Making Friends Later in Life

Dear Lura:

My father passed away 7 months ago and my mother is on her own for the first time in 51 years. She is moving to Columbus this summer to be closer to my family. I’m trying to find a few places she can go or organizations she can become involved with to help her make new friends here.

Do you have any suggestions?


Dear Christine:

My sincerest condolences on the loss of your father. I’m sure this has been a difficult time for your mother and your entire family.

Making new friends later in life can indeed be a little more challenging than in younger years. But we do have a few ideas that may be of help to your mother when she arrives in Columbus.

  • The local senior centers have a wide variety of events, activities and programs.
  • Getting involved in volunteer work is another great way to meet new people of all ages. Local hospitals and assisted living centers (like us!) are always looking for caring, compassionate seniors to volunteer their time. HandsOn Central Ohio is a good avenue for exploring volunteering opportunities throughout the Columbus area.
  • If your mother plans to join a local church or synagogue, you could also talk with them about what opportunities there might be for her. Most have women’s groups, senior groups and a variety of volunteer opportunities.
  • You might also use her hobbies and interests to guide you in your search. If she is artsy, she might want to take a watercolor class at the Cultural Arts Center or a pottery class at McConnell Arts Center. Several of the area bookstores also host book clubs once or twice a month if she enjoys reading.
  • Clintonsville Women’s Club is an organization some of our residents belong to. It offers seniors an opportunity for both socializing and fellowship.
  • Your mother might also benefit from joining the local YMCA or another fitness club that offers senior-friendly programs. In addition to making new friends, she will also help improve her level of fitness.

I hope this gives you a few good ideas to share with your mother, Christine. Best of luck to your family in making this transition go smoothly for your mother!



Assisted Living or Skilled Nursing?

Dear Jane,

Since my father’s recent passing, my mother is no longer able to live alone. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease about a year ago. Although she takes medication for high blood pressure and cholesterol, she’s otherwise in good health.

This winter, she did catch the flu that was going around Central Ohio and had to be admitted to the hospital for a few days, but she’s feeling much better now.

She’s temporarily living with my husband and I, but we both work, and it’s not safe to leave her alone during the day.

What is the best choice for my mother?



Is Assisted Living or Skilled Nursing the Best Choice?

Dear Laura,

Thank you for addressing this confusing issue. Many adult children face a similar dilemma with a parent who is no longer able to live alone.

Although skilled nursing care is an option, your mother may find she is better suited for assisted living, because she is otherwise healthy.

Assisted living and skilled nursing both provide medication management and assistance with daily activities. An assisted living community will remind your mother to take her medication, whereas she’ll be handed medication at a skilled nursing community. If your mother needs minimal care dressing or bathing, she’ll receive that help in assisted living, but if she isn’t mobile, she should be in skilled nursing.

Both provide meals, laundry and housekeeping services, as well as supervision for safety reasons. Although both offer recreational activities, such as live entertainment and crafts, residents of assisted living communities may use non-medical transportation to take group trips or shop.

Assisted living residences are most commonly full apartments with private baths and kitchens while skilled nursing residents have rooms with bathrooms, but usually do not have kitchens or full baths for safety reasons.


The question of which is the best choice for your mother must be decided by her health-care team. However, in general, if your mother needs a limited amount of personal care, is ambulatory, and gets along well with most people, she’s likely to do well in assisted living.

If she needs extensive assistance or is frequently incontinent, needs a wheelchair, has severe cognitive impairments and is combative, she would be safer in skilled nursing.

Here at Whetstone Rehabilitation Center, Skilled Nursing & Assisted Living, we offer both assisted living with memory care and skilled nursing. Because we provide both and must meet strict state standards, we offer more extensive help in assisted living than many other communities. In assisted living, our registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and state-tested nursing assistants provide care with dignity in a home-like setting.

I hope this has answered some of your questions. I wish you and your mother the very best.

Jane Holt, RN

Ask the Expert: How Much Does a Nursing Facility Cost?

Dear Cassie:

My father will be having hip replacement surgery later this month. I’m trying to figure out how much a nursing and rehab center will cost and how much of it his Medicare will pay for? He lives in Central Ohio just outside Columbus.

