Michael Convent) in 2003 with the vision of providing a personal care home for the Sisters and other seniors of southeastern Pennsylvania. The Sisters renovated St. Michael in order to create 35 personal care residential rooms and officially opened her doors to her first new residents in May 2004, with space for 57 Sisters and 40 other senior residents.  The facility has two residential buildings, a remodeled dining room, a new fireside lounge, library, café and beauty shop. The chapel remains in the middle of the facility for it truly is the Heart of the community. Each new residential room provides an individual with privacy, safety and security in an environment of beauty and grace. Mass is celebrated each day, and is open to the public. 

Sacred Heart Villa is now accepting residents. If you are seeking care for yourself or loved one, contact Sacred Heart Villa today at 610-929-5751 for a tour. You can also visit http://sacredheartvillapa.org. or visit us at http://www.sacredheartvillapa.org/.

 

How to Choose the Exercise That's Right for You

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 Does it seem confusing knowing what is right and wrong when it comes to being active and fit? Well, actually it is not as confusing as you may think. We live in an age of information. We can hardly go a week without some new advice or findings coming out on how and when to workout, what and what not to eat, etc. It is just great to be informed but too much information is what I believe leads to all this confusion. A person can hardly keep up with it all.

A very simple way to look at working out is this: Get active. You may be thinking that this is not profound enough or specific enough, but it is really exercise simplified. Exercise is moving your body, pure and simple. If you know that you are in need of incorporating physical activity into your life, then pick something and move.

If you are confused about whether you should walk, join a gym, take classes, do yoga, lift weights, go bike riding, dance, do Pilates, go swimming, choose the activities that, first of all, you enjoy; and second, that you will actually do.

When it comes to exercising, you really have to figure out what it is that you can get yourself to do. Not every person enjoys every activity. Some people love to walk; some people love to lift weights; some people need the motivation that comes from taking a fitness class; some people are goal oriented and some are not; and some people are the outdoorsy types and some definitely are not. It is really important to get inside your own head and know what you like and dislike.    

Many gyms, yoga and Pilates studios offer free classes or trials so that you can test the water and see if it will work for you. I highly recommend trying things out before you commit. Basements all across the country are full of exercise equipment that goes unused because it was bought with great intentions, only for the purchaser to realize that they really don’t like working on exercise equipment in their basement. This is just one example of someone going ahead with something without really knowing whether or not they would like it.

A good motto is this: The best workout for you is the one that you will actually do.” It is important not to worry about what other people are doing. If you have a friend who is in good shape, you may be tempted to try the same activity. That is fine, but that does not mean that you will be able to do the same; it may not be a good fit for you. You may not enjoy it, or you could suffer an injury if the exercise is not appropriate for your level of fitness.

Be sure to consult your physician before beginning any new exercise program.

With so many choices out there, everyone should be able to find some way to add physical activity into their lives that they can actually enjoy doing. So try some different things, figure out what works for you and begin to reap all the many benefits that fitness can provide.

Eating healthy may be easier than you think

There’s no doubt that diet plays a major role in our health. Obesity related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, some of the leading causes of preventable death.But what does healthy eating really mean? It’s not as difficult as you may think to adapt and maintain healthy eating habits.

According to the National Institute of Health, a healthy diet:

  • Emphasizes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk products.
  • Includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts.
  • Is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt, and added sugars.
  • Balances the calories you take in from food and beverages with the calories burned through physical activity to maintain a healthy weight.

Here are some tips to help you meet the guidelines:

  • Eat fruits and vegetables of different colors to give your body a wide range of valuable nutrients.
  • Include foods that contain fiber such as fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole-grains. l Eat lean cuts of meat and poultry.
  • Trim away excess fat and remove skin from poultry before cooking.
  • Pay attention to portion sizes, especially at restaurants. Smaller portions equal fewer calories.
  • Season your food with lemon juice, herbs, and spices, rather than using butter and salt.
  • Choose foods that are baked, broiled, braised, grilled, steamed, sautéed, or boiled, rather than fried.
  • When eating out, select a dish from the menu, rather than getting your money’s worth at the all-you-can-eat buffet.

