Active Senior

When you’re living life and feeling well, thinking about what happens to your family if something happens to you might not be top of mind. Whether you need medical treatment or something else happens, your loved ones will suddenly become responsible for your affairs and may have to make decisions that need to be made with a ticking clock.

No matter your age or health status, there are essential documents you need to have in order just in case so you can make your loved ones’ lives a little easier. We've provided you with a sample list, though it's important to consult a lawyer for your specific needs. After all, it’s better to be prepared and not need them than to need them and not be prepared.


A Last Will and Testament gives you the ability to dictate what happens to your estate in the event of your passing and who is in charge of distribution of assets. Without it, if your times comes, your estate goes into probate and your state's intestacy laws decide how your debts get paid and how your assets are distributed. This process can be a hassle for your family and can cost thousands of dollars to negotiate and handle. Make sure your Will is in a safe place where your family members can easily locate it.

Living Will

A Living Will differs from a Last Will and Testament in that it helps you decide who is in charge of your greatest asset: yourself. Should you become terminally ill or incapacitated and unable to consent to treatment of any kind, your Living Will designates a power of attorney who is responsible for giving consent and making those decisions on your behalf.

Similarly, you may want to sign a Do Not Resuscitate order. This means that in case of extreme illness or incapacitation, it gives doctors the authority to not use life support with your permission beforehand. This lets you maintain control of decisions that may otherwise end up in a physician’s or your family members’ hands.

Powers of Attorney

You may not realize you need more than one power of attorney but you do: one for finances and one for healthcare obligations. Your healthcare power of attorney is in charge of consenting to medical procedures or treatment on your behalf should you become unfit to consent yourself. This person should also be included on a HIPPA release form, meaning they can have access to your medical history and legally receive information about your condition from your care provider. Your financial power of attorney is the person designated to have access to your finances in case you become unable to pay bills and manage your financial affairs.

Letter of instruction or intent

A letter of instruction or intent gives your executors an explanation of how you want your assets and affairs managed. This should include instructions on pet care if you have one, digital passwords for paying bills or maintaining accounts, location of deeds and other paperwork, a list of asset distribution specifics, Social Security and other identification information, bank account information, and anything else important you want to include. While this document is not legally binding, it can be very helpful in preventing a free-for-all or disputes between family and beneficiaries.

Funeral Plan

One of the most stressful situations is planning a funeral for a family member. There are a lot of decisions to make in a very short amount of time. Having a plan in place or outlined can help you family plan this event a lot easier. (If you don’t want a funeral, you should also let family members know). If you already have a plot reserved for you and other family members, make sure your family has a copy of the agreement is accessible and knows where the plot is located.

Copy of Marriage licenses and/or divorce decrees

Before your spouse can claim any assets, they have to prove they are indeed your spouse. Even if you’ve been married for 50 years, your spouse will need to provide a copy of your marriage license before they can legally claim anything. Similarly, a decree of divorce is necessary to outline possible alimony, property agreements,  or the division of assets that may be questioned should you pass.

Keep these in the same place you keep your other estate plan documents so they’re easy for loved ones to locate in case they’re needed.

Designated Beneficiary Accounts

Designating beneficiaries to manage your accounts is essential to providing your loved ones with peace of mind. Putting a person in charge of your bank, retirement, investment, or other accounts makes it a lot easier for claims to be filed and benefits to be received.

Financial Accounts Lists

Have a list of the accounts and bills you maintain so your beneficiaries and loved ones can maintain them for you if necessary. Make sure those in charge of your affairs can access those accounts and know how and when to pay bills to maintain your financial obligations. If any services need to be canceled, they’ll need to know who to call to take care of it. Making sure your accounts are transferable can keep them out of probate, as well.

Tax returns

Even after you’re gone, you still have to pay taxes on any income you may have earned in the year prior. Keeping records of your taxes is important for financial planning and in case of an audit, but can come in handy should you become unable to file your taxes. They can also help your accountant or next of kin file your tax returns in the event of your passing. 