Can you help? It all seems so confusing!


Dear Renee:

You aren’t alone in having trouble understanding the Medicare skilled nursing and rehab benefit! It can indeed be very confusing.

Cost of Skilled Nursing Care in Central Ohio

Let’s start with the costs. Skilled nursing and rehab centers bill patients according to a daily rate. In Ohio and in the Columbus area the costs are a bit lower than the national average of $220 per day.

According to Genworth Financial’s 2015 Cost of Care Survey:

  • The average daily rate for a semi-private room in an Ohio skilled nursing & rehab center is $210.
  • For Columbus area seniors, the average daily rate is $197.

Keep in mind, there may be medication costs, therapy expenses, and durable medical equipment charges in addition to the daily rate. Those expenses will vary according to the services each patient requires.

Paying for Short-Term Rehab in Columbus

The good news for your father is that if he meets Medicare’s requirement that he stay three nights in a hospital prior to transitioning to a rehab center, his Medicare benefit will pay for the majority of these expenses.

Here’s how the Medicare Skilled Nursing Benefit works in 2015:

  • Days 1 – 20: His expenses will be covered in full
  • Days 21 – 100:  He will be charged a $157.50/day co-insurance rate.
  • After Day 100: Your father will be responsible for all of his expenses

Check with your father to see if he has a secondary insurance of any kind. In many cases, it will cover some or all the expenses Medicare doesn’t.

Be aware, though, that most insurance companies have a network of preferred providers. Coverage can vary widely depending upon whether the provider he chooses is in network or not.

Our best advice if your father has a secondary insurance is to check with them before your father’s surgery to see which central Ohio providers are in their network.


I hope this information is helpful, Renee! If you have any specific questions, we invite you to contact us directly. One of our team members will be happy to help you get the answers you need.

Warm Regards,

Cassie Hauber, Assistant Administrator

Ask the Expert: Senior-Friendly Places in Columbus, Ohio

Dear Kara:

I’m trying to create a list of senior-friendly places in and around the Columbus area for my 81-year old mother and her friends. I’m specifically looking for restaurants and stores that offer senior discounts or special services to make life easier for older adults. Do you have such a list or do you know where I can find one?

Any help would be appreciated!


Hi Sarah:

What a great idea! I didn’t have a list already created, but the staff here at Whetstone Gardens gave me ideas to share with you. I think we came up with quite a few to get you started.

Here are the senior-friendly locations we are aware of in Columbus:

  • Kroger Stores offers a senior discount on Wednesdays.
  • Walgreen’s hosts Senior Days for rewards members who are also AARP members. These are typically on the first Tuesday of the month.
  • Many area restaurants offer discounts for seniors. They range from 10% at Culver’s, Chili’s, Bob Evans, and iHop to 20% at The Elephant Bar. Other restaurants have designated certain days of the week as senior discount days. I would recommend calling your mother’s favorites to see what they offer!
  • The City of Columbus Department of Parks and Recreation hosts Walk with a Doc, a neighborhood walking program in four convenient locations around the city. Refreshments and incentives are provided to walkers.
  • Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens offers a variety of programs. They include weekly Farmer’s Market, craft classes and guided tours. Seniors also receive a discount on admission to the botanical garden.
  • Market District grocery stores offer a Curbside Express program. For a service fee, shoppers can place their order online and it will be ready and waiting for them to pick up.
  • Central Ohio Seniors Centers all offer a variety of programs, meals and entertainment for older adults. Check with the center nearest you for more details.
  • Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks are also home to a variety of senior-friendly activities. Depending upon the time of year, you can walk on one of the nature trails, enjoy a round of golf, have a picnic, go sledding and more.
  • Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is another senior-friendly destination. They offer adults over the 60 a discount on admission with a valid driver’s license or picture ID.
  • Columbus Historical Society can be another great outing for seniors. They host a variety of programs and events. There is no charge for admission.
  • Columbus Metropolitan Library also offers seniors a variety of enrichment opportunities. From eBooks to music and movies, it can be a great resource for young and old alike.

I think that is everything our staff came up with Sarah! I hope your mother and her friends find it to be helpful.

Kara Riley width=