Werner Nistler, Jr. speaks March 4 during a Catholic networking breakfast held at Touchmark in the West Hills, a retirement community he founded. Listening are Priscilla Rodriguez of Catholic cemeteries, Korina Jochim of the Northwest Catholic Counseling Center, financial adviser Ted Grigsby and Pat Ryan of Mater Dei radio, which organized the meal and talks. (Ed Langlois/Catholic Sentinel)
Werner Nistler, Jr. speaks March 4 during a Catholic networking breakfast held at Touchmark in the West Hills, a retirement community he founded. Listening are Priscilla Rodriguez of Catholic cemeteries, Korina Jochim of the Northwest Catholic Counseling Center, financial adviser Ted Grigsby and Pat Ryan of Mater Dei radio, which organized the meal and talks. (Ed Langlois/Catholic Sentinel)
A panel of experts on the challenges of aging offered advice April 4 during a breakfast and Catholic networking session sponsored by Mater Dei Radio.

Setting for the meal and talk was a window-lined upper floor of Touchmark in the West Hills, a new retirement community led by Werner Nistler, Jr., a member of Holy Trinity Parish in Beaverton. Archbishop Alexander Sample blessed the building when it opened in the fall.

Nistler, founder and chairman of Touchmark, said the idea of the old folks home is out of date. Instead, he explained, the goal is to help elders live their last years in community, comfort and exploration. Next up at the Touchmark property are condominiums for couples with no children left at home. The idea is freedom from the cares that a house brings, Nistler said.

He explained that Baby Boomers differ from previous generations in wanting to maintain a good life, not just fulfill basic needs. That’s why retirement facilities need to offer more, like classes, outings and clubs. Touchmark in the West Hills has a chapel and offers weekly Mass presided over by Father Martin King of St. Thomas More Parish. There is an on-site chaplain, too.

Korina Jochim of the Northwest Catholic Counseling Center told the crowd of about 75 that counseling is not just for mental illness but for those going through transitions, including getting older or moving out of a house. “Talking about your stress is the best way to handle it,” Jochim said. “Talk to a counselor. Talk to your priest. Talk to somebody.”

Jochim said studies regularly show that people who are part of faith communities do better with such stress. “Believing in something bigger than yourself helps,” she said. “That is lacking in society today.”

Priscilla Rodriguez, outreach coordinator for Catholic cemeteries in the Portland area, said her work is a ministry that helps people make sure their final wishes are put into action. Rodriguez goes out to parishes and urges people to start conversations with loved ones about funeral and burial plans.

“It’s going to happen to everyone,” Rodriguez said. “Why not just take the stigma out of it?”

Rodriguez told the breakfast crowd that it makes sense — financial and otherwise — to get plans set while still healthy. That will ease the burden later for survivors, she said.

Ted Grigsby, a financial adviser and director of Human Investing, told the crowd that planning also is essential for money matters in the homestretch of life. He urges spouses to organize and consolidate financial records so they can be found in case of a death.

For younger couples, Grigsby advises prioritizing retirement savings over paying for college. There are scholarships and loans for school, but not for getting old, he said.

Pat Ryan, executive director of Mater Dei Radio, told the crowd that the station this month will move from temporary digs to its home on Sylvan Hill. After 29 years on the University of Portland campus, the station was forced to move because the North Portland school wanted the space.

“Our Lady has had our back the whole time,” Ryan said, announcing that the new location will enable Mater Dei to offer new things like livestreaming, live events and a mobile phone app.