In Summary

Having these documents organized and up-to-date can help your loved ones make decisions on your behalf or settle your assets in event of an emergency. For a full list of documents you might need, contact a lawyer who specializes in estate planning. They can help you file the documents you need and find a plan that works for your needs. Make sure your family or beneficiaries know where to find these important documents if they need to. Give yourself and your loved ones some peace of mind.

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If you’re a plant lover, springtime is one of the most exciting times of year. So many new blooms and green colors to enjoy while you spend time outside in the nice weather. If you prefer to take a more active approach to nature, it also means it’s time to start gardening. Even if you don’t have a huge yard, you can still have a thriving garden. In addition to house plants inside, container gardening is a great option for small outdoor spaces like patios and balconies.

Container gardening basics

You don’t need large or heavy pots to have success with container gardening. Small pots, barrels, buckets, and more can be just as happy a growing home for plants as a flower bed or large garden. Make sure there’s enough room for the roots of the plant. (Learn more about finding the right size container here.) Remember that the smaller the pot, the easier it is for the soil to dry out, so keep that watering can handy.

Make sure your containers have sufficient holes for drainage. If a plant’s roots are too saturated with water it can lead to rot and eventually loss of the plant. You can drill more holes if you need, but it’s usually easier to buy a pot that’s already good to go. If you’re on an upper floor, you’ll need a pan under the container to make sure they don’t drip down on your neighbors!

Healthy plants start with healthy soil. If you buy your soil from a home and garden center, look for labels that specifically say “soilless potting mix.” This will steer you away from garden-specific soil or other products. Soilless mix is a good choice because it’s lighter and ideal for container plant drainage. For a more in-depth look at different soils, this is a good resource.

What to plant

You can plant lots of variety in containers, from vegetables to herbs to flowers. Peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, peas, strawberries, basil, rosemary, and thyme are just a few edibles that will thrive on your patio. If you’re a less hungry gardener, try zinnias, marigolds, or geraniums for a pop of beautiful color. Succulents are attractive and low-maintenance options that do well both inside and out.

Knowing what garden zone you’re in will help you know when to plant certain things and what plants will do well in your region. This map will help you determine your zone and then you can check on the seed packages to see if the plant is cut out for the climate where you are. Cape Girardeau is in zone 6.

Make a list of which kinds of plants you’d like to try before you head to the seed or plant section of the garden department. This will help you determine how many containers and how much soil to get. Once you get all your supplies, it’s time to go home and get excited about everything you’re about to grow!

Join the gardening club

If you can’t get enough planting, The Chateau also has a gardening club full of other plant lovers. Make some new friends and pick their brains on how they keep their gardens lush and blooming. Club members also assist in keeping the greenery and flowers on the Nature Trail in tip top shape, so bring your green thumbs and join the fun.

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Downsizing 101

Moving to a retirement community like The Chateau will help you live a more hassle-free life. But for many people, the move will also require some downsizing. At the end of the downsizing road you’ll find more freedom and less stress, but the process itself can be a little daunting. What do you keep? And what do you do with all the stuff you don’t want to keep?

We all accumulate things over time, sometimes more things than you realize until you start sorting through it all. Here are a few tips to remember while working through the downsizing process.

Tackle one thing at a time

It didn’t take a few days to accumulate your whole household, so don’t try to complete the full downsizing job over one weekend. Try starting with a goal of working through one room or one closet so you don’t become overwhelmed. Starting earlier rather than later will help everyone feel less strain and keep things moving smoothly.

Establishing three piles for your things—keep, give away, and pitch—will also help the decision-making process. Leaving a “maybe” pile will make more work for you in the long run, so it’s best to avoid it altogether. If you have duplicates of anything, those are an easy place to start. A good rule of thumb is if an item doesn’t bring you joy when you hold it, toss it or give it away.

Giving Spirit

The downsizing process is a great time to start deciding who should keep special items, like family heirlooms or trinkets a particular person has always enjoyed. Making these decisions early can alleviate stress or confusion over who gets what down the road. Plus there’s the added bonus of seeing your family and friends enjoy these items!