Getting enough fluids each day is important, too. Did you know that beverages aren’t the only way to get valuable fluids? Fruits and vegetables help, too.

About Sacred Heart Villa

The Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ created Sacred Heart Villa (formerly St. Michael Convent) in 2003 with the vision of providing a personal care home for the Sisters and other seniors of southeastern Pennsylvania. The Sisters renovated St. Michael in order to create 35 personal care residential rooms. Sacred Heart Villa officially opened her doors to her first new residents in May 2004, with space for 57 Sisters and 40 other senior residents.  The facility has two residential buildings, a remodeled dining room, a new fireside lounge, library, café and beauty shop. The chapel remains in the middle of the facility for it truly is the Heart of the community. Each new residential room provides an individual with privacy, safety and security in an environment of beauty and grace. Mass is celebrated each day, and is open to the public.

Sacred Heart Villa is now accepting residents. If you are seeking care for yourself or loved one, contact Sacred Heart Villa today at 610-929-5751 for a tour. You can also visit http://sacredheartvillapa.org. or visit us at http://www.sacredheartvillapa.org/.

 

 

Cooking for One or Two

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Cooking for One or Two

Sometimes as people age, lose their spouse, or no longer have others to cook for, they may cook less due to low motivation, loneliness, depression, low energy levels, physical disabilities, lack of knowledge of how to shop and prepare for only one or two people, or just get tired of cooking.
     
Continuing to prepare healthy meals and snacks is important to maintain energy so we can continue as a vibrant friend and family member and to pursue activities that maintain a high quality of life. Good nutrition is also important to prevent and manage chronic disease and to maintain immunity to combat colds, flu and other viruses.
     
Planning is important to ensure your diet includes all the food groups. Take time to create menus for the week, incorporating leftovers and foods that might spoil if not used up. Many cookbooks are available with recipes for a few servings, or cut your old favorites in half. Here are some additional strategies for cooking for a few:1.    Cook once, eat twice. Use leftovers in a different form for another meal, e.g., roast chicken one night, chicken salad later.
2.    Add leftovers to soup or stew. Keep a container in the freezer to accumulate if needed.
3.    Extra pancakes or French toast can be saved to warm up in microwave or toaster.
4.    Buy frozen bagged vegetables, fruits and meal mixes. Remove exactly how much you need at one time.
5.    Get needed amounts of fresh prepped fruits or vegetables at the salad bar in your market.
6.    Share extra produce with friends or family (broccoli, head of celery, grapes).
7.    Divide packages of raw meat like chicken or ground beef and freeze in individual portions for later use.
8.    Freeze extra bread or baked goods.
9.    When buying produce, get one ripe, one medium ripe and one green.
10.    Buy produce that will keep well for longer periods under refrigeration, such as apples, cabbage, sweet potatoes, oranges and carrots.
11.    Dehydrated spices and seasonings can replace fresh and won’t spoil before being used.
12.    Dairy choices that have a longer shelf life include wrapped cheese slices, Parmesan cheese, canned or dried milk, and yogurt.
13.    Keep it simple—there are lots of ideas for easy to prepare nutritious meals and snacks. For example—peanut butter and banana or raisin sandwich on whole wheat bread with a glass of milk, or cheese and whole grain crackers with a piece of fruit and low-sodium tomato juice.
14.    Have something easy handy for days you don’t feel up to food preparation. Frozen TV dinners with sodium less than 800 mg. and fat less than 15 grams with canned fruit and whole grain bread could be used.
15.    When eating out and portions are large, bring half home for an easy meal the following day (make sure you refrigerate within 2 hours).
16.    Occasionally buy already prepared entrees and side dishes at the deli counter.
17.    Many fast food chains now have healthy choices available—roasted or grilled meats, fruit, salad, baked potato, and low fat milk or juice for a beverage.Note: Be sure to label and date all items placed in the freezer so they get used in a timely manner.(Source: Lois Killcoyne, Extension Educator, Penn State Co-op Extension, Northampton County)