Donating items is also a great way to pare down your stuff and help out someone in need at the same time. There are several places where you can donate in Cape Girardeau to support a variety of causes. The Safe House for Women’s Thrift Store, Teen Challenge Thrift Store, Safe Harbor Animal Sanctuary Thrift Store, and Goodwill are some great options for household objects big and small.

Be patient

Going through a whole household of things can be draining for everyone, so be patient with yourself and your family. If the job gets too tough emotionally or physically, it’s okay to take a break.

Enjoy simplifying

One of the great things about maintenance-free living at The Chateau is that you won’t need as much stuff to keep your home in tip-top shape. We offer many amenities for our residents, so you’ll be able to simplify without having to sacrifice convenience or comfort.

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Nell Johnson has been calling the Chateau Girardeau her home sweet home since 2015.

In her life, Nell has been gifted with an artistic spirit. She’s been a seamstress, a painter, a pianist, and even plays the pipe organ. “Art is in our genes,” she said, sharing about her son and daughter who are also both artists. Nell’s Chateau home is filled to the rafters with unique and handmade art. On each wall is a gallery with various media--many paintings and sculptures, and larger sculptures on the tables placed about the room.

Everyone she paints or sculpts comes from her own mind, and takes on their own identity. “When I get through, I think, who would this guy be and what would he have done?” Her paintings don’t all feature faces, though. Many are of places or moments in her life that she remembers fondly. She experiments with light and dark shades to give different emotion to her artwork.


Nell appreciates the social aspect of the community, sharing “I can’t tell anyone what I’ll be doing next!” However, Nell also favors a different part of The Chateau. As an artist, Nell prefers to spend a great deal of her time in solitude and enjoys the quiet. She likes that that Chateau gives her the perfect balance of being surrounded by interesting people, with a safe and quiet haven to withdraw to when inspiration for a painting strikes.

However, she’s not shy about sharing her artwork with everyone in the community. Recently she opened her doors for an open house gallery tour of her pieces; stringing gallery lights and arranging the work in just-so, she invited more than 125 people into her home, giving them a chance to see her art. So stand by, because you never know when another opportunity may arise!

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Christmas Traditions

For many of us, the best part about the holidays are the traditions. An important part of life at The Chateau is the preservation of all your favorite parts of the holidays. You don’t have to give up any Christmas traditions, but you sure can make a bunch of new ones! Here are just a few of our holiday favorites. Family Together This is especially important at The Chateau. We love seeing all of the family and friends come to visit. They’re invited to become a part of our community for a few days; visit with us, dine with us, and celebrate with us!


There’s something extra magical about sweets at Christmas time. Chocolate chip cookies, gingersnaps, peppermint bark, fudge--some with special secret recipes that are only allowed during Christmas.

Christmas Movies

Did you know that Christmas movie favorites vary by state? If you guessed Christmas Vacation for Missouri, you’d be right! Of course, there’s always the classics like White Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street, and Holiday Inn. But we’re not opposed to the new kids on the block like The Grinch or Christmas with the Kranks. See the other states here.

Christmas Carols

Speaking of Christmas movies, perhaps no one says it better than Buddy from Elf, “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” There are hundreds of great holiday tunes that can instantly liven up any get together.

Holiday Church Services

Sunday service is great, but we love holiday church services because amidst all of the other bustling and traveling and tradition, we can remember the real reason for the season.

How does your family celebrate the holidays? Share your traditions in the comments!

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So, you or a loved one is in the hospital.  Maybe it was a bad fall or maybe you had a surgery or even a stroke.  Good news is you're on the mend and discharging soon!  But the doctor says you need therapy, and you probably have a lot of questions.Where do I go for therapy? What kind of therapy? Why can't I go home? 

How about some more good news?  The Chateau Girardeau Rehabilitation Team is here to help you and your family navigate the rehabilitation process.  We are there with you every step of the way.  From admission to post-discharge, our highly-skilled team of care experts will work with you and your physician to develop the best care program for your individual needs and goals.  We have on-site physical, occupational and speech therapists as well as a team of nurses and registered dietitians who are all there to make sure you receive the best care and have the best experience possible.

We absolutely understand that choosing a rehabilitation center is a big decision.  The first steps start in the hospital and our Nurse Navigator will be there to help with any questions you may have.  Here are just a few:  

Will Medicare pay for my stay?

Medicare may pay if you have been admitted to the hospital for three consecutive nights and you meet the medical criteria for therapy or nursing up to 100 days.  

How long will my stay be?

Your length of stay will depend on your individual situation.  Our goal is to get you home as quickly and safely as possible!

How will I get to my doctor's appointments?

The Chateau offers transportation to and from local doctor's offices and hospitals.  We even have a dedicated aide available to accompany you if needed.

How do I choose The Chateau?

If you are in the hospital and interested in coming to The Chateau, please let Social Services or your Case Manager at the hospital know that you are interested and they will send us your information.  If we are able to admit you, we follow up with you and your family to make arrangements for your arrival.  If during any of our visits with you, a family member is interested in visiting The Chateau to learn more, we are happy to oblige!


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Memory Care has become a popular buzzword in the retirement and skilled nursing industries with the rise of diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s. While there is no cure for these diseases, there’s a lot we can do to help people living with these memory conditions  and their families cope with a new reality.

Here are a few steps you can take to ease a loved one’s or your transition to life with Alzheimer’s:

Simplicity is key.

People living with memory diseases  will have trouble following intricate conversations or concepts, which may lead to frustration or embarrassment on both sides of a conversation. Be patient, loving, and remember to focus on one conversation topic at a time.

Routine is important.

Change is disorienting, so as often as possible, stick to a routine and schedule. If a change in the routine is upcoming--like a doctor’s appointment--write it down and make a point to mention it each day leading up at the same time.

Make safety a priority.

A difficult part of transition is the realization that things which used to be second nature may in fact be hazards now--something that was once as easy as remembering to turn off the faucet or stove could become dangerous when forgotten. Pay attention to the small changes in behaviors and abilities and adjust your loved one’s life to reflect their lifestyle.

Avoid anger and arguments.

There will be moments when you feel like you’re talking to a stranger. Stay strong and try to calmly explain yourself in simple terms; remind your loved one who you are and that you are there to help them.

Keep making memories.

Don’t give up hope, especially on the hardest days. Keep listening to music, telling jokes, and sharing moments together.

Our Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing teams at The Chateau are  able to cater to those who need memory care. Because people living with dementia and Alzheimer’s are prone to be disoriented and stressed, studies have shown that communities should be quiet and predictable, without a lot of change or flash--our community works to  keep patients from becoming overwhelmed or stressed. We understand that transition can be difficult on all people involved. Our caring staff is here to guide you through the process.

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If you’ve ever asked a resident of The Chateau what their favorite part of living there is, the odds are pretty good that “the food” was on their list. With every option from casual meals to upscale dining, everyone has wonderful things to say.

One of the minds (and stomachs) behind this great, healthy food is Laura Vollink. As Assistant Dining Director, it’s Laura’s job to make sure that dining operations run smoothly--in other words, to make sure everybody eats well!

Laura’s work includes meal planning for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. “We try to make food we think our particular residents will like. We pay attention to what they prefer, and also work to make it a healthy balance.” Laura works with Chef Walter to make a 4-week menu plan that’s nutritious, not boring, and that makes sense. She says, “You know, like not to have a hot, heavy soup in the middle of summer.”

Even if she didn’t know the word dietitian as a little girl, Laura knew she wanted to work with food. “I love to eat,” says Laura. “I want to be healthy and active. My mom experimented with making exciting and healthy foods, and we had great meals.” She shared a story of her mom using soy instead of beef in Hamburger Helper--but she promises she would never pull a trick like that over on The Chateau residents.

Eating is a social occasion, Laura shared. She loves getting to know the residents, and watching them get to know one another. Her favorite part about what she does is learning what people like, what they have done, what they have seen, their history, and their insights to life. So next time you see her, say hello! She’d love to meet you.

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The Chateau is home to many people from all walks of life. Various backgrounds, stories, and experiences make up our residents. Perhaps one of our most “famous” residents is none other than Mr. Harry Rediger himself. Out in the Cape community, you may know him as Mayor Rediger. But here, we just know him as Harry--our friend and fellow resident.

Harry joined The Chateau community in August of 2015. Before settling in Cape Girardeau 40 years ago, he lived in 8 different cities throughout the Midwest, and even down in Texas for a spell. No place, however, was as perfect for him and his family as Cape Girardeau. He and his late wife fell in love with the city, the people and the proximity to big metro areas without having to be in the hustle and bustle of it all. They raised their 4 children here, and even though they were not native to the area, they always considered Cape Girardeau their hometown.

“Cape Girardeau is a regional hub,” Harry says, citing the University. “The school has grown up so much that you can hardly tell it’s the same place!” His favorite part of the University's role in the city is the shows they put on at the River Campus. The one show he could see over and over is Mamma Mia--and as a matter of fact, he did! The year it was at the River Campus, he saw it locally and a St. Louis production of it.

He holds The Chateau Girardeau in high esteem, calling it state of the art. “My advice,” he says, “is this. I recommend that people who are thinking of changing to independent living, do it sooner rather than later.” During his first months living at The Chateau, there was a snowstorm that warded many residents from leaving. But not to be discouraged, Harry was still able to go to the gym, the bank, eat breakfast, and get his paper--all without leaving the building!

Harry loves the community within a community. “You can be as active as you love--or not. Whatever it is, you can find it here. Chateau is alive.” After his term is up in April 2018, he plans to get even more involved in all that’s offered. “There’s far more here to do than most people could even set out to do,” he laughed. He’s got some other things up his sleeve, too--but you’ll just have to wait until 2018 to find out.

After reflecting on his time so far as a member of The Chateau, he concluded by sharing this piece of profound insight. “One of the great things [about The Chateau] is that we are family here; [I] don't mean just residents--we we have a great staff and we all take care of each other .  Residents take care of staff, staff takes care of residents and we all take care of each other.  We are a family.”

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Originally from Boston, Mr. John Dragoni has called a lot of places “home” in his life—most recently, The Chateau Girardeau.

His travels have taken him to the highest skies and under the depths of the seas. He’s tasted bear, alligator, and every kind of lobster—but contests that New England lobster takes the cake over all of them. The only thing he hasn’t tried is reindeer. “I couldn’t eat Rudolph!” he said.

His favorite places to travel were Norway and Finland. They were sweet and wonderful people, and blonde! He explained that as an Italian American, he and his jet black hair stuck out like a sore thumb in this time there. Which didn’t stop him from making himself at home in the foreign countries he visited.

He served the country in WWII. He was sent through various types of training before finally being assigned to the B29. During his time in the service, he saw many parts of the world, like India, Burma, and Guam. His time serving inspired him to stay involved in organizations like The Marine Corps League, the Disabled American Veterans, and the VFW throughout his life.

After his time in the service, his life led him to Cape Girardeau. Coming from the northeast, it was a bit of a culture shock. “I thought everything was broken,” he said, “because everyone was always fixin to do something!”

A self-named “newcomer,” however, John was not deterred from getting involved. He quickly became invested in the Cape Girardeau community and began to put roots here and take on projects he felt close to, like the American Legion, the VFW, and even working to repaint the miniature Statue of Liberty on the corner of Broadway and West End downtown. When he arrived to town, the statue was a dull red, not at all like the real Lady Liberty. He saw to it that the color was changed to the more familiar shade of aged copper.

One of his greatest accomplishments in the Cape Girardeau community was the VFW wall. To raise funds for the organization, he started the Legacy Wall. For a donation, contributors could get their names engraved on a regular 8x8 brick that became a part of the wall. “You can see the evolution now,” he said, noting that people began to request bigger bricks. The 8x8 bricks soon became 12x12 bricks and eventually people requested large red bricks with white crosses.

During his early years in Cape Girardeau, he lived in what he affectionately referred to as a “fine and beautiful home.” When his wife took ill, they sought attention for her at various facilities but they were drawn to the hospitality of The Chateau. “Here,” he says, gesturing to The Chateau around him, “they were very nice.” Now, 12 years later, Mr. Dragoni has happily permanently relocated to The Chateau and has called it home sweet home for 2 years.

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